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4

The Most Effective Plank Exercises

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Often, people are reluctant to attempt a plank because they’ve heard that you have to hold a long-lever plank for 5 minutes in order to be “cool.” Not true. Planks are accessible to nearly everyone, as many versions exist.K planking in Thailand

Want to perform a #fitness plank? This video shows 4 different modifications, & instructions… Click To Tweet

Proper Technique:

  • Planks are more effective if you rest on your elbows, not your hands
  • Elbows directly below the shoulders
  • Hands loose and relaxed; a correlation exists between clenched fists and breath-holding
  • It’s better for your lower back to have your hips slightly piked rather than dropped, though a straight line is your goal
  • Pretend you are wearing a belt, and tighten all places where it would touch

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.

5

Tangerine Dream: It’s Pixie Month at The Oaks at Ojai Spa

It’s Pixie Tangerine season in Ojai, and we celebrated our love of the seedless fruit, the Oaks at Ojai spa treatments, and romance this past weekend.

chaise longuesJust to be clear, in this case, “we” was NOT my sister and I (see the part just there that mentions romance). Last year my sis and I went to the spa for Bike Week, so you can go for the active adventures, or wind down with spa treatments. Or both. This time I went for relaxation and spa treatments (you don’t have to be a guest to take advantage of the spa services, FYI).

For Pixie Month, my particular friend and I showed up in time for dinner, which included a Pixie mousse for dessert. Yes, you CAN get dessert at a fitness spa. Our goal was to relax after a busy week, so we took a short stroll after dinner, then sat in the hot tub contemplating our good luck at having it all to ourselves.

Ojai Meadows Preserve

The Ojai Meadows Preserve is a 5-minute drive from the Oaks at Ojai.

frog

Five of these little froggies would fit in the palm of your hand

April is Pixie tangerine month at the Oaks at Ojai. Ready for your visit? Click To TweetAfter breakfast, which included as many Pixies as we could fit in our pockets, we drove to the Ojai Meadows Preserve for a hand-in-hand stroll, where we saw several hundred teeny tiny frogs. We were tempted by both the morning hike and the aqua class at the spa (I have done both in the past, and loved them), but we were focused on our “together” time, so chose solo activities instead.

serenity garden

Hidden behind the pool is a serenity rock garden. You can add your own!

By the time we got back to The Oaks at Ojai, it was time for our spa treatments. In my case, that meant a pixie pedicure. Yup, it included a foot and leg scrub infused with tangerines, plus a fresh tangerine squeezed into the foot soak water. I almost chose tangerine as my nail polish color, then decided to go with a merlot color. I’m sure both sound delicious. My friend had a massage, which I was surprised to learn was the first he’d ever had in his life. How is it possible that he made it into his fifties without ever having a massage? In any case, he loved it, including the hot stones, and now he knows what he’s been missing.

Lake Casitas

If you come from Santa Barbara, stop for the views of Lake Casitas

ABC Channel 7 did a piece about Pixie month and the Oaks at Ojai, which we recommend you watch. The spa is only 45 minutes away from Santa Barbara, and includes a scenic drive past Lake Casitas. If you’re coming from L.A., it’s only an hour’s drive.

Rachel at Oaks at Ojai

Don’t let that smile fool you; Rachel is just waiting to make you laugh

My little extra piece of advice? You can go for a girls’ getaway (some friends did that a week before our visit), or with a male partner. Some people think the Oaks at Ojai is just for women, but that’s not the case at all. There were a number of men there (though mine was the handsomest). And if you want to laugh, ask for Rachel at the front desk. She’s a hoot.

Alexandra Williams, MA

This is not a sponsored post, though I was a special guest at the spa for the night.

 

23

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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15

8 Ways to Sit Less; Move More

Sitting Pretty the movie, Sit lessHow to Sit Less with No Stress

Sit less. Easy to say; harder to make happen. No doubt you already know sitting a lot contributes to weight gain. Not just total time spent sitting, but uninterrupted “Sitting Pretty.” But do you know why? And how to work in movement breaks and less sitting? Are you finding yourself spending many hours at a computer, desk, or tv wondering how to find time to be active? Do you look at your cell phone in disbelief that you have been sitting for a loooooong time with no break? We have some fitspiration tips for you. Besides — “oy, stand up already!”

