Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Well, it depends. Yes, it depends on your goals and priorities. All of the above comments are true — given a specific goal. So my goal with this post is to start with the outcome you might desire and offer an appropriate suggestion based on that desired result. For example, one of you might have a primary goal to lose weight, while another of you might prioritize avoiding illness. The workout for the former person would include some high intensity, interval aerobic exercise once or twice a week. The protocol for the latter would be to walk casually every other day.
So let’s hop, skip, walk, sleep, and jump from goal to goal hoping you find what you are looking for along the way. If you ever wanted to know “what’s the best fitness advice for me?” then find your goal below with the “best” tip after it. (Also check out our post on the BEST cardio exercise).
Trying to lose weight? Apparently Baby Boomers have the highest obesity rates of any age group – topping 35% in 17 states and 30% in 41 states. Freak Out Fit Fact!! If you do have a weight loss goal, try the following:
And read our post on the the best ways to burn fat. Just promise not to be sitting down while reading about fat burning!
Reducing stress is the number two top motivator for working out according to a Concorde University study (wondering what the number one motivator is? I’ll tell you at the end of the post). AARP Bulletin Jan-Feb 2014 shares that people 50-64 (uh, that’s us baby boomers again) feel more stressed out than people over 64.
How do you destress? If you are like many Americans, you turn to tv or online activities. However, people who use these methods also report not finding them helpful. Cognitive gap here readers! What is helpful for destressing? No surprise — physical activity. That’s pretty much ANY movement. How is that for good news and easy advice to follow? Do what you enjoy and you’ll be less stressed. Read our post on reducing stress and be even more mellowed out. IDEA Fitness Journal June 2014
Need to reduce your blood pressure? Try isometric exercises. Those are the kind where your muscles are under tension without changing length or joint angle. Planks and wall sits are good examples as is a chest squeeze where you press the palms of your hands together in front of your chest and hold the resistance pressing hand to hand. Envision the “namaste” position. Now hold that and stick to it for 4 weeks. Yup, you are bringing your blood pressure down! Mayo Clinic Proceedings (2014;89 , 327-34)
Let’s aim big here. Want to live longer (and better?) Then you must pump it up. Rest assured– you don’t have to go Arnie Schwarzie style. A UCLA study of men over 55 and women over 65 confirmed that more relative muscle mass leads to a longer life. And you’ll probably look and function better in that life too! My fitness pro tip for you? Start in a strength training class led by a knowledgeable instructor . You’ll get exercise ideas, form feedback, safety cues, and interaction to make the experience more enjoyable and effective. American Journal of Medicine 2014
If you want more life satisfaction, improved psychological well-being, increased flexibility, and better dynamic balance – take Pilates lessons. Mat classes brought benefits as did work on Pilates reformers and other specialized equipment. Find the Pilates training that you enjoy and reap those many benies! To increase your happiness even more, read our post on Getting Happier. IDEA Fitness Journal June 2014
Want to make better decisions and smarter choices? Engage in 15 minutes of mindful meditation prior to making your decision. You will be able to focus more effectively on information available now (vs in the past or present) and to ignore other emotions, thoughts, issues that might get in the way of your ability to think rationally and clearly. IDEA Fitness Journal June 2014
Of course, many more goals exist with endless good advice to achieve those specific goals. If we did not cover YOUR goal, put it in the comments with your question and we’ll get you the latest Fun Fit Facts and workout tips. The main message Alexandra and I hope you get from this post is that no matter what your exercise goal is, moving will help. Move Often. Move to Improve!
And since you made it all the way to this point, you get to find out the Number One Reason US adults of all ages report as their main motive for working out:
To be toned and fit. Whatever that means to you. Yup.
Readers: What motivates you to exercise?
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Are you time-pressed, overstressed, overbooked, underloved, underfed? Ok, I got a little carried away thinking of “It Never Rains in Southern California.”
Stress can take a toll on your well-being, weight, and ability to enjoy life. When we launched our VoiceAmerica.com radio show, Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers, we interviewed hormone expert, Tamara Grand on the subject of midlife weight gain. In looking at the effects of hormones, Tamara commented on the role stress plays in layering on fat. (Listen to the whole show, but the short story here is that stress triggers the release of cortisol, which slows the body’s metabolism and promotes fat storage). Oy vay, does that short story have an unhappy plot!
This connection between stress and fat levels going up together, triggered an email from one of our radio show listeners:
Good question! Add in the aspect of “easy” being tied to “busy life” and the best methods probably also mean the quickest or least time consuming. The answer is … It Depends. What might be easy for you might be hard–and perhaps even stressful– for me. For example, I find a walk in nature relaxing and stress reducing. Walking outside might be anathema to you. You know I have to mention that even a 5 minute walk outdoors helps release tension.
In researching meditation benefits for our post on its stress reducing aspects we discovered that meditating as short as three minutes make a positive difference.
Taking deep, refreshing breaths is another strategy that is easy, free, and quick.
First, let’s distinguish between chronic and acute stress. And done! Yup, go to our post “Is Stress Making You Fat?” to catch up on what chronic stress can do to you and what you can do it! I feel better already knowing my work on that subject is already written. Whew!
Next, let’s consider more strategies that are easy, effective, and quick. For instance, laughing is a great way to bring cortisol levels down. Oh sha bam – again dropping my stress levels by having you link to this article from WebMD that offers 10 relaxation techniques you can all try. Why work harder than I have to?
