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2

Exercise and Fitness Trends for the Over Fifty Crowd

Test riding the Elliptigo

Drop the pedal and go, go, Elliptigo We goin’ ridin’ on the freeway of love

Are you over 50, one day hope to be, or have loved ones who are? Then the following quotes and key points from the recent IDEA World Health and Fitness Convention are for you! And you! And, yes, you too! All of yahs! And your parents, as well. But only if you want to live healthier, smarter, or better.

My prior post promised to share the good stuff from the trend setting sessions beyond Day 1 at IDEA. This year’s convention theme was “Inspire, Connect, Transform.” We hope the following quotes and highlights do that for you.

Think About Moving or Move to Think?

Day 2 started with one of my favorite subjects: the effects on the brain from movement. Who among you knows someone with Alzheimer’s or memory loss or slowing mental capacity? Of course such ravages will never happen to us, right?

Guess what? “A case of dementia is diagnosed every 4 seconds in the U.S. If our nation were to increase its activity by 25%, we would decrease dementia cases by 1 million per year! Over 10% of adults 65 and older, and more than 50% of those past 80 have some sort of cognitive impairment.” And with these stats that take one’s breath away faster than an elliptical machine on an incline,  expert presenter, Fabio Comana opened his talk, Brain Fitness.

If you want to live longer, work in 20 minutes daily of cardio activity.” And if you want to know what’s going on in those added years,  “a mere 8-12 minutes a day of aerobic exercise improves cognition.” You want to be smart and minimize dementia in your later years? Take Fabios’s advice. Don’t just think about moving. Move to think!

Falling, Falling, Falling for You

I've Fallen IDEA session with Shari Kalkstein

I’ve Fallen and I CAN get up, with Shari Kalkstein’s help

So I did. Over to the next session with one of my favorite presenters, Shari Kalkstein  who specializes in physical function for people 70 and older. Also known as “parents of baby boomers.” Am I right? If you want your parents (insert “yourself when older”) to be independent and active as long as possible, then Shari’s protocols and warnings are important. (Click on her links to see exercises, assessments, and practical tips).

Her session, I’ve Fallen, made a strong case for preventing falls and setting up the home to account for them when they happen. And they will. “More than 18,000 older adults died from injuries related to falls in 2007. In 2008, more than 2 million older adults were treated in emergency rooms due to fall injuries.” Wonder where most falls occur? In the home, where, as Shari says, “we have complete control over our environment.”  Like her, my sis and I have lots of practical moves and solutions to address this reality.

  • Check out our Fun and Fit YouTube channel, specifically our playlist, Exercises for Women Over 45;
  • Enter searches on our site;
  • Watch for our upcoming program for sale: Fitness Over 50.”

Wear and Share If You Dare

Kymberly won a Basis Fitness and Sleep Tracker

I Won a Basis Fitness and Sleep Tracker AND a Medal

After I’ve Fallen, I moseyed my way to The Future of Fitness Technology with Marco Della Torre. Spoiler alert – I earned an IDEA Fitness Inspiration Medal by correctly answering his stumper question. And talk about a coincidence, turns out Marco is one of the co-founders of Basis, now owned by Intel, the company from which I won a Basis fitness and sleep tracker. So I won two technology related prizes in a row! Yup, it’s always worthwhile to get to the IDEA Trade Show between and after educational sessions. Anyway, wearable technology is big and about to go humongous! Ready to take advantage of fun high tech fitness gear? Check out a few of our posts on the subject:

Accepting and agreeing that fitness technology will wield an ever growing impact on our workout lives, I loved how Marco ended his talk: “The biggest trend coming in wearable tech is that new ideas and products will bring people closer, rather than driving them apart.” Think about that for a sec. Instead of seeing the top of people’s heads as they bend over their phones and pedometers, you’ll be in a new world of gadgets that connect you with others more and more.

Imagine a community of like-minded, actively aging, high-functioning people who interact personally via stuff not yet invented. Might you already have something close to this? It’s coming, so be ready to Inspire, Connect, and Transform!  Or maybe you will Invent the next best thing that gets people to exercise and enjoy the benefits of lifelong movement. I’ll plug that!

By Kymberly Williams-Evans

IDEA World 2014 and Kymberly

Readers: What wearable tech do you already own? Use? What do you think of it? When is the last time you crawled?  Not pub crawled, but crawled like an infant?

9

Pssst! Want to Know Top Insider Fitness Trends and Quotes?

Recon Intel glasses tech wear on Alexandra

Looking Into the Future

Do you like to stay ahead of the curve? I mean besides the ones on our baby boomer, midlife bodies?  Then hold tight as we zoom through some of the key takeaways and quotables from the recent IDEA World Fitness Convention.  Alexandra and I just returned from the main industry event that draws fitness professionals from around the globe. By attending many sessions focused on the over fifty crowd (Wheee! that’s most of us), I gleaned some relevant Fun Fit Facts, exercise trends, and plain ole’ good quotes.