Sitting Does Not Compute

Even for us, we find it a challenge to pull ourselves away from the computers blogging about living actively as boomers. Fitness irony, right? There’s always one more email to answer or that quick post to enter. Next thing you know — wham! Sitting on the Dock of the Butt for hours on literal End!

Can you handle reading about leaking fat cells? Then read to the end. Ewwwwww.

Uninterrupted Sitting Time is the Worst

Total sitting time is making us fat, but Uninterrupted Sitting Time is even Worse Click To Tweet

First some realistic suggestions on how to sit less and move more:

  1. Set a timer on your computer, watch, or cell phone to remind you to get out of the sitting position. Ideal is to stand up and move about every 20 minutes. Shoot for at least once every 60 minutes at a minimum.
  2. Get an app to nag, motivate you to get up, stretch, stand, walk about — something; anything! (Fun Fit Fact: Midlife women comprise the biggest purchasers of fitness and health apps. Who says we aren’t techno savvy??!!)
  3. Create an inconvenient work or tv watching environment. For example, don’t use remote controls to watch television. You want a volume or channel change? Gotta get off your duff. Need a certain notebook to finish a post or computer document? Store your notebooks (pens, files, rulers, whatever you need on a semi-regular basis) away from your computer or desk. No cheating by rolling over to the notebook if your work chair has wheels. You have to actually stand up.
  4. Drink a lot of water. Are you with me? Yes, as we walk together to the bathroom. (Then leave me in privacy, please).
  5. Place snacks and drinks anywhere but within reach. You want it bad enough, you’ll get up.
    Liberty dog sit less

    Would this face motivate you to sit less and walk (the dog) more? Barkalicious and walkalicious

  6. Get a dog. Say Whaaaatt? Yes, if you have a dog, you will have to take breaks from sitting to let your wonderpoochie in and out. Your dog will need walks, play time, attention, fresh water, more food. See all the opportunities to get up, even if just for a minute or two?
  7. Read two of our prior posts : “Love Exercise; Work is a Pain Though,” and “Seated Posture: Part 6” You’ll especially enjoy the comments from the former. Let us know if you laughed a bit too.
  8. Buy a standing work station and actually work on it. Don’t count this as specific workout or exercise time especially if you are in nice work clothes you don’t want to sweat up. Approach time on a bike/ desk or treadmill/ desk as Not Sitting Time. For more on how and why to go this route, click now on this link to Fitness + Desk = FitDesk (no, we were not compensated to add this in. It’s just good stuff. And sorta humorous too)

Total Time Sitting: Do You Need Motivation or Education?

Kymberly lounging by the pool, Sit less

Sitting Pretty and that’s no Sitting Bull!

If your challenge is finding exercise time with all the sedentary work you are laboring under, ponder this: If you are not reaching your goals, it boils down to only two reasons – either not enough Motivation or Education. Motivation you have to get from yourself; Education is coming at you live in the next paragraph without further commercial interruption (unlike the sitting interruption we are aiming for. Oops that was a break right there).

Education About Leaking and Multiplying Fat Cells Will Motivate You Not To Sit Too Much!

Short version of what’s going on inside your body as you sit and sit and sit.

Your preadipocyte cells (pre-fat cells waiting in the wings) turn into full-fledged fat cells faster and in greater number when the body is “actively inactive.” That means you are working at being sedentary for hours at a stretch. Existing fat cells reload with more fat as well. Insert loud horror movie scream here!

church statue, Hamburg Sit less

Fight for Your Right to Move More

When muscles — such as glutes, in this case — are in a stretched position for an extended time, the cells in those muscles “leak” and “drip” lipids. Yes, that’s another word for “fat.” The weight of the body increases lipid production via a process called “mechanical stretch loading.” For those who like the science behind growing behinds, read these two articles on sitting causing fat gain. Brace yourself for the educational story about fat cells lurking and invading our muscles as we innocently plunk our hinies in one spot too long. Believe me, you will be motivated to sit less after reading the research results.

ACTION: Are you sitting as you read this? We thought so. Time to stand up and subscribe so you can enjoy moving more, sitting less, and aging actively. Enter your email in any of the subscription boxes; claim your bonus while you’re at it.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

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3

Best Exercises for Over 50 Year Olds: Part 5

What are the Best Exercises for Over 50 Year Olds?

You can create workout routines that are perfect for your baby boomer body armed with any of 6 exercise design principles. This post is the last in a 5 part series on creating the best workouts possible for the over 50 exerciser. (You will find links to Parts 1-4 at the end of this post).

