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Which is the “Best” Cardio Workout: Walking? Running? Machines?

Kymberly's walking feetWhich is a better cardio workout: stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical, rowing machine?  Tina, Lubbock, Texas

I heard walking is much better for you than running, especially for women over 50.  Is that true?  If so, why? Noel, St Joseph, MO

Walk, or Run to the Best Cardio Exercise

Kymberly: Dear aerobic ladies:  Since the same answer applies to both your questions, we are tackling them together. (Kind of like what guys said to us in our early dating lives, pre-hubbies. That “twin thing” again.)   The bottom line is that the “best” activity is the one you will actually do. Log time and intensity. Which activity do you find most comfortable on your body? Which one will you stick with the longest? Which one keeps you injury free? The goal is to go as long as you can, as hard as you can, as often as you can. What do you actually LIKE doing? Yes, it’s that simple and accessible!

Nashville bowling- Alexandra

Bowling is great cardio – as long as you jump for joy when you don’t bowl a gutter ball

We could give you heart rate formulas and a discussion about involved joints and high impact versus medium or low impact, but why get caught up in all that? “Log time; be happy” is the best advice we can give you for cardio. Your body will tell you what you prefer doing. If not, Alexandra will.

Alexandra: First of all, no-one ever tackled me. It was more like throwing themselves at my feet. Or running away – I can’t remember which. But it involved some sort of aerobic workout. Which is my point entirely – you need some sort of cardio exercise. The exact “right” one kind of depends on you. Tina, which machine do you like better? Noel, do you prefer running or walking?

You have to do the one that you will actually do! What? That sounds like a skanky date proposal!

Which is Better: 6 of One or Half Dozen of the Other?

Alexandra:”Log time,” by the way, means writing down the amount of time you are doing your chosen activity. You don’t get to count the time spent “standing in the shade” or “checking my phone messages,” which is what Kymberly always does when we walk together on a gentle, uphill slope! Me personally, I hate to run. I want to exercise, not sweat! Walking is my favorite non-work-related exercise because it allows me ample time to play with my iPod (which I still don’t quite understand), with time left over for calling my teenager for iPod advice. I can’t make those kinds of calls if I’m running!

Climbing the road

Who’s the best at getting down cardio hills?

Kymberly: Excuse me, but “gentle, uphill slope” my Cinnabuns!  Alexandra took me on a forced death march up a cliff with no end, under the raging sun, dangling the water bottle from her “busting my butt” hand. What I would have given for a nice, programmable, non-taunting piece of cardio equipment at that moment. So the new and best cardio activity for me now is to work my way downhill. Like what’s-her-twinnie, I am not a runner. The knees do not take well to all that pounding. The last time I did a running program was from my house to Alexandra’s back in the day when we were ahem, …younger. She lived a mile from me then and made pancakes for brekkie if I showed up on time. Then she would drive me home. So you can see where a running program really was not the best workout for me. The pancakes were the best though!

Again the “best” cardio workout is the one or ones you will actually engage in. Even “better” is to change up the activity.  If you always power walk, try a stair climber now and then. If you always run on a treadmill, get outdoors and walk.  Check out this article that proves Alexandra and I are geniuses with great advice when we tell you to do Interval Training and enjoy the process.

bicycling - AlexandraOther “Bests”:  Click, read, comment, be the best!

Which are the best foods to eat before a workout?

What is the best way to train your triceps?

What are the best ways to burn fat if you are a woman over 50?

ACTION: And finally, what’s the best way to get us to come to you twice a week with solutions to your active aging issues? SUBSCRIBE to our blog, of course. Simply enter your email in one of the handy dandy boxes. 

