Play nice. Emphasize the joy, fun, camaraderie, and energy that exercise brings. Am I right, ladies? We want to do what feels good or helps us live better. Skip the punishment angle, the “all or nothing” approach; get right to all the benefits and the fact that even a little movement goes a long way. Go Active Aging Women Over 50! (Yes, go to our other post on this subject if you like a good rant).
And now to the expressions that invoke Towanda:
What workout quotes tick your wick? Let’s get a good list going in the comments below. And pin this baby, will ‘ya?
Your question is an excellent one, and will resonate with many of our readers. You are right about the many benefits of exercise, including for arthritis. According to the Mayo Clinic, arthritis can be slowed or mitigated with exercise – the challenge is finding the right type.
If your doc has cleared you to return to Zumba, you may want to ease in and modify the lateral moves (sideways, such as grapevine). Are you able/ willing to add aqua classes to your workout plan? Zumba aqua dance classes exist. You do not need to be a good swimmer to join an aqua class. Shallow water classes are in water that’s generally hip deep. If your gym has only deep water classes, you can use swim lessons as your workout, then wear the buoyancy belts once you’re a more confident swimmer.
For other cardio options, try anything that is low impact (high intensity is fine, but NOT high impact) and more forward and back than side to side. One caveat – depending on where the arthritis is in your hips, spending a lot of time on a machine such as a stair-stepper could be contraindicated. Besides, you seem to be a person who enjoys group fitness classes, so try a variety of those. A varied exercise plan is more effective than a repetitive one for most people.
You might also consider some stretch and strengthen classes. Stretch to open up the hips and strengthen to give your muscles more of the workload, which eases the load on your skeletal structure (bones). Since you mention a ligament injury to your ankle, I would think strengthening that area might be a priority, especially if compensations are affecting your hips. Have you worked with a physical therapist to strengthen that ankle, while considering the impact on your hips (such as an altered gait)? You can probably even find a therapist who is ALSO a personal trainer by searching at ideafit.com or acefitness.org.
In addition to low-impact cardio and strength training, you may want range of motion exercises too. This article from Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center goes into more detail about everything mentioned above, including the need for tailored, specific range of motion activities.
Rest is an integral part of any exercise regimen, arthritis or no! Check with your doctor about creating the right combo of rest time, anti-inflammatory meds, ice, and possibly even meditation.
We’ve had good luck getting specific advice for our exercise-loving bodies by choosing primary care doctors who also value exercise. We’ve had some doctors who wanted to prescribe medicine for our arthritic knees. Their advice was to stop exercising. We switched to doctors who used medication as a last resort and aligned with our preference to keep moving. We are not advocating dumping your doc or ignoring his advice; we are advocating getting into a partnership with your doctor so that he can work WITH you to create a plan that includes exercise.
This quote is from Mayo: “Lack of exercise actually can make your joints even more painful and stiff. Talk to your doctor about how exercise can fit into your current treatment plan. What types of exercises are best for you depends on your type of arthritis and which joints are involved. Your doctor or a physical therapist can work with you to find the best exercise plan to give you the most benefit with the least aggravation of your joint pain.”
As women who are similar to you – arthritic joints, exercise-loving, youthful minds, mid-50s – we know it’s possible to keep moving. We just have to be pickier than we were 30 years ago. There IS a solution, and your positive attitude will be a big part of it! Please keep us posted. Happy dancing.
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Alexandra: Yes, you can take the stairs NEXT to the escalator, or climb the escalator steps instead of standing in place, just as easily as you can walk on the airport moving walkway instead of standing still. But what about going the wrong way? If few people are about, why not walk up the down escalator, or jog the opposite way on the moving walkway? Kids do it all the time, so why can’t we adults?
Kymberly: Overcome travel fatigue by taking advantage of fitness opportunities in your hotel. Check into your room, then check out the options.
First stop: the fitness room. No matter how modest or spacious, this is usually one of the quietest places at the hotel, which means you may have it to yourself. Wear whatever works, sing along to your iPod, put the tv channel on your favorite re-run as you get in a brisk walk on the treadmill.