Best exercises for over 50

No snide comments about side planks.

Apply insider strategies professional fitness leaders use to give yourself the gift of life-enhancing fitness programs that are low risk, yet high reward. Let’s maintain function and expand, not shrink our world as we exercise.

We boomers — born between 1946-1964 — want to enjoy the second half of life actively, comfortably, and energetically. Yet we have five to seven decades of accumulated aches and pains. Do joint issues limit your ability to do certain activities? I know knee arthritis has forced me to make numerous activity changes, especially this past decade.  Years of sitting, driving — of living life in front of our bodies — may have produced forward head misalignment, rounded shoulders, hunched posture, overly stretched or weak backs. While not elderly, frail, nor sedentary, we boomers are probably feeling the effects of the passing years.

Which brings us to the final program design principle in this series. In some ways you could argue that I saved the best for last.  Yup, All About Abs!

Principle 6: Avoid Ab Exercises that Bend at the Neck

Best exercises for over 50

You can do lots of fun things with a strong core

Another, more technical way to word that is:

Minimize Core Work and Ab Exercises that Require Spinal Flexion

Challenge yourself to select abs exercises that involve no crunches. While the traditional crunch has its place and value, the last thing we 50-70 year olds need is more forward rounding. Nor is a 6-pack a primary goal for us. Instead, perform moves that keep your head on the mat or that have very little opportunity to forward flex the neck.

Challenge yourself to select abs exercises that involve no crunches Click To Tweet

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

How many of us baby boomers already have forward head thrust, tight necks, rounded shoulders? Probably most, if you are typical older adults. When selecting abs exercises, simply ask yourself whether a given move exacerbates the above problems, is neutral, or counteracts them. The last option is ideal.

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).

Best Exercises for over 50 Bug series

Work core and coordination with the Bug Series

Another great option is the “Marching Abs” move where the upper body stays on the mat throughout.  Legs are bent at 90 degrees at the knees; hips are fairly open with the feet close to the ground. You march the feet, holding the knee angle constant, alternating right and left foot marches. Depending on core strength and back issues, you may decide to march the feet from the ground to about a foot from the ground — the most challenging version. If you have trouble maintaining great form or have difficulty maintaining alignment, march in space. Draw your knees closer to your chest, close down some of the hip angle, and march with your feet anywhere from one to two feet from the ground.

Want Tons More Examples that are No Crunch, Best Exercises for Over 50 Year Olds?

Truth bomb — Ab exercises alone won’t work to whittle any waistline fat. You probably already know that spot reducing is a myth. However, having a stronger core, better posture, and less back pain are all yours when you add abs to your workout program. Especially the kinds of core and abs exercises we’ve been talking about that minimize neck flexion and maximize the way your body performs and feels (versus simply how it looks).  Do check out what our Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50  offers. For one, you’ll get a LOT of great examples of moves that suit older adults and don’t depend on zillions of crunches.  For you visual and kinesthetic learners, the program offers 23 videos of ab exercises as well.

Ultimate Abs No-Crunch Abs

Ultimate Abs Sales Page

To get to the whole kit and kaboodle of the “Create the Best Workouts” blog post series, click on the links below that take you to Parts 1-4, Principles 1-5. You can go in any order really.

Create the Best Workout Programs for Your Over 50 Body

Create the Best Possible Over 50 Workouts: Part 2

Over 50? Create the Best Workouts Possible: Part 3

Create Great Baby Boomer Workouts: Part 4

ACTION: DON’T subscribe if you are not interested to receive weekly news on how you can make your second half of life an active one. Who needs one more email to delete from the inbox? However, if you DO want professional, insider strategies that will help you achieve your workout goals, this is your moment. Enter your email in any of the subscription boxes. See you weekly thereafter!

Kymberly Willliams-Evans, MA

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16

The Best Time to Work Out: Now or Later?

“When is the best time to work out, especially if I am over 50?” a reader asked us. Actually many of our fitness class participants wonder the same. In those cases we tell them it’s whenever our classes are scheduled. For the rest of you though…..

Sooner or Later? Best time to work out?