GO HERE TO CHECK OUT AN ARTICLE courtesy of ACE Fitness. They were kind enough to totally back up everything we are advising.    http://bit.ly/BESTcardioworkout
What is your favorite cardio activity?  What do you find “best” (besides our blog, of course)?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


A 10K Walk is as Far as a 10K Run

What if you could participate in a running race by not running and not racing? Could such a thing be possible?

badge for Lexus LaceUp 10KWhen you hear about 5K, 10K and marathon races, you immediately think it’s a running race, right (especially as the words “running” and “race” are in the title)? And if you’re a Boomer woman who doesn’t actually enjoy running, you would probably then classify that race as “for someone else,” and move on to other things. But as I discovered a few years ago when I was invited to participate in a half marathon in San Francisco a few months after I’d had knee surgery, it IS possible to walk. As a matter of fact, lots of other participants will be walking too.

Lexus LaceUp Running Series Presented by Saucony

That half marathon was four years ago, and I still love walking, especially in scenic places. So when I was offered the chance to join the Lexus LaceUp Running Series in Palos Verdes, guess what I did? I ignored the “running” part of the title and signed up to walk the 10K. They have a 5K and half marathon too, but this time the 10K feels right for me.

the 10K course for Lexus LaceUp RaceIt’s good to get out of your comfort zone once in awhile and try something that’s challenging, yet achievable. The distance isn’t challenging, but I have to stay under a 16 minute per mile time limit, so THAT is the challenge. I haven’t timed myself in years. But the race is in Palos Verdes, which is near where I grew up, so I’m looking forward to the outstanding scenery – beaches and cliffs and gorgeous homes, oh my.

Many of our posts share tips about the benefits of cardio movement on the brain, stress levels, weight gain, and disease prevention (Read the links for definitive proof that a walk can be as good as a run for many health goals). Yet we Boomer women are still NOT aging healthfully.

pic of running uphill in San Luis Obispo

If you accept the importance of moving, yet reject the unpleasantness of running (the only running I ever enjoyed was when I played soccer), try walking the 10K with me on November 14. Or go for the 5K. Bring a group of friends and chat as you go. You can even sign up for the December 06 event in Riverside and do two (okay, you can do one or the other). The cost is quite low, especially when you factor in the 30% discount if you use my code: FunandFit30.

If you DO happen to enjoy running, you can still get the 30% discount, plus the pleasure of passing me early on in the race. Whether you run or walk, you’ll enjoy a Sierra Nevada beer toast, local food-truck brunch, and music. And if you’re a serious runner, you’ll be glad to know you get chip timing, real time results, tech T-shirt, sticker, and a high quality finisher’s medal. This link has all the info.

See you at Pelican Cove Park on November 14!

I was not compensated for this post. I did receive free entry, which is the perfect motivation for me to get my walking shoes on and drive down to the Lexus LaceUp in Palos Verdes. Besides, two charities are receiving monies from the registration fees, so that’s extra motivation right there.


Stretch Before or After Walking, Running, Hiking, Fighting?

Dear K and A: Is it better to stretch before or after doing cardio exercise, such as a hike, walk, or run? We believe that the couple who hikes together, stays together. This morning on a lovely hike, we found ourselves debating the truth of exercise advice ONE of us learned long ago: to leave the deep stretching until after the heavy workout — as opposed to stretching before a hike or run, when muscles are cold and maybe a little cranky.  Thanks, from your fans, Gordon & Erika, Goleta, CA

Kymberly: The couple who debates together stays together … until one of them loses this bet. Yes, we’ve been around this walking block and see the dangers that lie ahead. But we persevere anyway to bring righteous truthiness and stretchiness to the active world. Once we answer, will one of you be cranky even though your muscles will no longer be?

And the winnah winnah winnah is …………….. ONE of you is correct. Ok, I’ll give. First, we assume you mean “static” or holding still when you say “deep stretching.” In that case, stretches are best held when muscles and the core body temperature are at their warmest. For static  stretching, that spells “post activity.” Your heart rate is up, you’re possibly sweating, your internal temp is toasty  – good time to ask the muscles to ex–teeeeeend. Is ONE of you hot under the collar now?

Statically Stretch Post-Exercise

Kymbelrly doing tree splits at Ranchi o la Puerta

Don’t split up over stretching disaTREEments. Do the splits instead.

