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21

Fall Prevention: Do You Fear Falling as You Age?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alexandra negotiates a hill without falling Fall Prevention

Is Alexandra trying to break a record or a wrist?

Women and Men Fall Differently

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

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

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

Rotating Abs/ Core Move  Video

Kneeling Core and Abs Exercise Video

3 Strategies for Fall Prevention

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

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

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

How Good is Your Balance?

Kymbelry fallen and getting up Fall Prevention

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

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

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

Don't Fall!

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

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

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

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

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

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

 

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3

Over 50? Create the Best Workouts Possible: Part 3

Over 50; Alexandra in poppy fields

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Moving

Key Exercise Principles to Consider if You’re Over 50

Over 50 and wanting workouts designed specifically for your active aging goals and body? Whether you are a fitness elite or novice, your approach to training needs to shift in the second half of life. Take into account 6 principles that will help you select the most effective, life enhancing exercises possible. This week you get two principles in one post.

This is part 3 of a several part series that offers you insider fitness strategies you can take advantage of. Check out Part 1: Best Workouts for Your Over 50 Body: Part 1

You can find Part 2 here: Create the Best Possible Over 50 Workouts: Part 2

If you recall (or hop over and back to read Part 1) you’ll know you can apply the 6 principles in any combination or separately. Apply one, two, or all six to a given exercise; use three principles total in one session and a different three in another; focus on one principle one day and another the next. Regardless of how you mix and match the principles, you will reap the benefits.

Over 50? Do you apply any of these 6 principles to your midlife workouts? Click To Tweet

Principle 3: Activate from the Middle to Extremities; from Inside, Out

Quality movement originates from the center, then translates outward. Whether moving or holding still, ideal movement has us first activating the core, then putting the arms and legs in motion. Ab work is the perfect example of this principle. We compress the abs, then shift the arms, spine, legs into position. Having good posture also requires central activation as the “base.”

Example: Move from Proximal to Distal, from Core to Hands and Feet

Over 50, move from Inside, Out

Use Your Core to Get More

When putting weights or resistance into hands or onto legs, it’s even more important to first make sure you have activated your core. You don’t want your weighted arms and legs waving about distally until proximal muscles are stabilizing or contributing.

Decades of good and poor body mechanics leave evidence. A 60 year old who turns on her core, then adds resistance will be able to train longer in life and with less risk of injury. Let this be you! Compare this scenario to someone who has a lot going on in the limbs (resistance added, no less), but very little in the core. Don’t let this be you!

Principle 4: Offer Movement Patterns that Enhance Cognitive Skills

No doubt you have heard a lot about exercise’s effect on the brain. This is an exciting time to be a midlifer given the research about how much we can train our brains via movement.  We still have time and opportunity to make a difference in how well our brains work as we age. Our exercise choices will serve us well throughout our life if we put Principle 4 into play now.

Take advantage of the latest findings and overlay cognitive tasks and moves into your programs. We baby boomers are of an age and awareness level that we can greatly benefit from brain stimulating exercise.

Curious for more on this inspiring, exciting subject? Read the following posts:

Exercise Can Train Your Brain | Key Points from the IDEA World Fitness Convention

Best Exercise to Improve Memory

Spark Your Brain with Exercise

 

Exercise Your Right to a Better Brain

Example: Integrate Moves that Cross the Midline

Over 50: Crossing midline

One of Our BoomChickaBoomers Crossing her Midline at Midlife

Many options exist to bring cognitive activities into your workouts. For example, when you cross the midline with an arm, leg, or both, you stimulate the brain and further integrate the left and right hemispheres. Why not bring in moves that accomplish multiple goals simultaneously?

Example: Squat to Rotating Knee Lift

For example, instead of doing a squat to a straight ahead knee lift with a slight hold in the knee lifted position (balance and strength move), replace the sagittal plane knee lift with one that rotates inward and draws to the opposite elbow? Think of this as a standing cross crawl with cues to rotate enough to have a knee or elbow come across the midline.

Example: Standing Long Arm, Long Leg Diagonal Cross

Another midline crossing balance move is the Standing Long Arm, Long Leg Diagonal Cross. Stand on the right leg, extend the left leg to the side (in the frontal plane), toes lightly touching the ground (or not, if you want to add more balance challenge). Extend the right arm above the shoulder and to the right at about a 45 degree angle. (Basically continue the diagonal line created by the opposite leg).  Your right arm and left leg reach in opposite directions and form one, long, angled line. Simultaneously adduct the leg across the front midline of the body and slice your right arm towards the thigh, also crossing the midline, though in the opposite direction. The long arm and leg pass each other.