Now? Then? Tell me When!

sandbird at the beach

The early bird gets the calorie burn

The Best Time to Work Out Is …

Kymberly: Your timing on the timing aspect couldn’t be timelier as we just read a concise wrap-up of factors that help people stay consistent with a workout program. The absolute BEST time is when you will actually go. You derive benefits from exercise whether it’s o’dark thirty or too damn early o’clock. However, people who exercise early in the day tend to be more consistent and therefore more successful. The early bird gets the burn!

What’s the Best Morning Workout?

When is the best time to work outRise and Shine, Workout People!

Alexandra: If you’re a procrastinator, I’d recommend morning as the best time to work out. That way you will be done with your exercise, and can focus on putting off all the other stuff you should be doing! Some of my university students sign up to work out later in the day simply because they don’t want to wake up early! Of course, by “early” they mean “before lunch.” So the best time for them is different than for most other age groups.

K: In short, the statistical reality is that human nature kicks in (sometimes even before the endorphin rush!). This plays out as those who put exercise later in the day tend to keep pushing it off…until it’s the next day. Then the next. Those who schedule exercise first thing simply adhere better.

As for me, I love to exercise in the evening when I can watch tv guilt-free as I pedal along on my indoor cycle. But then, I teach morning classes, so I’d say for me, the BEST time is when I am paid to work out and people are counting on me to show up.  Yup– that is my favorite time!

When is the best time to work out? Click To Tweet
Retro exercise Best time to work out

Increase Your Exercise Adherence – Become Blonde!

A: Sort of related, but not exactly (meaning: “not much really, but I just want to put it out there”) is that one trait people who have lost weight and managed to keep it off for at least 1 year have in common is that they eat breakfast. It didn’t matter what time of day they worked out, yet it did matter whether or not they ate breakfast (Wing & Phelan, 2005).

Consistency Trumps the Hour

Here’s the secret, no matter what time zone you’re in or if you put your workout where the sun does or doesn’t shine, Be Consistent!

K: Like F and F twins, great questions often come in pairs, so allow us to answer “what’s the BEST cardio activity?” while we’re at it. Click to find out.

Dear Readers: When do you work out and why?

ACTION: Now is the best time to subscribe, especially if you want the best tips to work out your bodacious baby boomer bod.

Photo Credits: Creative Commons

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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8

Living Longer via Walking: Who Wants In?

Living Longer Kymberly walks tall at Rancho la Puerta

Walk to Live Longer

Is living longer one of your goals? I can hear you now: “Only if those added years are quality ones that I enjoy in good health.” I hear ya; I feel ya. Who wants extra time that is devoid of fun, interest, and good relationships? Pffftt to that.

Add Years to Your Life and Life to Your Years

Did you know  walking can prolong your life? And the more steps you take, the more years you add to your life.  We’re talking good years (statistically speaking, of course. I certainly can’t predict your future, though you sure can heavily influence yours).

Now if you are already thinking ahead, you might be trying to trap me with this bold assertion. “Saaay, Kymberly. What if I start walking and walking heaps and tons. Will I gain immortality?” Yeah, walking also adds brain power. True fun fit fact.

Walking can prolong your life - by how much? Click To Tweet

Let’s go with what a study out of Aussieland says: When 2500+ middle-aged Australians increased their daily pedometer steps from a sedentary level to 10,000 steps per day, they reduced their mortality risk by 40%.  In short, walk more = live longer.

walking is great exercise Living Longer

Walk to Improve Health

10,000 Steps or Just 3,000 Steps?

What if racking up 10,000 steps a day is too daunting or unrealistic for you, yet you still think living longer sounds tempting? Add just 3000 steps per day and you’ll reduce risk of a premature death by 12%.  Can you devote the equivalent of walking 1.5 miles or for 30 minutes daily in order to add years to your life?

Another benefit? Just 30 minutes a day of walking reduces your heart attack risk as much as a high-intensity exercise program. For those of us over 50 with joints that rebel at high intensity activities this is good news indeed.

Living Longer Not Enough? Check out MORE Benefits of Walking

There you are living extra years thanks to your 30 minutes per day walking. But why not also become more fit altogether? Read “Can Walking Really Get You to Your Fit Destination” if you are keen to lose weight, maintain your current weight, or simply improve your health. Also check out “Walk to Lose Weight and Gain Fitness.” Your goal will help determine your walking regimen.

Walk to Lose Weight, Gain Fitness and Happiness

Can Walking Really Get You to Your (Fit) Destination?

