Fun and Fit

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4

You Don’t Have to be Flying to Visit Hyatt Regency LAX

Last weekend we went on a road trip from Central California to the San Diego area. Rather than suffer through traffic and a long drive, we stayed at the Hyatt Regency LAX, which is… wait for it… across the street from LAX. And even if we hadn’t stayed there, we would have eaten dinner at their unity la restaurant.

Hyatt Regency LAXFirst of all, the hotel really is right across from the airport. As we got closer and closer to the airport (we were driving west on Century), we were convinced we were about to enter the airport, but right at Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) we spotted the hotel. Luckily, the entrance was easy to spot, as “going around the block” doesn’t work well in that area.

unity la restaurantThe dinner menu concept piqued our interest (if you are weirded out by that word, look it up and you’ll see that I’m a fabulous speller) – it’s set around L.A. neighborhoods. We asked our server Paula (we tried to adopt her, as she was a hoot) if we were allowed to mix neighborhoods when ordering. You are. Because you are the customer!! I had the scallops, which made me want to immediately get a job there just so I could eat the scallops every day. They were THAT good. For dessert, Paula told us about a second chocolate cake that was over in the unity la market. In other words, there’s more than just what’s on the dessert menu. For the record, we ordered both chocolate cakes, for scientific comparison research reasons, obviously.

The @hyattregency_la LAX is a great spot to get a quiet night's sleep and eat, especially if… Click To Tweet

LAX night lightsFrom our room we had some cool views of the LAX lights (even though they weren’t changing color that night for some reason – they normally change color every few seconds). You’d think this would mean we’d hear planes landing all night, but we heard nothing, and slept soundly. I grew up a few miles south of LAX, and can recall when they added the changing lights. I like watching them change, and am guessing some of you do, too.

bakery items unity la marketIn the morning, we vacillated between the breakfast buffet and ordering from the menu. In the end, the fresh berries and huevos rancheros in the buffet won us over, even though it meant skipping the churro waffles and tres leches french toast. Or so we thought. When we mentioned our decision dilemma to the waiter, he said the kitchen could easily whip those up for us. So in the end, the only reason we didn’t have the churros and waffles is that we got full.

Hyatt Regency LAX elevator lobbyI loved the colors and circles in the hotel, especially the lobby elevator lights, as orange is my favorite color (which many of you may already know).

Hyatt poolI had the pool to myself, unless you count the gull that was circling about. I searched the hotel website before arrival to see if they had a hot tub, so let me save you the search and say that there’s no hot tub, but the pool is a perfect temperature and there are plenty of quiet spots if you want to relax with your sweetie.

Hermosa Beach pierWe checked out around 10:00, had time to stop in my hometown of Hermosa Beach to give a quick “This is where I grew up tour,” and arrived in San Diego in time for lunch. Breaking up the road trip with a stay at the Hyatt Regency LAX was a perfect way to make the trip an adventure instead of a slog. Added bonus – we avoided 99% of the traffic.

Alexandra Williams, MA

This is not a sponsored post, though we were the invited guests of the Hyatt Regency LAX.

 

4

Morro Bay – More, More, More, How Do You Like It

If you’re a Boomer, you’ll probably now and forever more associate Morro Bay with Andrea True Connection’s 1976 “More More More.” As I sit here eating salt water taffy from Crill’s, I know I could have had more than three days in Morro Bay.

Morro Bay Rock

The Morro Bay Rock is a volcanic plug that sits at the juncture of the ocean and the estuary.

At the invitation of the tourist bureau last week, I drove up with my younger son and sister Kymberly for a mini-vacation to Morro Bay, with the AMGEN Stage 3 Men’s bicycle race as our excuse to visit a place that’s only a few hours’ drive from both L.A. and San Francisco (only 1 1/2 hours from Santa Barbara).

AMGEN stage 3 race Morro Bay

And the winners of the AMGEN Stage 3 race arrive in front of the VIP section at the finish line in Morro Bay.

Morro Bay in Central California has More, More, More of everything you want in nature. #travel… Click To Tweet

Look for an upcoming post from Kymberly about the community bike ride we took the evening prior to the pro race.

Boats at dock across from our hotel in Morro Bay.

We stayed at the 456 Embarcadero Inn & Suites, right on the beach, but that wasn’t even the best part. The best part was the customer service. The owner was super friendly and smiley, which set the tone for the entire staff. Definitely stay there when you go.

Low tide in the Morro Bay estuary

Super low tide in the estuary, with the Morro Bay Rock in the background.