Especially if you're over 50, group fitness classes can help with memory, focus, retention Click To Tweet

Switch out one of your cardio equipment workouts for a cardio class with choreography.  Give yourself opportunities to move in more than one direction and with the challenge of following cues. Try arm patterns that cross your midline instead of working bilaterally and parallel. Take a look at 7 Movement Habits to Improve Your Memory Now for more ideas on how and why group classes can help with memory, focus, retention and more. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easily you can implement these insider tips.

Happy program design! Putting even one of these principles into action will make your workouts serve you better. And doesn’t your body deserve to be served?

ACTION:Not yet a subscriber? What are you waiting for. Parts 4 and 5? Subscribe now to get all 6 principles delivered to your fingertips.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

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21

5 Reasons to Attend Strength Training Classes

Kymberly in ball class Strength Training Classes

Whether you call them strength training classes, body conditioning class, or weight training classes, bottom line is the older you get, the more you need them!

You want to get in better shape? Return your post-menopause weight to pre-menopause levels? Have you heard the oh-so-true true rumors that strength training is very important especially for women over 50? Maybe you’re ready to get going with a new resistance routine. But dang if that weight training equipment out on the gym floor looks intimidating and perhaps a little confusing.

What to do? What to do? Why, get into strength training classes led by a qualified group fitness instructor.

Don’t Make These Mistakes

But first let’s cover what NOT to do: imitate the moves you see other people doing out on the gym floor. We have seen some seriously crazy stuff and wacky technique performed by exercisers on their own.  Even if the moves you see around you are done safely and make sense for THAT exerciser, they may not be right for YOU.

Strength exercises you see others do may not be right for YOU. How can you choose the right… Click To Tweet

Let’s also take a moment to wave good-bye to the exercises you may be digging up from school PE class memory. Odds are good those exercises need to be left back there. (No Mr. Hammond, duck walks across the playground do not strengthen the lower body. I don’t care how many 5th graders you quack and bark at).

Choose the Best Strength Training Program

Why go it alone when trying to figure out which exercises are best for you to increase your strength? IF you want to embark on a weight training program that will:

  • meet your goals
  • be right for your body, age, and gender
  • minimize injury
  • be effective and efficient
  • achieve balance and address all pertinent muscles
  • offer options and modifications

THEN go with the pros. In strength training classes. Where you reap the benefits of moves led by a professional.

Think of group strength training classes as a place to draft off the instructor’s knowledge and skills. You can then take that information and experience and apply it to your solo workouts outside the class environment.

Working abs at the Bacara Strength Training ClassesUse a teacher led strength class to:

1. Build your exercise repertoire

If you have a qualified instructor, you can trust the exercises s/he is demonstrating. You get moves that offer a stamp of approval. Listen for comments from the instructor that tell you the how, why, what, and how much for each exercise. Take mental notes so you have a toolbox to pull from when on your own.

2. Get form and technique cues and corrections

Even the best strength move offers little benefit if it’s not executed well. A class setting with a good teacher offers something no solo workout can — external feedback and correction. Learn what to do in step one; Improve on how with this step.

New to strength training? Get into a class led by a qualified fitness teacher before going solo. Click To Tweet

3. Ask resistance training questions of the teacher

Why did or didn’t you feel an exercise as expected? How can you adapt a move to your particular condition? What’s another option with the same goal? Most group fitness teachers are happy to give a few minutes of their time and expertise after class.

Alexandra w/ group Strength Training ClassesTake advantage of the group to:

4. Develop strength and confidence in a supported, group environment

Especially for beginning weight trainers (like yourself, perhaps?), a class can be a welcoming place with like-minded people. If you’re like many of our past participants, you want to hide when first starting a new program. It’s easier to blend in within a class than to face the intimidation of the machines and rows of free weights outside the classroom doors.

5. Meet future training buddies who can help spot, motivate, and work out with you on the gym floor

Maybe you’ll enjoy your class and new strength so much you’ll decide to train forever and ever in a group setting. But if not, you now have a community to venture onto the gym floor “armed” and ready!