Now to lay some of those fitness pro insights on you, so you can revel in the workout fun that lies ahead. Or more specifically, get your trending fitness quotes now while they’re hot!

  1. From IDEA CEO and co-founder, Peter Davis: “ The future of our industry lies in survival of the wisest, not the fittest.”  I already like the tone he is setting at the welcome ceremony! Wise up masses! Or is that Rise Up? Heck, let’s do both.
  2. Jack la Lanne Inspiration Award recipient, Jenna Wolfe paraphrased the Jackmaster who used to whip crowds into action by telling us that “the only way to hurt your body is not to use it.”  Do you agree? We do. So get out there and be a big user!
  3. Next keynote speaker, Brendon Burchard took us for a twist and turn by stating that “we don’t HAVE energy; we GENERATE it.” Well pick me up and slap me down as I had to think about this one, having always thought I HAD the Big E! But Brendon’s point is well taken. Who’s with me to transform into an energy generator? Let’s call ourselves “Energeners.” Good, eh?IDEA notes, Blue Diamond almonds, Ahnu shoes
  4. From there, I power walked it over to the “Posture Improvement Workshop” led by Sarah Zahab, who had a lot of letters after her name AND loads of good posture assessments. She rightly reminded us that “even strength training 2-3 times a week, for 30-60 minutes per session won’t compete with 14 hours a day of poor posture.” Oops, was I slouching when I took that note? If you desire better stance, take a look at our posture series on making your mama proud by standing tall!
  5. Meg and Kymberly at IDEA Ketchum booth

    Stand Tall, Lie Long with friend and fitness pro, Meg

    Speaking of standing up, presenter Tomi Toles asked attendees at his “Walking Tall” session: “What muscles and structures do we walk from?” Most of us fell right into his trap — “Why, we walk from the legs, doncha know.” Wrong! After watching a video of a man with no legs “walk” on his ischial tuberosities (google it), we could see that great gait really comes from the abdominal wall muscles and spine. Want to be a better walker AND tone your abs at the same time? Check out our post on achieving great gait.

  6. Wrapping up Day One was Functional Aging Institute Co-founder, Cody Sipe, PhD. (Click this link to find out why My Main Man Cody told the whole room that everyone was to try to answer a certain question about Functional Aging activities, except Ms. Kymberly).  Uh, yeah, it’s cuz he knew that I already knew the answer as a recently certified Functional Aging Specialist.
    20150716_151040

    Dr Cody Sipe bringing us the POWAH

  7. Anyway, Cody grabbed us with a bold statement that “For people older than 50, POWER training may be the most important component of our exercise program. More important than strength training and cardio is the need to train for power, defined as the ability to move a load quickly.” We are not messing around here, fellow baby boomers. Time to add a little speed to our hop, skip, and jump. Did you know that with age (and lack of power training), we lose power even more than we lose strength? And with that we proceeded to learn a whole lotta cool exercises just right for our achy joints that brought back DA POWAH!

Come to my group fitness classes and look for our upcoming package of moves for “Fitness Over 50” if you want to try what we learned.

And that is it for quotes that “Inspire, Connect, and Transform” from the first day at IDEA. Subscribe, open your emails from us, and keep reading if you wonder how Day Two and Three managed to surpass the quality that was Day One. Coming soon to a blog near you. Near and dear, we hope.

Alexandra, ACE, IDEA

Celebrating Our Past, Planning Our Future

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Readers: Which is your favorite fitness quote? One of the above? One to share from elsewhere?  Let us know in the comments below.

2

Going from “Stuck” to “Start” with Your Fitness Plan

Boomers on the Loose graphic

Be Loose, Not Stuck!

Arrrrghhh! That’s the sound of you spending another day stuck in sedentary patterns stitched with good exercise intentions. Another day of you bartering with yourself in an Annie mood that “tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow” the sun will come out and shine differently on your workout plans. But no actual exercise has occurred on a consistent (or even intermittent) basis. How many “tomorrows” have come and gone that you now admit, yup, you’re stuck and need a prod to get going. As in “today!”

From Nothing to Something; From Some to Some More

Good news. We are here to prod. Cajole and bribe even! Did you attend our recent TransformAging webinar session, (Re)Starting Fitness After 50? Have you noticed the new freebie checklist we offer subscribers, 16 Easy Ways to Get Unstuck and More Fit? Then you’ll know that we are on a roll to address one of the most common requests we get: how to go from park to cruise mode; from inactive to active; from nuffink much to sumpin. Note I did not say to zoom from 0 to 60 off the starting line. In fact, starting small is one of our key pieces of advice.

Old Fashioned Whoop Ass

Need a kick in the keester to get unstuck?