Kayaking in Morro Bay

Our kayaking guide was the owner of Central Coast Outdoors, and she knew all the birds, wildlife, history, marine, and culture about Morro Bay and the estuary. She even showed us a harbor seal and her pup. Important hot tip: When you go to Morro Bay, eat some of the oysters from the two local oyster companies. After your kayaking adventure.

Morro Bay near Dorn's Restaurant

With my son after we ate dinner at Dorn’s Original Breakers Cafe. I’m smiling because I had delicious scallops for dinner.

Sea lion on the dock at Morro Bay

Can you spot the extremely loud sea lion? He and I were the only ones awake at dawn, but he was determined to bark his loudest. It pays to get up early, as I also saw otters at play.

 

When we weren’t kayaking or bicycling or walking along the waterfront or eating seafood, we were shopping at the various thrift and consignment stores in town. Set aside some time for going up and down Morro Bay Boulevard, as we felt like we hit the jackpot in thrift store land.

North side of Morro Bay Rock

You can walk or drive out to the Rock at Morro Bay. On the north side is the beach. It was just past dawn and the fog was sitting just above the horizon.

 

view of San Luis Obispo from Morro Bay

Morro Bay Rock is the northernmost of 9 volcanic plugs in the area. Black Hill is just south of it, with a full 360 view of the area when you make the 10 minute climb to the top. Only a 5 minute drive from town, and you get this view of the estuary and San Luis Obispo.

 

Morro Bay Rock from the natural history museum

Locals refer to Morro Bay as “Three Stacks and a Rock.” You can see why in this photo taken from above the Natural History Museum in the State Park on the south end of town.

The town is small enough that you can walk or bicycle nearly everywhere, which probably comes in quite handy during the summer season. For us, in mid-May, parking was easy even with the bike race in town. We loved the small town feel and the friendliness of the locals. Even the otters seemed to enjoy showing off to us.

ACTION: For more pics of Morro Bay, follow their Instagram account. While you’re at it, follow mine too: AlexandraFunFit.

Text & Photos: Alexandra Williams, MA

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4

The Most Effective Plank Exercises

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Often, people are reluctant to attempt a plank because they’ve heard that you have to hold a long-lever plank for 5 minutes in order to be “cool.” Not true. Planks are accessible to nearly everyone, as many versions exist.K planking in Thailand

Want to perform a #fitness plank? This video shows 4 different modifications, & instructions… Click To Tweet

Proper Technique:

  • Planks are more effective if you rest on your elbows, not your hands
  • Elbows directly below the shoulders
  • Hands loose and relaxed; a correlation exists between clenched fists and breath-holding
  • It’s better for your lower back to have your hips slightly piked rather than dropped, though a straight line is your goal
  • Pretend you are wearing a belt, and tighten all places where it would touch

One caveat: We mention holding for 30 seconds in the video, but research also indicates you can hold for as little as 20, take a short break, then get back into plank position. Whether you choose 20 or 30 second intervals, stick with the plank position that gives you the best form.

1

6 Overlooked Habits Every Woman Should Develop for Her Health: Guest Post from LaToya

overall htalth, 4 hapooy midlife womenAttain Overall Health

We all know that to be healthy, we should eat right, exercise, get plenty of rest, and drink lots of water. Total health, though, isn’t only about being physically healthy. When thinking about your well-being, you should consider your overall health, including your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

There are many unexpected habits you can develop to create positive changes in your overall health. Here are six overlooked habits every woman should develop for her health.

Practice Gratitude

Do you regularly dedicate time in your day to being grateful? Research has consistently demonstrated gratitude can have a profound and lasting impact on our health. Regular gratitude practices have been scientifically proven to help you sleep better, reduce stress hormones, lower blood pressure, improve self-esteem and even lower the risk of depression.

A gratitude practice doesn’t have to be extremely involved or take a lot of time. Try starting your day by thinking of five things you’re grateful for every morning. Or you can make a nightly gratitude list before going to bed each night. Adding gratitude to your life is a small change that can have a large impact on your well-being.

Research demonstrates that gratitude can have a profound and lasting impact on our health. Click To Tweet

Know Your Numbers

Most of us know what the number on the bathroom scale reads without even checking, but how well do you know the other numbers related to your health? Can you spout off your blood pressure, cholesterol or blood glucose numbers from memory? Many of us can’t, so instead we trust our medical professionals to track the information for us.

