Kymberly: Dear aerobic ladies: Since the same answer applies to both your questions, we are tackling them together. (Kind of like what guys said to us in our early dating lives, pre-hubbies. That “twin thing” again.) The bottom line is that the “best” activity is the one you will actually do. Log time and intensity. Which activity do you find most comfortable on your body? Which one will you stick with the longest? Which one keeps you injury free? The goal is to go as long as you can, as hard as you can, as often as you can. What do you actually LIKE doing? Yes, it’s that simple and accessible!
We could give you heart rate formulas and a discussion about involved joints and high impact versus medium or low impact, but why get caught up in all that? “Log time; be happy” is the best advice we can give you for cardio. Your body will tell you what you prefer doing. If not, Alexandra will.
Alexandra: First of all, no-one ever tackled me. It was more like throwing themselves at my feet. Or running away – I can’t remember which. But it involved some sort of aerobic workout. Which is my point entirely – you need some sort of cardio exercise. The exact “right” one kind of depends on you. Tina, which machine do you like better? Noel, do you prefer running or walking?
You have to do the one that you will actually do! What? That sounds like a skanky date proposal!
Alexandra:”Log time,” by the way, means writing down the amount of time you are doing your chosen activity. You don’t get to count the time spent “standing in the shade” or “checking my phone messages,” which is what Kymberly always does when we walk together on a gentle, uphill slope! Me personally, I hate to run. I want to exercise, not sweat! Walking is my favorite non-work-related exercise because it allows me ample time to play with my iPod (which I still don’t quite understand), with time left over for calling my teenager for iPod advice. I can’t make those kinds of calls if I’m running!
Kymberly: Excuse me, but “gentle, uphill slope” my Cinnabuns! Alexandra took me on a forced death march up a cliff with no end, under the raging sun, dangling the water bottle from her “busting my butt” hand. What I would have given for a nice, programmable, non-taunting piece of cardio equipment at that moment. So the new and best cardio activity for me now is to work my way downhill. Like what’s-her-twinnie, I am not a runner. The knees do not take well to all that pounding. The last time I did a running program was from my house to Alexandra’s back in the day when we were ahem, …younger. She lived a mile from me then and made pancakes for brekkie if I showed up on time. Then she would drive me home. So you can see where a running program really was not the best workout for me. The pancakes were the best though!
Again the “best” cardio workout is the one or ones you will actually engage in. Even “better” is to change up the activity. If you always power walk, try a stair climber now and then. If you always run on a treadmill, get outdoors and walk. Check out this article that proves Alexandra and I are geniuses with great advice when we tell you to do Interval Training and enjoy the process.
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When you hear about 5K, 10K and marathon races, you immediately think it’s a running race, right (especially as the words “running” and “race” are in the title)? And if you’re a Boomer woman who doesn’t actually enjoy running, you would probably then classify that race as “for someone else,” and move on to other things. But as I discovered a few years ago when I was invited to participate in a half marathon in San Francisco a few months after I’d had knee surgery, it IS possible to walk. As a matter of fact, lots of other participants will be walking too.
That half marathon was four years ago, and I still love walking, especially in scenic places. So when I was offered the chance to join the Lexus LaceUp Running Series in Palos Verdes, guess what I did? I ignored the “running” part of the title and signed up to walk the 10K. They have a 5K and half marathon too, but this time the 10K feels right for me.
It’s good to get out of your comfort zone once in awhile and try something that’s challenging, yet achievable. The distance isn’t challenging, but I have to stay under a 16 minute per mile time limit, so THAT is the challenge. I haven’t timed myself in years. But the race is in Palos Verdes, which is near where I grew up, so I’m looking forward to the outstanding scenery – beaches and cliffs and gorgeous homes, oh my.
Many of our posts share tips about the benefits of cardio movement on the brain, stress levels, weight gain, and disease prevention (Read the links for definitive proof that a walk can be as good as a run for many health goals). Yet we Boomer women are still NOT aging healthfully.
