Category Archives for "Exercise"

Stretch Hamstrings Correctly: 3 Doofus & 3 Expert Ways

Stretch Hamstrings the Right Way

stretch hamstrings Want more benefit from your hamstring stretches? (You are devoting some of your workout time to stretching, right?) Avoid the most common form faults. Be uncommon, just like us! Flexible hamstrings reduce tension on the lower back, allow for good alignment and posture, and enhance your physical performance.

Being flexible in general helps reduce injury, enhance movement capability, and increase physical comfort. Flexibility is joint specific, meaning you might have gumby range of motion at the hip, but be tight as a new pair of shoes at the shoulder.  Maybe you can do the splits, but barely bend over to pick up something off the floor. Different joints; different muscles; different range of motion.

Stretch Hamstrings and Elsewhere

Try this hamstring stretch as one part of a complete set of stretching exercises. If you need ideas and great stretches to achieve more of your flexibility goals, try our friend and colleague, Aileen Sheron’s program Flexibility Fast. Trust us that you can trust what she offers and knows how to help you reach your goals.

Don’t take our word for it. Watch our short video on the hamstrings. Then you can take our image and word for what good form requires. After that, click on the link to Flexibility Fast.

Most hamstring stretch mistakes are related to:

  1. Knee joint bent too much
  2. Hips and buttocks up in the air
  3. Neck and shoulder hunching

Fit-tastic, ham-tacular form involves:

  1. Holding the leg at muscles, not joints
  2. Relaxing the head and neck
  3. Lengthening the leg, even if it means moving the leg away from your body

stretch hamstrings Flexibility Fast

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Readers: Do you have a favorite stretch? 

Photo credit: Us. Yeah, we took a screen shot from our video. Bet you could tell. Real credit goes to Rancho la Puerta fitness resort in Tecate, Mexico for allowing us to shoot this video while visiting as guest instructors.

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

What’s Your Super Power?

Super power on the AmaPrima ship

The ship we’ll be on. Not because we’re Prima Donnas or anything…..

“What is your super power?”

Have you ever considered where your powers excel? When guest instructing recently at Rancho la Puerta fitness resort, another guest posed the super power question to our tablemates and me at dinner. Pretty interesting conversation starter, n’est-ce pas? Nicht wahr? Si, como no? (You’ll find out in a minute why foreign phrases play out in this context).

What is your Super Power? Think you don't have one? Read this. Click To Tweet

The first respondent said she had no super power. Was that also your first mental reply? If so, reconsider once you hear the examples that came up. I’ll bet you are able to select at least one super power by the time you finish reading this post.

The next tablemate said her super power was being of service to others. She went on to clarify that she particularly excelled at caregiving. Turns out she was caring for both her aging mother and father and relishing the time with her father more than she’d expected.

The guest across from her decided her super power was a willingness to try new things. Being at Rancho la Puerta for the first time was an example she gave to back up her claim.

My Super Power(s) Revealed — to You and Myself

When it became my turn, I’d had time to think about the answer. Still, it was hard to refine my choice so I went with paired powers: Teaching and Learning. (Claiming two answers as one could be a secret power). After 35 years teaching fitness, English, writing, and more, I feel gifted with teaching skills. It’s always nice to have a match between what we love and what we do well, don’t you think? I thoroughly enjoy leading learners of all ages and types.

Which brings me to the Learning Super Power: I love acquiring new knowledge, skills, and experiences. Turns out I am pretty good at it too, which is quite fortunate since I am keen to keep my body and brain active and agile as I entrench myself in midlife. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, three of the top ten ways to keep your brain in shape  include:

  1. Being physically active
  2. Learning new things
  3. Challenging the brain

Learning a Language Leads to Learning Better Overall

Map for AmaPrima Super power

Look! A chance to speak German, French, English, and Dutch!

Most dramatically, learning a foreign language not only boosts brain plasticity, but also makes us better at learning across the board. As a Medical News Today article summarizing this new research from Finland and Russia puts it: “The more foreign languages we learn, the faster the brain responds and processes the data it absorbs during learning. In other words, the study suggests loading the mind with more knowledge boosts its ability to acquire more.” Language learners have an easier time learning altogether. Need more reason to travel if you want to age actively?