Say So Long Suckahs to Sedentary Stuckness

Kymberly: Today is a great day to kiss frustration, inertia, and negative self-talk good-bye and say hello to restarting more active habits.

Alexandra: Can I at least have some French Vanilla ice cream with my inertia? And I didn’t know his name was Frustration when I kissed him. But I’d do it all again anyway.

Kymberly: For you, sis, you may partake of the can of Whoop Ass included in this post. For the rest of you, forget fitness trends, celebrity endorsements, or what you used to do when you were younger. We are so committed to helping you undo the glue that’s stuck on you that we are sending all of our current subscribers our checklist. Look for that in a separate email. Be sure to open the email and the document if you want to move more– more happily, comfortably, and successfully.  If you are reading this and not a subscriber, then subscribe. (Look right. Yes, that sidebar just there). You’ll get your own copy of “16 Easy Ways to Get Unstuck and More Fit” that way.

In addition to the easy action items we offer in the checklist we’ll be emailing you, try any of the following, additional tips to get going. You can do it! Today and tomorrow and the day after and thereafter. A step at a time.

8 Bonus Easy Ways to Get Unstuck Starting … Now! When Else?

Consider this post your Bonus Checklist. Otherwise we have to rename the main checklist “A Whole Bunch of Ways to Get Unstuck” and I am waaay too busy sitting at the computer paddling, biking, taking step class, and walking the dog to do that. So “Bonus” it is.

  1. Identify a space in your home where you can work out, even if it’s just big enough to fit a mat or towel on the floor.
  2. Forget the all or nothing, “practice makes perfect” approach. Practice makes progress. Practice makes permanent. Practice creates habits. Perfection is overrated and unsustainable. Simply do a little bit more than the day before.
  3. Set your expectations low to start. What’s the least you can do and commit to today? Tomorrow?
  4. Drink water. Instead of sugary drinks or ones that have the word “latte,” or “fountain” in them, or whipped cream, or carbonation combined with a can. See where I am going with this?  Being well water-drated will also minimize muscle soreness and fatigue.  Thats’ a twofer special right there!
  5. Find moves and activities you enjoy. This has been a recording. Beeeeep. Ever wonder why we named our blog “Fun and Fit?” Because we believe that movement can be enjoyable; that an active life is more appealing than a sedentary one; AND that at least some of the exercise you do has to be fun so you will actually do it. Oh, and because my sister is actually pretty funny. Yes, those of us who have crossed over to the other side know that it is more fun to move and groove than it is to think about it. And it definitely is not fun to force ourselves to perform exercises we hate. Bleeeeech! (as Mad Magazine used to say).
  6. Find a community to support you or at least one that will hold you accountable. Whether you pick someone in person, online, or long distance, make a pact with at least one other support person with whom you will actually check in. Maybe you’ll even find a workout buddy.
  7. Use technology if that works for you. Don’t use the lack of a pedometer, wrist tracking device, calorie counter or any other wearable technology as an excuse NOT to start. We are not Waiting for Godot or Go Pro around here. Just get out there with or without the latest gear. The lack of a device is not an obstacle to movement. However, if the presence of any wearable technology helps you giddy up, why then use it! Strap on and keep on truckin’!
  8. Have a restart Plan B. You will not meet your goals each day. That’s no reason  to give up. And by “reason” I mean “excuse.” Get back to the mat or gym or trail. Be prepared for the common, usual, and totally human reality that you will have “fail” days. What is your contingency plan when you get off track? Let’s hope it at least includes forgiving yourself, and looking to the future rather than berating the past.
Himalayas from airplane

Fly My Pretties, Fly!

Does one of the above actions speak to you? Then listen. And go for it. Between the “16 Easy Ways to Get Unstuck and More Fit” checklist and the action items above, you now have um, hold on as I get my fingers out, 22 Easy Tips to Get Going. You need just one to get unstuck and on the path to new active aging habits.

Didn’t get to our TransformAging Summit, but wonder about it? Find out how our webinar expert presenters can youthify and enhancify your post 50 years. Click this TransformAging page.

Sales image for TransformAging

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

7

How Strong is Your Lower Body?

Best dog posing on tree stump, sitting

Sit!

Wonder whether your lower body is functionally strong? Find out with this easy and quick Sit to Stand Test. In under 10 minutes you will have read this post, taken the 30 second assessment, and discovered where you stand for your age and function for lower body strength. “Where you stand.” Get it? Stop me before I hurt myself. Oh, and this test was designed for the over 60 crowd, so if you are younger, you will have to estimate your results based on the score sheets below. Get ready to do a little math. Very little.

Balance and Strength Get Top Numbers

poser dog on fence

Stand!

Anyway, turns out that our post “How Good is Your Balance” leapt into position as one of our most popular. So we figured why not offer another assessment. Nothing like finding out where you are in order to get to where you want to go!

