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Category Archives for "Older Adult Activity Advice"
5

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, Marleine, 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 Marleine 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

 

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.

8

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

 

5

5 Worrisome Challenges Facing Older Adults

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

At the Jamba Juice FitExpo

Acting my age and older

What would you do with 30 extra years of life?

Give those 30 years back?

If you are like some of the older adults in the Forever Fit Cardio fitness class I teach at Spectrum, you don’t necessarily want 30 years added to your lifespan. And these are active adults in their 60s-80s, so imagine what inactive people might say to living to 100 and beyond. And yet, it is possible to greet such an offer with delight, not dread.

Redefine How You Age?

ICAA CEO Colin Milner

Colin Milner, CEO of ICAA Have you been Colinized?

However, the worry about adding years to life without adding life to those years is well-founded. When we interviewed for our radio show,  highly recognized active aging expert, Colin Milner,  founder of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), he laid out some interesting stats and scenarios facing our baby boomer population.

According to Milner, the US and Canada have shoveled out trillions of dollars to increase longevity. And that effort has been quite successful: we North American humans have added an average of 30 additional years to our lives in just one century. That jump is bigger than the one my sister did when a tick landed on her during a dog walk the other day. The problem with the lifespan jump is that those added years are not proving to be healthy ones. Suuuuuu-prise, suuuu-prise. Or not really a surprise at all.

Basically, as we age, our generation faces 5 key challenges. (For the full story and examples, click to hear the radio interview “5 Top Challenges Redefining How We Age.”  Then you can proudly claim you’ve been “Colinized!”).

Dog hike

Young dog, new tricks. Old dog, more new tricks!

Top 5 Challenges Facing Baby Boomers

  1. Listening to and buying into ageist stereotypes and myths. Examples: Once we cruise past our 50s and 60s, we are destined to slow down. Or believing that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Or that white knee socks look good with sandals.
  2. Sinking into social isolation. Colin depressed us with the fact that by 2020 depression is projected to be the second leading cause of disability and death; By 2050, depression is predicted to be the number one cause. I may have paid more attention to that cute boy, Andrew in my math class than to actual math, but even I can see that we are talking ‘bout my generation! Who? No, the Who. If you got that song reference, you are in the social isolation demographic
  3. Having a history of unhealthy lifestyle behaviors.
  4. Sticking with habits; repeating behaviors that are ingrained; aka No Longer Learning
  5. Looking always for quick fixes. Learning to manage aging changes takes time, effort, and patience, whether those changes are physical, financial, or otherwise. Apparently we are young enough to still want instant results. Or is that just me? Did you answer yet? How about now?

Super Sensible Solutions for the Projected Problems

For each problem, Colin Milner offers a corresponding suggestion. While he confesses that his advice may seem simple, he stresses that putting it into practice takes effort and focus. Making a plan to age in a healthy, “new thinking” way is hard. Yet aging inactively is harder.

  1. Stay alert to stereotypes so you can be aware of them, then question them, then decide whether to ignore them.
  2. Vow to fight isolation, for yourself and others. Find people who are isolated and interact. You will save two birds with one phone! Colin urges us to find something we can start now. Go to a group fitness class today; call a neighbor today; sign up for an adult education class now.
  3. Look now for one habit you can change for the better. Rather than looking back at decades of unhealthy choices, look at today for one behavior to improve.
    Jamba Juice event and Alexandra

    Oh Behave, Alexandra! With healthy behaviors.

  4. Expand your knowledge and skills, Ask “why” a lot. Be curious.
  5. Anticipate and manage changes. Ask yourself “what works?” and implement more of that.

All in all, the key is to be proactive in order to age actively. Whew! That’s a lot of action. But not yet enough, as what we ultimately need to do is create a plan for today and the added tomorrows. We can redefine how we age, writing a new and better ending for ourselves and history. As Colin asks, “What is your plan?” What expectations do you have — of yourself, your health, your future, your present? In short, what will you do with your 30 added years?

Make an active aging plan today and subscribe to our blog and listen to our radio show. Experience some of the best leaders in the health, wellness, and fitness world every Wednesday morning at 8:00 PT/ 11:00am ET. Listen in (better yet, call in to 866-472-5792) to our new radio show Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers with guests who offer practical advice and cutting edge solutions to your active aging challenges. You’ll find us at voiceamerica.com on the Health and Wellness channel.

 

18

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

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

I Would Walk 500 Miles

The Proclaimers Sing the Benefits of Walking

I Would Walk 500 Miles

But would you walk 10,000 steps?