Alexandra: We covered some of this (including a lovely picture) in our post Stretch it or be Wretched. But the full truth and nothing but the truth is essentially whatever Fun and Fit say it is, for the simple reason that we sprinkle a light dusting of truth over nothing everything we do, so we’ll give you even more info. While doing your post-exercise stretches, please hold and argue, yell and scream politely discuss your differences of opinion for at least 15-30 seconds so that you can get improved active range of motion, rather than a quick 5-second dish-throwing tirade discourse about improved passive range of motion. Keep in mind the goals of stretching: 1) to maintain or improve range of motion (flexibility) and 2) to reduce the risk of injury and soreness.  You will reach these goals better with warm, happy muscles that have been contracting and extending throughout your aerobic workout and are now ready to solely lengthen.

What Movement Belongs in Pre-Exercise?

Kymberly: Let’s divide and conquer – umm, this is the segment that is not couple’s advice. To prepare to move, (i.e. hike, run, walk) you need to actually move. Yes, indeedy. A warm-up needs to literally heat up the body by mimicking the workout to come. That is, in your warm-up, do the type of movements you will be doing in the workout, but at a lower intensity and graduated pace. Rehearse the joint actions and movement patterns you are about to perform.

Bob walking up beach steps

A loooong stretch … of up

For example, if you are about to take a power or dog walk, the best warm-up is walking – not jogging, side stepping, or squatting. Start at a moderate pace, ideally and initially on flat terrain. About 3-5 minutes later, pick up the pace and stride intensity. Holding still and stretching statically would be the opposite of this.

Dynamically Stretch in Warm-Up

Guess what? As you warm up, you are actually building in the necessary stretches — dynamic (moving) ones. By definition, if I am contracting my quadriceps, my hamstrings are simultaneously lengthening. As I swing my heel forward to take a step, my shin contracts. Its antagonist, or pair, the calf muscle has to extend. So you really are stretching pre-workout, but in a dynamic way that meets the warm-up goals.

Static Stretching Before Exercise Neither Reduces Soreness nor Minimizes Injury

Kymberly: The muscles are most helpful when warm, pliable, and extensible. Also, all the latest research concludes that static stretching before exercising offers no injury prevention protection. Nor does pre-activity stretching help minimize muscle soreness. ARE YOU LISTENING PEOPLE AND COACHES?!  ALERT ALERT –EXIT THE 80’s DOOR AT THE END.

Action: Stretch your horizons and knowledge about what and how to exercise by subscribing to our blog. Enter your email in any of the handy dandy boxes around and about our site.  We come to you with active aging advice twice a week, FUh -REee!

Alexandra: This post took us 15-30 hours to write in a non-passive way because that’s how long it took for us to conclude that no stupid, **&^*^%$ reputable research exists about “cranky” muscles. As a sop, though, here is a nice, compassionate saying regarding cranky, angry people.

Kymberly: So who won the bet, G or E?

Dear Readers and Crankyfoos: What is your favorite stretch after a long hike? What do you argue about during your strolls? Remember to subscribe if you have not already.
Photo credits:

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


What is Active Aging?

I was asked what active aging means a few days ago. It was a great question, though it took me by surprise, as I had made the erroneous assumption that everyone knew what I meant. Assuming didn’t work out, so I’ll share my definition.

photo shot into a ceiling mirror at Ripley's

I’m actually learning over backward to take this photo into a ceiling mirror at Ripley’s Believe it or Not in Hollywood. You are looking at me from a bird’s eye view. Active Aging includes flexibility.

Active Aging: Making frequent small choices that enable you to move as freely as possible throughout your world.

Say what?! Well, I could have said “Move a lot and exercise,” but it’s not really that. Besides, that sounds like one or two choices per day. The truth is that it is NOT so much the choice to go to an exercise class or do an activity that works up a sweat. It is the repeated small choices we make every day.

