Tag Archive

Tag Archives for " aerobic activity "
4

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

3

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?

20140701_190809

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!

18

3 Santa Barbara Walks Only Locals Know

Alexandra Williams, MA

picture of Ellwood Butterfly Preserve in Goleta, CA

Today is the first day of Fall. Get outside for a walk while the weather is still cooperating. As our post “Nature Lovers Live Longer and Leaner” states, you get smarter, happier and healthier when you spend time outdoors. And if you want to know how many steps you need to take to stave off weight gain, read this post too.

No matter where you live, walking outside is beneficial, even if you have to strap on snowshoes on the first day of Fall! And the nice thing about where you live is that your town has a few hiking paths that only locals seems to know about. Santa Barbara is no exception. Even though we’ll never get a chance to strap on snowshoes (well, we can strap them on, but we can’t walk around on snow on them unless we drive far away), we at least have the benefit of some fantastic walking spots. I’m going to share three that will put you “in the know” for the day you come to town: one on the beach, one at a lake, and one in the mountains.

Ellwood Butterfly Grove

From late October to late February you can see the monarch butterflies in this preserve that has 137 acres of open space. Parking and admission are free, and docents give educational talks on the weekends during butterfly season.picture of Ellwood Beach, Santa Barbarapicture of Ellwood Butterfly Grove, Santa Barbarapicture of Butterfly Preserve, Goleta

Lake Los Carneros

Right next to the 101 freeway, this park has a lake, easy walking trail, wooden bridge over the reeds, a railroad museum and Stow House (the oldest frame house in the Goleta Valley).picture of Lake Los Carneros, Santa Barbara picture of Stow House, Goletapicture of bridge over reeds, Lake Los Carneros, Goletapicture of rope swing tree, Lake Los Carneros, Santa Barbara

Lizard’s Mouth

High above Santa Barbara, you get here by driving to the top of Hwy 154 (the Pass), and turning left onto West Camino Cielo. One of the few easily accessible boulder fields (we’ve taken a 4 year old and 84 year old), you follow a trail in for ¼ mile, then climb on, in, over, and even inside the rock outcroppings. Or just have a picnic and watch the sunset.picture at Lizard's Mouth, Santa Barbarapicture of cave at Lizard's Mouth, Santa Barbarapicture of fog at Lizard's Mouth, Santa Barbarapicture of fog at Lizard's Mouth, Santa Barbara
If you need comfy, cute shoes for your outdoor adventures, we love Ahnu.  Not an affiliate link; we just love them. Check them out and decide for yourself. Then lace up and get outside!

22

Exercise and Arthritis

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Is it Possible to Exercise with an Arthritic Hip?

picture of dancing woman

Keep on Dancing

Dear Twins: I just found your site and already feel encouraged. I am 56 years old and have been an ‘off again…on again” exerciser!! When I was much younger I was very athletic. Four years ago I trained to walk a 1/2 marathon but the week before the race, I pulled ligaments in my ankle. Since then I haven’t done much of anything.

About 6 weeks ago I began going to Zumba classes 2-3 times a week. Three weeks ago I began to have a lot of pain in my hips. I went to the doctor and was told I have arthritis in my hips and I also had bursitis. My doctor told me to lay off Zumba for two weeks and gave me a prescription to help with inflammation. He told me that I will probably have to take the medication long term to help with the arthritis but the pain from the bursitis will go away after a week or so. I have tried to go back to the Zumba classes but I am concerned the pain will start back up or get worse. I am in really good health otherwise.

Can you advise me as to the risks I would take if I continued to do the Zumba? Also, what other cardio activities can I do that will be okay with my arthritis in my hips? I really feel my best when I am exercising and just started to feel good and have more energy when the pain started. Any suggestions you may have would help!!

Carla, Abilene, TX

x-ray picture of hipsYour question is an excellent one, and will resonate with many of our readers. You are right about the many benefits of exercise, including for arthritis. According to the Mayo Clinic, arthritis can be slowed or mitigated with exercise – the challenge is finding the right type.