When you come to Santa Barbara, my sister and I invite you to come to our classes! We promise to load you up with weights and  good ideas! If you aren’t sure whether group fitness classes are for you, read this and be prepped for happiness and success: All Sizes Welcome: Fitness Pros Want You!  /Now get out there and resist, resist, resist!

All Sizes Welcome: Fitness Pros Want YOU in their Classes and Clubs

ACTION: But don’t resist the opportunity to get active aging answers twice a week when you subscribe. Enter your email in any of the boxes and claim your bonus while you’re at it. 

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

6

Top Quotes and Insider Fitness Trends for Boomers-2016

This is My Year Fitness Trends for BoomersFitness Trends for Boomers

Is it time to make your workouts even better, beloved baby boomers? Then get your insider insights right here. Step right up. Literally.

Who likes to be out in front? And I’m not talking cleavage or bellies here. If you’re ready to take advantage of the latest findings in the fitness world, then hang onto your stretchy legging waistbands.  Let’s zip together through some of the key highlights, workout tips, and quotes from the recent IDEA World Fitness Convention.

Take on some of these takeaways to enter the next year even more prepared to redefine active aging for our generation and the generations to come.

Reports from the IDEA World Fitness Convention

Alexandra and I just returned from this primary industry event for fitness professionals from around the world. In her capacity as a roving editor for IDEA, Alexandra attended a range of sessions. (See her reports here: 5 Trends from the IDEA Fitness Convention and Diversity and Collaboration Mark Key Themes). I had the honor to be both a presenter and attendee, with my keen eyes focused on sessions specifically for the over fifty crowd. (Add these other key midlife workout themes to your life and really soar).

Let’s jump to the head of class with a romp through some trends from the industry’s leaders.

Top Two Medical Conditions Adults Over 50 Have

From “Functional Power Training for Older Adults” led by Cody Sipe, PhD

Fitness trends for boomers at IDEA, K and A

Alexandra was inspired to whack Kymberly with her cane. No wonder we both have osteoarthritis.

Cody’s opening statement motivated me (as an over 50 personage myself): “Exercise has the ability to change older adults’ aging trajectory.” Knew it, but can always use the kick in the formerly tight, toned tushie of mine. Raise your hand if you want to disrupt your aging trajectory.

What do we need to add to our workouts? First, Cody asked us if we knew the two main conditions experienced by older adults? Turns out the top two are hypertension and osteoarthritis.  Oh yeah, I hear you Cody My Man. (Say I with the knee arthritis and sister who just had total knee replacement). Ok, so we have to account for these conditions while working to prevent them from limiting our lives. 

Next he posed the question: “Without training specifically to prevent it, which function do we lose with age more than muscular strength and muscle mass?” The answer surprised me as I know the (not so happy) stats on muscles loss in our aging population. You ready for it? Power, defined as the ability to move a load quickly. In addition to training for strength, we midlifers also need to focus on velocity and force of movement. In other words, it’s time to increase speed of motion while reducing the load when we consider a total resistance training right for our bodies. According to Cody, we’re past time if we pass our prime without power (Uh, I made up that exact wording as I kinda like how it encapsulates Cody’s point).

How Do Strength and Power Affect Your Daily Life?

Let’s put this into practical application and context of our daily activities:

  • Strength allows us to carry groceries; Power allows us to prevent falls.
  • Strength helps us pick up grandkids; Power kicks in when we grab our grandkids out of danger’s way.
  • Strength gets our luggage up and into the overhead bin; Power serves us to transport that luggage from A to B. If you’ve ever traveled to China, let me say that A to B at their train stations includes only stairs — no ramps, elevators, escalators, or handy porters. Yes, this is personal experience talking. Our mom took Alexandra and me to China and Tibet a decade ago. She needed help with her luggage, which gave us lots of opportunity to develop our power as mom does not pack lightly and the A to B connections in China seem about a continent apart. Pant pant sweat sweat. I did my power training for a decade on that journey!

What’s the workout takeaway here? You finally get the official clearance to lift light weights — as long as you add speed to those moves! Therefore, it’s time to do some lifts, jumps, and throws my midlife buddies if you want to retain power and change your aging trajectory!

You Can’t Really Stay in One Place: You’re Either Going Forwards or Backwards

Kymberly and Alexandra post bike ride Fitness trends for boomers

Going forwards, backwards, and upwards.