Why am I particularly excited about this confluence of Learning, Boosting my Brain, and Being Physically Active? Because my sister and I are about to embark on our first river cruise, thanks to Amawaterways.  After we ply the Rhein River from Basel to Amsterdam, we both decided to extend our stay and visit European friends and former stomping grounds. (DISCLOSURE ALERT: Yes, we are VERY fortunate that Amawaterways is sponsoring our adventure on the AmaPrima, though they did not ask us to write this post or any. We just want to take you with us on our journey in the ways we can!)

Talk about the ultimate in active aging! We will be taking advantage of the many hike, bike, and explore options the Amawaterways cruise offers. I will be able to relearn German (after living in Berlin for two years back in the 80’s teaching at the very first aerobics studio in Europe), practice my French which I studied for 11 years, AND gain new experiences. Nothing like building memories while boosting my memory!

Amawaterways scene Rhein

Images courtesy of AmaWaterways

Three decades from now I want to remember these adventures and languages and still have my Learning and Teaching super powers. What about you? What is your super power? Heck, make it plural and go for the gusto — what super powers do you claim? Tell us in the comments.

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Photo Credit for all three images goes to AmaWaterways.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA













Having Difficulty Losing Weight?

Are you having difficulty losing weight despite exercising and eating healthfully? It could be your weight loss is getting sabotaged by factors you’d never guess.  Three sneaky saboteurs may be in play that all start with the letter “S” and have nothing to do with how much you exercise or how little you eat.

having difficulty losing weight?

Keep an eye out for Sneaky Saboteurs

Will the US Become a 100% Fat Population?

Kymberly: Be prepared to disbelieve my next sentence: “If the U.S. continues its current weight gain trends, within the next 2 decades 100 percent of our adult population is projected to be obese. Not just overweight, obese!”

That Freak Out Fit Fact comes straight from the founder of the National Weight Loss Registry, executive director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center located at the University of Colorado Medical Center, and professor of pediatrics and medicine, James O. Hill, PhD. That’s some serious chops. (For more eye-opening weight loss info from Dr. Hill, read Reducing Obesity: What Does and Doesn’t Work?

If you are at all like me, you are thinking “no way that projected statistic can be right as I have no plan to be in that category and I do plan to be alive in 20 years.”

Consider that already 2/3 of our population is overweight or obese. That means normal weight people are in the minority.

So what can we – you and I – do to reverse that trend and stay at a healthy weight? If you are running to the answer of “eat a healthy diet and exercise” you are mostly right. But exercise and diet are not enough. We must also recognize other factors that cause weight gain or inhibit weight loss.

2/3 of US population is overweight or obese. That means normal weight people are in minority… Click To Tweet
having difficulty losing weight?

I’m Dressed for Stress

What are those 3 Sneaky Saboteurs that Cause Trouble Losing Weight?

1) Stress

  • releases cortisol, a hormone that slows your metabolism
  • increases food cravings, especially of sugary, fatty foods
  • promotes fat retention, especially in the abdominal area

If you suspect that stress is affecting your weight, once you are done reading this post, click to find out more about what’s going on:

Dealing with Stress, Weight Gain, and Hormones

2) Sleep (Specifically, Insufficient Snoozing)

Cart Me Away to a Deep Sleep

In the 1970s, U.S. adults averaged 7+ hours per night. We are now down to the low 6s. When we sleep too little (6 hours or fewer) we:

  • are awake longer and therefore often  snacking more
  • create an imbalance of appetite-regulating hormones, with the hormone that stimulates hunger pangs taking over
  • are possibly dealing with sleep apnea, which shows a correlation between weight gain and lost, interrupted, or insufficient sleep. The cause and effect are still in question.

3) Sugar

  • Our average intake today is 90 pounds per person per year. That is triple the number of sugar pounds consumed 50 years ago.
  • The American Heart Association recommends women ingest no more than 9 teaspoons per day; men are not to exceed 11
  • Current average is about 28 teaspoons per day.

    Sugar is Trouble – Squared (and Cubed)

If  You Are Having Difficulty Losing Weight, What are the Solutions?

