Tag Archive

Tag Archives for " exercise advice "

Oblique Ab Crunches: How to Do Them Properly

Tape measure on abs

One of our most popular post categories is Abs, especially workouts that show how to do them with good form. You want to avoid pain (and sweat), plus you want to get the most bang for your exercise buck (these posts are free), and the least waist for your workout. We are here to help you with the “muffin top / love handles” dilemma.

Our quick video tutorial gives you helpful specifics on how to perform oblique (side) abdominal crunches correctly. And as a bonus, we also show how NOT to do them.

Good news – you don’t have to learn technical terms. But just in case you’re wondering why we say “obliques” instead of “waist” or “that area that encircles your spine that used to be oh-so-tiny way back in high school,” we’ve got some quick Ed-U-Cay-Shun-al info about the technical terms.

Internal & External ObliquesYour external obliques run diagonally, forming a V in front. Imagine you’re putting your hands into a vest or front coat pocket. Feel those rock hard muscles? Yeah, me neither. But I do know that my obliques are there somewhere.

Your internal obliques run at right angles to your external obliques and form an inverted V. Put your hands on your hips with your thumbs in front and fingers behind, pointing down as if putting your hands into back pockets.
Diagonal Reverse Abs
For those of you who like the nitty-gritty, oblique-y details, here’s an excellent definition by our colleague Dr. Len Kravitz, who teaches at the University of New Mexico and is way smart!

Now you know the official terms for “I want my waist to be fit and trim, but don’t want to copy any of those lame exercises I see people do in the gym that are destined to hurt their back or neck.” More importantly, you can now confidently add oblique crunches to your exercise routine. Score!!

Not yet a subscriber? Sign up by entering your email (to the right in the sidebar ———–> and you’ll receive our handy-dandy posts two times per week. Which is probably how often you do ab workouts, am I right?

Photo credits: CreativeCommons. org

by Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


Strength Training: How Often Should I Vary My Workout?

Dear K and A: I keep hearing I should change up my weight lifting routine to avoid muscle memory, especially once past menopause. How often should I change my strength workout and to what degree? Do I vary the repetitions?  The weight amount? Or do I choose  completely different exercises? Gina, Texas

Dumbbell, one free weight

Keep Your Mind Clear, Body Confused

Kymberly: Dear Gina: As you are doin’ the Tighten Up in Texas, keep in mind this pithy and wise quote I made up myself: “Keep the mind clear and the body confused.” Always know what, why, and how you are performing your resistance exercises.  That’s keeping the mind clear.

And change up those resistance training exercises every so often. That’s where the body confusion comes in. Be careful not to mix up the two and wonder what the heck you are doing and why, but gosh, you sure have done it for a long time. That’s akin to saying “gee the food was bad, but at least they had big portions!”

Distinguish Muscle Adaptation and Progression vs Muscle Memory

Anyway, we are really talking adaptation and progression here, not muscle memory. You want muscle memory, which allows you to achieve good form and coordination. And you want to constantly push yourself to progress. Once you adapt to a move,  it’s time to vary the exercise in one of many ways.

pic of TRX plank tuck

Alexandra tries different equipment. Tries.

Alexandra: I want some muscle memory. I want to remember what, why and where my muscles are! I had them just a minute ago. I think they got lost behind my Buns of Cinna! Geez, at this point I have a Samwise and pithy quote that I made up, and it’s better than Kymberly’s. It is this “Frodo, Frodo, it’s me – Sam. You have Muscle Alzheimer’s.” I too want to adapt and progress, but I call it something different. I call it “I let my boys make it through their teen years by reminding myself it would soon be over, and I would again find harmony and joy in their company.” Adapt? Yup. Progress? They’re alive aren’t they? So some days I lift my car keys and purse 15 times as I contemplate running away for 3 years. Other days I lift my car just once, and contemplate hurling it, and myself, over a cliff. Light weights one day, heavy the next.