Low Impact Cardio

If your doc has cleared you to return to Zumba, you may want to ease in and modify the lateral moves (sideways, such as grapevine). Are you able/ willing to add aqua classes to your workout plan? Zumba aqua dance classes exist. You do not need to be a good swimmer to join an aqua class. Shallow water classes are in water that’s generally hip deep. If your gym has only deep water classes, you can use swim lessons as your workout, then wear the buoyancy belts once you’re a more confident swimmer.
For other cardio options, try anything that is low impact (high intensity is fine, but NOT high impact) and more forward and back than side to side. One caveat – depending on where the arthritis is in your hips, spending a lot of time on a machine such as a stair-stepper could be contraindicated. Besides, you seem to be a person who enjoys group fitness classes, so try a variety of those. A varied exercise plan is more effective than a repetitive one for most people.

Strength Training

You might also consider some stretch and strengthen classes. Stretch to open up the hips and strengthen to give your muscles more  of the workload, which eases the load on your skeletal structure (bones). Since you mention a ligament injury to your ankle, I would think strengthening that area might be a priority, especially if compensations are affecting your hips. Have you worked with a physical therapist to strengthen that ankle, while considering the impact on your hips (such as an altered gait)? You can probably even find a therapist who is ALSO a personal trainer by searching at ideafit.com or acefitness.org.

Range of Motion (ROM)

In addition to low-impact cardio and strength training, you may want range of motion exercises too. This article from Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center goes into more detail about everything mentioned above, including the need for tailored, specific range of motion activities.

Rest

Rest is an integral part of any exercise regimen, arthritis or no! Check with your doctor about creating the right combo of rest time, anti-inflammatory meds, ice, and possibly even meditation.

Partner with your Doctor

We’ve had good luck getting specific advice for our exercise-loving bodies by choosing primary care doctors who also value exercise. We’ve had some doctors who wanted to prescribe medicine for our arthritic knees. Their advice was to stop exercising. We switched to doctors who used medication as a last resort and aligned with our preference to keep moving. We are not advocating dumping your doc or ignoring his advice; we are advocating getting into a partnership with your doctor so that he can work WITH you to create a plan that includes exercise.

This quote is from Mayo: “Lack of exercise actually can make your joints even more painful and stiff. Talk to your doctor about how exercise can fit into your current treatment plan. What types of exercises are best for you depends on your type of arthritis and which joints are involved. Your doctor or a physical therapist can work with you to find the best exercise plan to give you the most benefit with the least aggravation of your joint pain.”

As women who are similar to you – arthritic joints, exercise-loving, youthful minds, mid-50s – we know it’s possible to keep moving. We just have to be pickier than we were 30 years ago. There IS a solution, and your positive attitude will be a big part of it! Please keep us posted. Happy dancing.

Please share this article via Twitter, Facebook or Google+. Thank you.

Photo credits / Morgue File: X-Ray of hips: xandert; Dancing woman: Earl53

13

Ultimate Baby Boomer Workouts: 7 Key Training Principles

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Radio episode for women over 50 7 training principlesKymberly: Want the Ultimate Baby Boomer Body? Personally I am ok with the “Ixnay on the Bikini, but I’ll Still Wear a One-Piece” Body. To get either version, you’ll need to incorporate 7 important, midlife-specific training principles into your exercise routines. Award-winning master instructor and worldwide fitness expert, Mo Hagan was a recent guest on our Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers radio show. Mo’s specific focus on midlife women meant she was able to share the Best Exercises, Workout Programs and Fitness Trends for Women Over 50 .

Maureen Hagan

Mo Hagan feeling and looking Mo’ Bettah in her 50s

During the interview she listed key workout components baby boomer women need to achieve optimal fitness. First, though, we all agreed that midlife exercisers (and future exercisers) are special.

Women Over 50 Are Unusual Exercisers in 6 Ways

  1. Ours is the first generation to grow up with exercise continued into our adult years;
  2. Our generation’s attitudes and priorities make it easier for us to train and be trained and to understand the need for intentional exercise;
  3. We have the funds and resources to invest in our well being (that’s the statistical theory, at any rate);
  4. Our age group is one that is proactive and doesn’t take our health for granted;
  5. We desire socialization and camaraderie, with a particular fondness for group exercise. Therefore, we tend to prioritize exercise differently when we are a part of a group or when under a trainer’s leadership;
  6. The downside is that we also tend to fall off or quit being active when life gets chaotic, and caregiving or other family needs pull us away.

So what do we unusual, interesting, unique, and different women need to do to achieve functionally strong and healthy bodies, minds and attitudes?

outdoor training for Alexandra

Alexandra being unique and interesting

Alexandra: I am seriously hoping the answer involves Clive Owen or Colin Firth, but I’ll settle for just assuming you are speaking of ME when you use the adjectives “unusual, interesting, unique, and different.” Hmmm, second guess. Does it involve bacon? Even though I am a vegetarian, I feel certain that the answer to many things is “bacon.”

Now,  you said midlife women are special in 6 ways. And if you’d given 6 training principles, I’d know Bacon was the answer — Kevin Bacon. If you don’t know about the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, you can read the link while doing your seven training principles. To defy gravity (and age), plus engage in gym movements, do this Footloose workout.

Kymberly: We know my sister is really Baking, not Bacon Woman. Anyway, stay Footloose and Bacon Free when you incorporate the following into your regimen:

7 Training Principles for Women Over 50

1. Increase Intentional Stepping

Continue to build bone strength by selecting impact activities. Especially at our age, we need to strike the ground by walking, jogging, skipping, and stepping to stimulate our bones. Step classes are particularly effective at offering impact without adverse joint stress. This is a case of wanting gravity’s effects!

2. Use Body Weight in a Functional Manner

Choose movements and exercises that mimic daily life activities such as climbing stairs, loading groceries into the car, carrying luggage on fun, exotic, vacation trips. (A boomer can envision, nicht wahr?) Such exercises might include step ups and squats, for instance.

3. Train to Preserve Back Health

Brace through the core and hinge from the hips. Add dead lifts to your repertoire — but let’s call them “live lifts,” shall we? Look for opportunities to activate the back (dorsal side) of your body in addition to performing ab and core work.

4 .Focus on Posture

Be sure to sit and stand “strong.” Address muscle imbalances. Take action now to improve posture now and later. No Dowager’s Hump for you, just Dowager title and property rights. Speak to me Downtown Abbey fans!

5. Engage in “Brain Gym” Movements

Move in ways that connect the left and right sides of the brain such as crossing the midline, performing diagonal movements, (cross chops anyone?) memorizing movement patterns (choreography is a good thing), and following cues or directions. You can see where fitness classes really are ideal for those of us wanting more than physical payoff from our workouts.

Kymberly on log in Yosemite

Defy Gravity AND Train for Good Posture standing, sitting. lying, hovering in midair!

6. Defy Gravity

Reap on land some of the gravity defying benefits of water exercise. Who doesn’t look forward to reduced joint stress, buoyancy, and a certain lightness of being? Translate that “up” feeling to land movement by emphasizing the up phase. For example, with squats, engage your muscles more when standing than lowering. Change the pace, speed, or emPHAsis of moves to prioritize the press away from the floor. In short, concentrate on the parts of exercises that work against gravity.

7. Input Impact to Improve Internal Integrity

I, I, I , yi yi! Use both cardio and resistance training to target age-related risks and preventable declines. Do the exercises you choose challenge your mobility? Balance? Bones? Coordination? Just as you might choose nutritionally dense foods, select movements that offer a compound or multiple return for your invested effort.

Kymberly: We recommend you listen to our entire interview with Mo if you want more detail, and to hear Alexandra’s mental skips and jaunts. As Mo recommends in the radio episode, we need to begin with the end in mind — to increase our overall strength, stamina, core strength, mental agility, resistance to disease, and ability to continue pursuing life with vigor and enthusiasm. Heck, we also want to look good, right?

pic of TRX plank tuck

When Will This End?

Alexandra: I’ve only got my end in mind.

To really be ahead of the game, try Training Principle Number 8 and 9:

1) Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

24

Can a 55 Year Old Have More Energy Than a 20 Year Old?

Alexandra Williams, MA

I am 55. My university students are about 20. After my 8 a.m. cardio class last week, one of my students asked me how I had so much energy. What do you think I gave as my answer?