Reduce stress by building in activities or habits that soothe you. Meditate, perform some kind of cardio workout, take a bath, play with your pet. RELAX ALREADY!

Sleep at least 7 hours per night, preferably 8. More than 8 is not necessarily better though, so don’t feel compelled to snooze 9 or 10 hours. Unless you’re a teen reading this, then 9-10 hours might be a cutback.

Reduce sugar intake. Focus on ingredient labels to know what sugars are in packaged foods. Worry less about the sugar in fruits or sugar you put in your coffee. Where sugar adds up is as an ingredient in other foods. And it’s cleverly disguised too so check for any words ending in “lose” and starting with “something Latin sounding.” Examples: sucrose, lactose, dextrose.

Having trouble losing weight? Could be 3 sneaky saboteurs that have nothing to do w/ exercise or… Click To Tweet

Alexandra: Great. Now I’m hungry, cranky, tired and stressed out. I do not wish to be a statistic, unless it’s in the category of “Woman who is 20 years older and has perfect curves.” I also want to be able to run high and jump tall buildings in a single bound. I think I’ll go take a nap. I already did the cardio. A steam bath sounds good too. With aromatherapy so I can smell my bright, fit future!!

Could Your Metabolism Be Stuck? (A 4th “S” Word)

What if you are still having trouble losing weight and suspect it’s your metabolism? Find out if your theory is right by clicking below:


If My Metabolism is Stuck, What Do I Do?

Photo Credits: Creative Commons: Harald Groven (sleeping man), INeedCoffee / CoffeeHero (sugar cubes)

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by Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA



















No-Crunch Abs for Boomers

It’s No-Crunch Abs Time!

Ultimate Abs 2nd graphic, No-Crunch AbsMinimize Ab Exercises and Core Work that Require Lifting your Head or Bending your Neck

Want a stronger set of abs without having to do crunches or flex the spine at the neck?

Challenge yourself to try abs exercises that involve no crunching. While the traditional crunch has its place and value, the last thing we baby boomers need is more forward rounding of the spine. A 6-pack is nice and I would not say “no” to it. However, my guess (based on years of teaching experience and your questions) is that you have other, more important abdominal goals.  Happy news: lots of great options exist to strengthen your core while keeping your head on the mat. Other abs exercises abound where you have very little need to forward flex the neck.

Use Abs Anatomy to Your Advantage

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

Abs are endurance, compression, and posture muscles, not powermongers Get exercise examples here Click To Tweet

How many of you already have forward head thrust, tight necks, rounded shoulders? Odds are high you suffer from at least one, if not all these conditions if you are over 50. Heck, even 20, 30, and 40 year olds exhibit the above issues . When selecting abs exercises to try, simply ask yourself whether a given move exacerbates the above problems, is neutral, or counteracts them. The last option is ideal.

No Crunch Examples

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

Watch the Reverse Curl with Oblique Twist exercise below. Just 1 minute and 15 seconds stand between you and adding this move to your groove.

Marching No-Crunch Abs

Ultimate Abs No-Crunch AbsAnother great option is the “Marching Abs” move where your upper body gets to stay on the mat throughout. Bend your knees to 90 degrees; Keep your hips fairly open with feet close to the ground. March your feet, holding the knee angle constant, alternating right and left foot marches. Depending on core strength and back issues, you may decide to march your feet from the ground to about a foot from the ground — the most challenging version. If you feel back strain have or challenges maintaining alignment, march in space. Draw your knees closer to your chest, close down some of the hip angle, and march with your feet anywhere from one to two feet from the ground.

For more great, no-crunch abs exercises, check out our “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50.” You may particularly like the Bug series.

Counteract Decades of Living in Front of Yourself

Years of sitting, driving — of living life in front of our bodies — produce forward head misalignment, rounded shoulders, hunched posture, overly stretched or weak backs. Why lock in these problems by performing more forward, hunching, rounding abs moves?   Gaaah! Go for moves that keep your spine long (we love you planks). Or that remind you to keep your head in neutral spinal alignment as is the case with the Rotating Abs/ Core Move.   This video is also under 2 minutes plus it offers right and wrong way tips. Yes, it’s included in the Ultimate Abs Collection.