Pool at KOA in Santa PaulaI’ll give you an example that illustrates the “Use it or Lose it” principle. I was at an event this past weekend where we had access to a pool, which was at the bottom of a hill. After swimming, we had lunch at the top of the hill. It was very hot, so the 3-minute walk up and down the hill wasn’t fun. A ride was provided for those who didn’t want to walk. Nearly everyone took the ride, saying they didn’t like to walk uphill. That was a choice. Yet if we play this out, look what happens:

  • Chooses to ride due to dislike of walking once
  • Chooses to ride due to dislike of walking many more times that day
  • Walks 4,000 steps total in a day rather than the 7,000 that walking would have led to
  • Has to one day walk up a hill because no ride is available – discovers that it’s very difficult, and that the heart is pounding so much it’s scary
  • Vows to never walk up a hill again
  • Loses ability to walk up steep hills
  • Eventually loses ability to walk up short, not-so-steep hills
  • Opts out of activities that require much walking
  • Chooses only activities that are seated or can easily be accessed by car
  • World is now much smaller, as many activities are no longer considered
Tamrac Anvil Camera Bag

This is my new Anvil Camera Bag, which Tamrac sent me. Click on the photo to check out their full line of camera bags.

Many older people we know (and a few younger ones too, sadly) are no longer able to walk at all, due entirely to the many small choices they made over the years to NOT move. They didn’t use their legs, so they lost the ability to use their legs. They aged inactively.

What do you think might have happened if they had chosen the stairs instead of the elevator? Those were repeated, small choices. What if they had gone for a 10-minute walk around the block while waiting for their loved one to come out from an appointment or school?  What if they had gone in the pool with their kids instead of sitting on the chaise longue? Or stood up to change the TV channel instead of using the remote control? All small choices that lead to active aging.

Ziplining at KOA Santa Paula

About to go ziplining. Active Aging includes this, plus the ability to climb a tower ladder.

You don’t need to get sweaty and exhausted. You don’t need to climb a steep hill … today. You just need to make small, incremental choices every single day that lead you toward doing the things you want to do five, ten and twenty years from now. What you don’t use, you’ll lose. Once you’re in the habit of walking, you’ll find that sitting for long periods of time is actually physically uncomfortable. And you want that. You want to be more comfortable moving than not moving.

This is my plea to you – Make small choices
And this is my wish for you – Live a long, active, healthy, enjoyable life that ends abruptly, not slowly

by Alexandra Williams, MA

What are some of the small choices you make every day that lead you toward or away from activity? What do you want to be doing when you’re 65, 75, 85, 95?

Make one small choice right now and subscribe to our fantabulous posts by entering your email right over there to the right.———> They will magically arrive in your inbox two times per week. Also, subscribe to me, AlexandraFunFit on Periscope, and watch my amazing travel and fitness scopes (videos).


Use Weights While Walking: Yes or No?

Can tSilly Walks posterhe subject of walking with hand or ankle weights be humorous and informative? In looking back at old posts, we discovered some gems that are begging to see the light of day again and still au courant (since this French term is derived from the word for “running” we thought it word geek appropriate).  Below is a frequent question we get asked.  Yes or no, were we right to repost for your edu-tainment?

Dear Fun and Fit: Kymberly and Alexandra: Why do they say NOT to use hand weights while walking? Regards, Charlotte, CA

Kymberly: “They” who? Is someone following us? I am not paranoid, but why do “they” keep showing up and talking to me? “They” told me to tell you that adding weights at the end of a lever (hand or ankle, for example) that is moving rapidly is a good way to stress joints, tendons, and ligaments. Carrying hand weights risks raising your blood pressure, when it’s really your heart rate you want to elevate. If your goal is to get a good cardio workout (I think this is a safe assumption that will not make an ASS out of U and ME), then ditching the weights will allow you to walk faster and thereby ditch the body weight…… in a roadside ditch that you pass while out power walking!