If you accept the importance of moving, yet reject the unpleasantness of running (the only running I ever enjoyed was when I played soccer), try walking the 10K with me on November 14. Or go for the 5K. Bring a group of friends and chat as you go. You can even sign up for the December 06 event in Riverside and do two (okay, you can do one or the other). The cost is quite low, especially when you factor in the 30% discount if you use my code: FunandFit30.
If you DO happen to enjoy running, you can still get the 30% discount, plus the pleasure of passing me early on in the race. Whether you run or walk, you’ll enjoy a Sierra Nevada beer toast, local food-truck brunch, and music. And if you’re a serious runner, you’ll be glad to know you get chip timing, real time results, tech T-shirt, sticker, and a high quality finisher’s medal. This link has all the info.
See you at Pelican Cove Park on November 14!
I was not compensated for this post. I did receive free entry, which is the perfect motivation for me to get my walking shoes on and drive down to the Lexus LaceUp in Palos Verdes. Besides, two charities are receiving monies from the registration fees, so that’s extra motivation right there.
Well, Donna not only are we going to tell you exactly what to do and how, but also stick around to discover one mistake exercisers make when trying to boost their metabolism. You are also going to learn which foods help you be a calorie burning heater even when you are not active. But first a word from our dictionary:
Basal metabolism: The minimal energy expended to maintain respiration, circulation, peristalsis, muscle tonus, body temperature, glandular activity, and the other vegetative functions of the body.
zzzzzzz snork. What did that just say? In Fun and Fit translated style, that says, “If you want to burn kcals at a faster rate (helps with weight loss and maintenance), speed up your at-rest baseline usage of energy.”
Eleven variables affect your metabolic rate. According to the Oct. 2012 issue of ACE Certified News, “exercise is easily the most adjustable variable (of these 11) in total daily energy expenditure.” Current research indicates that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the most effective method for raising your metabolic rate and losing weight, so we’ll be super thoughtful and define it. Essentially, it means alternating your workout into two speeds – very intense, and rest. The intervals can vary, such as 60 seconds work/ 60 seconds rest, or the very popular Tabata style: 20 seconds work/ 10 seconds rest, which our colleague Tamara Grand explains in this Tabata Training post.
High Intensity vs. High Impact
By the way, standard bodybuilding won’t work for your goals, as it doesn’t burn enough calories or have the required after-effects. What DOES work is sprinting, biking, boot-camp moves such as burpees, stair-climbing, weight-lifting, and many other moves where you can push yourself to a 9 or 10 level of intensity on a 1-10 scale. High intensity doesn’t have to be high impact, which is a mistake many exercisers make when choosing moves. In case you’re not into “jumpy” high impact moves, do low impact, high intensity moves instead, such as spiderman push-ups. They are very low impact, yet as you’ll see if you try a few, they are definitely high intensity.
Cardio + Weight Training = Faster Metabolism
We were once asked about “amping up my old ass metabolism” by a reader, so you might like to read what we told her (hint: we didn’t call her “old”). In addition to HIIT, you definitely want a weight training component. Our post about the caloric benefits from the metabolic spike explains the advantages of combining cardio and weight training, but in case you’re too exhausted to click the link, it essentially says that “with cardio, you can burn 10-12 kcals a minute; with weight training it’s only 8-10 kcals per minute. But due to a magical thing called the metabolic spike (not a volleyball term), you will continue to burn kcals efficiently for about an hour after you finish working out, even if you’re sitting on your
old ass donkey doing nothing.
The term “metabolism” specifically refers to the breakdown of food and its subsequent transformation into energy your body needs. The best way to make sure you are breaking down and using the kcals/ energy from your food is to do two things: 1) eat food that’s a good balance of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats; and 2) eat at regular intervals. An abrupt calorie-reduction or starvation diet can severely reduce (i.e., slow down) your basal metabolic rate (BMR) by up to 30%, and a restrictive, low-calorie diet can decrease it by as much as 20%.
Basically, we just said, “Don’t skip meals. Don’t eat crap.” You’re welcome for that memorable translation!
We hope we’ve answered your question. If we have, go do 10 spiderman push-ups! If we haven’t, go do 20!