Here’s what to crunch: numbers. And baby carrots.

ACTION: We and your abs would love you to check out the “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection.” Do a double down and subscribe to our blog for twice a week cutting edge fitness advice tailored to women over 50.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

PS Next week look out for news on a super successful stretching program created by one of our favorite and most accomplished fitness colleagues, Aileen Sheron. If you are interested to become more flexible and comfortable within your own body, this program may be for you. It’s called Flexibility Fast, but that’s all we’re telling you for now.















Sightseeing Counts as Exercise

On a whim, I decided to take my son and a friend to Los Angeles for the day to do some sightseeing. It’s a 90-mile drive, which means about 4 hours in the car for the round trip (traffic willing), which is about the same amount of time I’ve spent sitting on a sightseeing tour bus when we go halfway around the world.

Venice Beach Canal BoatWhen I think of international sightseeing bus excursions, I usually focus on all the time spent sitting on the bus, which I equate with enforced passive activity (an oxymoron if ever there was one). Yet yesterday’s local excursion helped me realize that sightseeing can really mean quite a bit of walking, which is definitely exercise.

Farmers Market Los Angeles

The Grove by Farmers MarketOnce in Los Angeles, we first drove east toward downtown to visit Farmers Market, then we took Venice Blvd. west all the way to Venice Beach. We spent two hours at Farmers Market and The Grove (my son seems to like this place that feels like a combination of upscale shopping and Universal Studios), then another 2-3 hours walking on the boardwalk and pier at Venice Beach.

Canal in Venice, Los AngelesWhen you're sightseeing, it's easy to log more steps than you expected. #FitFluential Click To Tweet

By the time we got back in the car to head home, I had logged about 6 miles on my Charity Miles app, a fantastic FREE app that logs your walk, run or bike ride, then donates money to the charity of your choice (from their extensive list) based on the number of miles you completed. Win Win Win.

Crowd and building at Venice BeachThe next time you go on a sightseeing junket, near OR far, download the app or check your fitness tracker to see how much you’ve walked. If you’re like me, and feel like all you did was sit all day, you may be surprised. Six miles definitely counts as exercise. And my feet were ready for the car at about 5.5 miles, so that’s another sign that I was moving and logging those steps. Though next time maybe I should pay one of those strapping fellows who work out at Muscle Beach to carry me that last half mile.

View from Venice PierWhen did you last surprise yourself by discovering you had “accidentally” exercised more than you had expected?

When did you get a surprise when you last went traveling? Read about one of our unusual experiences. We survived. Barely: Hiking with the Leeches

Alexandra Williams, MA


Get Rid of Fat Knees

Dear Fun and Fit – K and A:  How do I get rid of bulgy, fat knees? Are there special exercises that focus on that area, especially ones that are right for women over 50?  Nancy, Goleta, CA

Knee bulge, fat knees

Fight the Battle of the Bulge, especially if it’s Knee Bulge

Battle of the Knee Bulge

Kymberly: First and foremost, the answer is “Yes” you can have trimmer, slimmer looking knees by focusing elsewhere – not on the knee joint. We’ll get to that in a minute. Next, you need to sit down, get the remote, and watch the 1965 movie, Battle of the Bulge. All the secrets for winning bulgy battles are covered in the film. For $19.95 we will reveal those secrets (see post “Take One Deep Breath – Lose 5 Pounds. Myth or My Ohmmmm My? for the secret to my “Secret” comment, which is actually a joke as we’re not selling anything in that post).

Get Rid of Fat Knees or Reduce Fat Above, Behind, Around the Knee?

Third, I am going to go on a wild guess here that by “bulgy knees” you mean knees that have fat above and behind them in the thigh area. Cuz’ last I checked, joints themselves cannot be slimmed down. But my oh my, the areas around the knee can store some pretty nice lipose padding, eh? Therefore we are back to the eternal and infernal question of how to reduce fat and “tone up” surrounding muscles. Where we store extra fat is largely determined genetically. Apparently your parents were upper thigh, knee area storage types. Bummer for you. However they probably gave you a nice waist or great hair or a car – something to make up for the genetic predisposition to knee (aka “thigh”) fat.