Educating yourself about your personal health information is extraordinarily important. It can help you to understand what’s normal for you, and it will give you the confidence to push your doctor to look deeper at something when you know something isn’t right.
Tracking your medical information can seem daunting, but you can use a simple online program such as My Medical to track all your records in one place. You can also access the records from anywhere, which can come in extremely handy in an emergency.

Most people recognize doing volunteer work has positive effects on your mental and emotional well-being. But did you know it can be good for your physical health too? A study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found a link between people who volunteer regularly and lowered blood pressure.

Volunteer Your Timevolunteer match, overall health

In addition to the health benefits, volunteering is a great way to meet people with similar interests and to share your expertise with people who need it. You can find volunteer opportunities in your area at VolunteerMatch.org.

Practice Self-Care

As a woman, taking care of yourself is something that gets pushed to the bottom of the list of things to do. Self-care is critically important to our well-being though. As women, we often feel as though we have to give to others first and put ourselves last. But if you’ve completely worn yourself down and left no time for rejuvenation, you have nothing left to share with others anyway. By taking the time to care for yourself first, you’ll find you have even more energy and time to share with others.

Self-care rituals don’t have to be time-consuming either. By taking time throughout the day to check-in and care for yourself, you’ll be less likely to find yourself completely drained. If you’re not sure where to start with self-care, check out this list of 45 simple self-care practices to get started.

Say “No” More Often

It might be easier to say yes when someone makes a request of you, but it’s not easier on your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, while it might initially feel more stressful to say no to a request, it can relieve stress in the long run. Simply because a request is a worthy one doesn’t mean you have to be the person to do it.

Consider new commitments carefully before agreeing. If you don’t feel like enthusiastically saying yes, then you’re probably better off saying no. It will give someone else the opportunity to participate and reduce the stress you feel from overcommitting yourself.

Older women Drinking Wine, overall healthDrink Some Wine

While excessive drinking can have serious health repercussions, research has consistently demonstrated drinking wine in moderation (one glass per day for women) can have positive effects in a variety of health-related areas. Moderate wine consumption, specifically red wine, has been shown to improve memory function, prevent blood clots, reduce inflammation, promote weight loss, reduce the risk of cancer, improve bone mass and reduce blood sugar problems, among many others.

You should still pay attention to the activities traditionally associated with good health, such as eating right and exercising. As you can see from this list, though, there are also a lot of nontraditional ways to improve your health and overall well-being.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock, provided by LaToya

Action: Subscribe to our blog. Read the posts with a glass of wine. Do it for your health.
Bio: LaToya has been involved in the fitness and health world for more than 25 years. An author and researcher, she has written extensively on topics ranging from alternative medicines to cutting-edge fitness programs. She now writes for eHealth Informer. LaToya has a passion for self-improvement and wants to make sure you have the tools and confidence you need to reach your goals, no matter your age or ability.

Need more support to embed healthy habits? These posts may help:

4 Stages to Healthier Habits

7 Healthy Lifestyle Tips: How Can You Create Better Habits?

How Do I Get Healthy Habits to Stick?

Replace Health Cares with Healthy Habits (from BlogHer)

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5

Tangerine Dream: It’s Pixie Month at The Oaks at Ojai Spa

It’s Pixie Tangerine season in Ojai, and we celebrated our love of the seedless fruit, the Oaks at Ojai spa treatments, and romance this past weekend.

chaise longuesJust to be clear, in this case, “we” was NOT my sister and I (see the part just there that mentions romance). Last year my sis and I went to the spa for Bike Week, so you can go for the active adventures, or wind down with spa treatments. Or both. This time I went for relaxation and spa treatments (you don’t have to be a guest to take advantage of the spa services, FYI).

For Pixie Month, my particular friend and I showed up in time for dinner, which included a Pixie mousse for dessert. Yes, you CAN get dessert at a fitness spa. Our goal was to relax after a busy week, so we took a short stroll after dinner, then sat in the hot tub contemplating our good luck at having it all to ourselves.

Ojai Meadows Preserve

The Ojai Meadows Preserve is a 5-minute drive from the Oaks at Ojai.

frog

Five of these little froggies would fit in the palm of your hand

April is Pixie tangerine month at the Oaks at Ojai. Ready for your visit? Click To TweetAfter breakfast, which included as many Pixies as we could fit in our pockets, we drove to the Ojai Meadows Preserve for a hand-in-hand stroll, where we saw several hundred teeny tiny frogs. We were tempted by both the morning hike and the aqua class at the spa (I have done both in the past, and loved them), but we were focused on our “together” time, so chose solo activities instead.

serenity garden

Hidden behind the pool is a serenity rock garden. You can add your own!