Change Up Your Strength Training Program

Push ups can be done anywhere

Change the angle of your exercise to push progress. Pushy push-ups!

K: Ummm, so where were we? Basically, adaptation can occur anytime between 1 and 12 weeks– for each new move. Unless you are Alexandra, then it’s a lifelong process. For you, Ginaroo, I would change up about 20-30 percent  of my workout every few weeks. Don’t completely throw out one routine for another all at once. Morph your routine with one, two, or three new approaches each week without getting caught up in exact formulas. If you no longer see or feel progress with a given exercise, change something about it.  If you feel stale with a move, throw out the old Cinnabuns. Couldn’t resist.

What Elements Do You Change When Weight Training?

As for what element to change, that is the fabulosity (made up that word too and proud of it!) of resistance training. You can select to change any number of elements to keep your body adapting upwards and program fresh:

  • Number of repetitions
  • Resistance, load, or intensity
  •  Equipment or modality (a fancy term I did not make up that generally means “type”) such as free weights or tubing instead of a machine for any given exercise.
  • Range of motion
  • Organizing principle or order of your routine: from large to small muscles instead of small to large, or from head to toe vs toe to head; alternate front and back or upper and lower; or sitting to standing exercises.
  • Pace of each exercise: instead of four counts up and four counts down on a lunge for instance, do two counts down and six counts up;
  • The exercise itself; trade out one with a similar goal or focus: chest press instead of push-up;
  • Add a balance or instability factor: stand on discs or a BOSU instead of the ground; have a narrow instead of wide stance.
  • Change the stabilizing muscles: sit on a ball for tricep extensions instead of standing.
  • Substitute an isometric for an isotonic exercise (Isotonic = a move that moves with the muscles under tension. Your muscles lengthen and shorten with contraction. Isometric = a move that holds also with the muscles under tension though you are not shortening and lengthening them. A plank is an example of an isometric exercise; a reverse curl up is isotonic).

So many ways to vary: the exercise itself, the equipment, the speed, the balance factor, the resistance factor, the range of motion, the order of your routine. Get happy and choose what appeals to you.

A: Forget your troubles, come on get happy, gonna chase all your weight away. Said Hallelujah, come on get happy, get ready for the push-ups day! What appeals to me has nothing to do with working out. It involves curly dark hair and manly t-shirt smell. Really, I just go to the gym and work out so I can sniff the hotties. Oh, and I’m paid.

Total Gym workout side lunges

Who likes side lunges?

K: And whoever said to change your routine to avoid muscle memory, needs to read our blog in a big way. You change your routine to avoid lack of progress from overadaptation. Force the body to adapt upwards. Just as I have had to adapt to having a twin who lifts car keys for a workout. As you can tell by the fine quality of my advice, I do all the heavy lifting for her.

Take Action Today to get stronger! Looking to improve your strength and lose weight with exercises that are specifically designed for women over 50? Check out our other posts on weight training, strength, and busting muscle building myths.  We double dare you to click those links to see how you can get MORE fit and fab!

You will then be so strong you will want to subscribe to our blog to get active aging answers twice a week. Subscribe now in the box above or to the right.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

How to Fit in Exercise When You Don’t Have Time to Exercise

Over the years we’ve heard from many women about the difficulty they have finding time to exercise. Usually we get questions sent to our site asking a variation of “I know I need to exercise, but I don’t have time. What do you suggest?”

Surfers at Sunset in Santa BarbaraIn some ways the answer seems simple; we just should tell these women to make time, right? Of course, you and I both know the answer isn’t that simple, partly because the question isn’t that simple.

alleyway in black and white in Santa BarbaraWhat do I mean by that? In truth, the question isn’t necessarily a plea for solutions (though we have many solutions; some are listed below and some are linked to in this post and through the pictures). Before giving some answers about substituting A (Inactivity) for B (Activity) in ways that don’t add time demands to your day, let’s take a look at some of the actual meanings behind the question:

Tree roots from Moreton Bay FigI know I need to exercise, but I don’t want to, so I’ve made my day super busy so I can feel less guilty about not exercising.