All you need is a helper person (preferably an encouraging one who brings you a refreshing beverage and heeds your beck and call. Barring that, get whomever is handy and can count and run a stopwatch simultaneously. You also need a chair, stopwatch, courage, brain, and heart. (Who said the latter three in what classic movie?) Get a standard height chair (seat at 17 inches) and place it against a wall so it does not slip.

Test Instructions

Now listen up peeeeples so you get the instructions right: Sit in the middle of the chair with your back nice and long, your feet flat on the floor, and your arms held to your chest and crossed to opposite shoulders. Your goal is to stand up as many times as possible in the 30 seconds. You need to fully stand for a rep to count. Only complete stand ups count, not some partway, hunched over gig. One exception – if you get more than halfway up when the clock runs out, you get to count that rep. Yup, we know — too generous.  Have your assistant cue you with “Ready, Set, Go!” Then jam on it! Don’t you want to score in the top percentile for your age group?

numbers for sit to stand test

So are you Ready, set, ….. wait. First, heed these tips so you can get the best, most accurate score possible:

Tips to Ace the Test

  • Keep your elbows close to your body throughout the test. No swinging your arms. No pinching, no fighting, no hitting, no biting.
  • Sit your behiney down each time. You should transfer your body weight to the seat with every repetition.
  • Either brace your chair against the wall or have your minion support person hold it steady for the test’s duration.
  • If you need to use your arms to stand, then you do not count those reps.
  • Try one or two practice stand ups before timing yourself so you can execute good form.

Ready? Hit it!

Sit to Stand Chart

How did you do? When I estimate based on being 56 and doing 19 reps, I fared okish- around 75% or so, I humbly confess. I wanted to be in the 99%. Is that asking too much?  Pffft. Time to retake this test now that my knee surgery is further in my past. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

Getting Tested in Order to Conduct Tests

I practiced administering and analyzing this assessment when I attended the Functional Aging Summit as part of achieving my Functional Aging Specialist certification. Full credit and kudos to Cody Sipe, PhD and Dan Ritchie, PhD, who conducted that event and offer programs such as Never Grow Old. Click on this noozhawk article to read more about what my functional aging certification means and what is going on in the fitness world for people over 50.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

PS If you are looking for a great functional fitness program designed for people over 50 who want to move more easily and comfortably, check out Dan and Cody’s “Never Grow Old” program. You get 4 levels of exercises, videos, cues, oodles of moves to try, and the confidence that you are getting a program created by knowledgeable, credible, proven experts in the fitness industry. And yes, we would make a few dollars if you buy their program, but not enough to buy our way out of taking any fitness tests!  Check out their program as clicking the link costs nothing.

 

6

How Good is Your Balance?

balance on stable surface with eyes open

Alexandra pretending she is balanced. Eyes Wide Open

How good is your functional balance control? You can find out in under 2 minutes. You can also discover which of your three balancing systems is strongest.

I had fun trying the balance assessment below when I attended the first Functional Aging Summit in Phoenix this past week. Day one of the conference was dedicated to learning how to maximize physical function for the over 50 exerciser.  In order to know what to progress, we first need to establish baselines. It’s the ole’ “you don’t know where to go until you know where you are” approach. Ergo — Time to tackle fitness assessments that measure functional abilities such as static balance, dynamic strength, and dynamic balance. (What exactly is “functional fitness”? Click to our post with the answer once you have read this one).

Test Instructions

My fun gets to be your fun. Try the following test which assesses your ability to maintain static balance when one or more sensory systems are inhibited. Stand on both legs with your arms against your sides.  Perform each of the four conditions for 30 seconds with someone else timing you and keeping an eye out in case you fall or need a hand. Stop the test if you:

  1. Raise your arms from your sides
  2. Open your eyes in either of the two closed eyes tests
  3. Lose your balance and need help to prevent falling

Definitions of Sensory Systems

Before you begin, let’s define a few terms so you know which of your balance senses are fine and dandy or need development.

  • Visual System: helps us interpret visual images. Pretty straightforward;
  • Somatosensory System:  conveys information about the state of the body and objects in our external environment through touch. This system also gives us input about the position and movement of our body parts  through the stimulation of muscle and joints, aka proprioception;
  • Vestibular System:  senses spatial orientation for the purpose of coordinating movement with balance.

Ok, now to find out which of these three senses are your best friends, and which (if any) need better buddying up. Ready, set, time yourself!

Condition 1) Eyes Open, Stable Surface

– you are using your visual, somatosensory, and vestibular systems.

Condition 2) Eyes Closed, Stable Surface

balance on an unstable surface with eyes closed

Something in this picture is unstable. Or someone….

– you have pulled out your visual system, and are using just the vestibular and somatosensory systems.