By the time we got back to The Oaks at Ojai, it was time for our spa treatments. In my case, that meant a pixie pedicure. Yup, it included a foot and leg scrub infused with tangerines, plus a fresh tangerine squeezed into the foot soak water. I almost chose tangerine as my nail polish color, then decided to go with a merlot color. I’m sure both sound delicious. My friend had a massage, which I was surprised to learn was the first he’d ever had in his life. How is it possible that he made it into his fifties without ever having a massage? In any case, he loved it, including the hot stones, and now he knows what he’s been missing.

Lake Casitas

If you come from Santa Barbara, stop for the views of Lake Casitas

ABC Channel 7 did a piece about Pixie month and the Oaks at Ojai, which we recommend you watch. The spa is only 45 minutes away from Santa Barbara, and includes a scenic drive past Lake Casitas. If you’re coming from L.A., it’s only an hour’s drive.

Rachel at Oaks at Ojai

Don’t let that smile fool you; Rachel is just waiting to make you laugh

My little extra piece of advice? You can go for a girls’ getaway (some friends did that a week before our visit), or with a male partner. Some people think the Oaks at Ojai is just for women, but that’s not the case at all. There were a number of men there (though mine was the handsomest). And if you want to laugh, ask for Rachel at the front desk. She’s a hoot.

Alexandra Williams, MA

This is not a sponsored post, though I was a special guest at the spa for the night.

 

23

Fall Prevention: Do You Fear Falling as You Age?

Feet in air Fall PreventionStart your Fall Prevention Program While You’re Still (Relatively) Young

Turns out that fear of falling starts to haunt us as we hit middle age. Either directly or out of concern for our aging parents, we start seeing more risk of hitting the ground and adjust our lives accordingly. Unfortunately “adjust” usually means shrink our world. We baby boomers (and our parents) stop doing things we once enjoyed as we fear injury. Have you discontinued an activity you once considered fun and now look at as risky? Then it’s time for some Fall Prevention.

Kymberly: In our family, we no longer snowboard after my husband’s fall led to shoulder surgery and my spill hurt my back.

Alexandra: I haven’t exactly fallen, but I did a major wipeout playing soccer back in 1998. After a number of knee surgeries, I no longer play soccer.

Fortunately we baby boomers can take action to prevent falls and bolster our balance so we age as actively and confidently as possible. Let’s arm (and leg) ourselves with a few insights. Plus take a look at Stability, Balance, and Age once you’re done reading this post.

Worried about falling? Increase core strength and apply any of 3 key strategies Click To Tweet

Kymberly: When Alexandra and I attended and spoke at an IDEA Personal Training Institute  conference, one of my favorite presentations (besides our own, of course!) was “Improving Balance and Mobility Skills.” This 6-hour session was offered by Karen Schlieter, MBA, MS whose expertise is in gerokinesiology, a new and specialized area of study that focuses on physical activity and aging. Some of her key points included the following:

Alexandra negotiates a hill without falling Fall Prevention

Is Alexandra trying to break a record or a wrist?

Women and Men Fall Differently

One: Did you know that one-third of older adults fall each year? Women tend to break their forearms and wrists; men tend to hit their heads and suffer traumatic brain injury. Hold it right there! That is not the future we baby boomers envision, is it?!

We need to work on our balance by controlling our center of mass, also known as our core. The stronger and more respondent our core is, the more we are able to shift our center of gravity safely, quickly, and comfortably.  Midlife and older is no time to ignore the core as part of fall prevention! So the first order of business is to strengthen our core.

Alexandra: Take advantage of the core exercises we present in our Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50.  Below are two selections from that collection. Give them a whirl. Then consider getting all the videos and content.

Rotating Abs/ Core Move  Video

Kneeling Core and Abs Exercise Video

3 Strategies for Fall Prevention

Two: When something unexpected threatens to up-end us, we try to maintain balance using several strategies. In order of use, they are:
Ankle strategy: the first place to adjust in order to stay upright is at the ankle joint. Most people send their spine or shoulders into tilt and end up on the ground as a result. Start implementing a small amount of sway or bend at the ankle as a postural, or balance strategy. For example, if you are out walking your energetic dog, who then bangs into your legs at full run, bend at the ankle and knees, not the spine, to protect yourself from going down.