I’m hoping you’ll tell me I’m okay, and that I don’t need to exercise.

Other people think I should exercise, but I don’t really agree, so I’m kicking this can down the road.

I actually hate to exercise, so please say you have an easy, “magic pill” solution that doesn’t involve sweating, exertion or a change of clothes.

close-up of mushroomAnd certainly, some want our expert input so they can make healthy changes to their routine.

red tiled bench in Santa BarbaraHere’s how you can discern whether you’re truly invested in finding a solution – after reading our suggestions, see if you’ve implemented any of them over the next two weeks. If so, you truly wish to make some changes. If not, you may be more comfortable choosing guilt, procrastination or plain old avoidance. As a person who is the full-time caretaker for two people, I can definitely say that there are times when it’s truly impossible to get in some “me” exercise time. And… as a person who’s a full-time caretaker for two people, I can also say that being too busy for exercise every single day for weeks, months or years is a choice.

Boat masts in Santa Barbara HarborWith that in mind, the following tips will be helpful to any of you who are ready to fit in exercise:

  • Every time you go to sit down, lower your butt just until it touches the chair, stand back up, then sit down. You’d be surprised at how many squats that adds up to
  • When waiting for someone at an appointment (I chauffeur two people around town nearly every day), go for a walk instead of sitting in the lobby. If you need to be present at the appointment, stand up and pace or do step-touches in the waiting room. No reason to sit still while you wait.
  • Arrange your kitchen so that you have to squat down low and reach up high to get everyday items.
  • When you are making phone calls (I make about 3,962 a day; all of them involving some sort of Hold Hell), pace around the room or do some strength training while you’re on hold (just remember to put the speakerphone on). Instead of sitting on hold, you can work out on hold.
  • Do you eat lunch? At your desk? In a chair? Watching TV? In a box with a fox? Why do you do that? Take your lunch with you and go for a walk. And if the weather’s crappy, walk indoors – the office, your dusty treadmill or even the local mega-mall.
  • No time to lie down on a mat and do some abs work? No problem. You can do standing core work. If you walk on the beach, and stand on one leg while taking off a shoe to dump sand out of it, you are doing standing core and balance work. Even without sand, you probably wear shoes every day, right? Try putting them on and taking them off while standing, without holding on to the table or counter.

tiled bench in Santa Barbara County CourthouseRecently I’ve posted quite a few pictures and scopes (videos on an app called Periscope – please follow me at @AlexandraFunFit), and gotten lots of comments about how I must be on a permanent vacation because I’m always out and about, walking around. No. I’m just finding a solution that works for me while I wait around for the people I drive. Walking and taking pictures and doing my scopes keeps me fit, not just physically, but also mentally. My stress level is under control for two reasons: 1 – I am outdoors walking, which means I am exercising AND getting the benefits of nature; and 2 – I made a conscious choice to do something that takes my mind off the many hours I am required to drive and wait and drive and wait and drive and wait. That choice gives me a feeling of control.

Santa Barbara MissionWhat tips would you add to the short list above?Ent in tree

P.S. Do you see the Ent holding up the tree and raising his arms and face to the sky in this picture? Look again.

by Alexandra Williams, MA (don’t forget to follow me on Periscope for my travel and fitness videos)


Time to Exercise Some Tough Love: Guest Post from Debbie Woodruff

Debbie Woodruff in Team Eleven topOur friend and colleague, Debbie is a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, fitness club director, running coach, and repeat dog rescuer, who blogs over at Coach Debbie Runs. She isn’t quite as tough as this post makes her sound. She has been working with a mature population for many years and understands how to lure exercise haters into a healthier lifestyle. She hopes you will check out her blog for inspiration, training programs, and tips on living a plant based, active lifestyle.