Condition 3) Eyes, Open, Unstable Surface

(stand on a foam pad or BOSU ball, for example) – you are dependent on your visual and vestibular systems in this case.

Condition 4) Eyes Closed, Unstable Surface

(again using a foam pad or BOSU ball) – you are relying on the vestibular system alone.

How many seconds were you able to last for each condition? Under which conditions did you have troubles?

80 Years Old and Kicking Booty (of this 56 year old)

I’ll tell you who aced these tests when we tried them at the Functional Aging Summit — my new pal and inspiration, Marliene, an 80 year old teacher/ trainer from northern California. Not only did she have amazing balance and get to 30 seconds for all four conditions, but also she beat me in the Sit to Stand assessment test. I managed only 19 ups and downs to her 20, which put her above the 90 percentile for her age group and me in the 75% for mine. She is THE example of what active aging and functional training can do for a person. Yeah, I wish I had taken her picture, but we were too busy learning cool, functional exercises.

Doing a side plank on the Ranch bridge

A different kind of balance

Side (plank)  note: I just became the first fitness pro in my county to achieve the Functional Aging Specialist certification. You can read about it here on noozhawk.

The write up means I have a chance to be as incredible as Marliene one day — IF I put all my functional training knowledge into action! How about you?

Take the balance test. Record your results. Which of your balance senses were strongest? Weakest? Let us know in the comments below.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

 

PS If you want to assess your leg strength, then check out this companion post, How Strong is Your Lower Body?

 

2

Do You Have to Work Harder and Faster as You Age, Just to Stay the Same?

Dear Twins:
At age 71, I find that fitness is a race between the body’s downward slope and the effort to work faster to stay fit. I’d love to have help with how to stay fit at this age. What I find is that all the fitness professionals are addressing younger people. My goal is to be able to continue to walk long distances effortlessly for the rest of my life. Unfortunately sciatica has gotten in my way. So I’d like ways to conquer this and keep my lumbar spine in order. I walked my first half marathon in February, by the way!
Wendy, San Francisco

More Mesa walk

Do Walk Away! And walk this way. Click on the picture for tips on walking.

First of all Wendy, if you just did a half marathon, you are probably more fit than most of the young people I teach at the university. Congratulations on your achievement.

Let’s help you point by point:

Downward Slope, Effort & Staying Fit: I’ll focus on muscle loss, as you don’t mention a strength training component to your workout. Sarcopenia is the progressive decline in skeletal muscle mass that may lead to decreased strength and functionality. When people talk about the race against time, they are usually talking about sarcopenia.
I wrote an article for The Journal on Active Aging about ways to deal with this that might interest you. Summarized in two words – Resistance Training. If you add some resistance training to your regimen, you’ll be amazed at the results. A 70-year-old who does some form of strength/ resistance training can be more fit than a 20-year-old who doesn’t. Isn’t THAT good news?
I’ll start you with our YouTube playlists, “Healthy Aging Exercises for Women Over 45” and “Women Over 50.”
You’ll also want to check out two of our TransformAging webinar colleagues’ websites – Tamara Grand and Debra Atkinson.

cover page for sarcopenia article

Sarcopenia – Fancy word for “muscle wasting”

Effortless Walking: Since it sounds like your stamina and heart are chugging along, future effortless walking can be assisted by – you guessed it – resistance training, and balance work to prevent falls. Cody and Dan (our other co-presenters) specialize in this area, so here’s a link to some of their posts on balance.

Sciatica: Most research studies have shown stretching, yoga and low intensity movement (that doesn’t involve twisting) to be most effective in controlling the symptoms. For this we recommend you look locally for instructors who specialize in yoga or Pilates. You’ll want to ask about their certifications, speciality training (for both older adults and back care), and experience. Don’t be shy about asking for references. If you search for exercises online, check the source. For example, we trust the info on this link from the National Institutes of Health.
Final suggestion for now – strengthen your core so your back takes less of the load. We’ll get you started with our post “Abs and Core Exercises That Are Safe for the Lower Back.”

Of course, you can always come to Santa Barbara and join us in one of our classes for older adults. We’ll take good care of you!

by Alexandra Williams, MA

 

28

Your Medical Condition Pisses Me Off

Your Medical Condition Pisses Me Off

A family member had a thalamic stroke in September, then a TIA (transient ischemic attack) in March, followed by a combination atrial fibrillation and cerebellum stroke in April. These exciting events changed a person who was active, busy, smart and fairly easygoing into someone who has serious memory issues, cannot walk, cannot swallow (which means a stomach tube), is cranky a lot, and will require 24-hour supervision for a long while upon release from the rehab hospital. Are you envious yet?