If you're about to fall, which joint should you bend 1st to prevent the fall? Spine, ankle, knee? Click To Tweet

Before getting to the next two strategies, find out how good your balance is via this post:

How Good is Your Balance?

Kymbelry fallen and getting up Fall Prevention

Help, I’ve Fallen But I Will Get up. Right after a little nap….

Hip strategy: the bigger muscles around our pelvis help keep our center of gravity actually centered. If an ankle bend is not enough to keep us from a fall, we depend on the larger muscles that surround our hips. Again, keep the spine long and strength train the hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, hip extensors, and abs so they can support with extra oomph when balance surprises come along.

Step out strategy: The final strategy to kick into fall-prevention gear is to step forward, backward, or laterally. If you’ve ever done the panic shuffle when tripped, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Taking a quick salvation step or many depends on our senses, overall strength, and ability to scale our movement to our environment.  While we can’t do much to train our eyesight or hearing, for instance, we can be proactive on the latter two functions.

Don't Fall!

For Optimal Fall Prevention You Need More than Strength – POWER Up!

Three: The last big insight we want to share from Karen’s session is that we lose power ahead of strength. For reducing falls, we have to have power. To get back up quickly after a fall we need power. Yes, resistance training is important (twice a week seems to be the sweet spot between reaping benefits and being time/ life/ schedule efficient). However, power training tends to go by the wayside once we say good-bye to our 40s.

A quick definition of the difference between power and strength is that power has a speed and often an explosive element to it. Strength training is generally slow and controlled applied force. Bottom line — add some kind of jump to your life. Jump rope, perform squat jumps, do switch lunges, work in a few box jump ups.

Alexandra: I’ll add a few final comments. Fear of falling can actually contribute to a fall. Even if you haven’t fallen in the past, if you have a fear of falling, you are at more risk. As well, if you find yourself shuffling, you’ll want to work on lengthening your stride and picking up your feet, as a shuffling gait can lead to instability and decreased mobility.

Action: Do check out our Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50 if you want to become more fall proof. Ultimate Abs No-Crunch Abs Fall Prevention

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

 

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15

8 Ways to Sit Less; Move More

Sitting Pretty the movie, Sit lessHow to Sit Less with No Stress

Sit less. Easy to say; harder to make happen. No doubt you already know sitting a lot contributes to weight gain. Not just total time spent sitting, but uninterrupted “Sitting Pretty.” But do you know why? And how to work in movement breaks and less sitting? Are you finding yourself spending many hours at a computer, desk, or tv wondering how to find time to be active? Do you look at your cell phone in disbelief that you have been sitting for a loooooong time with no break? We have some fitspiration tips for you. Besides — “oy, stand up already!”

Sitting Does Not Compute

Even for us, we find it a challenge to pull ourselves away from the computers blogging about living actively as boomers. Fitness irony, right? There’s always one more email to answer or that quick post to enter. Next thing you know — wham! Sitting on the Dock of the Butt for hours on literal End!

Can you handle reading about leaking fat cells? Then read to the end. Ewwwwww.

Uninterrupted Sitting Time is the Worst

Total sitting time is making us fat, but Uninterrupted Sitting Time is even Worse Click To Tweet

First some realistic suggestions on how to sit less and move more:

  1. Set a timer on your computer, watch, or cell phone to remind you to get out of the sitting position. Ideal is to stand up and move about every 20 minutes. Shoot for at least once every 60 minutes at a minimum.
  2. Get an app to nag, motivate you to get up, stretch, stand, walk about — something; anything! (Fun Fit Fact: Midlife women comprise the biggest purchasers of fitness and health apps. Who says we aren’t techno savvy??!!)
  3. Create an inconvenient work or tv watching environment. For example, don’t use remote controls to watch television. You want a volume or channel change? Gotta get off your duff. Need a certain notebook to finish a post or computer document? Store your notebooks (pens, files, rulers, whatever you need on a semi-regular basis) away from your computer or desk. No cheating by rolling over to the notebook if your work chair has wheels. You have to actually stand up.
  4. Drink a lot of water. Are you with me? Yes, as we walk together to the bathroom. (Then leave me in privacy, please).
  5. Place snacks and drinks anywhere but within reach. You want it bad enough, you’ll get up.
    Liberty dog sit less

    Would this face motivate you to sit less and walk (the dog) more? Barkalicious and walkalicious