Is it tough love time?

By Debbie Woodruff

I didn’t become a personal trainer for the huge amount of money I could make. Nor for the glory and fame that I could achieve. Nope, I became a personal trainer because I believe in health and fitness. Our lives are much better when we exercise.

Which is good because there hasn’t been a much fame, glory, or money involved. But I do know I’ve made a difference in a few lives, so that’s a pretty good trade-off.

However, I have grown pretty tired of hearing one comment, not just from clients, but from non-exercisers in general. Various people who come to the gym, friends of clients, even other bloggers will walk in, look disdainfully around at the equipment, the members sweating, the trainers training, and say, “I hate to exercise.”Debbie Woodruff ready to run Debbie Woodruff ready to run

As a trainer, I used to consider this a challenge. I envisioned working with these people, creating a program for them, finding something that they do enjoy, and they would become lifelong exercisers. Happy ending! Barring that, I could at least make them like me enough to enjoy the time we spent together training.

The problem with the former plan is that it rarely happens. Exercise haters stick to a program for a while, whine and complain a lot, begin to find excuses, then disappear from the face of the gym forever. Or at least until it is time for next year’s new year’s resolutions.

The latter solution isn’t perfect either. A large segment of the population can’t or won’t hire a personal trainer, so I’m missing a large part of the target audience. While I do have a few clients who train with me because they enjoy my company, they would rather chat than work out. And they are terrible at adhering to the other parts of an exercise program normally done on one’s own, like cardio, proper nutrition, and lifestyle changes.

I’m tired of sugarcoating exercise, of trying to make everyone happy, of spending my valuable time convincing exercise haters to enjoy doing something that will make them live longer, feel better, play stronger, and generally have a better life. So, to that end my new mantra is…

Suck it Up, Buttercup

head shot DebbieWhoever said that everything that you do in life had to be fun? We, all of us, do many things daily that we don’t really enjoy. Do you like brushing your teeth? Cleaning the litter box? Washing the dishes? Vacuuming? Do you do it? Yes, because not to do it would leave you in a very dirty place.

Even if you enjoy your job, you don’t always like it. But you do it because, you know, you need to eat. You clean your house, mow your lawn, help your kid with homework you may not understand yourself. Fun? Not really.

You do all of these things because you have to, need to, are compelled to, whatever. For the most part, you don’t do them because you like them. You may even hate them.

If you spend a half hour three days a week weight training, or some other form of strength building exercise, and take a little time for a walk most days of the week, you can receive benefits way beyond having a clean litter box. You can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. You can reduce your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. You can reduce the pain of many joint diseases, improve your posture and balance, and general overall health. You will feel better. You will look better.

All of this for only two or three hours a week. Many people spend that much time a night watching television.

So suck it up, buttercup. Just get out there and exercise. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like it. You need it. It’s important. There are many resources available if you are new to exercise and need a little help getting started. You can contact me if you have question, either in the comments below, here on Kymberly and Alexandra’s Fun and Fit blog. Or run over to my contact page.Debbie W does prank Push

Who knows. You might even begin to like working out. A little.

Readers: Is there an exercise mode you HATE? Which do you love (or at least tolerate?) We hope Debbie’s post has inspired you to get moving. You can start by subscribing to our site or by checking out Debbie’s. Toodle oo for now!


How Do You Relax?