Next up: Stairs instead of elevators! That first trip with luggage deserves the elevator. After that, step it up! So obvious, yet how many people do you see using hotel stairs? If you’re staying on a high floor, take the elevator halfway, get out and walk the rest of the way. If your room is on a lower level, take the elevator a few flights past your floor and walk down. Do a mini-step class on the bottom step or landing.Travel time can mean more sitting time unless you try these quirky options. Be fit for travel! Click To Tweet
What next?: the pool! Hate swimming? Want to keep your hair dry? Can do! Jog in place at waist to chest depth or do a few powerwalking laps. Stand in a lunge position and jump-switch legs back and forth. Be creative moving your arms and legs about underwater creating resistance for a nifty and refreshing muscular endurance workout.
Alexandra: On a very long flight to Thailand a few years ago, Kymberly and I were in physical discomfort from being seated for too long. Ever since 9/11, it seems we are discouraged from moving about during flights. Fortunately we found out that our plane had two levels with a stairwell at the back. So we climbed up and down for a while, then did stretches and leg work in place on the stairs. No-one gave us unfriendly looks, and we even spotted a few copycats after we were done.
Some cities offer sightseeing trolleys that allow you to hop off, visit an interesting place, then hop back on, including our home base Santa Barbara. When I was in Savannah, Georgia, the free on/off buses were a perfect way to sightsee without having to walk the entire historic district or stay on a bus the whole time.
Even if you are stuck in the crappy middle seat of a domestic flight, and cannot “get up and move about the cabin,” you can still do squats. Unbuckle, start to stand, then sit back down. Do this ten times at repeated intervals and you will feel so much better when the flight’s over. You might even avoid having your legs fall asleep, which is what happens to me on flights if I stay still. Who cares if people stare? They are envious of your talents and ingenuity.
Kymberly: They are probably also jealous of your hot fun in the summertime! Road song! Click to sing along. Evan better, click if you want your travel to be transformative.
Travel to related posts by clicking on the pictures. Where will they take you?
ACTION: Go on active aging journeys with us by subscribing. Let’s be fit to travel to many more years in the future.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
The following post is a partnership between me and Walgreens. They are offering free health screenings, plus a way to track your activity levels, so I am all in favor of you reading about it!Alexandra Williams, MA
I totally admit to being a health screenings geek. I love knowing my body’s stats, plus I wear a fitness tracker so I can know even more numbers. Being goal-oriented, I want to be a winner with my own body! Note the part where the word “free” snuck in there? Sa-weeeeet! (that is not the way to drink southern tea; that is my excitement at getting a free screening).
Life got even better when Walgreens asked me to help them get out the word about a few things – all FREE!!!! You can:
Along with the AARP and the National Urban League, Walgreens is traveling around the U.S. providing “free tests, assessments, education and consulting services to communities with the highest uninsured and unemployed populations.” I live closest to Los Angeles, which has four dates – July 10, 19, 20 and 21 – but the screening bus will be stopping in many states, so look up the closest stop to you via their locator.
I am working on getting points for all the steps I do. The average U.S. inhabitant does 2,000 – 4,000 steps per day. The goal is to get to 7,000. To stave off weight gain, most of us should all be doing at least 10,000 (only 8,000 if you’re over 65) Amish men do 18,000 steps per day, with a 0% obesity rate (go dudes with beards), and Amish women have a 4% obesity rate and do 14,000 steps per day.
The Balance Rewards program gives points for doing what you do every day – moving. Just by logging in my steps for the past week, I’m already up to 920 points, which can be traded for things I need to buy. The FitBit is a popular device that syncs up with the Rewards program. I have a Polar Loop, which doesn’t sync, so I manually enter my daily steps. I’d prefer the syncing, but I can pull the info off my Loop or from the synced app that came with my Loop and heart rate monitor, and just transfer the info.
Local Savannah trainer Drew Edmonds was joined by three panelists who answered questions about using fitness trackers to reach your goals, be it weight loss, better sleep, more movement, calories expended, heart rate, and all kinds of other info depending on the device. Research is starting to come in showing that people who use fitness tracking devices tend to do more to accomplish their goals than when they do not wear them.
During the conference, I signed up and got my free assessments, all of which took less than 20 minutes. Did I mention the Way to Well Health Tour bus was air conditioned? Inside the bus I had a quick finger stick to collect some blood. It was NOT a needle draw, so you can do it! Then a pharmacist met with me to explain my results, which you can see just below. Since scales cannot tell if your weight is from muscle or fat (I prefer to go by how my clothes fit), I am not a huge fan, so I’ve left that part crossed off. The important thing is what the blood reveals about me, including how that plays in to my weight.
As you can see, my total cholesterol is a bit high, so I will do a full blood panel (the needle kind) at my next check-up to separate out my low from high cholesterol to discern if there’s an issue or if this was a one-time result.
The good news is that all my other results were fantastic! When the pharmacist told me that my body thinks I’m 43, I was overjoyed. My vanity was even more excited. Who wouldn’t want to be 12 years younger? I tell you, exercising, eating right and sleeping (marginally) well is truly the Fountain of Youth.
I totally encourage you to see if the Way to Well Tour bus is coming near you. Even if it’s not, why not do the Balance Rewards program and get free stuff? Oh yeah, did I mention I also got a free year added to my AARP membership just for doing the screenings? If you’re too young for AARP, they let you give it to an older family member.
P.S. I’m a sucker for John Corbett (think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Northern Exposure”), who voices the “At the corner of Happy & Healthy” commercials for Walgreens, so I was kind of hoping he’d personally deliver the happy, healthy good news about my test results. Oh, well. At least I can say he lives just over the mountain pass from my home in Southern California.
First of all, two of our long-standing favorite spas were in attendance, Rancho la Puerta and Glen Ivy Hot Springs, which has hosted our Christmas family get-together the past two years. (For more on Rancho la Puerta, read our review from last summer). At Thursday’s event, Glen Ivy Spa had a labyrinth you could walk (I didn’t, as I am terrible at being contemplative), plus they sent me home with lavender honey and a recipe for lavender honey muffins, which were popular with some family members; and not so much with the younger set!!
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group gave me a Calm Mind massage, with a focus on my Chinese dominating element of Flourish. This was perfect timing, as I mentioned I was fighting a bit of light vertigo, so the massage therapist worked to loosen up my very tight neck and jaw. I went away less dizzy, which made me very grateful. According to their recommendations, raspberries are one of my healing foods, which suits me perfectly.
I then had a Vitamin C Infusion mini facial from Massage Envy. They are ubiquitous in California and I was surprised to discover they are only eight years old! The woman who gave me my facial looked about 25, yet mentioned a college-aged daughter. Crikey, after that, I told her to do the same to my skin as she was doing to hers. I wish I had taken her picture, as she really did look 20 years younger than she is.
At the Oaks at Ojai booth, I made my very own Italian seasoning, AND met Sheila Cluff, the owner/ founder, who also happens to be a prolific author, fitness icon and ice skater. She’s been in the fitness biz longer than I have! I also stopped at the Matrix booth and test “walked” their latest technology treadmill. I rarely use a treadmill since I love group fitness so much, and find them boring, but this one had lots to keep me occupied, including movies on demand. Mostly I enjoyed chatting with the rep Doug, as he had on crazy blue patterned shoes, mismatched multi-colored socks, and an orange patterned shirt. He said everyone over 50 gets to dress as they please, and age in reverse like Benjamin Button, so I adopted him. A little plug here for fitness – exercise keeps you young. Actually, it can reverse aging in some cases (think dementia, metabolic syndrome, intelligence).
Since fitness is our game, and soccer legs are my, er, legs, I happily hopped on the Travaasa bike and pedaled my way to a kale smoothie. I don’t like chunks in my drinks, so I pedaled till it was smooth. Or till I reached Austin, Texas, where they have a resort! Either way.
New to me was the Sacred Waters massage, which I got from Aspira Spa of Wisconsin. The spa is on a lake considered sacred by its native peoples, and the plants and methods used in the massage were warm and smelled great. The 15 minutes went by way too quickly. I had to feign sleep. They were on to me. Ah, well. Good excuse to visit Wisconsin again.
Kymberly: Want the Ultimate Baby Boomer Body? Personally I am ok with the “Ixnay on the Bikini, but I’ll Still Wear a One-Piece” Body. To get either version, you’ll need to incorporate 7 important, midlife-specific training principles into your exercise routines.