Alexandra: Let me walk back through your question. Why do you want to use hand weights while walking? Are you trying to save time by doing your strength training while on the walk? Knock that off. Stand still – pick up biggish weights – be a better person. Unless, of course, your hand weight is a sword, umbrella or small dog: Woman walking with dog in armsMan walking with an umbrellaSoldiers walking with swords
In that case, go for it! Also, refer to some of our other posts on walking that will help you get more fit, less sore, and generally more awesome in every way.

Proper Form for Uphill Walking

Walk Briskly for More Calorie Burn

Kymberly walking with backpack

I’m walking with a BACKPACK, not weights. Big difference!

Kymberly: In brief — Not inserting a picture of husband in briefs here — use weights for your weight training; use your walk time to get your unhampered groove on! You will probably walk faster, at a higher intensity, with reduced injury risk, and higher caloric burn if you do NOT add ankle, hand, or wrist weights. If you really feel the need to add resistance or weight to your load, then wear a backpack that fits snugly against your back. (Um, not like what I’m doing in the photo). Then the added weight is centered on your body and close to your spine, rather than loaded at the end of a limb. There. We said it!

Alexandra: BTW, Unhampered groove looks like this:Man walking with unhampered groove

Kymberly: Say, I couldn’t help but notice that there are 7 walking men in the image my sister found. Makes me think of another post you neeeeeed to click to read if you want to get the most out of your walk. 7 Steps to Better Walking

Alexandra: A question for you, that we answer: Can Walking Get You Fit? Click to read and find out.

Dear Walkers: What do you hold while walking? And do NOT say “my breath.”

Photo credits: Creative Commons

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Hey, it’s our lucky day if you subscribe to our blog. We come to you but you get to count the calories burned and fitness info learned. Subscribe now and age more actively and attractively!



What is the Right Amount of Exercise?

Hi, So much advice is given about adding exercise to your day. I work on my feet all day. 6 1/2 to 7 hours a day. I stand and move around a lot. When I am busy waiting on customers, I am moving and walking and walking quickly to get their food, replace things used up, filling areas etc. When it is slower, I stand more but still walk around some and do other things job related. I get a 15 min. break. How much more exercise do I need? I do not get aerobic exercise. I occasionally do yoga and go for a walk. Plus I do minor yard work, weeding, trimming of bushes etc. Also, general cleaning in my house. My husband and I go out dancing once a week or so. I am 59 and wonder if I actually need more exercise. Thanks for any answers you can give me. Marie

walking is great for health
Hi Marie:
You have brought up a great point about the true definition of exercise, especially aerobic exercise.

One standard definition of aerobic exercise via the American College of Sports Medicine is “any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature.” It should also cause the heart and lungs to work harder than at rest. In other words, surprise! You actually ARE getting aerobic exercise with all your walking and dancing, which is great for your heart, weight and cognition. That house cleaning you’re doing also burns calories. We actually charted out the calorie counts for many housekeeping chores in our post Lose Weight Doing House Cleaning.

picture of Lily weights from Bling Fitness
I AM going to say you need more exercise, though. Just not aerobic necessarily. You don’t mention any resistance training (though you do get flexibility and mind/body points for the yoga). At our age (we are right behind you by a few birthdays), it’s imperative to include resistance work into your life – both with light and heavy resistance (You can define what’s light and heavy for yourself, especially as they will change as you get stronger). Just a few of the benefits:

* weight loss / weight maintenance
* fall prevention / balance
* prevent or delay sarcopenia (muscle wasting)
* bone density
* posture
* functional strength (the ability to use your body in daily living activities)
* brain health
* fat burning
* recovery from injury / illness
* sexy good looks

push-up resistance trainingIn short, you need to continue with your cardio (aerobic) movement, which is probably no problem, since you are moving all day at work, and you need to add resistance (strength) training. To answer your “how much” question – start with 3 times a week for at least 20 minutes. Very quickly, I’m going to mention proper sleep and good nutrition too. <——- See how quickly I did that?