Using Function to Avoid Dysfunction, presented by Mark Kelly, PhD, CSCS

Mark is the living example of how lean, fit, funny, energetic, and functional an over 50 year old can be.  I was so busy taking notes that I took no picture of him. However, take my word for it that he turned his aging trajectory around big time!

Not only was his session loaded with great moves to improve function, but also he had some great quotes relative to movement that you may also enjoy.

  • “Not going forwards is going backwards.”
  • “Not going backwards is going forwards.”
  • “If functional ability measures aging, and exercise increases functional ability, then exercise counters aging.” I know, I know — you already knew that, especially if you’ve been reading our blog for any time. But Mark puts the case so succinctly and it’s a good reminder.

If you want to try out some of the clever, fun, brain and body smart moves Mark introduced, then join my group fitness classes in Santa Barbara. Come on Fridays when I try out the good stuff on my fit-tastic and amazing class participants. They’re the ones saying “warn us next time you go to the IDEA Convention.”

Live Long: Die Short

Fitness Trends for Boomers

Try these trends to be MORE fit!

Let’s leave Mark’s session with the question he opened with:

“Are we living longer or simply dying slower?”  

In a separate post, you’ll get the the direct pipeline to more happiness, less stress, and a more self-loving you, courtesy of award-winning presenter, Petra Kolber.  Her session “Heavily Meditated and Highly Motivated” had a lot of quick, easy, powerful meditations I am eager to share with you.   Meditation is a HUGE option and one of the biggest fitness trends for boomers as more research comes out about its benefits. For now, let’s take our leave with a reminder from Petra that I hope will have you adding power to your active life:

  • “Don’t exchange what you want most for what you want at the moment.”

ACTION: We hope you want most and at this moment is to subscribe to our twice weekly posts that bring you active aging tips and inspiration. Enter your email in any of the subscription boxes; claim a bonus while you’re at it.

8

Top 10 Fitness Trends: Aging Actively is SOooo 2016

Top Ten Fitness Trends

And the Top 10 Fitness Trends are…

Who loves tracking fitness trends? (Besides my sis and me, though we’d love to think we start them). Are you a baby boomer fitness trendsetter or trendspotter? Perhaps you’re simply waiting to figure out what other women over 5o are doing that’s working so you know where to direct your exercise energy. Clever of you, for sure!

Time to Track Fitness Trends

It’s that time of year again when we track down workout, exercise, and fitness trends and fill you in. Why? So you can be your best, most actively aging, up-to-date you. Is that too much to ask?

Who loves spotting fitness trends? Especially for active women over 50 and baby boomers? Top 10… Click To Tweet
NACAD fitness trends talk at WAC

Thanks, I do feel welcomed. Now let’s trendset!

In prepping for a presentation on fitness trends for the North Atlantic Club Athletic Director Association’s conference held in Seattle at the Washington Athletic Club (WAC), I discovered a slew of predictions. The following promise to be of particular interest to actively aging midlife women:

Five that Jive and Keep us Alive

  1. Programs tailored to older adults.
  2. Functional fitness training — emphasis on moves and group classes that mimic or enhance activities of daily living, including balance, strength, and power.
  3. Wearable technology for many purposes — to measure physiological responses to training, track workouts, monitor caregiving of our aging parents, to name just a few examples.
  4. Experiences as a driving factor to exercise, not just working out to work out. Perhaps the biggest example is those of us who exercise in order to travel. Baby boomers are traveling like no generation before or currently. And we don’t want to sit on the bus, either! Midlife adventure travel is going up, up, up just like the airplanes carrying us to new destinations.
  5. Educational workshops for exercisers, who are looking for intellectual fulfillment as well as physical.  Have you attended a talk at your club, gym or spa? You’re a trendsetter!

Besides the fad that may become a trend of me trying to hold my abs engaged, you get five more fitness trends for 2016:

Five to Thrive

  1. Demand for educated, experienced, certified fitness professionals. (While I was surprised to see this as a trend, I suuuuuure do welcome it. Women over 50 are smart enough to demand qualified pros, not to be seduced by celebrities and social media darlings whose main qualifications are lots of followers on pinterest and revealing photos on instagram. No, I’m not covetous of those ripped abs. Well, not enough to actually do much about it. I’m busy. …….. Busy relaxing and researching trends).
  2. Healthy food choices as a renewed focus, especially looking at eating habits that enhance our brains, are more resource conscious, and serve social values. Contrast this to the past 50 years of making eating decisions based on convenience and/ or weight loss.
  3. kayaking on Whiskeytown LakeOutdoor activity. Do you see where this dovetails with the travel plans boomers have?
  4. Brain boosting movement. As we watch our parents suffer from memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia, a whole heckuvalot of us baby boomers are saying “nuh uh” to that. Given the advances in medical technology (MRIs, brain scans) and neuroplasticity, we can now train the brain while bolstering the body. Who doesn’t love a twofer?
  5. Spa visits. This trend was another surprise for me given the recent recession. Apparently we are spending billions on destination resorts, day spas, walk in treatments, wellness retreats and the like. Much as personal training shifted from a luxury for the wealthy to a mainstream “need” for the middle class, spa treatments are undergoing a similar reappraisal. Again, baby boomers are leading the way as we redefine body work as a health and wellness enhancer, not just a pampered relaxation moment.
2 of these top 10 fitness trends surprised us. Click To Tweet
Fitness trends presentation for WAC

What my talk for WAC covers: Yak, yak, yak, hope they ask me back!

If you did your brain boosting exercises, which you monitored on your wearable technology outdoors at a resort after a healthy meal, then you’d see that the above 5 + 5 trends get us to the promised 10. Ta dum! Over and out — to move and look for more trends.

If you wonder which prior years’ trend predictions came true or fizzled, go here: Want to Know Top Insider Fitness Trends and Quotes?

and here: 5 Healthy Food Trends

and also here: Exercise Trends for the Over 50 Crowd

Heck, why not be the most informed trendtracker EVAH and also go here: I’m Spa-tacus and Other Spa Industry Trends

ACTION: Subscribe to get more, be more, live more. Need we say more? Enter your email and name in any of the boxes.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

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3

3 Exercises to Strengthen & Support the Knee

If you need to strengthen the muscles that support the knee, you’ll want to try these three knee exercises. No equipment is needed except your own determination. And possibly a mat or bed.

seated knee extensionI had a knee replaced a month ago, so need to retrain my muscles and knee to work together. Our mom is wary of falling, so she needs to keep her legs strong in order to get up and down safely. And some of our students are new to exercise and need some basic exercises that don’t require weights or a machine. Voila! These will help.


Straight Leg Raise
Tighten muscles on front of thigh, then lift leg 8-10 inches from the bed or mat, keeping knee locked. Note: For most exercises that we teach, we encourage our students to have a “soft,” slightly bent knee. This particular exercise does require the locked knee.

Terminal Knee Extension
In the video I am lying supine (on my back), but you can also prop yourself up on your elbows, as long as you lift the chest and lengthen the neck.
With the knee bent over a bolster (or pillows), straighten the knee by tightening the muscles on top of the thigh. Move only from the knee down, keeping the hips on the bed or mat, and the back of the knee on the bolster. Hold for 3 seconds if possible before lowering.

Seated Knee Extension
Sit with legs hanging off the side of a bed or chair, preferably without feet touching the floor. Tighten the muscles of the thigh, then bend at the knee to lift the lower leg up to a straight leg position. Keep the hips down.

Try to do 10 repetitions of each exercise. Once you’ve gotten that, add a second set of ten, with a short break in between sets.

3 Exercises to help strengthen & support the knee. #Exercise #FitFluential Click To Tweet

If you are recovering from knee replacement surgery as I am, you will promptly ice your knee and take a nap after these exercises. Oh, yes indeed.

Alexandra Williams, MA

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Knee Problems: How Do I Protect My Knees?

Dear K and A: Are there knee exercises to reduce knee problems? How do I protect my knees when participating in aerobics classes or walking down stairs? I want to stay active as I go through midlife yet even have knee pain when walking. Midlife Mindy, Santa Barbara, CA

have knee problems or knee pain? Alexandra: Hi Mindy. The best protection is to take them off and put them in a gym bag while doing those intense activities. If your knees are still in their original packaging, this might be a challenge, so you should just give them a light buff and wax. That will protect them for sure, although Fun and Fit do not offer the extended warranty. And you are on your own if your knees get any scratches. Would you like me to go into detail about strengthening up and stretching the muscles that support your slacker knees, including the much-forgotten VMO? No, that is not an insurance plan, that is the Vastus Medialis Obliquus, and yes, it is spelled like that.