Alexandra teaching Drums Alive

Teaching Drums Alive

After I gave my response, I walked back into the gym and taught two more classes – one Drums Alive ; one strength training on the ball. Once I was done teaching, I started thinking further about her question. Although it was really probably a compliment with no answer expected, I did ponder it as a sort of research question. You know, in an anecdotal sense, as I haven’t done any research on myself (trying two cigarettes in 7th grade sort of counts as self-research I guess. I smoked the wrong end, as we were hiding in a dark basement, so couldn’t see. Turned it around, inhaled deeply, almost died from coughing. End of smoking career).

First, the answers I rejected as to the genesis of my energy:

* Genetically gifted
* Good luck
* Students are super listless, so I look energetic by comparison (though they do look a bit like pale vampires peaked during mid-terms)
* I’m bionic
* Energizer batteries shoved up my … nope, that’s not it
* Optical illusion due to room lighting
* Crowd hypnosis
* Lots of caffeine (hahahah. I drink decaf coffee every few weeks, and think soda is evil)

Want to know what I told her? Three words: Exercise, Nutrition, and Willingness

Exercise

Lizard's Mouth with Tamara Grand

Working at our over-40 Fitness with Tamara Grand

Most non-exercisers will think, “Hey, wait just a sec. Exercise makes you tired, not energized. W.R.O.N.G. That is short-term thinking. In the long run (and 55 is the long run, I assure you), the cardiovascular system becomes more efficient when it is challenged with exercise. I’ve been teaching for over 30 years, plus I danced and played soccer before that, so even when I had anemia in my 20s, I still had lots of energy. This post we wrote with 7 of the top reasons people exercise will enlighten you. And this other post with the other top 7 reasons will make you smile. Or so we hope.

Nutrition

It’s probably an unfair match-up between my eating habits and my university students’ because they are part of a demographic famous for eating (to say it delicately) crap. I require them to eat a healthy breakfast, yet I don’t actually monitor their personal lives, nor am I all that sure that their definition of “healthy” matches mine, though I do nag give them friendly advice about what constitutes a suitable breakfast prior to working out.
In our radio interview with personal trainer, author, and biologist Tamara Grand you can hear her excellent advice about clean eating for women over 40 (though her advice works for all ages).

I have taken her “tough love” advice about no longer being able to eat as I did in my younger years (due in part to estrogen and other hormones).

Willingness

What the heck does this have to do with energy, and what do I mean by willingness? I really just mean attitude and being willing to do what it takes to be healthy and fit. I am not a of fan of the word “willpower” when it comes to moving and eating for health because it’s too easy to feel it’s a battle, and I don’t want to fight with myself. Trying to think succinctly, I’d say that I am pretty good at “If / Then” decisions. For example, I walk a lot. And when I walk I don’t actually like to sweat. But I think, “If I walk up the mountain road road for an hour, then I’ll have done my 10,000 steps (my daily goal) for the day.” Or “If I choose not to eat cookies or ice cream when I crave an evening snack, then I’ll be that much closer to my weight goal.” I think of the choices, then make conscious decisions. I essentially have a bargain with myself. Luckily, most of my bargains lead to a happy, energetic resolution!

picture of Alexandra being goofy

Take That, Age Assumptions!

I’m tempted to say, “Suck it, youngsters,” but I like my youngsters, and was once one myself. So I think I’ll just say, “Try to keep up. Maybe by the time you reach 55, you’ll have lots of energy too!”

For those of you above 40 (or know someone who is), do you have more energy now than you did then?

 

 

 

 

 

We are participating in a BlogHop that includes this post. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to visit some of the other fab writers in the group.

9

What’s the Best Morning Workout?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Lake los Carneros view early morningKymberly: This morning Alexandra and I got our baby boomer booties up and out early to power walk with our dogs. What motivated us? Three things: we wanted to beat the heat; Alexandra had a class to teach after which she was heading to LA for the day; and we wanted to mull over a question we get asked by our group fitness participants:

“What is the best morning workout?”

(In a peek behind the scenes of fitness questions that come our way, we also get asked about exercises to prevent droopy boobs. Yes, it was worded just like that. We loved that question too).

Back to the best movement routine to start your day — Any guesses? Bueller? Bueller?  For a million or few calories, the answer is … the one, or two, or however many you will actually do. All the studies and recommendations in the world won’t matter unless you actually get up and giddy up. In the real world (the one where Alexandra and I often reside), people will stick with what they enjoy. And they will run down faster than black mascara after a sweat fest from un-fun activities.

Still, some suggestions are in order. But first, let’s address the implied assumption in this question:

Is Morning the Best TIME to Work Out?

Interestingly, research is all over the place when it comes to determining a “best” time to exercise. One study found that physical activity performance was generally improved in the afternoon or evening, compared with morning. Another study  suggests that exercisers best combat weight gain from high calorie, fat rich diets if they work out before eating, specifically “before breaking fast.”  Other variants exist, but what does come out clearly is that consistency is key.  Especially for high-intensity exercisers, whatever time you choose to do whatever routine you like to do, try to do it around the same time each day. Got that? Whether morning, noon, or night, you may reach your workout goals best if you stick with your preferred time. Whew!

Alexandra: I like to walk in the morning, before it gets too hot and before the black flies come out (yes, Santa Barbara has flaws). I’ve found that my regular morning routine consists of waking up around 6:30 (which I hate, but I’m a light sleeper), then going through the messages & emails on my phone while lying in bed. So I don’t actually get up until 7:30 or so. What a waste of the morning! So if I prep my clothes the night before, and ask my son to come get me, I know I’ll go. I’m back in the house by 8, happy and full of energy.

What Are Those “Good” Morning Exercises?

Grove at Mesa during mid-morning power walk

Best view of the Mesa grove during morning walk

Kymberly: If your workout time is the morning, can you benefit more from a specific type of exercise? Whether you walk, swim, ride, jog, mosey, lift weights, shuffle, do a yoga pose, or dance routine — you are best served to

  1. be consistent with when you go
  2. choose what you love or at least like
  3. vary your program every so often finding several activities you enjoy
  4. incorporate some cardio, strength, stretch and mind/body moves into each week

The Best List of the Best Posts on Best Exercise Choices

That’s it. Really. Ok, not really since you will find more on the subject of “what’s best” in the following posts, which we suggest you click on. Then lord it over your workout buddies that you know only the best.

For instance, want to know the best cardio workout?  Or which is better–jogging in place or running through space?

How about going outside to find the best exercise surface?  Lastly, is it best to do strength or aerobic training first? So many good, better, best questions.

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

Morning, noon or night, it’s never too late to subscribe to our fitness-related YouTube channel. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

19

I Want to Get Fit, but How to Start?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Exhausted from Working all Day

Exhausted from Working all Day

Dear Fun and Fit: I am 55 and want to get back into a fitness routine. I am overweight – by 50 lbs and am having such a fitness block to get started. I know all the reasons why I should exercise, but I feel paralyzed. My husband and I work full time. We have my aging, early-stage dementia parents in our home, adult care during the day; my husband and I care for them in the evening and weekends. Finding the time is challenging. We feel exhausted all the time. I welcome your ideas and suggestions.  Susan

Alexandra: If you’re working full-time AND caring for your parents, it’s easy to see why you are exhausted. If I understand correctly, you are more frustrated by motivation and time issues; not a lack of information, right? So let’s look at some ways to reframe your motivation.

Getting Started Takes Place in the Mind

From the way you word your question, I gather you don’t like exercise too much (join 75-80% of the population). So forget about exercise – focus instead on what kind of MOVEMENT you enjoy. Do you like to walk, swim, dance, mow the lawn, bike ride, bowl; what? Anything that you do that is MORE than what you’re currently doing will help you be successful.

Do Some Swimming, then some Intense Lounging!

Do Some Swimming, then some Intense Lounging!