Avoid Physical Discomfort from Walking

Walking is pretty darn safe and low risk.  But let’s say you get so motivated to live longer and increase your fitness level that you overdo it. If you get sore muscles or joints (or want to prevent injury and soreness in the first place) then follow our suggestions in these three posts:

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

How Do I Prevent Calf Soreness After Walking Hills?

Use Weights While Walking: Yes or No?

Walk Well to Begin With

Or you could walk with amazing form and professional level technique if you take into consideration 7 Easy Steps to Walk Better. Exactly — you can avoid injury, stiffness, and muscle aches in the first place if you practice “Great Gait.”

The more steps you take, the more years you add to your life. How many steps? How many years? Click To Tweet

Walker MomentsDog walk/ Living Longer

Personally I love walking daily, especially as my dogs turn their sad eyes on me if I try to skip a day. This past month however, the term “walker” took on a new meaning for me. Instead of the word defining me as someone who ambulated daily, it referred to the walker I had to use post total knee replacement surgery. Ever try to sneak up on someone when rockin’ a walker? Clunk drag clunk drag. But it helped me get those vital steps in the first week after surgery. Now in week three post “new knee” surgery, I have graduated from the walker to crutches and finally to no assistance as of two days ago.Like never before, I appreciate the joy and life enhancing aspects of simple walking.  With my new knee and the evidence on living longer via walking, I plan to go forever and ever and ever and ……….

ACTION: Walk your fingers to our subscription box; enter your email; claim your bonus; get the latest on living the most active life possible post 50.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

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4

Create Great Baby Boomer Workouts: Part 4

Kymberly Balance Exercises Rancho la PuertaOver 50 and looking for ways to make your workouts the best ones possible? Welcome to Part 4 of a series sharing principles you can use to enhance your exercise program and life.  These principles are specifically helpful for baby boomers, whether newcomers to exercise or long time “activists.”

Before revealing Principle 5, let’s briefly recap the insider strategies I shared in Parts 1-3. Click on each link to access the relevant post. Just be sure to come back!

Principle 1: Activate Your Back

Principle 2: Train Using Functional Options

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

Principle 4: Offer Movement Patterns that Enhance Cognitive Skills

And now for today’s peak performance principle:

Principle 5: Incorporate Dynamic and Static Balance Exercises

When you hear “balance options” do you think solely of static balance moves? “Stand still and lift one leg.” If so, time to add dynamic balance to your repertoire.  Coming up — lots of practical balance exercises you can play with.

Use variations on walking as a fun and functional balance warm up Click To Tweet

Walk This Way … and That

Kymberly Walking - Balance Exercises

Walking – the Ultimate Balance Exercise

Walking is the ultimate and primary functional balance move.  Use variations on walking as a fun and functional balance warm up. Try walking forward, backward, quickly with direction changes, slowly, super slowly. Then walk in one line as if on a balance beam going forward and back while lifting a knee up and over with each step. Also challenge yourself to go forward and in reverse toe to heel; heel to toe.

Another dynamic balance move that is also functional is heel walking. With toes lifted, walk around the room both forward and in reverse. Or take two steps up to an imaginary line with the heels down, toes up, then two steps back to start. Watch that you don’t hinge at the hips to counterbalance; keep your hips open and glutes under your shoulders, not behind them.

Improving Static Balance as Primary Goal

When selecting static balance exercises you have a range of moves to choose from. Assuredly, you’ll want to include a few options whereby you support on one leg while lifting, holding, moving the other (half static, half dynamic). In such cases, the balance exercise itself is the focus.

Balance Exercises KymberlyFor example, stand on the left leg while making figure eight loops in front and behind the body, clockwise and counterclockwise with the right leg.

Improving Static Balance as Secondary, Two-for-One Goal

You can create a time efficient, two-for-one coupon special by combining static balance challenges with upper body exercises.  In essence, any time you stand in place while doing another exercise, you have an opportunity to add a balance component.  Simply take advantage of varying stance options, progressing from a wide to narrow base of support.

For instance, if you are doing lat pulldowns with resistance tubing, rather than always default to a wide, parallel stance (feet about shoulder width apart in the same plane), narrow or stagger your feet. While your primary goal is to strengthen the lats, you are retraining your body and brain to account for a different base of support as a secondary benefit.

Stance Progression to Add to Balance Exercises

Your stance options in order of most secure to most challenging are as follows:

  1. Wide Stance Parallel (Most Common and offers Most Control)
  2. Wide Stance Staggered (one foot forward of the other, though not lined up)
  3. Narrow Stance Staggered
  4. Narrow Stance Parallel (Feet and Inner Thighs touching)
  5. Feet in one line but not heel to toe (ie, space between front and back foot)
  6. Tandem Stance (feet lined up one in front of the other, heel to toe (More Challenge)
  7. One foot resting on top of the other or 1 leg lifted (Most Challenge)
Stretching is also a great place and time to work in balance work Click To Tweet

Stagger or narrow the feet during upper body stretches. Stretching is also a great place and time to work in more balance work. Gently dropping your ear side to side while your feet are in tandem position requires new attention and adaptation.

Kymberly Balance Exercises Rancho la puerta

Really Stretching My Limits While Balancing

As you see, this principle is accessible and straightforward. Use it and any of the other principles to stimulate your creativity and rethink your workout content. Your body will thank you — your future, functional, energetic body!

ACTION: Principle #8 – Subscribe to get active aging insights written to help you enjoy the second half of life as energetically and comfortably as possible.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, 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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Create the Best Workout Programs for Your Over 50 Body

This is My Year Best Workout ProgramsLet’s start the year successfully by designing the best workout programs for your bodacious baby boomer body!

How would you like to make your workouts even more effective, time-efficient, and specific to your midlife needs? Notice I did not say “harder” or “longer.” Are you with me?

Benefits of Designing the Best Workout Programs for Boomers

You can create cutting edge, life-enhancing fitness programs that are low risk, yet high reward by taking into account any of 6 principles honed for the over 50 exerciser. Maintain function and expand, not shrink your capabilities as you age actively with smarter exercises.

Boomers: want to make your workouts more effective, time-efficient, and specific to midlife needs Click To Tweet

We boomers — who range from 53-71 years old — want to enjoy the second half of life actively, comfortably, and energetically. Yet we have five to seven decades of accumulated aches and pains. Joint issues may limit your ability to do high impact activities. I know my arthritic knees definitely affect my movement choices.

1st of 6 Principles

Over the course of the next few weeks and blog posts, I will share 6 of 7 principles I’ve devised based on research, experience, and training that are particularly helpful to our age group. You are getting the professional insider advice from a cover feature article I just had published in IDEA Fitness Journal, the industry publication for fitness pros.

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The 6 principles can be used in any combination or as standalones. 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? Create cutting edge, life-enhancing fitness pgms that R low risk, high reward using… Click To Tweet

Principle 1: Activate Your Back

Have years of sitting, driving — of living life in front of your body — produced forward head misalignment, rounded shoulders, hunched posture, overly stretched or a weak back?

Best workout Programs

Hip Extension in another dimension

The “Activate Your Back” principle reminds us to prioritize actions behind us. Incorporate exercises that require glutes, hamstrings, any and all back muscles. Look for every opportunity to open or extend the pectorals (chest), anterior deltoids (front of shoulder), and hip flexors.

A focus on dorsal or backside moves counteracts prior decades of movement patterns that close off the front of the body. If you take cardio classes, think of this principle as a chance to give your heart and lungs more room to pump and breathe. Even if your teacher is cueing arm patterns in front of your body, try arm movements such as rows, hand to heel lifts behind the back, or any move than puts the arms behind you.

For strength, balance, or stretch classes, choose exercises with hip extension (open hip, leg reaching behind you) over ones promoting hip flexion (closed hip, leg in front of you). For instance, if doing balance work, have your lifted leg start and stay in hip extension. Then slightly raise and lower that leg using the glutes. Add in small loops, counter- and clockwise, all in the dorsal plane — that is, behind you. Or lift your leg only a few inches from the start position to the left and right, tapping lightly side to side, again always with hip extension. Not only do you use your core muscles to compress and stabilize to hold your upper body position, but also you reinforce good posture.

Any time you have a chance to open the front of your body and use the back, go for that choice! Time to put more behind us! Life metaphor, right?

For more on how you can pursue the best workout programs for yourself, check out these posts:

Best Workouts for Women Over 50: 7 Age-Relevant Training Principles

Women Over 50 – We Are NOT Aging Healthfully

Fit Over 50? Achieve it with These 6 Age Specific Tips

Action: Subscribe to receive pro tips to stay fit as you age actively. Need we say more. 

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

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