By now you probably have heard the advice to walk at least 10,000 steps per day. I am on that mission now and, boy, it’s hard to get in all those steps day in and day out. Some days I am convinced the battery in my pedometer gave up the ghost. And that is after teaching a group fitness class and climbing the stairs to our new home several times.Kymberly's pedometer

What Will Walking Do For You?

Then I take my dog on her walk and still wonder — what will all this walking do for me? Is it sufficient to help me lose some of the menopause weight I put on? Or to keep my health at its excellent level? Do I need to walk faster, up and down hills to burn maximum calories? (For more on the relevance of high intensity interval exercise for people over 40, read this well-done post by our friend and colleague, Tamara Grand). Is a non-sweaty, beautiful, flat, beach mosey just as good? Will walking meet other fitness or emotional goals as well?

So I kicked into my fitness professional mode and did some digging through publications and research. Walking is still the number one most accessible, successful, popular way to exercise and stay active. Whether you choose to walk indoors on cardio equipment or at a mall, or outdoors on trails or through your neighborhood, the first and most critical key is to log steps. One foot in front of the other. 9,998, 9,999, 10,000!

Walk for Health

Hiking in Boulder, CO

Hiking in Boulder at Moderate Intensity, High Altitude, Strong Attitude!

Next step, (ha ha) is to prioritize your goals. That will determine the intensity your walk will take. Are you walking for health and longevity? To improve your mood and mental hardiness? Then getting in those 10,000 steps per day is the best advice. No need to worry about intensity, duration, style. In fact, any more walking than you are doing now will improve your health. Trading tv commercial time on the LazyBoy for marching in place until your show comes back on is a body and brain booster.

Walk to Keep Weight Off

What if weight maintenance is your goal? For once, research offers more info for women than men when it comes to specific suggestions on how much to walk for weight control. Turns out your age and gender affect the answer. (Just last week I told my group fitness class that the 10k minimum applied to all ages as far as I knew. Turns out I needed to know more. And now you know too!)

For women, recommended steps per day to stave off weight gain is broken down by age:

  • 18-40 12 000 steps per day (that’s what young pups get!)
  • 40-50 11,000
  • 50-60 10,000
  • 60+- 8,000

For men, it’s a little more generalized:

  • 18-50 12,000
  • 50+ 11,000

My professional opinion is that we need to move just as much, if not more as we age. (See our post Be Inspired to Age Actively). For our readers 60 years and up, why stop at 8,000 steps? Keep trying for 10k. You’ll get to more fun places!

Walk to Lose Weight

What if your goal is weight loss? Now we need to talk about intensity and getting the most out of your perambulations!

Walking at Rancho la Puerta

I averaged 14,000 steps per day at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Spa

First a Fun Fit Fact: (courtesy of Len Kravitz. PhD et al in “Walking Extravaganza,” IDEA Fitness Journal Oct 2013 pgs 40-47) Did you know your body has a natural or default walking speed that seems to be set to use fat as the optimal fuel source? Apparently our bodies naturally select a 2.8 mph walking pace as the most economical one. “Economical” in this case means expending the LEAST energy to sustain the activity. Not the pace for losing weight and burning max cals, but a great pace to using fat as fuel (vs carbos) and to stay motivated to keep moving moderately.

Moderate vs Brisk Intensity

What does “moderate” intensity mean though? If you walk about 100 steps per minute then you are cruising along at a moderate pace. Another way to calculate moderate intensity is to complete 3000 steps in 30 minutes. Interestingly enough — especially for those of you who prefer the elliptical machine, a pace as low as 1.7 mph with inclines of 6-9% still stimulates weight management (not LOSS, mind you).

Alexandra Walking stairs

“Do these stairs make me look sweaty?” Alexandra

However, we are talking about kicking it up yet another notch to use walking as a weight loss means. We’re now into the “brisk” walk category. That 2.8 mph has to shift into calorie overdrive to 3.5 mph. Zoom zoom! Yes, walk faster! Go uphills. HIt the incline button. Breathe and sweat with no breaks for instagramming selfies. (That was for my sister, the ultimate selfie picture taker who is famously quoted as saying she does not want to actually sweat when walking.)

If you are tempted to add ankle or hand weights in order to increase intensity — uh unh, no, stop right there. Listen to the experts:

NOT Recommended for Walkers

  • Carrying hand weights;
  • Wearing ankle weights.

Either may result in injury or repetitive stress syndrome. Nor do those added weights increase energy expenditure. Walkers tend to slow down just enough to account for the weights at the end of those limbs. Yes, risk goes up, benefits do not.