Readers: What high intensity, low impact moves have you discovered that we can share with other readers, especially those with bad knees?
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Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Kymberly: Dear Gina: As you are doin’ the Tighten Up in Texas, keep in mind this pithy and wise quote I made up myself: “Keep the mind clear and the body confused.” Always know what, why, and how you are performing your resistance exercises. That’s keeping the mind clear.
And change up those resistance training exercises every so often. That’s where the body confusion comes in. Be careful not to mix up the two and wonder what the heck you are doing and why, but gosh, you sure have done it for a long time. That’s akin to saying “gee the food was bad, but at least they had big portions!”
Anyway, we are really talking adaptation and progression here, not muscle memory. You want muscle memory, which allows you to achieve good form and coordination. And you want to constantly push yourself to progress. Once you adapt to a move, it’s time to vary the exercise in one of many ways.
Alexandra: I want some muscle memory. I want to remember what, why and where my muscles are! I had them just a minute ago. I think they got lost behind my Buns of Cinna! Geez, at this point I have a Samwise and pithy quote that I made up, and it’s better than Kymberly’s. It is this “Frodo, Frodo, it’s me – Sam. You have Muscle Alzheimer’s.” I too want to adapt and progress, but I call it something different. I call it “I let my boys make it through their teen years by reminding myself it would soon be over, and I would again find harmony and joy in their company.” Adapt? Yup. Progress? They’re alive aren’t they? So some days I lift my car keys and purse 15 times as I contemplate running away for 3 years. Other days I lift my car just once, and contemplate hurling it, and myself, over a cliff. Light weights one day, heavy the next.
K: Ummm, so where were we? Basically, adaptation can occur anytime between 1 and 12 weeks– for each new move. Unless you are Alexandra, then it’s a lifelong process. For you, Ginaroo, I would change up about 20-30 percent of my workout every few weeks. Don’t completely throw out one routine for another all at once. Morph your routine with one, two, or three new approaches each week without getting caught up in exact formulas. If you no longer see or feel progress with a given exercise, change something about it. If you feel stale with a move, throw out the old Cinnabuns. Couldn’t resist.
As for what element to change, that is the fabulosity (made up that word too and proud of it!) of resistance training. You can select to change any number of elements to keep your body adapting upwards and program fresh:
So many ways to vary: the exercise itself, the equipment, the speed, the balance factor, the resistance factor, the range of motion, the order of your routine. Get happy and choose what appeals to you.
A: Forget your troubles, come on get happy, gonna chase all your weight away. Said Hallelujah, come on get happy, get ready for the push-ups day! What appeals to me has nothing to do with working out. It involves curly dark hair and manly t-shirt smell. Really, I just go to the gym and work out so I can sniff the hotties. Oh, and I’m paid.
K: And whoever said to change your routine to avoid muscle memory, needs to read our blog in a big way. You change your routine to avoid lack of progress from overadaptation. Force the body to adapt upwards. Just as I have had to adapt to having a twin who lifts car keys for a workout. As you can tell by the fine quality of my advice, I do all the heavy lifting for her.
You will then be so strong you will want to subscribe to our blog to get active aging answers twice a week. Subscribe now in the box above or to the right.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Certainly walking isn’t as intense as running. However, both activities target similar muscle groups, which may be why results in improving heart health are so similar. Research suggests that the type of exercise may not be as important as how much you go, go go. So move forward; locomote; get your gait on!
Walking for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:
Want some easy, practical walking tips to get you started or rev you up more? Watch our short video on Walking for Weight Loss (and More). Then bust a move to our post Great Gait: 7 Steps to Better Walking to really get the most out of your walks.
Walk For Weight Loss (video)
Another Fun Fit Fact about walking is that for every hour you perambulate (just had to use that jaunty word), your life expectancy may increase by two hours. Not only that, but a faster stride may also be a predictor of a longer life. (Convinced yet? Read our post Can Walking Really Get You to Your Fit Destination?)