First, we need to establish and agree that midlife exercisers are special, with unique attributes.Want the Ultimate Baby Boomer Body? Incorporate these 7 midlife-specific training principles… Click To Tweet
So what do we unusual, interesting, unique, and different women need to do to achieve functionally strong and healthy bodies, minds and attitudes? How can we create targeted workout routines for women like you (and us)?
Alexandra: I am seriously hoping the answer involves Clive Owen or Colin Firth, but I’ll settle for just assuming you are speaking of ME when you use the adjectives “unusual, interesting, unique, and different.” Hmmm, second guess. Does it involve bacon? Even though I am a vegetarian, I feel certain that the answer to many things is “bacon.”
Now, you said midlife women are special in 6 ways. And if you’d given 6 training principles, I’d know Bacon was the answer — Kevin Bacon. If you don’t know about the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, you can read the link while doing your seven training principles. To defy gravity (and age), plus engage in gym movements, do this Footloose workout.
Kymberly: We know my sister is really Baking, not Bacon Woman. Anyway, stay Footloose and Bacon Free when you incorporate the following into your regimen:
Continue to build bone strength by selecting impact activities. Especially at our age, we need to strike the ground by walking, jogging, skipping, and stepping to stimulate our bones. Step classes are particularly effective at offering impact without adverse joint stress. This is a case of wanting gravity’s effects!
Choose movements and exercises that mimic daily life activities such as climbing stairs, loading groceries into the car, carrying luggage on fun, exotic, vacation trips. (A boomer can envision, nicht wahr?) Such exercises might include step ups and squats, for instance.
Brace through the core and hinge from the hips. Add dead lifts to your repertoire — but let’s call them “live lifts,” shall we? Look for opportunities to activate the back (dorsal side) of your body in addition to performing ab and core work.
Be sure to sit and stand “strong.” Address muscle imbalances. Take action now to improve posture now and later. No Dowager’s Hump for you, just Dowager title and property rights. Speak to me Downton Abbey fans!
You can see where fitness classes really are ideal for those of us wanting more than physical payoff from our workouts.
Reap on land some of the gravity defying benefits of water exercise. Who doesn’t look forward to reduced joint stress, buoyancy, and a certain lightness of being? Translate that “up” feeling to land movement by emphasizing the up phase. For example, with squats, engage your muscles more when standing than lowering. Change the pace, speed, or emPHAsis of moves to prioritize the press away from the floor. In short, concentrate on the parts of exercises that work against gravity.
I, I, I , yi yi! Use both cardio and resistance training to target age-related risks and preventable declines. Do the exercises you choose challenge your mobility? Balance? Bones? Coordination? Just as you might choose nutritionally dense foods, select movements that offer a compound or multiple return for your invested effort.
Kymberly: Begin with the end in mind — increase overall strength, stamina, core strength, mental agility, resistance to disease, and ability to continue pursuing life with vigor and enthusiasm. Heck, we also want to look good, right?
Alexandra: I’ve only got my end in mind.
Action: To really be ahead of the game, try Training Principle Number 8 — Subscribe! Have us come to you twice a week with fitness pro insider insights on how you can age more actively than all the other baby boomers you know. Enter your name and email into any of the subscription boxes. Plus claim your bonus.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
In order to share the best information with you, I went last week to Pennsylvania to check out a variety of floor surfaces as a guest of Regupol, German-American makers of rubber sports and fitness flooring made of recycled tires.
Last year we wrote a post about running surfaces in answer to a reader question, which you’ll want to read. One main point from that post is to pay attention to the three S’s: Springback, Shock absorption, and Stability. In the pictures below, you can see that I tested every Regupol floor in a variety of workout modes. I even ran (which many of you know I gave up after my knee surgeries). The three S’s were there in all cases, and I had zero joint pain. I even felt daring in a sense, because I could try stuff I had been afraid would hurt previously.
Over two days we visited Shane Victorino Nicetown Boys & Girls Club,
Horsham Athletic Club,
Villanova University Basketball Training Room and Football & Olympic Sports Training Room,
Lancaster Mennonite High School,
Franklin & Marshall College,
and the Regupol America facility. During the tour, in addition to checking for comfort and support, I paid attention to additional details that I feel are important:
In 2011, Regupol America became the first company in Pennsylvania to earn a coveted GreenCircle certification. Sustainable manufacturing utilizes processes that are non-polluting, conserve energy and natural resources, and are economically sound for the community. During the factory tour, we learned that the waste is practically zero. Actually, the only thing I remember them mentioning as trash is the plastic wrap that encases the ready-to-ship flooring rolls. Oh, I also learned that “Regupol” stands for REcycled GUmmi (rubber) POLymer. So German!
If you’re a grunter, singer or screamer, you might be happy to be in a workout area that absorbs those sounds! And if you are someone who drops your weights (very few exercises exist that actually require you to do so, by the way), you will want an absorbing floor that doesn’t disturb the exercisers below (can you tell I’ve endured years of teaching where the sounds of dropped weights on the floor above are louder than my group exercise music?).
Some of the tracks we visited are exactly the same as the the one on which Usain Bolt won the 2009 Berlin World Championships. If you have a kid headed to university who wants to compete in Track and Field, this might be a deal-maker.
The moral of the story (I’ve always wanted to say that) is this: if your joints hurt after exercising, switch to a better surface. Such things DO exist. Now I’m working on a plan to convince Regupol to recycle some of their flooring as sandal soles. If my childhood huaraches from Mexico can have tire pieces glued on as soles, my adulthood sandals surely can have an updated version, right?!
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, nor was I asked to write this post. Regupol paid for my trip to Pennsylvania. They even shared local trivia about the “Amish Mafia” (some sort of TV show) and the “Rocky” movies!
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Alexandra: My physical, emotional and mental fitness is important to me. Ever since January, when I wrote about trying to lose the ten pounds that found me, I’ve been working hard at moving differently (“more” isn’t my issue; adding interval training is) and eating smaller portions. And after comparing how many hours I worked in 2013 with how many hours I spent doing things I enjoy with friends, family, and myself, I also promised myself that I’d spend more time AWAY from the computer in 2014.
Sometimes serendipity comes along, which is how I find myself heading to a local Santa Barbara week-long fitness vacation camp with Sky Ranch Fitness.
As everything the camp offers aligns with our mission and values, we are totally jiggy with that!!! Let’s lay it out for you, and you can decide whether you’d find this appealing or not. The event includes:
Kymberly: When interviewing Dr. Michael for our radio episode, Reframe Your Brain to Heal Chronic Pain, he had a comment that I latched onto as an insta-quote to share with you all:
Is that true for you? When it comes to dealing with deadline stresses, the ache of my knee arthritis, bills, my newly developed plantar fascitis, and a never-shortening “to-do” list, I don’t pay attention to the calming whispers. Worries, pains, anxieties, and the feeling of fleeting time create a cacophony that’s hard to turn off.
Even this amazing, fortuitous offer to attend the new Sky Ranch Fitness spa week started the chatter. “Will we alienate our readers by writing about attending such a high end resort or will mainstream midlifers see this as a retreat worth saving up for?” “Can I get all my work done in two days to be able to immerse myself in the experience for the week?” “Can I take advantage of the hikes the spa week offers given my teaching schedule or should I sub out another class?” “Will my foot and knee restrict me?”
And on and on and on. Chit chat fret fret worry drama. Doesn’t this sound like I need a week off? A week that offers the time and space to allow the nurturing whispers to infiltrate? As a baby boomer, I like to think I have the age and experience to make good decisions. Finding out more about a new, local business that combines two things I hold dear — wellness and Santa Barbara County — seems like an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime.
My goal while at the Sky Fitness Ranch at the Bacara Resort, which I am stating aloud AND whispering in my head is to achieve the healing strategies Dr. Michael summarized in our radio show:
My second goal is to share that experience with you in a future post, so you can achieve the same. Maybe vicariously; maybe in person one day in Santa Barbara.
Photo credits: Stuart Gildred of Sky Ranch Fitness
Disclosure: We were not paid to talk about Sky Ranch, though we did receive the week-long adventure at a seriously discounted rate. Seriously!
We’re going to let you in on a non-secret so that you can put it on your radar for next season while it’s still easy to obtain a spot–Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite runs a superior Health and Wellness Retreat.
We just got back from presenting at their first retreat of this kind, and we were blown away by the caliber of the services, presenters, and food. Whether you drive in from California or a neighboring state, or fly into Fresno, then drive into the Sierra mountains, it’s worth a trip.
Tenaya Lodge sits at the gateway into Yosemite, so we knew the scenery was going to be fabulous. What we didn’t know was that the whole experience would be even more so!
In just 48 hours, we:
Ate copious amounts of amazing food created by chef Frederick Clabaugh, CEC, and attended workshops on:
Kymberly presented an edu-taining seminar, Great Gait and Powerful Posture, while Alexandra wore hot pink shorts to lead a rousing Drums Alive class. Oh, did we mention the 90 minute massage we each got? Or the nature hike where we tasted lichen, flowers, berries and pine needles? Hint – the sushi was better.
From the gift basket and personal note at arrival, to the boxed snacks that included San Pellegrino limonata at departure, the entire experience had flourishes and flair. Heck, they even put Kymberly into a room with a jacuzzi tub. Her suite was bigger than the cabin she lived in for eight years, but we won’t remind her of those dark days!
We heard a rumor that Tenaya Lodge might run another retreat in the Fall, so you might want to sign up for their newsletter so you’ll be notified of the dates. We know you take our recommendations seriously, and we say with full confidence that this was a very high-class event at an affordable price.
Disclosure: We were not paid anything to share our opinions, though we did receive the entire retreat as a thank you for the workshops we led. At no point were we asked to write anything except our own truth.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.
Caring Less about what others think
Variety of choices and opportunities
Knowing myself well
Doing what makes me happy
Wisdom and perspective
Being comfortable in my own skin
Able to enjoy my kids as adults
Laughing really loud and not caring
Opportunity to start over
Mentoring and sharing our knowledge
I also sat down and wrote out my personal Top 10 reasons I enjoy this age:
1. I’m not waiting for my life to “begin.” I am living it.
2. When I travel I can stay in nice hotels, not youth hostels.
3. I can prepare what I like to eat instead of catering to kids’ preferences.
4. Though I want to look my best, I no longer worry if I am pretty enough.
5. I have the freedom to sing, dance and act silly without really caring what “they” will think.
6. Fashion is what I say it is.
7. All the good music is from my era.
8. I have tried and true friends who’ve been there for decades.
9. I am skilled at a number of things.
10. I have taken care of my body, and it’s reflecting that care in a positive way.
Since Silk is the company that approached me for my input about how their products (for me, it’s the Silk Vanilla Almondmilk mainly) help me to Bloom, I think I’ll elaborate on #3 and #10. A few years ago, I tried almondmilk for the first time at the Natural Products Expo. I’ve been a vegetarian since 1998, and love almonds a LOT, yet had never tried almondmilk, thinking it would be “weird” or too “hippy dippy” for me.
Turns out I was wrong. I now use Vanilla Almondmilk in my chai, smoothies, baking, oatmeal, blah-de-blah-blah (that’s more interesting than saying “etc.”). I care about the politics and origins of my food too., so Silk’s leadership in the the non-GMO initiative matters to me.
Silk believes in a plant-based diet; so do I.
I believe 100% that part of why my health is so good, my weight is stable, and my energy level is high is due to my nutrition. If you eat well, your body does well. For those of you with lactose or gluten issues, Silk milks are also free of those.
As I tell my university students, take my word for it AND try for yourself. By clicking this link you can sign up for a coupon to save on Silk’s Almondmilk, Soymilk or Coconutmilk. You might even win a free year’s supply! Actually, I’d like to win that, as I just sampled the brand new Protein + Fiber Vanilla at the Natural Products Expo this past weekend, and got super happyfied. Hey, if Nabokov could make up words, so can I.
Because I am a Boom-Chicka-Boomer, I have a 1970s trivia question for you. What do Barry While and Silk Almondmilk have in common? They are both silky smooth and oh, so good for you! Just listen to Let the Music Play and see if you don’t feel silkily seduced and stress reduced! That was actually a rhetorical question. My trivia question is this – What year was this song released? Hint: I graduated the same year from high school.
What do you prefer – coconut, almond, or soy milk?