Famous Movie Parts for Moving Parts

Do you recall the character played by Michael Palin in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” – and his friend Biggus Dickus? That, too, is spelled correctly, but is an entirely different issue. No body part with Latin in its description (that would apply to er, um, well, all of them) should have to live in pain. It’s all about balance.

Knee Strengthening Exercises Need to Include GLUTES

Kymberly: Well, Mindy since you are asking a serious question, you deserve a serious answer. And, well…, how shall I put this. Fun and Fit is known for going on larks. But for YOU, we’ll pretend for a minute to be on point. Strengthen your quads. Perhaps even more important, strengthen and activate your glutes! Do the same for your inner thighs and hamstrings so you stay balanced muscularly. Strengthen your anterior tibialis (shins) while you’re at it. Why not since we’re on a workout roll?! Keep your knees tracking in line with your upper leg and lower leg, No turning your feet one way when your knees are pointing in another. And no turning your knees one way when your pelvic structure dictates something different. Got a compass so you can keep up with me and your top dog, top of the org chart pelvic structure?

Have knee pain? Been told to strengthen your quads? Surprise! Another muscle group may be more… Click To Tweet

The evidence that having activated, strong, balanced glutes to help with knee pain is growing.  Some medical professionals now advise that the gluteals play a bigger role than the quadriceps in affecting knee problems.

Knee Pain Program

Knee Strengthening Exercises and Movement Tips

When doing choreography that locomotes you forward or going down stairs, try to keep your knee above or behind your toes. Beware of all that forward and downward motion pushing your knees too far in front of your body and past the vertical plane of your feet. Otherwise you are putting a lot of pressure on the poor little kneecaps. Translation = knee pain.  Also take a look at the exercises and solutions shown in the program “Fix My Knee Pain,” created by a colleague and qualified fitness pro we know and trust.  For instance, did you know that tucking your feet under your seat when sitting (say, at a computer reading a great post like this one!) actually stresses your knee joints? Instead, extend your legs in front of you under your desk.  This post gives you more ideas on how to address knee problems: Solving Knee Pain: What Is and Isn’t Working

Alexandra: Why don’t you just hire a proxy to do your cardio and stair activities? Save your knees for parties (the tried and true “barf in a plant” maneuver) and asking forgiveness.

Got knee problems? Strengthen the glutes. quads, and your expression!

How are those knees holding up? Ouch! Activate your glutes, quads, and strong facial expressions.

Knights Who Say “Knee”

Kymberly: You know, I have to agree with Alexandra. All this serious advice leaves me out of humor. Where are Monty Python, Michael Palin and Biggus Dickus when I “kneed” them?  Pfft, well in their absence, console yourself with other posts we have provided to knee pain sufferers:

Can’t Run or Jump?

Knee Pain: Just Say No … Didn’t Work

Got Bad Knees? Step Lively Once Again

Do your knees ever hurt after exercise? What activities have you altered because of knee pain? Do you know any fun Latin phrases?
ACTION: Take a look at this program, Fix My Knee Pain if you are truly motivated to reduce knee problems and move pain-free. Yes, this is an affiliate link, which we chose because we know the trainer, trust him, and have used his program ourselves. This program has LOADS of exercises you can start doing at home, now.
INACTION: What happens if you don’t take our professional, perfeshunul advice and push too hard despite pain? In this post about knee surgery, read what Alexandra’s poor, long-suffering knee had to undergo last week after years of action and bone on bone.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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10

How to Increase Metabolism: Stretching? Cardio? Strength Training?

Alexandra, Dr Hill, stretching, piggy back, how to increase metabolism

Alexandra demos how to stretch while boosting metabolism (not hers, his!)

Dear K and A: How to increase metabolism? How?! I’ve been told that stretching after a workout of strength training boosts your metabolic rate. If that’s true, how long should I stretch to get the good stuff going? In all the years I’ve been going to the gym, I’ve never seen anyone stretch after lifting.  Mary, Holland, MI

Can stretching increase metabolism

Stretch Your Muscles For the Good Stuff

Alexandra: Ah, Mary Mary Mary, you have inadvertently asked several questions!

  1. How to speed up your metabolism, especially for women over 50.
  2. What’s the relationship between stretching and strength training?
  3. Is stretching post workout the best way to increase metabolic rate?

Let’s tackle these questions separately.