Do you think relaxing is part of a healthy, active life? For some, relaxing is the opposite of activity. For others, it’s congruent with it. Maybe it just depends on how you define “relax.”

rocks at Hendry's in Santa BarbaraI know many people who love to practice yoga, as they find it to be a calming, centering activity that relaxes their mind AND body. I’m not one of those people. When I try to do yoga, my mind just wanders and I notice all the parts of my body that hurt. So yoga is definitely NOT relaxing for me.

house dwarfed by lilac treeFor others, reading is a release and escape. For most of my life, I was the same, as I’ve loved to read ever since I was three. But now I just feel guilty if I read anything except professional research or nonfiction, as I have so many things I HAVE to read before I can pull out something I enjoy (or so my massive guilt hormone would have me believe).

two cormorants, entwinedJust as many people like to combine their foods, I like to combine my activities. That seems to quiet the guilt hormone beast that lurks somewhere behind my sweaty-mascara right eye. So I combine action with relaxation by walking. And baking. And taking pictures. But not of my baking because my photo skills aren’t yet good enough to make me feel warm and self-satisfied inside. Only a piece of homemade sourdough bread can do that.

art on building in Los AngelesAlmost every day I walk. With the dog. Or alone. With my camera. Whether it’s a short 20-minute visit to our nearby meadow, or a 6-mile hike with a friend once a month, I always come back from my walks in a composed, steady state. I like ticking off the benefits:

dog jumping off rock at beach* reduced stress
* completed most of my 10K daily steps
* created a happy dog
* focused mind
* shot some great (I have self-confidence) photos
* communed with nature (though I have strong opinions about bugs touching me)
* escaped (temporarily) the demands on me
* maintained my weight and fitness levels

waves hitting old pier
bridge at Bacara Resort
fallen logs on the beach cliffsWhat about you? Do you find it relaxing to combine activities? Are you able to appreciate yoga or meditation? Do you feel guilty about taking time to relax? And what do you do to relax? Do tell. I might add your idea to my list.

funny comic about relaxing

Found on Facebook. Artist’s name is on the comic.

by Alexandra Williams, MA


How Do I Go from “Stuck” to “Start” with My Fitness Plan

Boomers on the Loose graphic

Be Loose, Not Stuck!

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

From Nothing to Something; From Some to Some More

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

Old Fashioned Whoop Ass

Need a kick in the keester to get unstuck?

Say So Long Suckahs to Sedentary Stuckness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fly My Pretties, Fly!

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

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

Sales image for TransformAging

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


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


Too Tired To Start Exercising?

Hi Alexandra and Kymberly: I am frequently exhausted and ache. I don’t know where to start to build in a sane way. Weights, (brief) high intensity intervals, gentle cardiovascular like walking? Just getting through a work day wears me out and I usually need to nap after exercise. Anne from Olympia, WA

Dear Anne: We can say you are sane enough already to ask a great and common question. Actually you managed a three-in-one special deal as you actually have three separate issues:

  1. Why might you be too tired to exercise in the first place?
  2. Why is exercise making you more fatigued?
  3. What entry point exercises are good to build from?

And because we like package bonus deals, you get a four part answer to make you happy and zippy!

First, Consider What is Exhausting You

Problem: Are you dehydrated? Solution: Drink more water

Being underwatered will suck you dry! Even slight dehydration—as little as 2% of normal fluid loss—will reduce your energy levels. Dehydration reduces blood volume, thickening your blood. Then your heart pumps less efficiently, reducing the speed at which oxygen and nutrients reach your muscles and organs, thereby draining your energy.

Problem: Are you anemic? Solution: Get your blood tested

Anemia would cause your stated symptoms. Find out if you’re getting enough iron or losing more than you’re replacing.

Problem: Are you choosing energy-sapping foods? Solution: Check your eating habitsAlexandra drinking wine

Alexandra drinking wine

Wine, dine, and nap

Too much sugar? Not eating regular meals or skipping breakfast? Drinking wine late at night or starting the day with simple carbs? Powering through your day by relying on caffeine? Any of these habits will result in overall fatigue.

Next, Motivate Yourself Past Pre-Exercise Fatigue

Your work day is done and so are you! We totally get how tempting a nap sounds after a long, perhaps stressful work day. And maybe what you need is simply to sleep more or to revel in naps, guilt free. Most North American adults undersleep. But you asked about moving, and we are all about activity.