Alexandra: So true, so cardio, so in need of de-bulgifying. I must contradict Kymberly. Well, I don’t have to, but it’s a quick thrill for me, and I say that you should NOT sit down with the remote. You need to watch the movie while walking on a cardio machine that has a television screen on it. You’re okay with watching Henry Fonda for about 90 minutes aren’t you? Robert Shaw – we could understand a 30 minute commitment. If that sounds inconvenient, or you don’t wish to be spotted on the treadmill eating your popcorn, just do ten 9-minute spurts, broken up with trips to the fridge for Wee-Knees on tiny little Buns. Which is what you will have if you get moving. Poof! De-Bulgified.

Where we store extra fat is largely determined genetically #activeaging Click To Tweet

Lower Body/ Upper Thigh Strength Training is the Shhhhh … Not Secret

Kymberly presses up in CO/ fat knees

Do these boulders make my knees look rock hard?

Kymberly: Well not quite yet de-bulgified though I did like Alexandra’s bun puns. And I think Robert Shaw deserves at least 60 minutes. Nancy, you are well served to engage in lower body strength training along with that cardio workout. After all, having strong quad, inner thigh, and hamstring muscles underneath any stored fat will add to the tighter, toned, leaner look your upper thighs will have as you work off additional calories through cardio. You also can benefit from getting stronger and boosting your metabolic rate via strength training.

Two separate actions needed: 1) burn off stored fat through cardio and 2) contract the muscles underneath with strength training. Hey, we did not say this would be easy! But aren’t Wee-knees with tiny buns worth it?

Read this post on how to burn fat while you sleep, watch tv, and read more posts. Hint: you need to increase your metabolic rate.

How Can I Speed Up My Metabolism?

Also get busy with the Best Workouts to Burn Fat for Women Over 50 (click the link to access that post).

Strength training is critical to achieve lean looking legs and to say good-bye to fat knees. Get suggestions and ways to access exercises to meet your goal here:

5 Reasons to Attend a Strength Class

What if You Have Knee Pain?

While we’re on the subject of knees, if you have knee joint pain (whether or not your knees are bulgy) then check out Fix My Knee Pain, by Rick Kaselj, a fitness colleague of ours. Just click. We’ve used this program ourselves, which is why we are affiliates, though this costs you nothing extra.

Knee Pain Program

Readers: Do you battle your bulge or did you wave the surrender flag? What wonderful attribute did you genetically inherit?

ACTION: Subscribe to receive our posts twice a week. Enter your email; claim your bonus. Kneed we say more?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
















How to Be Confident

trust impressa, how to be confidentApparently many women over 50 wonder how to be confident (so sayeth keyword master, the Googler). When it comes to building self confidence, guess what one sure-fire method is? Yeah, loaded question coming from two fitness professionals, right? Answer: EXERCISE. You knew it was coming.

To improve confidence and reduce anxiety, a little exercise goes a long way — even if you don’t. (Har de har, though true that even modest activity such as a short walk greatly enhances confidence).  Click to learn more about Alexandra’s personal story gaining confidence in her post, Incontinence, Confidence, Group Exercise, and Big-Headed Babies.

But what if your movement anxiety is high because you have incontinence or an overactive bladder? What if exercise causes frequent urination? Nothing like the worry about leakage to thwart confidence and stall workout motivation. And you know we nag, cajole, motivate, advise, and promote working out. It’s our blog’s raison d’être.
Alexandra teaching Drums Alive
Readers like you and our fitness class participants sometimes ask us how to deal with exercise-induced bladder leakage. They also question how we are able to teach so confidently — on stage, with eyes staring at our backside, mirrors and lights highlighting us — knowing we also suffer from leaks ourselves now and then. Therefore we put together the following list of tips to answer both questions: how to be confident and how to exercise confidently with an overactive bladder or light bladder leakage.

What issue do some exercising Boomer women have in common that's easily solved? #trustimpressa… Click To Tweet

1. Exercise until you sweat.

Not only does exercise itself improve self-esteem, self-efficacy, and overall confidence, but also it often gets you sweaty. Who knows whether that’s sweat or urine or both making your leggings wet? Sweat – the ultimate leak disguise.  This is the double whammy bonus big time tip as ANY exercise has a huge positive effect on self-confidence.

waterfall, Kymberly, how to be confident

Does rushing water make you want to go go go … on a hike?