You also talk about feeling paralyzed, which triggers all kinds of things in my counseling brain, both literally and figuratively. It tells me you know what will happen to you if you DON’T change your habits, and that it’s overwhelming. I believe you are thinking in a 1-10 way. In other words, you are at 1 (I am not exercising, I have to lose 50 pounds & I have no time), and you can only think of 10 (I will be 50 pounds lighter). But you need to map out what 2, 3, 4 …. look like. If you have stairs at home or work, can you add 2 extra trips up and down each day? That could be step 2. Can you then make your food portions smaller and do 2 trips daily? Step 3. You don’t have to even contemplate intense, sweaty movement or weight lifting (this helps you burn extra calories even when you are NOT moving) until step 8 or 9. Write down your first few steps at least!

Movement Helps Stave Off Dementia

If your parents are ambulatory, can you walk around the block with them? Not only will it help slow their rate of mental decline, it will help keep YOUR brain healthier.  (Read our post on the subject by clicking on the link). So when you are thinking, “I could get in a few minutes of exercise now, but…” remind yourself that those few minutes will not only help with your weight loss goal, but keep you alert as well.

Don’t Add Extra Time Demands to Your Day

You obviously don’t have any extra time in your day, so you might want to think of ways to change up some of your current routine. For example, how much of the day are you sitting, and when can you switch some of that out for standing or even pacing? If you spend a lot of time at work on the phone, you could be pacing while on calls. People who stay at a healthy weight tend to be fidgeters – can you add in some fidgeting? Another trick – every time you go to stand up or sit down, add in one extra sit-stand. You can add an extra 10,000 squats per year using this trick. Move stuff from convenient places to inconvenient spots. An example – I keep most of my food in a back pantry, which means I have to leave the kitchen quite a few times in order to get the ingredients I need to bake or cook. Put your phone across the room instead of near you so that you have to get up every time you need it. Anyway, you get the idea.

Activate Your Support System

Even if you and your husband cannot get away from the house at the same time to be active together, he can still be a source of encouragement and support (nagging doesn’t count as support – I know; I’ve tried it). In our post about losing weight when you’re a caregiver,  we talk about the importance of having a pal who is on your side.

Walk outside

Forget Your Cares w/ a 5 Minute Nature Walk

Kymberly: Susan – With everything you have going on, no wonder taking on another “should duty” is exhausting. I agree with my sister about reframing. If you could shift from thinking of adding a fitness routine (yikes – another task in an overloaded life!) to seeing movement as a positive time for YOU and a break from responsibilities, you will have an easier, more successful time meeting your goals. For instance, if you or your parents watch tv evenings or weekends, would you find it helpful to perform stretches, yoga, or light jogging in place during ads? Near work, is there a park, interesting street, or a mall you can go to for your lunch break – even once or twice a week – where you can walk as you eat? As few as 5 minutes in nature has a calming effect; 10 minutes of cardio activity decreases stress levels, enhances energy, and assists brain activity so you will actually feel more awake; less fatigued.

Overlooked Role of Sleep and Stress on Weight Loss

Perhaps even more impactful and surprising is that you may need to sleep more to lose weight and minimize exhaustion. Caregivers are usually sleep deprived, which leads to higher stress levels and stimulated appetite. Our post on the role sleep, stress, and sugar play in weight management offers more insight.

Again, is your lunch time and place flexible enough that you could slide in a guilt-free 20 minute nap? Can you get to bed 20 minutes earlier? While sleeping may seem counter intuitive to getting more fit, it is possibly one of your key solutions.

Here’s to slotting in a bit more movement and ZZzzzzssssss for yourself! Let us know whether any of our suggestions get you moving in the direction you want.

Readers: Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference, or to write your blog posts.  Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Be a winner while losing, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to access short videos that will improve your fitness level and destress you. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

Photo Credits: Woman relaxing at pool: Carrie1843; Man asleep at desk:  star5112

12

A Workout Plan to Lose Weight When You Are a Caregiver

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Who Cares for Mom? We Do!