Of all the cardio exercise options out there, walking has the lowest dropout rate! It’s the easiest, most accessible, positive change you can make to improve your heart health. And the benefits are exponential. The more you walk, the greater your odds of lowering heart disease risk. What are you walking for?
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A 56 year old reader asks how to quickly get back into shape in time for a two-piece vacation:
Usually I’m in fairly good shape (for my age). I had a really hectic last year with a big work project and it threw me off my game (white flour and sugar became my boyfriend). I probably have about 30 pounds to lose. A normal fun day for me used to be a 25 mile ride followed by a couple of hours of kayaking. I did do a 12 mile hike at sea level a few weeks ago and did fine. I just started walking 4-6 miles, 3-4 times a week. I have access to a fabulous gym and am willing to do whatever there. I enjoy weight training and am familiar with most of the moves.
My eating is not too messy. I’m a vegetable and fruit junkie and am fine without meat. The bread I buy is 100% whole grain and I look for high fiber. Oatmeal or eggs with toast is my usual breakfast. I don’t drink alcohol, sodas of any kind, fruit juices or sports beverages. It’s only coffee in the morning and water the rest of the day. My one vice is coconut milk French Vanilla creamer. It’s almost non-negotiable!!
Kimberly, Lake Tahoe, CA of fiftyjewels.com
Alexandra: Wow, that is pretty detailed. You sound quite healthy, so perhaps it’s a matter of some tweaks to your exercise regimen and diet, not major changes.
Write down everything you are eating, and I mean everything, including 2 sips of wine, 1 bite of Ben & Jerry’s, and 3 almonds. Just the awareness of what you’re eating will create change. You need to find out where you are sabotaging yourself, as oatmeal and eggs aren’t the issue, and you already seem knowledgeable about the hidden sugars/ calories in fruit juice.
Once you’ve tracked your food choices for 3 days, look through your list to see what you can eliminate without obsessing or getting into a battle with yourself. Be aware that a 350 kcal Ding Dong won’t give you the energy, satiety or nutrients that two 390 kcal stalks of celery with peanut butter will. As your creamer is important to you, keep it. I suspect you will need to look at portion sizes more than food choices.
People who are successful at keeping weight off after weight loss aim for 1.5 – 2 pounds loss per week. Thirty divided by 7 weeks is 4 pounds per week. Probably not sustainable in the long run, but if you get a deficit of 14,000 calories per week, you can do it. I do not recommend or endorse this solution. As the possessor of an advanced counseling degree, I’m all about the positive, not the negative, and I’d rather see you feel successful about losing a realistic 15 pounds than unsuccessful if you aim for 30 and reach 15. Can you get a 7,000 per week deficit?
Kymberly: Well, Kimberly, not only do we share a name, but also a similar dilemma. Like you, I have always been active, am 56, and gained 30 pounds in the last few years even though I eat more healthfully than ever before. So I hear you … except that part about wearing a bikini! One-pieces are my friend.
My sister’s key tips are intake focused. My suggestions are output oriented. You need to sub in high intensity interval training at least twice a week and get busy with that strength training that you are fortunate to already value.
Walks are great, (and what I can manage while I await surgery for some knee issues). In your case, you need to change things up as you walk. Get specific cardio plans for weight loss here and here. Basically you need to alternate your long, steady state walks with shorter, heart pounding interval hikes that push your heart rate as high as you can safely tolerate for about 2-3 minutes, then level out. Repeat several times. Push yourself by climbing a steep hill, either outdoors or on cardio equipment such as a treadmill or elliptical. Pick up the pace for a power walk. Strap on a backpack that is loaded and walk hard and fast. If you are kayaking, paddle as if sprinting for a finish line.
Find routes, exercise modes, and paces that vary so you constantly force your body to adapt upwards to the new demands. Alternate the long, semi-comfy routes with shorter, harder ones.
As we age, strength training gets more, not less important. While overloading all major muscles at least two times a week is fantastic, you need to aim for at least three times per week given your time frame and goals. Instead of performing single joint, isolated moves (such as hamstring curls) do multi-joint, or compound exercises, such as squats or lunges.
Since you like resistance training, try this Tabata workout from our friend Tamara Grand. It’s a high intensity, low impact routine that will give your metabolism a calorie-burning jolt.
Alexandra and Kymberly:
Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Not only will you be sleeping instead of eating late-night snacks, you will also be giving the hormones leptin and ghrelin time to do their work. You already know about Sugar. Now you know about Sleep. The other “S” is Stress, which you discovered was an issue during that big work project. Consider listening to meditation music or words while you’re on those walks.
In fact, meditation has just been shown to help with losing weight– pretty exciting stuff, right??!! — so consider adding even 5 minutes of meditation or guided visualization to your day. Our meditation post was written before the recent research on meditation aiding weight loss. Click though, as you will find some good ways to begin a practice.
Alexandra: Choose from above the activities and methods that work for you and that you will actually do. Maybe you’ll enjoy a dance class. Maybe you’ll prefer to do high intensity interval training by yourself in the weight room. Maybe you’ll change the timing of when you eat that fruit.
And of course, take a look at a few of our previous posts that help answer your question:
Lose 10 Pounds in 4 Weeks
Best Workouts to Burn Fat
Do You Have a Stuck Metabolism?
Keep us posted on your progress, as we’d love to help you celebrate your successes. Besides, research has proven that making your goals public increases your chances of success. Okay, I just snuck Accountability in as bonus Tip #7.
Now we’re off to locate our swimsuits for all those hikes we’ll do in Hawaii when we sneak ourselves along on your vacation.
Call to Action: Take your own vacay twice a week when you subscribe to our blog. Enter your email in the right column or above and start reaching your active aging goals starting …. whenever you take our advice!
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
HURRY! Just one more week to get our FREE booklet, 34 Guilt Free Strategies to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain. Subscribe to our blog now.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Incorporate the following 3 “activities” into your life to enter 2015 with less — less weight, less stress, less mental clutter. Each supports and interacts with the others.
Use meditation to better understand your relationship to food, exercise, and stress. For example, meditation can assist weight loss efforts by reducing emotional eating, binge eating — basically any kind of eating that is not mindful. Meditators generally have higher consciousness of their thoughts and actions. They therefore make better decisions regarding health choices.
Guided Meditation Apps
If you are eager to get started with meditation, try the free meditation apps listed in our post: Meditation, Menopause, and Memory.
2. Sleep Sufficiently
Several studies link lack of enough sleep with obesity. For one, if you are getting only 5 or 6 hours of sleep each night, instead of the recommended 7 to 9 you are awake more hours slugging down extra snicky snacks.
For another, sleep deprived brains tend to make poor decisions. “Yes, I neeeed that high calorie, sugary late night treat. I deserve it. The calories disappear after midnight just like Cinderella’s coach and horses.” Uh huh. Let me also ask — do you feel like working out when you are tired?
Too little sleep also affects the hormones that regulate appetite and fat storage. The little gremlin, ghrelin whispers a naughty message more to the sleep deprived — “you are hungry. Eat, my pretty, eat.” Simultaneously, leptin the lambkin that usually cues you to back away from the fork, goes to sleep on the undernapped.
Still awake? Then read our post on how insufficient sleep causes weight gain.
3. Breathe “Actively and Energetically”
Breathe Your Way to Less: Less Food, Less Weight, Less Stress
Active breathing simply means paying attention to your in- and exhalations. No judgment, no expectations. Just be aware of your breaths. Energetic breathing is short and fast. Inhalations are forceful and through the nose. Expand your belly as you inhale. Exhale with equal force, contracting your belly.
Use energetic breaths as a natural, zero calorie picker upper instead of food, caffeine, or other quick fixes to gain energy. Breathing energetically stimulates your central nervous system the way exercise does — first by elevating, then calming you.
With both kinds of breaths, you are building self-awareness and interrupting unconscious patterns that may not be serving you. Become a better breather by inhaling the info in our post, Breathe Life Into Yourself.
True — meditating, sleeping more, and breathing with intent alone will not directly cause calories to burn faster than holiday buns baked too long and hot. However, combined with everything else you are doing to keep weight at bay, these 3 tools can be part of your powerful arsenal as you wrap up the holiday season, the year .. and maybe a few gifts too.
Give a gift to yourself. Join us at the Tenaya Wellness Spa Retreat coming up faster than energetic breaths. Jan 16-19 in Yosemite. Click to see the sessions, treatments, meals, and more that you will get as their guest. BONUS – we’ll meet each other as we are presenting workouts and wellness sessions. Wonder whether you are doing common exercises correctly … or um, well, stoopidly? Eager to take a cutting edge ABC: Abs, Butt, Core workout? You get it all at the Tenaya wellness weekend.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
All of the following, seemingly contradictory statements are true … depending on …. your goal. Ready to mix and match with more style than when you are in a Macy’s dressing room? GO! (Answers at the end of the post). And when you see a link, click on it for more detailed scoop on each action and benefit.
A. Cardio training – of any type — is best.
B. Strength training is more critical than cardio activity, especially for baby boomer women.
C. As you enter midlife, you need to incorporate 7 specific movement habits into your cardio workouts to get the best results.
E. As few as 10 minutes of high intensity training per day is sufficient.
F. Make sure to include resistance training, aerobic exercise, and stretching in your workout program at least 2-3 times per week.
G. Aim first for Amount of movement; Next for Type of activity; then for Intensity of exercise level
H. Go as long as you can, as hard as you can, as often as you can.
Which numbered goal below goes with which lettered advice above?
Bottom line if you forget everything? (Well, that means you aren’t performing any cardio, because you just read that cardio enhances memory). Anyway, if nothing else, simply remember that doing something is almost always better than doing nothing when it comes to accruing health benefits. And the more fitness benefits you want out of your movement, the more frequency, attention, and effort you have to commit to.
Commit to follow us, up hill, down dale, over the pale. Subscribe now if you haven’t yet, and get FREE our booklet, 34 Guilt Free Strategies to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain. Get insider fitness advice all year!
To make it easy to share (and because I want to increase my Pinterest skills), I made a nice easy pin of our 10 tips to avoid holiday weight gain that you can access at the next big get-together.
As we’ve mentioned before, if you incorporate more movement into your daily activities, you can successfully lose weight (or keep weight from jumping on to your body in the first place). So it sure would be nice if house cleaning fell into the “watch those kcals just fall off my body” category, wouldn’t it? (PS It’s also nice if you want to subscribe and get active aging answers from certified fitness pros twice a week).
Good news for all of us who have worked up a sweat changing the bedsheets, vacuuming the rugs, and dusting the ceilings (please don’t say I’m the only person who does this) – according to a recent study in the U.K., a good spring cleaning can burn more calories than running a marathon. Since I hate to run marathons, this is welcome news indeed!
According to the study (done by promotionalcodes.org.uk), a good spring cleaning burns 3,655 kcals, while a marathon burns 2,500 – 3,500. Yes, it will take you longer to do the cleaning than the running, but look on the bright side – you didn’t have to run. This is the breakdown:
Quick math tells me that’s 16 hours of work. And I see no category for jumping onto the mattresses when you discover spiders lurking under the bed. I’m sure there’s a high calorie burn for that. I can testify that my heart rate was definitely in the “Working Very Hard” range.
Cleaning external doors isn’t my thing, though I do scrub down the area by the doorknobs. I’d also love to see the calorie count for scrubbing all the kitchen cabinets plus the stove hood and kitchen walls, mainly because I want credit for these chores. Does sweeping count as part of scrubbing?
So, who’s up for 20 minutes on the stairs? And who thinks this is good news? I know I’m excited, though I doubt I’ll pull on my Lorna Jane gear and put out a 16 hour house chore workout. And how many calories did I burn getting all the dog hairs off the mini-trampoline?
Action: Another easy and free action is to have us come to you twice a week. Not to clean, mind you. But to share tips on how to age actively and enjoy the second half of life. SUBSCRIBE now and grab your bonus while you’re at it. Also, could you get that dust bunny from my corner when you’re done entering your email?
Alexandra Williams, MA