2. Prepare for the possibility of a leaky workout.

Wear dark workout gear. Heck, we haven’t worn white tights or yoga pants for three decades anyway. Have you? And (here comes the sponsored post disclosure. Poise Impressa has compensated us to share about their new sizing kit) — do check out their bladder support product. I don’t know about you, but I was glad to say good-bye to pads and liners post-menopause. Take a quick trip to Walmart to get their Poise Impressa Sizing Kit. It’s an internal product designed to stop leaks before they happen.

3. Manage Stress and Anxiety

One of my (Alexandra) favorite songs is by the Tedeschi Trucks Band – Do I Look Worried. Mostly because the song is fantastic, but also because it dovetails with an expression we have in the counseling world, “Fake it Till you Make it.” It’s true – one way to manage stress and anxiety is to have a chat with yourself. “Once this issue is resolved, how will I feel?” Then you decide to feel that way in the moment rather than waiting for the resolution. You can also choose a specific time of day for all your worries. As soon as you find yourself stressing out, tell yourself to save it for the official stress time. At the designated time, bring your stressors to mind, then deliberately stop at the end of the set time. Another trick is to clench your fist as tightly as possible and count to 5. Then relax the fist and count to 5. It’s physiologically impossible to be simultaneously stressed and relaxed. So you trick your body. Deep breathing works too (which is different than heavy breathing for those of us who drool over Colin Firth).

It's physiologically impossible to be simultaneously stressed and relaxed. #trustimpressa… Click To Tweet

4. Find activities you enjoy.

First, take a look at this 15 second video showing activities we enjoy.

(If the video isn’t showing, click this link: Activities Alexandra and Kymberly enjoy: Trust Impressa)

Generally people enjoy those activities they are good at. Improving a skill boosts confidence. Even if you suckity wuckity at something you enjoy (that would be Kymberly steering a kayak or Alexandra at nothing – [ha ha, Kymberly left a blank spot here for me to fill out, but I do not “suckity wuckity” at anything as that’s a phrase I do not use]), you will still be more confident AND have the freedom to go for it leak-free. Movement freedom, release from anxiety, and having fun = winning combo!

5. Connect with other women who share your experiences.

Once you get out there (there = gym, club, park trails, your neighborhood), you’ll find women like you who value movement, exercise, and an active life.  Being with others of similar values — exercise. in this case — improves confidence and self-perception. You’ll also discover how many other women deal with pants’ peeing. This is a chance to talk with gal pals and minimize the taboos around this issue. You are not alone in your mid-workout leg crossing . I can hear the new chant now: “Free the Pee! Free the Pee!” Or not…

For more related posts, click away on any of the below links:

Can Boomer Women Be Sexy

Exercise and Confidence in Midlife: I Am Enough

An Embarrassing Secret About Active Aging

Exercise, Confidence & Attractiveness

ACTION: Enter your email in any of the opt-in boxes to get more active aging answers to boost your overall comfort, confidence, and capability. Join us and others like you twice a week when you subscribe to our blog. 

by Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA with subtle contributions here and there from Alexandra Williams, MA


Fun Fitness Facts to Motivate You

twins at Ranch arch Fitness FactsBy now you know that exercise is good for a lot more than weight maintenance. It acts as inexpensive medicine, positively affects the aging process, and makes us better people all around. Every year new studies reveal more ways movement increases happiness, healthiness, and longevity.  We baby boomers continue to redefine aging as we take advantage of increased awareness of the benefits of activity.

Let’s skim through a few fun fitness facts culled from recent research to get our motivation and life quality up, up, up! Nothing like some quick, practical hits to renew our “commit to be fit!”