As you didn’t specify your goal – weight loss, general health, independence, fitness, brain power, looks – you’ll want to adjust the amount, frequency, duration and type of movement according to your goals. In case it gets confusing, we have another post for you to check out: Do THIS if you want to Get Fit, Lose Weight, Live Longer, DeStress .

A good place to start for resistance training might be at our colleague Tamara’s New To Strength Training? An At-Home Beginner Workout Just For You post.
We also have a number of relevant free videos on our YouTube channel, including our “Women Over 50” playlist.

Thank you for writing to us.

by Alexandra Williams, MA


Emotional Benefits of Walking Outdoors

Are you lucky enough to enjoy outdoor walks? Do you live in an area conducive to walking? Do you live where you can see the blue sea? What about the blue sky?

In addition to all the physical benefits of exercise, you can also reap emotional benefits. Read ‘em and Reap. heh heh

Foothills Nature Preserve in Santa BarbaraWhether it’s the feeling of being at one with nature, the smells, the sounds, the feeling of being a small part of a big world, or just escaping from the “grind” for a few minutes, a walk outside is a mood improver. Go dopamines, go. Swim with the endorphins.

Think how calm and peaceful you feel walking in a misty fog, or how centering it is to be out alone at dawn or dusk. Have you ever walked in the rain and inhaled the smell of the earth and water? Have you stormed out of the house in a bad mood, only to return refreshed and recovered after a walk around the block to “cool off?”

Boogie boards at Hendry's beach, Santa BarbaraWhen we were kids (5 kids, to be specific), my mom would make us go outside whenever we’d start to fight with each other. She’d also tell us to take a walk around the block (which only had 3 houses on it) when we were upset or sad. Somehow she intuitively knew the power of a walk outside. Or she just wanted us out of her hair. Or both.

In any case, I’m fortunate because I live in Santa Barbara, where almost every walk has a gorgeous view. So even though I know an indoor treadmill will give me lots of fitness and health benefits, I will never give up my outdoor walks. Because they give me mental health benefits. And a chance to set aside my responsibilities for a while.

Enjoy these pictures taken on some of my adventures. Then get yourself outside and take your own pictures.
Arlington Theatre Lobby in Santa Barbara

Rope swing on big tree

discarded flower on marble bench

curved wall at Orpet Park, Santa Barbara

sun float at Solstice Parade

Read my sister’s post about 3 Ways to Work Out Naturally. You’ll understand why “nature” is the root of “naturally.” You’ll also find out why I asked about the blue sea and sky.

Alexandra Williams, MA 


Summer Heat, Exercise and Staying Hydrated

Yay, summer is here. We can all go outside and run (or walk, in our case). In the heat. And possibly where the humidity is high enough to make your body look like it’s crying. But wait – we are not saying you should avoid outdoor exercise – say nay to that. We want to encourage you to go outside, and stay hydrated.

Mud Run water duct with Alexandra

So many times, we’ll put sunblock on, then a hat and head outside (Head. Hat. Get it?), but leave behind a water bottle because we won’t be gone long, or it’s a hassle to carry, or or or. We won’t lecture you (but we’d like to) about taking along your water bottle, but we WILL share some definitions and information so you can be well-prepared even if you aren’t well-hydrated.

Euhydration – normal hydration. Your body is taking in the same amount of fluid as it’s expending. In a hot environment, that’s about 3500 milliliters (compared to 2500 on a normal day).

Hypohydration – a reduction of body water as the body progresses from a euhydrated to a dehydrated state.

Dehydration – when water losses due to sweat are not offset by water intake.

Hyponatremia – abnormally low plasma sodium concentrations. When more fluids are consumed than are lost, excess water accumulates relative to sodium.

Exertional Heat Exhaustion – the body’s heat production exceeds its ability to dissipate heat, and core temperature rises to >104°. Symptoms can include excessive sweating, nausea, dizziness, and headache.