  6. Get a dog. Say Whaaaatt? Yes, if you have a dog, you will have to take breaks from sitting to let your wonderpoochie in and out. Your dog will need walks, play time, attention, fresh water, more food. See all the opportunities to get up, even if just for a minute or two?
  7. Read two of our prior posts : “Love Exercise; Work is a Pain Though,” and “Seated Posture: Part 6” You’ll especially enjoy the comments from the former. Let us know if you laughed a bit too.
  8. Buy a standing work station and actually work on it. Don’t count this as specific workout or exercise time especially if you are in nice work clothes you don’t want to sweat up. Approach time on a bike/ desk or treadmill/ desk as Not Sitting Time. For more on how and why to go this route, click now on this link to Fitness + Desk = FitDesk (no, we were not compensated to add this in. It’s just good stuff. And sorta humorous too)

Total Time Sitting: Do You Need Motivation or Education?

Kymberly lounging by the pool, Sit less

Sitting Pretty and that’s no Sitting Bull!

If your challenge is finding exercise time with all the sedentary work you are laboring under, ponder this: If you are not reaching your goals, it boils down to only two reasons – either not enough Motivation or Education. Motivation you have to get from yourself; Education is coming at you live in the next paragraph without further commercial interruption (unlike the sitting interruption we are aiming for. Oops that was a break right there).

Education About Leaking and Multiplying Fat Cells Will Motivate You Not To Sit Too Much!

Short version of what’s going on inside your body as you sit and sit and sit.

Your preadipocyte cells (pre-fat cells waiting in the wings) turn into full-fledged fat cells faster and in greater number when the body is “actively inactive.” That means you are working at being sedentary for hours at a stretch. Existing fat cells reload with more fat as well. Insert loud horror movie scream here!

church statue, Hamburg Sit less

Fight for Your Right to Move More

When muscles — such as glutes, in this case — are in a stretched position for an extended time, the cells in those muscles “leak” and “drip” lipids. Yes, that’s another word for “fat.” The weight of the body increases lipid production via a process called “mechanical stretch loading.” For those who like the science behind growing behinds, read these two articles on sitting causing fat gain. Brace yourself for the educational story about fat cells lurking and invading our muscles as we innocently plunk our hinies in one spot too long. Believe me, you will be motivated to sit less after reading the research results.

ACTION: Are you sitting as you read this? We thought so. Time to stand up and subscribe so you can enjoy moving more, sitting less, and aging actively. Enter your email in any of the subscription boxes; claim your bonus while you’re at it.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

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3

Best Exercises for Over 50 Year Olds: Part 5

What are the Best Exercises for Over 50 Year Olds?

You can create workout routines that are perfect for your baby boomer body armed with any of 6 exercise design principles. This post is the last in a 5 part series on creating the best workouts possible for the over 50 exerciser. (You will find links to Parts 1-4 at the end of this post).

Best exercises for over 50

No snide comments about side planks.

Apply insider strategies professional fitness leaders use to give yourself the gift of life-enhancing fitness programs that are low risk, yet high reward. Let’s maintain function and expand, not shrink our world as we exercise.

We boomers — born between 1946-1964 — want to enjoy the second half of life actively, comfortably, and energetically. Yet we have five to seven decades of accumulated aches and pains. Do joint issues limit your ability to do certain activities? I know knee arthritis has forced me to make numerous activity changes, especially this past decade.  Years of sitting, driving — of living life in front of our bodies — may have produced forward head misalignment, rounded shoulders, hunched posture, overly stretched or weak backs. While not elderly, frail, nor sedentary, we boomers are probably feeling the effects of the passing years.

Which brings us to the final program design principle in this series. In some ways you could argue that I saved the best for last.  Yup, All About Abs!

Principle 6: Avoid Ab Exercises that Bend at the Neck

Best exercises for over 50

You can do lots of fun things with a strong core

Another, more technical way to word that is:

Minimize Core Work and Ab Exercises that Require Spinal Flexion

Challenge yourself to select abs exercises that involve no crunches. While the traditional crunch has its place and value, the last thing we 50-70 year olds need is more forward rounding. Nor is a 6-pack a primary goal for us. Instead, perform moves that keep your head on the mat or that have very little opportunity to forward flex the neck.

Challenge yourself to select abs exercises that involve no crunches Click To Tweet

Work with, not against the anatomical reality of the abs: the Rectus Abdominis, Transversus, and Obliques are endurance, compression, and posture muscles. They are not designed for power (in contrast with the glutes and quads, which are power muscles, for example). Therefore emphasize postural, endurance and compression aspects of the abs. You may especially appreciate improving posture as you strengthen your core.