Exercise acts as inexpensive medicine and positively affects the aging process. Get more Fit… Click To Tweet

General Fun Fitness Facts

Travaasa bike at ISPA Media event Fitness Facts

  • You can increase memory function, improve overall brain health, and reduce loss of brain matter via exercise.
  • Physically active older adults have more variable brain activity while resting than those who are not active. Brain variability is linked to enhanced cognitive function.
  • Indoor cyclists who pedaled vigorously for 45 minutes continued to burn additional calories for up to 14 hours post cycling than on days they did not cycle. (Burn baby, burn disc inferno! Come join me for a class as I just got Schwinn indoor cycling certified).
  • Not only does a good night’s sleep improve your memory, but also taking naps of 45-60 minutes helps you retain more information.
Taking naps of 45-60 minutes helps you retain more information & improve memory ZZZZzzzz… Click To Tweet

Medical Fitness Facts

  • People who exercise moderately are less likely to have risk factors for glaucoma compared to inactive people. (“The better to see you with, my dear.”)
  • Exercise may be almost as effective as flu vaccines for reducing respiratory infections. (Take two walks and see me in the morning).
  • Good nutrition is the least expensive form of health care.

Yoga and Mind/Body Fitness Factsyoga pose at the beach Fitness Facts

  • Taking yoga even just once a week can help people reduce lower back pain and the need for pain medications. (Save money when you practice yoga and don’t have to buy pain meds!)
  • Those who participate in yoga may also be more likely to eat mindfully and be physically active in other modes in addition to yoga.
  • Mindfulness, such as cultivated in yoga, enhances self-regulation abilities.  
  • A consistent Pilates program may improve dynamic balance for older adult women, helping prevent falls.
  • Older adults who took yoga twice a week combined with memory training for four weeks experienced improvements in memory performance and the ability to manage activities of daily living.
Mindfulness, such as cultivated in #yoga, enhances self-regulation abilities #Activeaging Click To Tweet

snacks at One Wine Santa BarbaraFood Fitness Facts

  • Peanuts or peanut butter for breakfast can control your blood sugar throughout the day and reduce your desire to eat for up to twelve hours. (I am not saying “nuts” to that! And See’s candies offers a dark chocolate with peanuts so that’s good news).
  • Drinking just 1-3 additional cups of water can help with weight control. Hydrators reduce intake of three S’s when they drink up – sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.
  • People who consume a greater variety of foods tend to have less body fat and be at less risk for metabolic syndrome than those who follow more limited food plans.

I don’t know about you, but I love Fun Fit Facts and Stats. You are seeing here just a few of the many I collect. What do you think? Do fitness facts, stats, and quotes motivate you as well?

If so, layer some Motivational Quotes with your Fun Fit Facts to keep yourself active and on track.  Get more quick hits in our posts, Motivational Quotes to Move You and Motivation, Fun Fit Facts, and Pretty Pictures for Boomers.

ACTION: Subscribe. Get motivation with your movement advice twice a week. Enter your email; claim your bonus; exit a more vibrant you!

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


Healthy Habits: Small Changes Lead to Big Changes

A recurring theme in our business of fitness and active aging is how to get from A to B – where you are now and where you want to be. Whether it’s weight loss, better nutrition, more energy, injury prevention, disease reduction or any of the many other reasons people have, the secret to success lies in using your mind to make small changes that add up and lead to the desired big changes as you create new, healthy habits.

Walk on beach, KymberlyInstead of speaking generally, I’ll give a specific case example. I have a 65-year-old friend, Barbara*. She has diabetes, insomnia, low arm muscle tone (related to a shoulder injury & surgery), is overweight by about 20 pounds, and has forward head thrust. Oh, she also complains of snoring, but wants to avoid wearing a CPAP machine to bed (recommended by her doctors after a sleep study for the insomnia). Her eating habits consist mostly of fast food and restaurant food.

For two months, she has talked about the things she “should” do, yet not much has changed. When she started talking to me, I listened for any recent relevant successes. As it turned out, she had lost about 35 pounds over the past few years. With a background in fitness, food and counseling, you’d think I could just say, “do X, Y, and Z and you’ll be fine.” Well, I COULD say that, but would she listen? Would you?

Keeping in mind she’s my friend, NOT my client, I’m somewhat limited, yet she truly is motivated. So I think like a pro and friend, by staying as non-judgmental as possible (that’s diplomatic talk for me trying to keep my mouth shut regarding unsolicited advice).