I write this, not to feel sorry for myself, because I’m actually not, but to share some of the things I wish someone had told me about the non-medical implications of stroke. I would have been better prepared mentally if I’d known more than just the medical checklist. Maybe my experiences will help you if you’re ever in a similar position.

photo of a hairpin turn on a mountain road

Life Can Take Sharp, Unexpected Turns

You’ll Get Angry
At first, I was told the September stroke was due to obesity and plaque that broke off into the bloodstream. In other words, lifestyle. I discovered it’s entirely possible to simultaneously care about someone and be super pissed off. How dare he not bother to take care of himself, then put me in a position of having to take care of him? Why should I be a caretaker of someone who didn’t bother?
It now appears that the strokes were also related to an underlying heart issue, which helps me forgive, yet I still want to acknowledge that it’s probable (and permissible) that you’ll be pissed off. I haven’t taken it out on anyone, nor will I, yet I would have appreciated it if someone else in this sudden and unexpected role would have told to me plan on being angry. Be angry without guilt. But also be careful who you share your anger with. Not the patient, obviously. Not your children. And not any family members who will try to talk you out of your feelings or imply you’re a bad person. Friends who understand that it’s possible to be pissed, scared, loyal and responsible all at once are the best.

mountain brook

Let It Flow – the Anger, Guilt and Tears

You’ll Get Sad
Not just for all your loved one has lost, but for your losses too. There is a long, freaking list of losses – sleep, free time, vacations, the ability to come and go at will, companionship, future plans, income, hobbies, predictability, expectations, appreciation, ability to focus on kids and their events, help maintaining the household, illusions, independence, identity, and a lot more but my memory is shot from dealing with everything.
In addition to being sad for the person who’s had the stroke (or heart attack, etc.), you’ll feel sad for your kids too. Even with older kids, the illusion that their parent (or uncle/ aunt/ sibling) will always be around comes to a screeching halt. What do we want more than anything for our kids? To protect them and watch them lead happy lives. I’m sad I cannot protect them. I’m sad they’re unhappy and grieving and helpless. We tell our kids that we’ll always be there for them, and that lie keeps our illusions and theirs going. I told my 21-year-old, “I may be overwhelmed and tired, but I’m still your mom. I’m still here for you. I still have time for you. I have other things I can give up, as you are my priority.” And it made me sad that I had to say that, as our kids should be able to take our “momness” for granted.

You’ll Feel Guilty
No matter what you do, you’ll feel you haven’t done enough, spent enough time, been patient enough, researched enough, updated concerned family and friends quickly enough, written thank you letters to people who brought meals or gave rides– even taking time to sleep or relax will seem like “cheating.” Part of your brain will recognize that it’s impossible to do everything, but that other little nagging part will work on your guilt complex like a dachshund with a squeaky toy.
But you know what?! Let it go, and not in a “Frozen” way. Yes, you are standing while another is suffering, but there’s no rule of physics that says only one person can suffer at a time. You have also lost a lot, and it’s not disloyal or selfish to take time off for fun, or to sleep in, or accept help. Bottom line – if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you’re incapable of taking care of another. Besides, that would put you in a never-ending loop, as I just mentioned above that it’s normal to feel angry about someone else not taking good self-care. If you’re too exhausted to function well, someone else will have to step in and rescue you. I doubt you want that.

The martyr thing is a dead-end, and renders you useless. Yes, of course you will do everything you can, and it’s a given that you will provide compassionate care and handle the extra load. We all know someone who has been or is a caretaker, and we all admire them for their selflessness, right?! Speaking only for myself, I know I’m not selfless or selfish; I’m just a responsible person who tries to do the right thing.
And I think part of doing the right thing is saying that you are not alone if you end up angry, sad and guilt-ridden. It’s just part of the deal.

by Alexandra Williams, MA

14

Exercises That Are Joint-Friendly for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Alexandra Williams, MA

pool classes are great on jointsDear Fun and Fit: Hi, ladies! I used to work out all of the time and then I was diagnosed with Felty’s Syndrome (a rare form of Rheumatoid Arthritis – RA) and I gave up for a long time. Between that and some other things going on in my life I haven’t worked out in 5 years! I’m over it and want to get back into it, but I am lost when it comes to finding something that I can actually do. I know I have to start all over again, but I need something that will not do more damage to my bones. My knees, shoulders, hands and feet are where I have the most problem. That and getting to a gym. Do you have some ideas of ways I can work out around the house, get in shape and get back to the old me before the old me is too old?
Rena

Hey Rena. My first inclination was to recommend aqua workouts, which are perfect for achy joints, but I already know that you don’t have a pool, so we’ll have to think of other options. Read the linked post anyway, as it also mentions other options that reduce joint stress, such as the elliptical trainer, Pilates and resistance training. As you cannot get to a gym (or beach), I’ll focus on in-home suggestions.