Exertional Heatstroke – more severe than heat exhaustion. In addition to the above symptoms, heatstroke sufferers can also experience a gradual impairment of consciousness, difficulty concentrating, sweat-soaked, pale skin (these symptoms are different from classic heatstroke), and even death.

Hiking makes you sweatyHot tips to stay Cool

* Rather than taking sips of water over the course of your outdoor exercise, drink a larger volume all at once. You’ll stay in euhydration longer.

* If you exercise longer than 90 minutes, rehydrate with water that has electrolytes added (primarily sodium and potassium, though some sodium is reabsorbed by the sweat glands – the body sure is amazing, eh)?

* Drink water before, during AND after exercise – yes, all three.

* Before you go out, eat a small salted snack such as pretzels. As “opposite day” as that sounds, a salted snack will stimulate thirst, plus the sodium helps you retain water.

As to whether it’s better to drink cold or room temperature water, the research clearly indicates that … it doesn’t really matter. We did a post about this question of water temp, and the truth is that the temperature that’s most effective is the one that will induce you to drink more water.
If you find water boring, that’s no excuse to go buy sugar-laden drinks or skip the water bottle. Simple throw in a sprig of mint or rosemary, or a wedge or orange, lemon or lime, and off you go. Up hill. Down dale.

by Alexandra Williams, MA


One Way to Avoid Fainting During Cardio Workouts

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

heart shaped tomatoEver worry about fainting during a cardio workout? No doubt you have heard the advice to “keep your head above your heart” during and especially after aerobic activity. With Valentine’s Day coming up and February being American Heart month, we thought we’d focus on a question one of our group fitness members asked us: “Why do fitness instructors cue us not to drop our head below the heart when working out aerobically?”

Be Still My Beating (Cardio) Heart

Alexandra drumming at Tenaya

Alexandra makes more than hearts beat! Drum, drum, drum

Alexandra: We say this because we want to know exactly whom we will be giving rescue breathing to when you pass out. And why should we be in a position to provide rescue breathing? There you were, just exercising away, enjoying the heck out of the Paul McCartney, Rihanna, Kanye song “FourFive Seconds” being played on the sound system. “Hey you,” your personal wiring system says, “You are working hard. As a reward, your muscle cells shall now demand increased oxygen. Because your muscles are so bossy and demanding, we won’t argue. Instead, we will increase your heart rate and blood flow so your muscles will like us and continue to take us nice places.” Well, let’s say you drop your head below your heart. While your head is inverted, you don’t realize that you’ve just caused blood to pool along with that increased blood pressure.

Your Muscles, Heart, and Head Compete for Oxygen and with Gravity

Kymberly: Did anyone follow that? Twin translation provided here: Cardio exercise involves raising the heart rate. An uppity heart rate provides more oxygen to working muscles AND the brain. (We are hoping the brain is working during all that activity. Always makes exercise more interesting). Heart rate up, then head suddenly down puts gravity in charge. (See “Perky, Not Saggy” for more on overcoming the effects of gravity). Blood rush to head. Whoa, feeling dizzy. Lots of pressure from rapidly pumping blood and increased blood volume. Then you lift your head above your heart again and WHAM, gravity takes over once more leaving you lightheaded. Your heart pumped out the oxygen, but you just started a competition between gravity and your brain for the game of “who gets the oxygen?”  Need I say more?

K lying in snow

Stylish fainting

Alexandra: Don’t talk to me about pressure because it makes me want to dance in my inimitable 80s style to “Under Pressure.” That’s the song I used for my very first step class.

Fainting Does a Body Good-ish

Kymberly: Ok, I need to say more. First, fainting is your body’s way to restore normal blood flow to your brain. Dropping — or, as you may picture it, gracefully and delicately sliding to the ground, puts your head on the same level as your pumping, beating heart so that your oxygen rich blood can more easily get to your brain. No going uphill, just straight along.

Second, I have been CPR certified for more than 30 years. Fortunately, in all that time of teaching fitness, I have never had to rescue someone from the dreaded “head below heart- pass out” syndrome. Maybe this cue is really an excuse to see who’s listening and who is clock watching. ALWAYS listen to your instructor, especially if she looks like one of us.