It’s Ap-Parent We Care

Dear Fun & Fit: My friend Patti and I have pledged to lose 50 pounds between us by March! As motivation, we have submitted to present about our success at a conference in March! Yikes! Now we REALLY have to do it! We are both caregivers for our parents who live with us. So we need tips and ideas to get fit and lose weight between our working and caregiving moments. Help!! Amy

 

Good news Amy – you and Patti are already doing a number of things that will help you reach your goal. Take a look at these 5 action items:

1. Set a realistic goal that includes mini-goals

You don’t say how the 50 pounds are split, so let’s assume 25 each. You have seven months to lose 25 pounds, which means you have to drop just under 4 pounds a month. People who have been successful at losing and keeping weight off lose no more than 1.5 – 2 pounds per week. You only need to shed 1 pound a week. Make that your mini-goal; it’s less daunting than focusing on 25 pounds.

2. Exercise

Because you have until March, you can choose low, moderate or high intensity cardio. If you are caregivers for your parents, we think you are probably past 40, which means you may have knee or hip joint issues. High intensity is the most time-saving method for burning calories, yet you may not wish to do high impact. The link to our post on losing weight via high intensity, lower impact activity includes a video. You two will also need to add some strength training (hand weights, tubes or your own body weight work great). The combination of cardio movement and resistance training will have you burning calories at a higher rate even when you’re finally sleeping at the end of your very long days! You might like to take a look at this post from a woman who wanted to lose 100 pounds. The focus is on choosing movement you enjoy.

3. Create a record

Successful “losers” write things down, especially their goals and food intake. You’ve already publicly stated your goal, so you’re halfway through this one. A fun fit fact: just the act of writing down your food intake can cause you to lose weight! How? The mind (whooooo eeeee oooo)! If you tell yourself that you’re just taking stock, not judging or eliminating, it’s easier to make an honest, complete record. And you don’t get stuck in that mental loop of wanting what you think you “can’t” have. Yet once it’s written down, you unconsciously will find yourself dropping some of the unhelpful foods out of your daily intake.

Healthy Food Good for Weight Loss4. Change your diet in increments

Again, the mind is the leader in weight loss, as well as the saboteur. You cannot go from 1 – 10 without going through 2, 3, 4… Drastic changes or denials don’t lead to success. Figure out what the increments look like. Do you switch out one soda a day for water? Do you cut one high-calorie, low nutrient food in half before eating it? Change the mental, “I can’t have this,” to “I choose to not eat this because it gets in my way.” Another fun fit fact: when you find yourself about to eat something that will not help you reach your goal, give yourself permission to eat it…in 5 minutes. In five minutes you’ll either eat it or you will have moved on to something else. But telling yourself “Yes” instead of “No” tricks your brain into losing interest. We have some other incremental tips in this post about overeating at the holidays.

Steps to Exercise By

Little Steps Lead to Big Changes. Lots of Them – Changes & Steps

5. Get time to work with, not against you

As women who work and provide care, your time is probably precious and quite limited. Maybe you can’t go to an hour-long group fitness class (our favorite), but can you go for a 3 minute walk several times a day? It doesn’t have to be outside – pacing your kitchen for 3 minutes works just as well. Do you have stairs? That is the #1 weight loss tool in your home. Add in an extra set up and down a few times daily. Pace when you’re on the phone. Fidget when you are seated. When you go to sit down, pause just before your seat hits the seat, stand back up, then sit down. That one extra squat each time you go to sit adds up to thousands of squats, which adds up to calories burned. Circle your car 3 times before you get in to drive to work. You get the idea. I, Alexandra, like to crank up the Led Zeppelin songs and dance while I sweep and iron. What works for you?

Kymberly and Alexandra Friends and Sisters

6. Bonus Tip – Team up with a friend

Boom. You have this one down, done and did!! Whether you team up in person or via text messages, having a support system is key. Schedule regular accountability check-ins with each other to stay on track.

Math Problem: Working + Caregiving = Stress. Stress can actually make you gain weight. Within the demands of your life, choose some actions that help you relax. This can be as quick and simple as clenching your fists as tightly as possible for 5 seconds, then completely relaxing your hands. You cannot physiologically be stressed and relaxed simultaneously.

Let us know what works for you and Patti as you lose, then maintain your weight. We love to share good tips and successes.

Once you reach your goal, read this post about maintaining weight loss. The steps are different, yet the mind is still in charge.