What’s left? Ah yes, please also read our post about how stress is a stealth saboteur of your good health. Again, I feel pressure being lifted from my well-toned shoulders being able to refer you to work already finished. Aaaaahhh
However, I am compelled to do a little heavy lifting here. Of all the strategies I encounter, support, and even propose why not go straight to the problem? What is causing the chronic stress in the first place? Would it ultimately be easier, or at least more successful to address the source? For example, if finances are the cause of the stress, then is it time to change either income or expenses? The change might be challenging at first, but easier long term if the problem is solved. Meantime, I plan to use the easy, free, readily available stress reducing strategy of LAUGHING and BREATHING, preferably while WORKING OUT! Hmmm, that means it’s time to call my witty, walking sister.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Your heart is the fastest responding muscle in your body. When you work out cardiovascularly (heart rate increases, you breathe heavily, and your whole body is involved in the movement), the heart adapts upwards within 24 hours. Aaaaand, if you dodge exercise more than you dodge taxes, then your heart adapts down, down, down.
Do you want your midlife body to stay as vital, youthful, and cooperative as long as possible? As Dr Michael Roizen MD, co-founder of RealAge and chair of its Scientific Advisory Board puts it: “Physical activity decreases the greatest causes of arterial aging, including stress, the greatest ager of all.” Good news: you can combine strategies to achieve the youngest, most stress proof, physiological body possible. No heart stopping shocks coming, but the secret to a Strong, Age Defying Hearty Har Har is ……….
… to exercise and eat well. Did you see that coming? But what does “eat well” for heart health mean in practical terms, especially for baby boomer women? We wondered ourselves so checked in with Registered Dietitian and celebrity, best-selling author Frances Largeman-Roth. Based on her input, we offer you the following juicy tips:
1. Vitamin C is a heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory nutrient that helps repair and produce body tissues. Add oranges or grapefruit to your snack routine to get your daily dose. Other vitamin C-rich foods include strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, papayas, mangoes, kiwi and bell peppers. Basically, eat fruity stuff aka “fruit.”
2. Limit high-calorie, sugary drinks such as soft drinks, and sweetened iced tea and coffee drinks. Instead, drink lots of water – at least 2 liters per day. Water, water everywhere. Alcohol isn’t so great for you either. Yes, we know about the studies that tout the benefits of red wine, and Mayo Clinic simply says that it MIGHT be healthy in MODERATION. They theorize that flavonoids or resveratrol may be the beneficial substances. More to come on our radio show about those flavonoids.
3. Support your circulation. Add a guaranteed source of cocoa flavanols, like CocoaVia® cocoa extract supplement, to your breakfast every morning. Once we learned about flavonoids, we jumped at the chance to try cocoa extract powder supplements when we met CocoaVia at a fitness convention a few years ago, because they are …. flavanols..in cocoa form. What’s not to like about cocoa that’s clinically proven to help maintain healthy circulation?
4. Fight inflammation. Eat foods that contain high amounts of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that fights inflammation and may help reduce the risk of heart disease. You can find it in blueberries, blackberries, plums, cherries, Mission figs and eggplant. (note from Alexandra: Figs – ewwww)
5. Instead of cooking spray or butter, use olive oil. Olive oil is a great heart-healthy ingredient; the Mediterranean diet has long been linked to heart health and longevity. Try drizzling extra virgin olive oil on top of pasta and using it as a salad dressing or as a substitute for butter on bread.
Frances Largeman-Roth recently partnered with CocoaVia® to help spread awareness on maintaining good heart and circulatory health, and we’ll be sharing more of her tips on air. when we interview her live. Yes, in the world of
Yawn, Who Cares Exciting News, we proudly announce our own partnership with CocoaVia® for our revamped, bigger (cue the cannons and confetti) radio show on VoiceAmerica that begins March 19, where we and our guests will share weekly amazing info about active, healthy aging. For more information visit www.cocoavia.com/. Then do 10 push-ups.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
When it comes to weight gain and fat accumulation, chronic stress is the problem. In short, chronic stress triggers a cascade of hormonal reactions that tell your body to store fat, create more fat, and swell up. Yes, long term stress increases both number and size of fat cells. As fat cells increase in size, they increase chronic inflammation, which triggers more hormonal reactions, all leading to more fat. Aaaaarrrggggh!
Getting caught in this cycle can be very … well, um … stressful! Keep reading and take a relaxing breath as we look at ways to decrease fat that stress may have added to your “friend’s” figure.
Recently Alexandra and I attended and spoke at the IDEA Personal Training Institute. One of the many stellar sessions we attended was Professor Len Kravitz’s talk “Stress, Obesity, and Cortisol.” He offered key insights on stress and fat collecting — the collection we don’t want to inherit, pay too much for, nor store for posterity (in posteriors).
We really don’t gain a lot of weight over the holidays. The average is about one pound … per holiday season, so pack light for the upcoming 4th of July!
As Dr. Kravitz stated, “Learning to lose weight is a skill, just like learning to ride a bike.” He recommends that we use the same strategies as proven, successful weight losers. Referring to the work of Dr. James Hill, who founded the National Weight Loss Registry, Dr. Kravitz highlights the actions in common of those who lose fat (and keep it off):
Got all that? You now have THE ULTIMATE list of what it takes to lose fat. So relax. And exercise. Then relax some more.
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A good laugh also reduces stress. So check out this interview of Kymberly from BiteSizeWellness. Spread the Wellness with us!