When trying to lead a healthier life, small changes are best because... Click To Tweet

Focus on one issue at a time
Put related issues together
Mention possible small changes
Create an environment that leads to success
Go small
Pat, Slap, Pat (totally non-counselorish phrase for Compliment, Correct, Compliment)
Find opportunities to celebrate small successes
Lay out a clear picture of what success looks like – can’t reach a goal if you don’t know what it is

Try to solve all the issues at once
Be a saboteur
Expect the person to do what YOU would do

to do listI realized fairly quickly that Barbara’s main focus is the insomnia and snoring, even more than getting off the diabetes medicine. Me, I’d want to be off the daily shots for the diabetes, but that’s ME, not her. She doesn’t like being reminded about pulling her head back, so the forward head thrust is out of the equation for now. She also has shown little inclination to work out, so the arm strength is also set aside. The good news for her is that the cure for the insomnia and snoring is going to help her diabetes and weight too.

These are a few of the changes that she’s made:

She said she wanted to walk her dog, yet that wasn’t happening. Instead of nagging her to walk the dog, I asked what it was she didn’t like about walking the dog. She said it was boring to walk the same neighborhood day after day. Solution: We meet at different places in town and walk the dog. Side benefit: She is discovering places in town that she had never visited, and her dog barks less at night because he’s sleeping better too.

Kila and Liberty on rockShe said she wanted to eat better by eating fewer meals (skipping breakfast, to be specific). Research doesn’t back up this plan, but I know very few people who change their habits when they read research, so instead I went shopping with her and helped her pick out foods she would actually eat. Solution: She found cereals she liked and has taught herself to read labels to watch for the sugar content (for the diabetes). Side benefit: She is no longer driving through fast food places mid-morning to satiate her hunger, so the type and amount of calories she’s eating have changed for the better.

She knows that exercise leads to weight loss, which leads to a decrease in snoring and helps her sleep better, yet she wasn’t doing any exercise. She’s a social person, so I invite her to join me on dog walks and other walking opportunities. For example, she’s so used to driving everywhere, that’s it’s a habit for her to jump into her car for even a short distance. We were headed somewhere that’s about a quarter mile from my house, so I suggested we walk. Solution: She’s starting to look at walking as a way to get from place to place, rather than as forced exercise. By simply “interrupting” her unconscious habit of jumping into the car, she now sees walking as an alternative mode of transport. Side benefit: She has noticed the correlation between the exercise and how she sleeps, and has come to realize that it’s actually cause and effect.

She is a kindhearted person who likes to be a good friend. We were going out to restaurants far more than is my usual style, and I found I was eating more than I normally would. When I expressed concern about this, she wanted to be helpful to me. She isn’t a doggie bag person; her mindset is more toward “clean your plate.” Thinking of “Pat, Slap, Pat,” I said, “I love going out to eat and trying new foods. This lifestyle won’t work for me in the long run, as I’m sitting too long and eating too much” (way better than saying, “You eat out way too often,” which sounds judgy). “Could we swing by the ready-made section of the grocery store and pick up some lunch there instead?” If I had suggested cooking at home, she would not have been successful at reducing her restaurant visits, since she doesn’t cook. Solution: She is looking more to the grocery store as a place for portion control and choice. Side benefit: She now has more time for those dog walks, as she’s spending less time sitting in a restaurant.

nutrition at IDEA WorldI gave her a card for her wallet that lists her goals, but that was a total bust, as she never looks at it. And I discovered that chocolate shakes are non-negotiable for her, so I stopped rolling my eyes. She has a sweet tooth, so I have to work WITH, not AGAINST it. How? I offer fruit in vanilla yogurt to her, which sometimes (not always) satisfies her sugar craving. And isn’t fruit two times out of ten better than candy bars ten out of ten? Maybe she’ll get to five times fruit and five times chocolate bars. But that might be enough to beat the diabetes.

Oh, I got her hooked on Bolthouse Vanilla Chai instead of the caffeinated energy drinks and sodas she was drinking. THAT is a big success.

What is the one small thing you can do? Write it in the comments below so we can steal your ideas.

Alexandra Williams, MA

One very small thing you can do is subscribe to our twice-weekly posts, just by entering your email right over there ——->

Photo credit for “To Do” –  Courtney Dirks


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.

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