How many of us baby boomers already have forward head thrust, tight necks, rounded shoulders? Probably most, if you are typical older adults. When selecting abs exercises, simply ask yourself whether a given move exacerbates the above problems, is neutral, or counteracts them. The last option is ideal.

No Crunch Examples

A few primary examples of suitable compression abs moves for boomers are planks and the reverse curl or reverse curl with an oblique rotation (bringing the right hip towards the left ribcage, for instance).

Best Exercises for over 50 Bug series

Work core and coordination with the Bug Series

Another great option is the “Marching Abs” move where the upper body stays on the mat throughout.  Legs are bent at 90 degrees at the knees; hips are fairly open with the feet close to the ground. You march the feet, holding the knee angle constant, alternating right and left foot marches. Depending on core strength and back issues, you may decide to march the feet from the ground to about a foot from the ground — the most challenging version. If you have trouble maintaining great form or have difficulty maintaining alignment, march in space. Draw your knees closer to your chest, close down some of the hip angle, and march with your feet anywhere from one to two feet from the ground.

Want Tons More Examples that are No Crunch, Best Exercises for Over 50 Year Olds?

Truth bomb — Ab exercises alone won’t work to whittle any waistline fat. You probably already know that spot reducing is a myth. However, having a stronger core, better posture, and less back pain are all yours when you add abs to your workout program. Especially the kinds of core and abs exercises we’ve been talking about that minimize neck flexion and maximize the way your body performs and feels (versus simply how it looks).  Do check out what our Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50  offers. For one, you’ll get a LOT of great examples of moves that suit older adults and don’t depend on zillions of crunches.  For you visual and kinesthetic learners, the program offers 23 videos of ab exercises as well.

Ultimate Abs No-Crunch Abs

Ultimate Abs Sales Page

To get to the whole kit and kaboodle of the “Create the Best Workouts” blog post series, click on the links below that take you to Parts 1-4, Principles 1-5. You can go in any order really.

Create the Best Workout Programs for Your Over 50 Body

Create the Best Possible Over 50 Workouts: Part 2

Over 50? Create the Best Workouts Possible: Part 3

Create Great Baby Boomer Workouts: Part 4

ACTION: DON’T subscribe if you are not interested to receive weekly news on how you can make your second half of life an active one. Who needs one more email to delete from the inbox? However, if you DO want professional, insider strategies that will help you achieve your workout goals, this is your moment. Enter your email in any of the subscription boxes. See you weekly thereafter!

Kymberly Willliams-Evans, MA

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8

Practically Painfree with Pets and Purina

Kymberly holding Kila Pets

Having a pet makes us stronger

Not gonna lie. I am so OVER discomfort in my own body given my recent total knee replacement. However I am grateful that I have not been in much pain since my surgery several weeks ago. In fact I was able to come off pain meds while still in the hospital. While I attribute my nearly pain-free recovery to eating well and exercising regularly, one other unusual and surprising reason comes into play. Any guesses what allowed me to skip (ok limp and hobble) past pain and straight to its lesser cousin, discomfort? Hint – fur and bad breath are involved.

Apparently having a pet, especially a dog reduces pain in owners. Don’t have a dog? Well go get a furever friend aka “pain reducer” from your local shelter. Or not, as even non-owners can reap the benefits of interacting with a dog according to this study from Pain Medicine.

In my case, the desire to resume walking my dogs daily continues to be a big motivator to do my #^*$&(@#$ physical therapy.  I admit that the whimpering coming from my house is NOT my animals. (Flex, extend, hold. Gaaaahh!!)

Are there more overweight dogs, cats, or people in the US? #PurinaPartner Click To Tweet
Peppermint Patty pets

Peppermint Fatty – Living Life Large (and statistically in the majority)

Between therapy, dog walks, and working to get back to step, indoor cycling, and low impact aerobics classes, I had the fortune to attend a live chat on pet health and active aging. Hosted by Dr. Kurt Venator, a vet and fellow dog lover who works for Purina, he shared two Fido Fit Facts that caught my attention:

  1. An estimated 58 percent of cats and 54 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese (Don’t believe me about cats? Take a look at Peppermint Patty, who was deemed unadoptable given her obesity. My daughter found this out, adopted her and put PP on a vet-directed exercise and nutrition program).
  2. A whopping 85% of pet owners find exercising more enjoyable with a pet at their side.

Do you consider exercise a pain in the keester? Then isn’t this good news that you might actually like exercise just by adding fur and four legs?

Want less pain, especially post surgery? Get a pet or at least pet one #PurinaPartner Click To Tweet

Yes, pets can improve our comfort, health, and happiness in many ways, including:

  • Decreasing emotional distress during a painful medical procedure (I attest to this for sure)
  • Improving mood, which may secondarily improve pain
  • Enhancing cognitive functioning such as increased attention and memory
  • Reducing stress hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine, and epinephrine
  • Increasing endorphin levels (the body’s natural opiates)
  • Reducing blood pressure and heart rate
  • Increasing levels of oxytocin, a hormone that can change your stress response and pain experience
  • Improving self-esteem and motivation

Bow wow WOW to all those benefits! Dr. Kurt did NOT mention increasing guilt if I don’t walk my dogs. He did comment on the fact that he and Purina are committed to the health and well-being of pets and their owners so both pets and humans can live bigger, healthier, tail-waggier lives together. (By the way, this post is sponsored by Purina. My dogs are sponsored by my husband and me until they can find employment.) To be entertained and uplifted even more, read Midlife Fitness and Health Lessons from my Dog.

Midlife Fitness and Health Lessons from My Dog


If it weren’t for my pup pups, I can guarantee I would not have donned a raincoat, iced my knee, and set out in yesterday’s rain for a 40 minute walk. Pleading, trusting eyes are the ultimate motivators to move. Sure, we all came home wet. But I was pain free afterwards. Dog chow and treats all around! Uh, just the latter for me, of course.

Eager for you and your pets to be smarter as well as healthier? Chase this link:

Exercise, Nutrition, and Brain Games Make Your Dog Smarter. You Too!

ACTION: Get more scoop on ways you can improve your health and the health of your pet when you check out both this nifty infographic and run over to purina.com.  Seriously, the infographic is worth taking a look at.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

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16

The Best Time to Work Out: Now or Later?

“When is the best time to work out, especially if I am over 50?” a reader asked us. Actually many of our fitness class participants wonder the same. In those cases we tell them it’s whenever our classes are scheduled. For the rest of you though…..

Sooner or Later? Best time to work out?

Now? Then? Tell me When!

sandbird at the beach

The early bird gets the calorie burn

The Best Time to Work Out Is …

Kymberly: Your timing on the timing aspect couldn’t be timelier as we just read a concise wrap-up of factors that help people stay consistent with a workout program. The absolute BEST time is when you will actually go. You derive benefits from exercise whether it’s o’dark thirty or too damn early o’clock. However, people who exercise early in the day tend to be more consistent and therefore more successful. The early bird gets the burn!

What’s the Best Morning Workout?

When is the best time to work outRise and Shine, Workout People!

Alexandra: If you’re a procrastinator, I’d recommend morning as the best time to work out. That way you will be done with your exercise, and can focus on putting off all the other stuff you should be doing! Some of my university students sign up to work out later in the day simply because they don’t want to wake up early! Of course, by “early” they mean “before lunch.” So the best time for them is different than for most other age groups.

K: In short, the statistical reality is that human nature kicks in (sometimes even before the endorphin rush!). This plays out as those who put exercise later in the day tend to keep pushing it off…until it’s the next day. Then the next. Those who schedule exercise first thing simply adhere better.

As for me, I love to exercise in the evening when I can watch tv guilt-free as I pedal along on my indoor cycle. But then, I teach morning classes, so I’d say for me, the BEST time is when I am paid to work out and people are counting on me to show up.  Yup– that is my favorite time!

When is the best time to work out? Click To Tweet
Retro exercise Best time to work out

Increase Your Exercise Adherence – Become Blonde!

A: Sort of related, but not exactly (meaning: “not much really, but I just want to put it out there”) is that one trait people who have lost weight and managed to keep it off for at least 1 year have in common is that they eat breakfast. It didn’t matter what time of day they worked out, yet it did matter whether or not they ate breakfast (Wing & Phelan, 2005).

Consistency Trumps the Hour

Here’s the secret, no matter what time zone you’re in or if you put your workout where the sun does or doesn’t shine, Be Consistent!

K: Like F and F twins, great questions often come in pairs, so allow us to answer “what’s the BEST cardio activity?” while we’re at it. Click to find out.

Dear Readers: When do you work out and why?

ACTION: Now is the best time to subscribe, especially if you want the best tips to work out your bodacious baby boomer bod.

Photo Credits: Creative Commons

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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