Stretching is excellent post-workout (not pre-workout) as it:

  • increases range of motion about a joint or group of joints
  • may elicit positive long-term performance outcomes
  • enhances flexibility (intrinsic property of muscles and joints to go through full or optimal range of motion
  • is an effective intervention for prevention of falls
  • assists in more effective performance of daily living activities

Sources: Thacker et al. 2004; Safran et al. 1988; Woods, Bishop & Jones 2007; Kerrigan et al. 2001; and Misner et al. 1992.

What's the relationship between stretching and strength training? Click To Tweet

That is my diplomatic way of saying that stretching after your workout makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise, but doesn’t have a link to an increased metabolic rate. So how to increase metabolism? Not via stretching. You speed up your metabolic rate by following the suggestions in this post: How Can I Speed Up My Metabolism?

How can you speed up your metabolism, especially if you're a woman over 50? Click To Tweet

I am going to make a wild leap into the Abyss of Assumption here, and say you are looking to burn calories at a higher rate for a longer time? If so, read How Do I Lose Weight but not Bulk Up . It will show how smart you are for doing strength training!

Leap for health and metabolic boost

Leaping Across the Abyss of Assumptions

Kymberly: More good news about boosting your metabolic rate with exercise:  Women who do 40 minutes of cardio exercise at 80 percent of maximum heart rate (fairly intense but not exceedingly so) increase their caloric expenditure for the next 19 hours.  So both weight training AND cardio workouts metabolically zoom you up afterward. Sort of the caffeine of the workout world, eh? Whoa doggies, that’s pretty exciting stuff!

Alexandra: Is it possible you heard the water-cooler discussions about high-intensity interval training, increased metabolic rate and stretching? If so, that is referring to the recovery or “corrective” stretching that comes between short, intense bursts of cardio activity. But that’s not strength training, and the metabolic effect is from the cardio bursts.

Alexandra planking at Lizard's Mouth

Alexandra Looks into the Abyss and Likes What She Sees

Kymberly: As to why people do not stretch after weight training, we can only surmise that it’s lack of education sometimes disguised in their minds as lack of time. Saying they’re “flexibility losers” is just not in us. We can say we found nada, zip, bupkus about stretching helping metabolic rate. (Actually I can say Alexandra found nothing as she did all the research work this time around. Go twin sissie! I was busy watching soccer on tv. And the players did stretch afterwards. Go soccer!) We do advocate relengthening muscles shortened in training. And we’ve covered how to increase metabolic rate post workout. That’s a wrap here at F and F!

Alexandra: I think I’ll just get bossy and tell you to keep stretching cuz it’s good for ya, and keep at the strength training for the same reason.

Kymberly: Lastly, check out our post Stretch Before or After Running, Walking, Fighting?. Then when you do your stretches post-workout, stare at the others as if you are superior and know something they don’t …cuz’ it’s probably true.

ACTION: Subscribe (and strength train a wee bit) if you have not already. Click this link to see what awaits you on the other side. Hint: It’s a bonus that will help you be more capable, confident, and comfortable in your own body. 

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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Planks: The No Crunch, No Head Lifting Abs Exercise

Planks are Great for Women Over 50

Alexandra planking at Lizard's Mouth

Who cares about rock hard abs when you can plank on rocks?

Have you heard you have to hold a long-lever plank for 5 minutes in order to be “cool” or to achieve results? Are you reluctant to attempt this classic ab exercise because that goal seems out of reach? Good news! As few as 20 seconds doing planks with good form will strengthen your core and work your abs. As well, you don’t need to crunch, flex your neck, or lift up your head. Check out the benefit of dropping down after 20 seconds and restarting in this post we wrote on short duration planking: Interval Planks Will Activate Your Abs

 

Ultimate Abs binder imagePlanks are accessible to nearly everyone, as many versions exist.  If you are a beginner planker, start on your knees. If you want a bit more challenge, but are not yet ready for a parallel plank on your toes, place your feet wide apart.  If you want a ton more ideas to improve your abs, then take advantage of the program we created specifically for baby boomers: The Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50.

What is Good Planking Form?

Planking in Australia

The Tourist Plank at the Sydney Opera House in Australia

Good question. Even better answer is to keep reading as we offer bullets below and a video demo. AAAAaaand, pop over to our post that has another video going over dos and don’ts.Planking in Australia

How to Do Planks: Beginner to Intermediate Video

If you’re considering adding planks to your fitness regimen, watch our video. You’ll see four different modifications, and instructions for good form.

 

 

As few as 20 seconds doing planks w/ good form will strengthen your core & work your abs Click To Tweet

 

Kymberly planks in Thailand

We admit – not for beginners or those afraid of heights. Thailand Tourist Plank

Hot Tips from Certified Fitness Instructors (Yeah, that would be us) on How to Get the Most Out of Your Planks

Proper Technique:

  • Rest on your elbows, not your hands, (unless you are taking photos of yourself in exotic places around the world)
  • Place your elbows directly below your shoulders
  • Keep your hands loose and relaxed; a correlation exists between clenched fists and breath-holding
  • Try to keep your body in a straight line from head to knees or toes. If you need to bend, it’s less stressful on your lower back to have your hips slightly piked (lifted) than dropped
  • Pull your navel towards your spine while keeping your spine long
  • Breathe, people, breathe!
Kymberly planks in Cambria rain

We’ll plank anywhere, anytime, in any weather. Photo credit: Alexandra Williams

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.

 

Get Ultimate Abs (Better Yet, a Strong Core)

ACTION: What do you mean you’re not yet a subscriber? It’s so easy; you get a bonus; we come to you twice a week! Subscribe now in any of the opt-in boxes. But only if you want to age with comfort, confidence, and capability!

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

 

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Why Is My Lower Body in Pain After Running & Walking?

Dear K and A:  How come I can run 10 miles Saturday morning with no soreness, but slowly walking 8 miles  leaves my entire lower body in pain? Sunday I rested. Monday I did a 5 mile easy run that felt great. Then Tuesday’s slow 8 mile walk made me sore again! Sherry, the Deep South, USA

2015 Solstice ParadeDear Sore Sherry:

Alexandra: Well, “Day-um” as my other southern friends would say! And “DOMS.” Which is not a way of cussing with a northern accent. It stands for Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness. We talked about it in  “How Do I Prevent Calf Soreness after Walking Hills,” (or as we are tempted to entitle it: “My Calves Have a Stiffy.” Can you tell we’re happy to talk about sore muscles and preventing exercise discomfort.)

Avoiding Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

K hamstring stretch on tree

Essentially, elevating your core temperature (and thereby henceforthwith and so forthy warming up the muscles) within 24 hours of the original cardio activity will help prevent muscle soreness later on. You don’t have to repeat the 10 mile run, but a walk of just ten minutes should do the trick.  It could be the running is making you sore, and that you simply aren’t feeling it until one or two days later. Then walking gets all the blame. Instead blame DOMS.

Walking and Running Powered by Opposite Muscle Groups

Kymberly: Running is powered primarily by calves and quads. Walking is powered by glutes and shins (and therefore a great cross training or complementary cardio activity). So if you are used to running and added the walking recently, then your body may simply have been adapting to using your muscles in a new or different way. I am not sure if the pace has anything to do with the soreness unless the slow pace dictated or created an unusual gait that did not work for you biomechanically.

Walking & Running Are Opposites, powered by complementary muscle pairs: quads and calves vs… Click To Tweet
graph of Q angle

Q Angle for Women & Men

Alexandra: Door #3 – If it’s not delayed muscle soreness, could your pain be caused from overuse? Is it standard for you to do 31 miles in a 4-day span? Somewhere in here I’ll throw out the concept of post-run stretching…oh, there, I just did! Could be you also need more recovery time between runs and walks.

With your entire lower body in pain, have you considered the pain might be due to shin splints or your Q-angle? (get solutions from our post, Prevent Shin Splints: Three Calf Stretches). If you have fairly wide hips and/or a narrow stance, then your knees might be the ones yelling “ouchy.”

Talking Muscle or Joint Pain?

Kymberly: When you feel better, run or walk over to our group fitness classes so you can let us know whether your pain and soreness are in your joints or muscles. If muscles, I’d say pull a Bobby McFerrin: “Don’t worry; Be happy.” Simply do 10 minutes of light cardio within 24 hours of a new, intensified, or added activity to give your muscles a chance to reheat and release. But if the pain is in your joints, then worry. … and change your gait or stride, as now we may be talking something biomechanical. In this case get a certified trainer or health professional to assess you. Do not light up those joints!

ACTION: No pain, all gain when you subscribe to our twice a week posts on ways to age actively.

Photo credit: Photobucket

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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

 

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