In fact, we bet you already know the counterintuitive reality that exercise increases energy. Studies indicate that as little as three bouts of cardio activity a week for 20 minutes per session boosts energy in as few as six weeks. Once you get past those first few weeks of starting to move more, you will enter that energizer bunny zone where exercise pumps you up rather than drags you down.

Sign to Happy Room

Which activity puts you into your Happy Room?

To get yourself doing something, the key is to commit to anything, not everything. What is the least you can do given your current exhaustion and ache levels? Determine what is achievable and head for the minimum. We really mean it. Take the mental pressure off yourself and head for the LEAST, not MOST you are willing to start with.

Rather than plunging into high intensity interval training or facing overload weight training, find something you enjoy and that comes easily to you. A resistance training fitness class where you are encouraged to go at your pace. A walk, brisk stroll, or march in place. A yoga, Pilates, stretch, or other mind/body class that combines movement with visualization, relaxation, or quiet time at the end. What about lunges during tv commercials or a few ab exercises before dinner? Just 5 minutes on an indoor bicycle?  Steps at home you can go up and down a few times. Water time if you have access to a pool or natural body of water- swimming, pool class, water jogging.

If you still find yourself needing a push to take the fork in the road towards activity, not lethargy, get a dog that likes walks. We might say “later” and “no” to ourselves, but who can deny a pet pooch whose daily walk is the day’s highlight? Wag wag, perky ears and out you go!Dog walk at More Mesa

Third, Reduce Being Worn Out Post Work Out

If exercise is wearing you out, most likely you need to drop the intensity of your workout. Another possibility is you are choosing stressful moves. Stress will wear you out even if the activity is low intensity.

  • Have you chosen activities you don’t enjoy?
  • Are you setting overly high expectations and demands on yourself?
  • Are you a perfectionist?

And of course, we have to interject that your post-exercise nap might be the best thing for you. But if you feel movement is wearing you down, then reduce the intensity or duration. You are either going too hard or too long at this phase of your re-entry program.

Which Bring Us to — Choose Moderate Moves

Try our Whole Body, No Equipment Needed, Easy as 3-2-1 Routine

K planking in ThailandBefore this post gets too long and tiresome (aha hah ha) let’s go with a simple, straightforward, “gee, we really don’t know your goals, limitations, time available” starting point program. If nothing else, do the following three moves that will address all major muscles of your body. Easy to perform; multi-joint so you get a lot of bang for your buck; and needing no equipment.

  1. Lunges or squats for the lower body
  2. Push ups on the wall, counter, knees, or toes for the upper body
  3. K planking in ThailandPlanks or reverse curls for the core

When you’re done, walk for 5 minutes.

You will feel so energized you’ll want more. Find that “more” in these posts that also answer your questions:

Tips to Get Your Butt to the Gym

I Want to Get Fit, but How Do I Start?

And of course, we have to mention our recent TransformAging Summit webinar session, “(Re)Starting Fitness Over 50,” which is sponsored by Rancho la Puerta Wellness Resort, a perfect place to ease into exercise. ,  For sale along with the other 5 presentations. Slides included. $34Sales image for TransformAging


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

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

More Mesa walk

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

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

Let’s help you point by point:

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

cover page for sarcopenia article

Sarcopenia – Fancy word for “muscle wasting”

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

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

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

by Alexandra Williams, MA



If Calories and Exercise Don’t Control Your Weight, What Does?