Recommended for Walkers

  • If you must strap on added weight, wear a weighted vest to increase energy expenditure. The external weight is distributed more evenly and is close to your core so not putting mechanical stress on your joints;
  • Accumulate 30-60 minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise at least 5 days per week OR:
  • Get in 20-60 minutes per day of vigorous intensity activity at least 3 days per week. These guidelines come from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Another Fun Fit Fact

A pedometer study of an Old Order Amish community showed that the men averaged 18,000 steps per day and have an obesity rate of ZERO!! percent. Yes, 0%; The Amish women in this group averaged 14,000 steps per day with an obesity rate of just 4%.

Find More Fun Fit Facts, Walking Scoop, and Solutions for Wanna Be Walkers by clicking on any of these posts:

Walk Your Way to Weight Loss, Health, and Fitness

How to Walk a Half Marathon After Knee Surgery

Hike with the Leeches and Wildlife in Thailand (or not, as our story reveals

Walk This Way and We’ll Talk Your Way when you:

Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog

Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

9

Be Inspired to Age Actively: Deborah Szekely at 91

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Deboarah Szekely at 91

Deborah Szekely, Founder of Rancho la Puerta and Golden Door Spas

“Not only must we not move less as we age. In fact, we must move more!” So warns Deborah Szekely, the 91 year old founder of the Golden Door and Rancho la Puerta fitness resorts.

Kymberly speaking at Rancho la Puerta

Speak and BeSpoken!

As a guest presenter at the Ranch the other week, I had the chance to hear Deborah speak about her life, wellness passions, and big visions for our country’s health. She had me with her opening statement. If ever there was a living testament to the benefits of living an active, healthy, socially conscious life, Deborah is the “It” woman! I want to be as mentally and physically sharp as she when I hit 70, much less 91! I wouldn’t mind being as rich and influential either, come to think of it. (If you haven’t heard of her or Rancho la Puerta, click on the link of her name above. You’ll be amazed at what she’s created).

How do you picture yourself at 91? What are you willing to do today, tomorrow, and the rest of your life to be all you can be as you whuff out more birthday candles each year? Let’’s face it — body parts start to hurt. Joints start talking and won’t shut up. Yakkity yak, want my young joints back. What wisdom, experience, and clever tricks can we call upon to stay active while acknowledging physical realities? (You all can turn to our YouTube videos for answers to this question).

Rancho la Puerta Hike Spot

I Plan to Move Up Not Drop Down!

A story Deborah shared highlighted her point about needing to find ways to move more as life advances us. She had just downsized from her three-story house of 59 years to a much smaller, one-story home. Makes sense that she no longer wanted to roam about in a big space with lots of stairs and upkeep. (As a baby boomer who just moved into a brand new home after spending almost 9 years in a little cabin during a long construction process, I am not thinking of downsizing … yet. But I can well imagine going to a one-story home again in 20-25 years).

You’d think that at 91, Deborah would be ready to ease up a bit in her new digs. Instead, this tiny, little bitty package of energy strapped on a pedometer at her former palace to get a feel for how many daily steps she took getting up, down, ‘round about. Then she did the same at her new place. “Now to figure out how to make up the difference,” she concluded. BAM! Not where I thought she was going with her story. But is that inspirational, or what??!!

Yes, she saw a built-in slowdown coming and actively searched for ways to keep moving forward, not back. One of her solutions was to go from two to six Pilates classes per week. Another was to add more walks into her day — through the neighborhood, to the grocery store, to the nearby park. As she put it, “I have a lot I still want to accomplish yet strongly feel the urgency of time.”

Sign goihng back to the Ranch

It’s a Sign! I Need to Go Back to the Ranch!

What do you still want to accomplish in your life? How much energy will you need for that? How will you make up for any “downsizing” that occurs, literally or metaphorically? As for me, I plan to haul my hiney to the Ranch next year. I want to hear Deborah speak again when she hits 92 and tells us how her plan to organize a Wellness March on Washington is coming along.

For now, please enjoy some of my pics from Rancho la Puerta — one of my key happy, active places for life!

Help others to age actively. Do MORE  when you:

A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

B) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.

C) Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

Mountain at the RanchHiking at dawn at Rancho la Puerta

 

Path to Dining Hall at Rancho la PuertaStars at Rancho la Puerta

 

13

Six Amazing (and Possibly Gross) Health Future Trends

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Do NOT sit for too long!