Felty’s Syndrome
For those unfamiliar with RA and Felty’s, classic symptoms include painful, stiff, swollen joints, most commonly the hands, arms and feet. White blood cell counts are very low, and fatigue is common, as is anemia (low red blood cell count).

Before giving suggestions for dealing with exercise and arthritis, I have a few questions.
* Has your doctor cleared you to work out, even at a minimal level
* What kind of range of motion do you have around your affected joints
* Do you have any equipment at home, such as tubes with handles, a recumbent bike, a mat, stability ball
* Is there a certain time of day, such as morning, when you are more comfortable
* Have you consulted with a nutrition expert to see which foods you might want to decrease or increase

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 1.17.42 PMSeated Elliptical Machine
Generally speaking, people with painful joints do well with equipment such as a seated elliptical machine (you can even get ones with gloves, in case your hands can’t grip well). Of course, these might be cost-prohibitive for you, so I’ll give you other options too.

Resistance Tubes
If you have enough grip strength to hold a tube handle, you can do a lot of resistance exercises with a tube. The yellow one provides the least resistance, so is the best place to start. The different colors indicate different levels of resistance, so choose accordingly. A colleague wrote a post for us a few years ago about exercising with tubes, which you might want to read.
I’ll also link you to two tube videos I did when I was recovering from foot surgery that might be helpful (and before I knew to turn my iPhone sideways when filming):
Seated Mid-Back Exercise
Chest Exercise yellow resistance tube

Seated on the Ball or Mat
As you don’t mention hip joint pain, maybe you can try some seated exercises. Our video post Seated Abs Exercise: Obliques Circle will help your core strength and possibly get you to work up a sweat too.

These are just a few of the many directions you can head as you look for comfortable exercises. And because I trust our own advice, I’ll encourage you to wander through our YouTube exercise videos (we have over 100), as they are designed for women our age, though not for any specific diagnosis, so choose the ones that resonate with you.

In the long run, I hope you can get to a pool. When I taught at the Rochester Athletic Club in Minnesota, they had an Aqua Joints program that was certified by the Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program (AFAP). It was non-impact exercises in a warm water pool that helped improve range of motion, increase strength, and challenge endurance with low-level cardio conditioning. Maybe the AFAP has a similar class near you.

The true answer to your question is “It depends.” But these exercises should get you started in the right direction. One last post you might like to check out is “Six Practical Fitness Tips for Older Adults,” which shares some ways to modify for your specific needs.

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Fun + Fit + Midlife = Functional Aging Specialists

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Feel Like Super Woman

Ready to Function Like a Super Woman?

Want to put some Function into your Fitness, while having Fun? So do we! Specifically, we want to bring you the biggest bang for your baby boomer best body buck. That means upping our game when it comes to offering exercise advice that helps you age actively.

Therefore we are embarking on a course culminating in us becoming certified Functional Aging Specialists. Hard to make that certification sound sexaaaay, but it is! And you may increase your sexy sass too if you take our advice based on what we learn. This credential is designed to be the “ultimate mark of distinction for fitness professionals” wanting to work with the over 50 gang, crowd, party people!  The goal of the curriculum is to maximize physical function for mature adults.  We already know how to handle immature adults. Ah ha ha aha.

Functional Fintess Program

Never Grow Lame! Function Well with Us!

You may be asking “What is Functional Training and how is it different from traditional workouts?” Um, you were asking, right? Just say “yes.”

“Functional Training” Means What Exactly?

Functional fitness trains your body for the activities of daily life. Another way to think of it is focusing your exercise efforts on Movement, NOT Muscles. How does your workout translate to making your work, hobbies, daily tasks, leisure activities, and occupation easier, better, and more comfortable?

Bicep curls, triceps extensions, and bicycle crunches certainly have a place in the exercise world. But as we age, moves that allow us to maintain (maybe expand?) our physical capabilities become more relevant. Enticing even! We’re talking Quality of Life here, Boom Chicka Boomers and cohorts! Let’s avoid “boomeritis” and move in ways that support the life we’d like to become accustomed to. Can you step over big obstacles on the ground, for example?

Is National Celebrity Status as Baby Boomer Fitness Pros Too Much to Ask?

K and A at Tenaya Lodge cooking class

We think we’re the “Its”

We energetically share that we want to be the IT girls when you think of fitness and baby boomers. Nationally, globally, intergalactically.: K and A = top fitness sources for over 50 active aging advice pros. Please wish us luck and good study habits as we launch into the 18 module program that has a timed test and a spiffy looking piece of paper with a gold stamp on it at the end. The certification program — offered by Drs. Cody Sipe and Dan Ritchie of the Functional Aging Institute (FAI) — takes up to 6 months to complete. Since we are overachievers who make the top 10ish percent possible, we plan to finish in halfish that time. (Read our About Us page if you want to peel back the curtain on our other qualifications).

Are You Joining Us As We Go From Special to Specialized?

Kymberly holding her dog

No dogging it! Get functionally strong

Functional fitness fanatics (and the FAI) declare that If you move better, you feel better. And when you feel better, you look better. And, Daaaahlinks, You Look Marvelous! Or you will when we’re finished with you … and our certification program! Yup, we are going from being Special to Specialized Functional Aging Pros and you are coming with us. Right?

PS Comment below if you know whom we are paraphrasing about looking Maah-vah-lous! Reveal your true midlife status.

 

4

Can Your Wearable Medical Technology Do All This?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

This post is sponsored. The views and belief in wearable medical technology are sponsored by our fine selves and direct experience with older adults and loved ones who use such alerts.

IMG_4248In 1946 Dick Tracy got his wearable two-way radio watch. Hmm, same year that the first batch of baby boomers was born. Coincidence or great timing (get it)?  Since then, wearable technology has become a reality for millions of people who want quick access to health information or assistance. Think of the number of times James Bond’s life has been saved thanks to his futuristic tools.

Well, the future of wearable medical technology is now. And saving lives — yours, your parents, other loved ones, perhaps? — is one of the many benefits of such devices. We monitor our pulse rates, oxygen levels, safety, location, air quality, sleep, steps taken, and so much more. Something as simple as medical alerts can offer independence, peace of mind, and life-saving action. (Click that link to see a review of medical alerts). And yes, we even use our devices for two-way communication, just like Dick Tracy. Don’t believe us? We did two-way time travel two years ago when we wrote about e-textiles as a future health trend. Check it out — over and out.

What are some of the technology options midlifers, older adults, and caregivers can take advantage of? The inventions and capabilities are pretty cool and ingenious! In fact, we’ll go so far as to say you can find wearable technology that covers land, water, and air!  To assess what is best for your situation, consider the following 7 actions:

1. Locate Loved Ones Anytime, Anywhere via GPSIMG_4769

A Global Positioning System can be incredibly accurate when determining a person’s location anywhere on the planet. This technology could allow medics to find a person if he or she is unconscious or unable to communicate. This kind of technology can also help locate someone lost in the wilderness while monitoring his or her physical condition.

2. Detect Falls Even From Afar

Help, we’ve fallen, but we can get help to get up! By monitoring the G-force of a pendant or other wearable item, medical professionals can detect immediately if someone has suffered a fall. With devices such as medical alerts, this technology could be lifesaving if the person who falls goes unconscious or gets injured. The difference between help arriving in minutes versus hours could mean the difference between life and death; eventual recovery and the beginning of the end.

3. Monitor for Smoke and Fire

Wearable technology that monitors for smoke and fire can save a person’s life regardless of location. As long as the sensor is able to capture samples of the surrounding atmosphere, the risks of smoke inhalation and other complications can be greatly reduced. Imagine how glad you would be to know your monitor can signal for assistance even if, for example, your parents were unconscious or unable to call out.

Shipwreck off Santa Barbara 4. Resist Water, not Technology

Who wants a device that resists water better than the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz? If you invest in medical technology products, check whether the device is waterproof or at least water resistant. For the sake of discussion, let’s refer to the wearer as “your parents.” What if something happens while your mom is swimming, bathing, or showering? You want to be sure you can depend on the device in all environments.

5. Share Vitals and Vital Info via Apps

Some technologies are able to use app connectivity to gather information. Such tools can render data in a more readily accessible platform providing charts and graphs and offering emergency personnel vital statistics. Envision an EMT being able to take bio readings directly from your mom’s wearable medical device to determine the correct course of treatment whether she is alert or unconscious.

picture of labyrinth at Rancho la Puerta

Where am I going, and I how do I get there?

6. Connect to Your Physician

You can also use the monitoring capability of medical technology to keep a designated physician apprised of any change in your parents’ physical condition even from a distance.  Granted, you have a trade-off between privacy and safety. When safety is the bigger concern, you may want a doctor to know about deviations in your loved one’s physical habits or unique physiology.

7. Communicate Two-Way

Quote: Do a Little MoreSome, but not all medical devices offer two-way communication. Decide whether you want the ability to directly communicate with service providers. Let’s say your dad is rendered incapable of using his hands or is otherwise unable to make a phone call. A two-way device can still allow for communication from the service provider to your dad as he awaits assistance.

Innovation in this field is only accelerating. And it’s fairly exhilarating! We have the opportunity to take a more active, real time role helping loved ones stay safe and well. Who knows what will be available by the time we baby boomers buy our own wearable medical tech devices! We’ll be ready to bond, James Bond with something stylish, super futuristic, and life saving!

Contact us — or have your new medical tech device do so — to book us for your next event. But only if you want edu-taining speakers who will liven up your audience and leave them healthier than when the day started! info@funandfit.org (805) 403-4338

 

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