Destress Your Heart for Valentine’s Day

Alexandra: Well, I am obviously more special as I have had to deal with the “Thar she blows” syndrome. Sadly, my university students have a habit of passing out lately. For about 3 years, they show up without having had a proper breakfast, then they put their heart and soul into their workout, with only the soul remaining intact. My theory? We need to provide more movement for students in the younger grades so their hearts are used to stress by the time they get to college. I use “stress” in its literal sense, though I remember having lots of “love stress” when I was an undergrad. As in – I was stressed because I wanted certain guys to notice me. Ah, my glorious youth.

ACTION ITEM: Help hearts, heads, and muscles by sharing this post with two friends and suggesting they subscribe to our blog. But only if they want to age actively and stay upright during cardio!

Photo credit for Alexandra with drumsticks – Tenaya Lodge


Exercise Advice Depends on Goal: Test Your Knowledge

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

20140828_075500Can you match the exercise statement below to its correct goal? Ever seem confused, overwhelmed, or downright cranky at what appears to be contradictory workout advice? It could be simply making sure you know what your primary exercise purpose is. Then you can select the proper solution to address that priority.

Take Our Mix and Match Test

All of the following, seemingly contradictory statements are true … depending on …. your goal. Ready to mix and match with more style than when you are in a Macy’s dressing room? GO! (Answers at the end of the post).  And when you see a link, click on it for more detailed scoop on each action and benefit.

Go for Action with Go To AdviceIMG_4997

A. Cardio training – of any type — is best.

B. Strength training is more critical than cardio activity, especially for baby boomer women.

C. As you enter midlife, you need to incorporate 7 specific movement habits into your cardio workouts to get the best results.

D. Accumulate at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic activity.

E. As few as 10 minutes of high intensity training per day is sufficient.

F. Make sure to include resistance training, aerobic exercise, and stretching in your workout program at least 2-3 times per week.

G. Aim first for Amount of movement; Next for Type of activity; then for Intensity of exercise level

H. Go as long as you can, as hard as you can, as often as you can.

Given Which Goal?


Which numbered goal below goes with which lettered advice above?

  1. Burn calories and improve overall health – minimize risk of disease and illness – at any age.
  2. Boost metabolism and maintain function (ability to continue daily tasks and activities) and minimize risk of falling, especially post age 60.
  3. Enhance brain power, improve memory, and stave off cognitive decline.
  4. Increase life expectancy, improve cognitive skills, reduce the incidence of chronic disease and disabilities.
  5. Maintain fitness level if you are already fit.
  6. Achieve general fitness – defined as having lean body mass, minimal stored fat, good endurance, flexibility, and muscular strength.
  7. Keep lost weight off
  8. Prevent weight gain; lose weight, keep lost weight off – the trifecta. Ba da bing! Click the links to read about Fat Loss and more.

Bottom line if you forget everything? (Well, that means you aren’t performing any cardio, because you just read that cardio enhances memory). Anyway, if nothing else, simply remember that doing something is almost always better than doing nothing when it comes to accruing health benefits. And the more fitness benefits you want out of your movement, the more frequency, attention, and effort you have to commit to.IMG_4785

Commit to follow us, up hill, down dale, over the pale. Subscribe now if you haven’t yet, and get FREE our booklet, 34 Guilt Free Strategies to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain. Get insider fitness advice all year!

ANSWERS: A1, B2, C3, D4, E5, F6, G7, H8 Yeah, I made it easy for you … and for me. How did you score? You are a winner no matter what, as you now know more about this subject than most US adults.

Alexandra wants to win the Modenus/ Ambiente Frankfurt Holiday Shop Window contest, which would mean a trip to Frankfurt to share the latest in Dining, Living and Giving with you, so please take two seconds to click here and vote for her photo. Make her holiday! (Ends Friday, Dec. 19 at 2pm PST). Thanks!

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