Author Archives: Fun and Fit
Author Archives: Fun and Fit
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).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.
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.
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.
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.
Text & Photos: Alexandra Williams, MA
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Just 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.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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
Before getting to the next two strategies, find out how good your balance is via this post:
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.
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.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
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.
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).
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!
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
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).
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!
Another, more technical way to word that is:
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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:
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:
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.
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:
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
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!
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
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).
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
Is living longer one of your goals? I can hear you now: “Only if those added years are quality ones that I enjoy in good health.” I hear ya; I feel ya. Who wants extra time that is devoid of fun, interest, and good relationships? Pffftt to that.
Did you know walking can prolong your life? And the more steps you take, the more years you add to your life. We’re talking good years (statistically speaking, of course. I certainly can’t predict your future, though you sure can heavily influence yours).
Now if you are already thinking ahead, you might be trying to trap me with this bold assertion. “Saaay, Kymberly. What if I start walking and walking heaps and tons. Will I gain immortality?” Yeah, walking also adds brain power. True fun fit fact.Walking can prolong your life - by how much? Click To Tweet
Let’s go with what a study out of Aussieland says: When 2500+ middle-aged Australians increased their daily pedometer steps from a sedentary level to 10,000 steps per day, they reduced their mortality risk by 40%. In short, walk more = live longer.
What if racking up 10,000 steps a day is too daunting or unrealistic for you, yet you still think living longer sounds tempting? Add just 3000 steps per day and you’ll reduce risk of a premature death by 12%. Can you devote the equivalent of walking 1.5 miles or for 30 minutes daily in order to add years to your life?
Another benefit? Just 30 minutes a day of walking reduces your heart attack risk as much as a high-intensity exercise program. For those of us over 50 with joints that rebel at high intensity activities this is good news indeed.
There you are living extra years thanks to your 30 minutes per day walking. But why not also become more fit altogether? Read “Can Walking Really Get You to Your Fit Destination” if you are keen to lose weight, maintain your current weight, or simply improve your health. Also check out “Walk to Lose Weight and Gain Fitness.” Your goal will help determine your walking regimen.
Walking is pretty darn safe and low risk. But let’s say you get so motivated to live longer and increase your fitness level that you overdo it. If you get sore muscles or joints (or want to prevent injury and soreness in the first place) then follow our suggestions in these three posts:
Or you could walk with amazing form and professional level technique if you take into consideration 7 Easy Steps to Walk Better. Exactly — you can avoid injury, stiffness, and muscle aches in the first place if you practice “Great Gait.”The more steps you take, the more years you add to your life. How many steps? How many years? Click To Tweet
Personally I love walking daily, especially as my dogs turn their sad eyes on me if I try to skip a day. This past month however, the term “walker” took on a new meaning for me. Instead of the word defining me as someone who ambulated daily, it referred to the walker I had to use post total knee replacement surgery. Ever try to sneak up on someone when rockin’ a walker? Clunk drag clunk drag. But it helped me get those vital steps in the first week after surgery. Now in week three post “new knee” surgery, I have graduated from the walker to crutches and finally to no assistance as of two days ago.Like never before, I appreciate the joy and life enhancing aspects of simple walking. With my new knee and the evidence on living longer via walking, I plan to go forever and ever and ever and ……….
ACTION: Walk your fingers to our subscription box; enter your email; claim your bonus; get the latest on living the most active life possible post 50.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA