Archive

Category Archives for "Cardio/ Aerobic Exercise"
25

A Walk is as Good as a Run

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

More Mesa walk

Do Walk Away! And walk this way.

Are you a runner whose impact days are numbered? Or a walker who wonders whether you need to pick up the pace but really don’t want to?

Happy news for you non-joggers, former runners, and wanna be walkers who want a strong heart without the joint stress. Brisk walking may be as good for your heart health as a run.

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!

Heart Smart Fun Fit Facts

Walking for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:

  • Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity.
  • Enhance mental well being. Think back to walks you’ve taken. Ever start out stressed and come home happy? Mood moment!
    Kila and Liberty on rock

    Walk? Run? We don’t care. Just take us out. Makes our dog hearts happy.

  • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer. May not sound sexy, but avoiding disease is pretty important as we age, right?
  • Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. See above. Combine it with the fact that women are at greater risk than men for heart disease and we might as well open that front door and get going.
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis. I want young personage bones and am willing to walk for them. And you?
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
  • Improve blood lipid profile. Make your doctor happy.
  • Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes. Have you heard that this is one of the fastest growing diseases in the US? Don’t contribute to this stat.

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)

Take a City Walking Tour

Why is my Lower Body in Pain?

The “Best” Pedometer

More Life and Pep in Your Step

Beach view for Kila and LibertyAnother 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?)

Standing during Ranch walk break

Done with Run; Talk about Walk!

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?

Would you like fab posts like this one to magically arrive in your inbox twice a week? Subscribe in that nice little box on the right side of this post, and you’ll even receive a free copy of “Look 5 Pounds Thinner in 5 Minutes.” 

15

Are These Boomer-Friendly Fitness Trends in Your Future?

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

IHRSA TRX booth

Hanging out at IHRSA 2015

Wonder which fitness products, trends, and exercises lie in your future active life? Then shoulder-shove your way down trade show aisles with us to catch highlights from the recent 2015 IHRSA Convention and Trade show (association for fitness club owners/ managers). Our mission? To ferret out and focus on the equipment and workouts suited for Boomers (or anyone who wants to age actively, yet has joint aches and pains and limitations, oh my). Yup, we’re both fitness trendsetters and trendspotters.

Alexandra: But first, a shout-out to ourselves, as it turns out we were both in the Top Ten for most socially engaged people at the convention.

We were beat out by keynote speaker Arianna Huffington, a popular conference speaker, and Dai Manuel (a fellow FitFluential ambassador). Maybe it’s time to raise our rates. Hmmmm.

20150311_175131

I’m sitting in the 4th Row Center where Arianna could see me and be inspired

Kymberly: Arianna can take first place as most influential online IHRSA “attendee” with no envy from me as she was so clever in her keynote. I almost thought Alexandra wrote her material, that’s how funny Mz Huff was. Please note that a certain Me was ranked higher than a certain Not Me twinster. Score!

Wearable Technology is IT (Get it?)

As for a key trend coming your way bigger than our hair and shoulder pads in the 80s — wearable technology is IT! Bands, apps, bracelets, watches, cords, equipment screens, club check-in software, online community connections, and more are infiltrating, permeating, hyperventilating our fitness future. Proof is coming in that tracking and measuring devices actually work! People who use technology are moving more.

Kila wearing the Skulpt AIm

No

Skulpt Aim measuring Kymberly's quad

Yes

We saw all kinds of amazing gadgets that gather your workout data, health profile, preferences, fat levels–you name it– in order to help you succeed with your health and fitness goals. Need accountability? Motivation? Feedback? Workout buddies? An exercise program to go? if you can conceive of it, you will find it at the IHRSA trade show which was loaded with ingenuity and visionary high techy thingies. Hey, I am currently testing out a handheld device that measures my body fat and muscle quality, courtesy of Skulpt Aim. I simply hold up to certain muscles the Skulpt Aim, which looks like a smart phone and voila — personalized data that I wish would lie to me. But it doesn’t.

You probably are contributing to the health and fitness tech trend right now. Have you ever used a pedometer? (Read our post on assessing pedometers) Slapped on a heart rate monitor? Synced a workout tracking device to your phone? Input info into a cardio machine that goes to a personal profile? Plead guilty to being a trend driver.

So you’re all fitted up with monitoring devices, but which workouts offer options for midlifers who may suffer from joint issues?

 

TRX Training for Midlifers
Alexandra: We have taken a few of the TRX suspension training classes before, but we wanted to know if they had a workout that would be suited for those of us with bad knees (Kymberly’s recent surgery), bad wrists (Alexandra’s recent fall), or other issues that make it necessary to modify so many other workout regimens.

pic of TRX training at IHRSA

Getting great instruction at the TRX booth

So many of our students have asked our opinion about suspension training, worried they might fall or embarrass themselves if they tried it, so we went straight to the top to find answers. By “top” we mean we had our very own personalized workout with Dan Mcdonogh, the TRX Training and Development Manager and 2012 IDEA (our professional association) Fitness Instructor of the Year.

With a focus on good form (we loved him for that), Dan took us through a myriad of options for some of the main moves: squats, lunges, planks, rows, push-ups. Every time we said, “that would be an issue for someone with knee problems,” or “how can I do this move if I’m worried about balance,” Dan had a solution. (Keep an eye out for our video of this workout coming soonish to our website. See Dan survive standing between us as we crack jokes and compliment his red hair).

End Result: We totally loved this workout, as it helped increase our strength, balance, core and flexibility, all of which are important for Boomers (well, anyone really). I will just mention that I was amazing. Kymberly might have been too, but I kept poking her in the surgery leg.

TRX with Dan O'Donough and Fraser Quelch

Two of the world’s top TRX trainers – Dan Mcdonogh and Fraser Quelch. We are Superstahhhs.

Kymberly: Poke, poke, no joke. I really kneed to find exercise options that offer intensity with minimal joint impact. After doing a pain free happy dance for TRX, I found my cardio nirvana on the Total Wave Fitness.

More than two months of no cardio (aside from mosey level dog walks) has left me desperate to get my sweat on. Where, oh where is a high intensity, low impact exercise mode right for knees in rehab? That is fun? With variety? And smooth comfort like a Tom Jones song? Oh my gosh, but gliding on the Wave machine is perfect for anyone who wants an aerobic heart rate with no bone pounding. If you want to go for a ride and slide from side to side, talk your club into getting one of these. Sore feet? Wonky knees? Try the Total Wave. No excuses or downtime for joint pain sufferers. Santa Barbara Spectrum are you listening? Buy this for me — and the other members too, of course.

This crazy looking contraption could be the answer to those of you for whom aches and pains keep you from taking cardio classes or getting on cardio equipment. If you send me one, I WILL find room for it in my house.

Here’s to finding ways to work out as we age.
Readers: How has an injury or chronic condition kept you from exercising? What solution(s) did you find? And … is your klout score higher than ours? Comment below. And subscribe if you have not already.

 

18

How Do You Pick the Best Workout Shoe?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Walking at the Ranch in TherafitsWe get asked often which are the BEST shoes for working out, walking, taking fitness classes, going to and from the gym, or for feet that are in pain.

In fact, we just got asked that again in this radio interview with nationally known fitness pro, Debra Atkinson. Better Sex, Arms, and Knees as You Age.  For sure go listen to the podcast. Not only will you find out how to put the best shoes on your feet, but also you will get some laughs.

Kymberly: When it comes to picking appropriate shoewear, I advocate wearing a pair specific to each activity. For instance, when I walk on paved or smooth paths, I choose Therafit walking shoes. When tackling hikes or trails with uneven terrain, I prefer my trail shoes. And for teaching my indoor fitness classes, I select shoes from yet a different company that makes indoor studio shoes solely for women.

Therafit, shoe tracing, Kymberly

Both Therafits fit!

Are You Ready to Get Picky?

I rarely wear my indoor fitness shoes outdoors as I want them to offer top performance as long as possible. I switch to a sandal, clog, or slip on shoe once I leave the gym. Your feet are your first line of defense so put your focus and funds into giving them activity-specific shoes.

Since Therafit sent us several pair of shoes to test out, we thought we’d share a few comments on their newest style, the Austin. (Consider this the official disclosure that we received free shoes). Given my knee injury and upcoming surgery, I am wearing comfort shoes more these days than usual. Ever since I was in my twenties, my family has teased me for always choosing “sensible shoes” over heels. This slip on clog definitely keeps my reputation intact for preferring cute, comfortable shoes over fancy, dress-up footwear. Because I can get the clog on and off without bending my knees much, they are coming with me to the surgical center. A girl has to mosey with style and a decent gait when walking off anesthesia you know! Or more to the point – I’ll be glad not to have to lace up anything at that point.clogs from Therafit

Want to Win Your Own Pair of Comfy Shoes?

One big tip if you decide to get your own pair of the Austin clogs or if you win the giveaway Therafit is offering one of our readers — order a half size up. You’ll want to be sure your heel sits inside, and not on the slight lip at the back of the shoe.

Alexandra: For picking exercise, we always say the best is the one you’ll do. For shoes, I say the best is the one that feels comfortable right away (needs no breaking in), and supports you in a way that helps protect your joints, muscles and ligaments.

Why Not Go Barefoot?

I know that the barefoot slippers had a lot of positive research a few years ago, but then it turned out that the major brands selling those shoes got sued (and lost) for false claims and research. So I continue to be in favor of actual shoes, especially for the university students I teach, as they have not had a strong history of movement, and their body awareness isn’t the same as it was for their parents’ generation. (I’ll save my opinion about the lack of budget support in elementary and secondary schools for P.E. for another post).

I wrote a long article about choosing fitness shoes for IDEA Fitness Journal a few years ago, and am hoping this link will get you to the article. Sometimes I’m able to get access without logging in (it’s a fitness professional membership site), so am hoping you can too.

picture of dog getting her belly scratched

The dog practically purrs when I scritchy-scratch her belly with my clogs on

As you can see by my picture, my blue Therafit Austin clogs are so comfy, even the dog feels happy. I’ve found they are perfect to wear to the gym, as I can switch to my cardio shoes quickly and easily.

Kymberly: We admit — it’s all about our dogs! And our doggies, aka toes! Other factors to take into account when choosing shoes for action and movement have to do with your foot patterns:

In Which Directions Will You Be Traveling?

Will you be going forward and backward, such as in an aerobic class (Step, Zumba, Low Impact, Dance, Cardio Kickboxing, for example). Or forward only such as when on a treadmill, elliptical machine or other cardio equipment.

If you are walking or running, then you will have more of a heel strike with a toe roll off. Contrast that to jogging in place, which has a toe, ball, heel landing. Choose a shoe that cushions and supports where your feel will be absorbing the most impact.

Do you count on your shoes to shift you side to side? Then find shoes that offer lateral support — the opposite of a running or walking shoe, for instance.

Will you be pivoting, twisting, and turning as you exercise? Then make sure the tread is designed to release grip so your shoe doesn’t grab ahold in one place, while your body rotates in a different direction. We call that “making your orthopedist rich.”

bottom of TherafitIn summation, just as you might buy street shoes to match a favorite outfit, select workout shoes that match the movement you’ll use them for. One size does not fit all.

But your size could fit our shoe giveaway. Enter our giveaway below and select any pair of Therafit shoes from their line of new arrivals. Check out the options here.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway is only open to U.S. mailing addresses. When the giveaway ends, one winner will be picked and notified. That person has 48 hours to respond or another winner will be randomly drawn. 

14

Top 7 Tips to Get Fit in 7 Weeks

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

A 56 year old reader asks how to quickly get back into shape:

picture of Parasailing

Parasail Your Way to Hawaii

Dear K and A: I’ve gotten fluffy in the last year. I need to be bikini worthy in 7 weeks when I’ll be blogging from Hawaii. What are the top tips you can suggest to get me ready?

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.

1. Keep a Food Journal

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.

picture of avoid / eat foods

Your Calories Should be Healthy Calories (photo from the Lorna Jane 2015 “Move Nourish Believe”)

2. Evaluate More Than Calories

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.

3. Pay Attention to the Math

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.

4. Add High Intensity Intervals to Your Cardio

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.

picture from IDEA convention at the Bling Fitness booth

Strength Training is Recommended for Boomer Women

5. Strength Train All Major Muscles At Least Twice a Week

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:

6. Get More Sleep, Less Stress. Meditate on That!

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.Outdoors activity  - mood

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.

Take your own vacay twice a week when you subscribe to our blog. Enter your email in the right column and start reaching your active aging goals starting …. whenever you take our advice!

 

10

3 No Cost Ways to Work Out Naturally

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Have you subscribed yet? Do so now if you want to Age Actively.

Lake Tahoe in winterWant to live healthier, longer, and happier? At no cost? Then follow the advice from Annie Get Your Gun by “doin’ what comes naturally.” The following activities are all free – preservative free, fee-free, carefree! Look to nature and your body’s natural, internal pharmacy to get you across the fields of dreams. And take a look below at the short animoto video I created for you of healthy blue stuff. You’ll feel younger just watching it! If not, play the video backwards. Then go out, laugh, and breathe!

Get Out of Here, Ya Hear?

1.Annie Get Your Gun Exercise outside when you can. Getting outdoors to move enhances both your mental and physical health. If you doubt this, ask any dog who ever heard the word “walk time.”

Dogwalk with Kila at fence

Bark, Breathe, Pose, Run, Repeat (27 times)

A related Fun Fit Fact: People who live near or on coasts tend to be more physically active compared to inland dwellers.  Those fortunate to have ocean views (actually any blue water works), also report being happier than people without access to blue spaces. One theory is that gazing at the ocean triggers the brain to release dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. We post-menopausal women know all about hormones, especially the mood elevating ones, right?

Remember to Laugh; Laugh to Remember

Alexandra in catwoman glasses

She’s been making me laugh ever since I can remember. That Alexandra!

2. Add humor to your workout. Another great natural life source is laughter.  Not only does laughter act as self-produced medicine,  but also it is proving to help memory.  The stress hormone, cortisol can cause brain damage. Cortisol negatively affects both memory and learning ability, especially in older adults. This raises the question, “can laughter, which reduces stress, therefore improve memory?”

Turns out that, yup — lower stress leads to better memory. You saw that coming.

Breathe Right with the Left

At Tenaya with mask in soap class

Breathe, just not too deeply.

3. Take half breaths for a whole life. Really looking to keep your memory in high drive, and not idle as you age? Then try a special breathing technique just after your humor boost. When you forgot which aisle you parked your car in, or why you entered a room, kick into left nostril breathing. That’s right, just the left! Block or press shut your right nostril and inhale through the left. Exhale. Repeat. 27 times. Let’s hope this works as you have to remember to count as you breathe!

According to researchers, left nostril breathing creates a restful and alert state of mind that activates nerve endings of the parasympathetic system.  That is fancy talk for “reducing stress.”
20150117_135926

For you smarties and thinkers who are always a step ahead (and that would be all of you who subscribe to our blog), you probably already thought of something. What if you combine all three activities? Run, walk, jog, mosey outdoors with a person who makes you laugh as you count up 27 left nostril breaths. Then get back to us in the comments to report what happened. Join the nature movement; free membership!

And take a look at this very short animation.

Work Out Naturally

You got this far, so why not add a comment?

4

One Way to Avoid Fainting During Cardio Workouts

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

heart shaped tomatoEver worry about fainting during a cardio workout? No doubt you have heard the advice to “keep your head above your heart” during and especially after aerobic activity. With Valentine’s Day coming up and February being American Heart month, we thought we’d focus on a question one of our group fitness members asked us: “Why do fitness instructors cue us not to drop our head below the heart when working out aerobically?”

Be Still My Beating (Cardio) Heart

Alexandra drumming at Tenaya

Alexandra makes more than hearts beat! Drum, drum, drum

Alexandra: We say this because we want to know exactly whom we will be giving rescue breathing to when you pass out. And why should we be in a position to provide rescue breathing? There you were, just exercising away, enjoying the heck out of the Paul McCartney, Rihanna, Kanye song “FourFive Seconds” being played on the sound system. “Hey you,” your personal wiring system says, “You are working hard. As a reward, your muscle cells shall now demand increased oxygen. Because your muscles are so bossy and demanding, we won’t argue. Instead, we will increase your heart rate and blood flow so your muscles will like us and continue to take us nice places.” Well, let’s say you drop your head below your heart. While your head is inverted, you don’t realize that you’ve just caused blood to pool along with that increased blood pressure.

Your Muscles, Heart, and Head Compete for Oxygen and with Gravity

Kymberly: Did anyone follow that? Twin translation provided here: Cardio exercise involves raising the heart rate. An uppity heart rate provides more oxygen to working muscles AND the brain. (We are hoping the brain is working during all that activity. Always makes exercise more interesting). Heart rate up, then head suddenly down puts gravity in charge. (See “Perky, Not Saggy” for more on overcoming the effects of gravity). Blood rush to head. Whoa, feeling dizzy. Lots of pressure from rapidly pumping blood and increased blood volume. Then you lift your head above your heart again and WHAM, gravity takes over once more leaving you lightheaded. Your heart pumped out the oxygen, but you just started a competition between gravity and your brain for the game of “who gets the oxygen?”  Need I say more?

K lying in snow

Stylish fainting

Alexandra: Don’t talk to me about pressure because it makes me want to dance in my inimitable 80s style to “Under Pressure.” That’s the song I used for my very first step class.

Fainting Does a Body Good-ish

Kymberly: Ok, I need to say more. First, fainting is your body’s way to restore normal blood flow to your brain. Dropping — or, as you may picture it, gracefully and delicately sliding to the ground, puts your head on the same level as your pumping, beating heart so that your oxygen rich blood can more easily get to your brain. No going uphill, just straight along.

Second, I have been CPR certified for more than 30 years. Fortunately, in all that time of teaching fitness, I have never had to rescue someone from the dreaded “head below heart- pass out” syndrome. Maybe this cue is really an excuse to see who’s listening and who is clock watching. ALWAYS listen to your instructor, especially if she looks like one of us.

Destress Your Heart for Valentine’s Day

Alexandra: Well, I am obviously more special as I have had to deal with the “Thar she blows” syndrome. Sadly, my university students have a habit of passing out lately. For about 3 years, they show up without having had a proper breakfast, then they put their heart and soul into their workout, with only the soul remaining intact. My theory? We need to provide more movement for students in the younger grades so their hearts are used to stress by the time they get to college. I use “stress” in its literal sense, though I remember having lots of “love stress” when I was an undergrad. As in – I was stressed because I wanted certain guys to notice me. Ah, my glorious youth.

ACTION ITEM: Help hearts, heads, and muscles by sharing this post with two friends and suggesting they subscribe to our blog. But only if they want to age actively and stay upright during cardio!

Photo credit for Alexandra with drumsticks – Tenaya Lodge

1

Solving Knee Pain: What Is and Isn’t Working

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

What You do vs WHo You AreI knew I was facing at least two knee surgeries. What I wasn’t sure of was when. My plan was to stave off the knife and downtime for sometime in the next decade. (Read part one of my knee saga via this link). Turns out my right knee– the formerly “good” one– and two orthopedists have a different, sooner, hustle up, and “get the surgery over with” plan.

All the knee rehab in Santa Barbara is not going to repair two torn menisci. (I tore them teaching my Forever Fit Cardio class. I think the left knee got fed up pulling the load for the right, arthritic one and fired itself from overachiever duty mid-mambo).

Bad Timing of Rest vs Action

However the knee rehab and other protocols I have been trying ARE helping address the osteoarthritis. I am learning more every day about what a lifetime of being active, teaching fitness, and having a high pain threshold can do to knee joints. That last aspect — having a high pain threshold — does not pair well with thinking I can tough out any pain or solve swelling with ice and movement then ice and movement then ice and movement. Did you see the word “rest” anywhere in there? I kinda skipped that phase. Yeah, that lying around, not doing cardio and not teaching exercise part is hard for me. I fear that rest will lead to lethargy and the start of the end. And I don’t want freedom of movement to end. Anyway, ……

If you are also suffering from knee pain or wanting to avoid having knee issues, then limp along with me through some 7 discoveries.

  1. Straighten KneesSimple habits may be making your knees worse. For example, when sitting, do you tuck your legs under your chair? Oops. According to Rick Kaselj’s Fix My Knee Pain program (which I am following and encourage you to buy and try as well), those of us with knee problems are better served to extend our legs when sitting. So simple, but I had not known that!
  2. Physical therapy really does help … if you actually do the exercises! When I am at the physical therapist’s I overhear other patients through the non-soundproof curtains. Almost everyone in the areas next to me confesses to not keeping up with their rehab homework. I have been super faithful about doing my PT every day. While PT cannot heal the menisci tears, it does help with all the surrounding structures. For sure it is helping both with the current symptoms AND the causes. Knowing the causes of my knee issues is critical as I don’t want to go through surgery to repeat bad patterns.
  3. The chondroitin powder I am taking does not seem to be doing much. Everyone else I talk to swears by some sort of glucosamine or chondroitin. I will give this approach another month, then reasses.
  4. Indoor cycling as a substitute for step class is hit and miss. Sometimes I can ride and ride with no downside. Other times, my knee starts to hurt in minutes and swells up. Yes, I keep the tension low both times. Staying motivated to cycle on my own is hard for me as I prefer to work out with people, cues, and group energy.
  5. 20140829_115158Pool activities are Sah-weeet! When Alexandra and I were presenting wellness sessions at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite last weekend, I put myself through my own aerobic workouts in their pool. I got to go for it without aggravating my joints. So happy! Note to world – aqua aerobics is not a little old lady workout! It’s a way to add intensity without impact. And thanks to a nice neighbor who has a pool and generous heart, I am going to implement more water works … once her pool is a leeetle warmer.
  6. Water is your joints’ friend. Drink lots.

Sitting By Choice or By Necessity

My hope is to get this arthroscopic procedure scheduled asap, so I can get back at it asap! (Do you hear me, insurance people. Get those approvals rolling, please!). When the doctor told me I could stand for only 10 minutes per hour, I had to rethink my whole mindset. As a fitness professional, I know our nation sits too much and moves too little. But we all tend to be around those who are like us – similar values, habits, activities. (Hot tip — if you want to be more active, hang around active people). So I don’t interact with too many sedentary people. I have to admit, these two weeks of limited, painful movement is not making me more compassionate. It’s making me more uncomprehending of those who can move but choose not to.

Oh, and tip 7strengthen both your core and your glutes if you want to help your knees. Thinking that quad strength alone will protect those needy knees is too limited.

ABC: Abs, Butt, Core

flyer of K and A's ABC class in Santa BarbaraWhich is such a good way to segue into an invitation to those of you who will be in Santa Barbara this weekend, Jan 31, 2015. Alexandra and I are leading a free ABC: Abs, Butt, Core workout 10:00am at the Paseo Nuevo mall, sponsored by Lorna Jane activewear. Not only will you get to do a fun, effective, knee happy workout with us, but also you get a discount on LJ wear, and healthy snacks. And someone is going home with a prize!

37

Knee Pain? Just Say No … Didn’t Work

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Knee Surgeries? Duck, Duck, Goose

inflamed footAccording to two doctors, I need three separate joint surgeries in 2015. My plan is to have zero. And there you have one of my primary New Year’s goals: to try all non-invasive options to rehab both knees and my foot. (Yes, for those of you who have been reading our blog for awhile, that identical twis sis of mine had left toe surgery for the same issue I now have on the right).

Over the next few months look for occasional posts that chronicle my efforts to reduce knee pain and get my active life back. My hope is that my successes, methods, and discoveries help those of you with similar pain.

Any other baby boomers out there with knee, toe, or other joint-related issues? Is osteoarthritis interfering with your life plan for active aging? This was not supposed to happen to me!! I want my life to expand with age, time, income, and experience, not contract.  After depositing in the exercise bank for more than 35 years, I was looking forward to withdrawing more movement, action, and adventure!

Poolside press up

No knees holding me back here..

Lakeside press up

Nor here

Kymberly presses up in CO

Nope, not here either.

After a physically challenging year with chronic pain and the ability to move less and less, it’s time to face reality: ignoring my knee and foot problems and powering through painful workouts just isn’t working any more. Maybe it never was, but I did keep teaching group exercise classes and walking my dog every day! Until a few weeks ago when I tore two menisci in my right knee — the “good” knee. The one that did not have two replacement surgeries already.

Do You Kneed This? I Do, Dang It!

Sooo, I am now starting several new approaches to get my athletic, energetic, comfortable giddy up gait back. These programs and methods include:

  • Starting Physical Therapy – traditional, medical model, science-based, personalized. Started two days ago and already feel optimistic. For one, my left knee is again smaller than my head. So long super sized swelling!
  • Following the Knee Injury Solution developed and offered via videos and written instruction by specialist Rick Kaselj – known and trusted fitness pro, colleague in the fitness industry, inexpensive program, easy to do at home. If you are interested to try his knee rehab program yourself, click the link. Low price, good value!
  • Performing stretches and movement tasks from Move Your DNA, a book by Katy Bowman, MS that looks at the subtle, yet important ways we need to rethink “exercise” and focus on “movement.”
  • Eating fewer foods that incite inflammation – waah haa as this will be the tough area for me.
  • Eating more foods that reduce inflammation – can and will do! For one, the Skinnylicious book Alexandra and I discovered will help with this as will the Knee Injury Solution program. Check out the cookbook by clicking the Skinnylicious link or by reading our post, Fitness, Weight Loss, and Nutrition in 2015.
  • Using glucosamine powder and homeopathic gel suggested by my chiropractor.
  • Getting on my husband’s spinning cycle daily to replace the other cardio activities I have had to cut back on. Low impact, medium intensity.

Doctor, Doctor, I Declare

Kymberly's foot points to a tiget track

Do Your Knees Track? (Do you see the tiger track my foot points to? Do you like my word play?) Oh Meow!

Whew! That’s a lot to take on. But I am determined and frankly, scared enough to try whatever it takes to get my walking and exercising juju back. My doctors have been great about listening to me and working with me to develop protocols to push off surgeries. Yet, my goal is to do MORE once I can walk again pain- and swelling-free. They keep trying to talk me into doing LESS, both now and post any surgery.

Other methods I have tried over the last two years have helped to a degree. I think those efforts gained me extra workouts and managed the pain. But not enough to prevent the recent downturns and tears. Read what I already implemented as you might want in on some o’ dat! Pain Free Movement in 2013

So strap in if you are interested to find out what works and what does not in my 2015 knee and foot joint reclamation project.

Affiliate disclosure: If you buy the Skinnylicious recipe book or Knee Rehab program through our links, we earn a few dollars at no added cost to you. Of course our main motive is to find, test, and curate the products and services best for active women over 50. 

3

Exercise Advice Depends on Goal: Test Your Knowledge

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

20140828_075500Can you match the exercise statement below to its correct goal? Ever seem confused, overwhelmed, or downright cranky at what appears to be contradictory workout advice? It could be simply making sure you know what your primary exercise purpose is. Then you can select the proper solution to address that priority.

Take Our Mix and Match Test

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.

Go for Action with Go To AdviceIMG_4997

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.

D. Accumulate at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic activity.

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.

Given Which Goal?

20140701_190809

Which numbered goal below goes with which lettered advice above?

  1. Burn calories and improve overall health – minimize risk of disease and illness – at any age.
  2. Boost metabolism and maintain function (ability to continue daily tasks and activities) and minimize risk of falling, especially post age 60.
  3. Enhance brain power, improve memory, and stave off cognitive decline.
  4. Increase life expectancy, improve cognitive skills, reduce the incidence of chronic disease and disabilities.
  5. Maintain fitness level if you are already fit.
  6. Achieve general fitness – defined as having lean body mass, minimal stored fat, good endurance, flexibility, and muscular strength.
  7. Keep lost weight off
  8. Prevent weight gain; lose weight, keep lost weight off – the trifecta. Ba da bing! Click the links to read about Fat Loss and more.

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.IMG_4785

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!

ANSWERS: A1, B2, C3, D4, E5, F6, G7, H8 Yeah, I made it easy for you … and for me. How did you score? You are a winner no matter what, as you now know more about this subject than most US adults.

Alexandra wants to win the Modenus/ Ambiente Frankfurt Holiday Shop Window contest, which would mean a trip to Frankfurt to share the latest in Dining, Living and Giving with you, so please take two seconds to click here and vote for her photo. Make her holiday! (Ends Friday, Dec. 19 at 2pm PST). Thanks!

3

7 Movement Habits to Improve Your Memory Now

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Kymberly speaking at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Spa on Memory BoostingWant to have a better memory doing what comes inexpensively and immediately?

Take a look at the following images I used in the presentation I gave last week at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Spa located in Tecate, MX. The Ranch is so wonderful and special that I wanted to make sure my session was as valuable. If memory serves me right, the following 7 factors will improve your recall, memory, attention span, and focus.  ha ha ha Oh, and my presentation was well received too!

Before you get to those 7 things you can do to gain for the brain to the max, note that the key is to engage in CARDIO activity. While ALL exercise is thought to improve cognitive skills, cardio is top doggie. If you combine cardio with any of the 7 factors coming right up, you are getting exponential return on your exercise investment.

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 8.07.53 PM

Yup, cardio has more benefit for your gray matter than crossword puzzles, learning a new language, sudoku, and international travel (though these are all helpful).  Say, click that link <—- to read about how smart Nepal made me.

Small Steps Lead to Big Changes

And we mean it. Steps as small as going left instead of right, or working out a different day or time than usual all register as new in the brain.

 

Habit #1

Build a Better Brain

Movement Habit #2

Movement Habit #3

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 8.38.06 PM

Movement Habit #4

Hmm, are you starting to get any ideas about what kind of cardio activity might be best if your priority is to boost your brain?

Obese at risk for Alzheimer's

 

Movement Habit #5

The midline is the the line that visually divides your body into a left and right side side. If your right arm reaches to your left side, you have crossed the midline, for example.

 

Movement Habit #6

Movement Habit #7

Want a summary image you can pin? So do we! Pin away my hearties!

7 Movement Habits to Iprove Your Brain

And on that final note, zzzzzzz. Or semi-final note. If you want to experience this presentation in its entirety, come to Tenaya Lodge’s Wellness and Spa Retreat Jan 16-18, 2015. That’s another smart move!

If you are not yet a subscriber, now is a great time to sign up, free! New subscribers get a holiday gift: 34 Guilt Free Strategies to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain.

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