Do NOT sit for too long!

What do baldness, wrinkles, cellulite, shyness, muffin top all have in common? They are all normal conditions, not diseases that need to be “cured.” So opened Carol Torgan, PhD, FACSM, in her recent presentation “Communication of Evidence-Based Health and Wellness Information” at the recent FitSocial Conference.

A potentially intimidating title, yet we knew to expect an informative lecture from a woman who’s spent over 15 years at the National Institutes of Health and American College of Sports Medicine “developing content and outreach strategies that translate the health and medical sciences into understandable and actionable steps for the general public and for health professionals.”

Essentially, Dr. Torgan’s talk boiled down to six predicted health trends, starting with the one that might gross you out the most:

Ready for your Fecal Transplant?

Ready for your Fecal Transplant?

1. Microbiomes

A community of organisms that live in and on us – bacteria, fungi, protozoa, viruses -icky, slimy, ewwwy! One – three percent of our body is not “us” but the above organisms. These bacteria/ microbiomes influence how we metabolize foods. In other words, look for the link between probiotics, colitis and poop! Heck, Dr. Torgan even references fecal transplants. In his piece for the New York Times, Michael Pollan discusses microbiomes and states that we are all actually only 10% “human.”

2. Inactivity Physiology

“Your next posture is your best posture.” Sitting too much is not the same as exercising too little. You can exercise strenuously for an hour, but if you sit for the rest of the day, you are at risk for all kinds of health issues, including weight gain. So if you’re sitting up perfectly straight in a chair, get up and move.

3. Travel and Its Effects on the Body

Keep an eye on research into circadian rhythms and chronobiology (the scientific study of the effect of time on living systems and of biological rhythms). With millions of Americans spending millions of dollars on antidepressant medication, research into light therapy and its effectiveness on depression, sleep disorders, dementia, bulimia, bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is expanding.

4. Crowdsourcing

Now that we are linked in globally, look for an expansion of people helping people by sharing and curating strategies and successes. A perfect example of crowdsourcing with health benefits is the National Weight Control Registry started by keynote speaker Dr. James Hill. The registry “was developed to identify and investigate the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss.”
It tracks over 10,000 people who have “lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time.” The information is then shared in an effort to help people want to access these successful strategies. And this is a perfect time to mention that Dr. Hill wrote the just-released “State of Slim,” which gives step-by-step instructions for losing weight and keeping it off!

Forget tidy whities; time for Carbon Undies

Forget tidy whities; time for Carbon Undies

5. E-textiles

We are already weaving trackers and feedback tools into our clothing, it’s just so gradual that we don’t notice how “futuristic” this is. And more is coming! How about carbon sensing underwear? Yup. These sensing, sensible undies will be useful for everything from diabetes monitoring to military applications. We already have monitors, trackers, cameras, timers and all kinds of magical gadgets that were the stuff of Bond films 30 years ago; now these devices will move even closer to your center of gravity (more accurate than wrist worn gadgets). Remember Andy Serkis using the performance capture suit as Gollum in LOTR? Are you ready to wear a fitness top that has front, back and side sensors that correct your movement patterns?
Check out Carol’s Pinterest board on wearable tech.

6. Neuroscience and Neuroplasticity

Brain science as it relates to movement is huge right now, and the research just keeps coming. To improve cognitive skills and brain power as we age we have to move. You move; you get smarter! Move to the head of the class! We’ve been touting this research for a few years now, knowing that Boomers in particular want to stay mentally sharp.

We’ve gathered a few tweets from Dr. Torgan’s talk, because you will like these 140 character bits of wisdom!

Dr. Carol Torgan is the new BFF of the F&F Twins!

Dr. Carol Torgan is the new BFF of the F&F Twins!

* When offering stats or science, go (or link) to the original source
* “Which fitness tracker do you recommend?” – “The one you will use”
* The most common weight loss tracking device is not an app; it’s the “jeans in the back of the closet that someday I’ll fit into again” tracker
* The most effective treatment for anxiety and insomnia is exercise (via sufferer self-report)
* An abstract presented at a conference is NOT the same as a published, peer-reviewed article
* More than half of internet users are looking online for exercise, health & fitness info.

 

What trend is most interesting to you?

Kymberly is wearing a very cute Lorna Jane blue pullover and shoes by Ahnu.

Photo credits: Carbon clothing- Carol Torgan; Pooped People –  x-ray delta one; Prolonged sitting – iamdogsmom

Be one of the first to know all the latest healthy living info:

A) subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.

B) Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

C) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

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