Hire us for your next meeting or conference, or to write your clever blog posts.  Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Be a winner while losing, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to access short videos that will improve your fitness level and make you happy! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

 

8

Exercise, Food, Weight Loss & Menopause (and Water for People): Notes From the IDEA Personal Trainer Institute:

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

What are some of the important upcoming fitness trends? What does the latest research indicate is the “best” way to get and stay healthy? Can someone really give you a cold or are you taking the cold from them? And what do menopause and HIIT have in common?

Kymberly at IDEA PTI West 2013At the recent IDEA Personal Trainer Institute, which Kymberly and I attended (and spoke at), we covered a variety of topics relevant to you and your fitness goals. At past fitness conventions we’ve listened to speakers who are so cutting-edge that they are called quacks…until their information turns out to be accurate and helpful.

So put on your “duck” shoes and let’s waddle through some of the information and posts we gathered from a number of presenters and colleagues. Read the linked posts so that you can be fully ahead of the rest of the gaggle (is that what they call a group of ducks?).

 

From “Boosting Your Immunity” with Teri Mosey, PhD
* For every thought you have, you release a chemical that goes to the rest of your body. What do you think happens to your body with repeated thought?
* Ninety percent of your thoughts today are the same as yesterday’s.
* We have a second brain, called the “enteric” brain.
* We have more brain cells in our stomachs than in our neo-cortex.
* Every 7-10 years we are physically a new person.
* You are the age you think your body is (I’m 39. I’m 39. I’m 39. I think I can. I think I can.)
* Most of us are too acidic and need more alkaline. Cancer cells grow in acidic space.
* Habitual coffee drinkers are more prone to osteoporosis and have become too acidic.
* You know what the Standard American Diet is – S.A.D.!
* 3-minute or poached eggs are anti-inflammatory; once the yoke is hard, it’s pro-inflammatory.
* Our emotions are not from the brain, but produced at the cellular level.

Kymberly wrote a post about falling – fears and injuries – from a full-day session she attended, which has some very helpful information.
* Thirty-three percent of older adults fall every year.
* Women break arm bones; men break their heads.
* People use the A.S.H. strategies to maintain balance (you have to click the link to know what ASH stands for)
* You need more core work.

Getting brekkie with fitness colleague Pamela Hernandez at IDEA PTI West

Getting brekkie with fitness colleague Pamela Hernandez at IDEA PTI West

Our FitFluential colleague Pamela Hernandez wrote an excellent post entitled Fit Tips from IDEA Personal Trainer Institute West about two philosophies she sees in the fitness industry – one is to stick to traditional, government-recommended standards, while the other emphasizes just getting people to move a little more. As a person who embraces technology, Hernandez welcomes its further blending with fitness. Oh, and she liked our session on social media. Twitter Shout Outs to her for that!

In the post Breaking the Barriers to Exercise, Jacquie Scarlett expounds on the need to make exercise more approachable to the average person. In one section she states, “The fitness industry is not designed to meet the needs of the sedentary population because the fitness industry’s idea of exercise is too high.”
Jacquie’s post really makes us wonder what it would take to get you to like exercise if you currently don’t.
* Is rolling a ball across the floor considered exercise?
* Do you think exercise is different than daily movement?

menopauseHayley Hollander gave a workshop on programming for peri- and post-menopausal women.
* When our hormones are out of balance, we end up with excess cortisol.
* Excess cortisol causes us to eat more (among other not fun things).
* We need to do exercise that doesn’t exacerbate the amount of cortisol in our system.
* Meaning…High Intensity Interval Training
* High Intensity does not mean High Impact, so jumping until your uterus falls out is not necessary!

On an unrelated note, while you’re not jumping (unless it’s for joy), exercise your right to help me with a water awareness campaign I’m participating in please. BLANCO America is supporting a “Water for People” campaign via Pinterest. I believe water inequality is one of the most reprehensible and avoidable human conditions in the world today. Everyone deserves access to potable, pure water. Feel free to Like my pins while you’re there. That’s the spirit!
Oh, if you view this video before May 30, BLANCO will contribute a dollar for every view to “Water for People.”
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0ogoIOCeos&feature=player_embedded[/youtube] Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please also follow us on google++Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

Have a Clicky, Fit day!

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