Swig From This Fountain of Truth

As children, we learned about Ponce de León and the mythical Fountain of Youth. But did you know it actually exists? Not in a creepy, Dorian Gray way either. Every town, every home, and every person has access to the fountain; it’s just known under a different name now. The Fountain of Youth’s true name is …

Boomer Woman On Lake


Ah, ah, ah, don’t get discouraged by that word. You probably thought “easy” when you read “fountain of youth,” and “hard” when you read “exercise.” But what if the path to exercise was much easier than you thought? What if moving and eating better and more appropriately for our midlife years were as easy as the not-so-helpful habits you currently have?Connie (or Coco) stretching at Rancho la Puerta

Our TransformAging Webinar Summit is ready to go, and you’re invited to join our 8 experts for this 6-video series that will get you slapping your forehead and saying, “Gee, I could’ve had a V8 restarted my fitness years ago if I’d realized it wouldn’t be so overwhelming.”

Tips from TransformAging to Transform You

Look below for a few hot tips in the ol’ town tonight that come from the various TransformAging sessions. You’ll get solutions and antidotes for all the Fit Facts below. But first, a few quiz questions to whet your Fountain of Youthiness thirst and appetite:

  1. At what age does muscle mass peak? The answer may surprise you.
  2. Do you have a “Stay Fat” or “Stay As You Are” strategy that keeps you stuck?
  3. And as the title of this post asks, “if calories and exercise are not controlling your weight, what is?” huh? huh? Gotta attend the webinar to find out. Or google it. Be that way!
  4. What is the actual cost of free radicals? Yes, they affect you, inside and out.
  5. If you want youthful skin, you have 9 actions under your control. How many of those 9 things are you doing, if any?
  6. Are you better off doing seated or standing exercises as you get older?
  7. Which gender averages more years (almost 9) spent in illness, especially in our older years?

Older, active woman on a swing

Choose One Action: Register or Regret

If you don’t want to be that person spending the last 8 to 9 years of your life ill and in pain, then register for this TransformAging Summit. (If you don’t want to be the caretaker for that person then our webinar series is for you and your loved one).  The sooner you take the steps to age actively, the better your upcoming years will be.

So step up to some more of those Fit Facts from the Summit, we say!

  • If you’re not losing fat, you’re losing muscle
  • Cardio makes you smaller, while resistance training training reshapes you
  • Did you know that each chronic condition you have reduces life expectancy by 1.8 years!?
  • We become more sensitive to carbs as we age, so need to decrease sugar and starch
  • Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger cues
  • Sleep resets hunger hormones, and decreases cortisol levels
  • As we age, we are eating too much, even though we may be eating less than in our younger years
  • Your plan for success needs to be at least as detailed as your plan for failure
  • You have a reason for NOT making change


In case you didn’t have a chance to read our post giving all the info about the TransformAging Webinar, we’ll list the six video titles again so you can see just how tremendous this FREE (on 6/03 & 6/04) summit is:

  1. (Re)Starting Fitness After 50 (This one’s ours)
  2. Resistance Training: Your After-50 Easy Weight Management Program (Debra Atkinson MS)
  3. Midlife Weight Gain, Hormones, and Menopot: Strategies for Staying Slim Without Losing Your Sanity (Tamara Grand PhD)
  4. Supplementation and Skincare to Transform Aging Inside & Out: What’s Really Needed? (Mo Hagan BSc PT)
  5. Age Be Damned: 7 Dimensions of Active Aging (Colin Milner)
  6. Never Grow Old! Strategies for Making the NEXT 50 years BETTER than the first! (Dan Ritchie, Phd and Cody Sipe Phd)

Register Right Here – It Costs you $000000 (that’s zero multiplied) for the live broadcast this Wednesday and Thursday at 2:30 pm PDT. And don’t worry – if you cannot watch all six at their original broadcast times, you can get them later for a teeny, tiny payment that’s lower than you’d pay for just one of the workouts Debra Atkinson provides in her session. And put all the money you just saved into the vacation kitty for your future dream trip to Rancho la Puerta spa, a health and wellness retreat just east of San Diego. The Perfect Place for People who want to age actively!

Thank you Rancho la Puerta for sponsoring our TransformAging Summit! You sure know how to make a person feel good!Rancho la puertaNow go register. Listen at your leisure.

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA