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Tag Archives for " Exercise "
12

Walk to Lose Weight, Gain Fitness and Happiness

Kymberly at Lake Los Carneros walking Walk to lose weightFree and Easy (and I’m not Describing My Sister)

Looking for an easy, no cost, comfortable way to add more activity into your day? Walk — outdoors, at a local mall, indoors on cardio equipment, down the hall from your office — anywhere you can get in some steps. Why? Many baby boomers walk to lose weight. Yet other compelling reasons beckon us to a walking workout. In fact, walking is the number one preferred form of physical activity among adults of all ages.

Why Walk?

It’s easy to get started. No special skills or equipment are required, though we do suggest good walking shoes, especially for women over 50. Anyone else notice more feet issues with each passing mile? Also, walking can stave off many diseases, especially depression just by strolling or striding out.  You can be social (walking with friends or family) or contemplative (when walking alone). The risk of injury is low low low so go go go. We also mentioned “FREE,” right?

What is the #1 preferred physical activity of US adults? Click To Tweet

Benefits of Walking

Walking as exercise, power walking, dog walking, even moseying can all help you to:

  • live longer
  • have a healthier heart
  • lose weight
  • uplift your mood
  • enhance your mental acuity
  • enjoy more time with friends, pets, family (not necessarily in that order. But could be….)
Can you name at least 4 benefits of walking? Take 10k steps and get back to us! Click To Tweet

Walking for Weight Loss

The rumors are true that you can lose weight with a consistent, well planned walking program. Take a look at our post “Can Walking Really Get You Fit?” which answers the question “how can you lose weight by walking?” You’ll gets super clear specifics that will help you determine your pace and duration depending on your goals.

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

Also watch our short video on ways to amp up your walking. You’ll get some surprising tips, progression methods, and pretty scenery (plus a peek at the world’s cutest dog EVER in the universe for all entirety. Feel free to totally agree or leave a comment below).

Become an even MORE proficient walker when you consider these 7 Steps to Walk Better. Read this companion piece if you want to discover more about yourself.

Great Gait! Seven Steps to Walk Better

What if  you don’t walk to lose weight? What if you simply want to age actively, move comfortably, travel and explore the world by improving your walking abilities? Perfect!

Age Actively via Walking

Did you know that people who enjoy life have faster walking speeds than their more pessimistic counterparts? Or that walking can be as effective as running? Good thing, as my knees put a moratorium on me running, but I walk every day. (Thanks to my motivators, Kila and Sydney. Barkalicious).

A Walk is as Good as a Run

 

 

For a few motivating Fun Fit Facts about walking, take a look at our post Sneak in Stats When Walking Briskly for Calorie Burn.

If all this walking for exercise gets you sore, find out how to minimize muscle aches in our post on preventing calf soreness after walking, especially uphill.

How Do I Prevent Calf Soreness After Walking Hills?

walk for weight loss Alexandra PrecorIf you are wondering about the best and most effective technique for getting started on cardio equipment, take a look at our post and video on the Right and Wrong Ways to Work Out on Treadmills and Stairclimbers.

Kymberly walks tall at Rancho la Puerta

Can you spot my pedometer? Closer, closer.

Lastly, are you among the many who consider strapping on light wrist or ankle weights when you head out for a power walk? Then FOR SURE find out about the pros and cons here: Use Weights While Walking: Yes or No?

Small steps lead to big changes! Even a 5 minute walk triggers a bunch of benefits. That’s partly why we’ve written so many posts on this subject. So open up your front door and get your groove on as you move on!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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9

Overcoming Obstacles: Time for Knee Replacement Surgery

When I was approached by Socialstars about working on a sponsored post with Advil on the topic of overcoming obstacles and pain, I immediately signed on, knowing the reconstructive knee surgery I’d had in 1998 (thanks to a soccer game) had finally failed, and that it was time for knee replacement surgery.

In the 18 years since my original surgery, I’ve continued to teach group fitness classes, go on long (and short) hikes, and generally stick with my fairly active lifestyle, even with follow-up surgeries over the years.
one-legged plank on the StepHowever, the reconstruction that was supposed to last ten years (it’s been 18) has finally failed and I will have gone in for replacement surgery by the time you read this. I should probably even be back home recuperating at this very moment.

I remember my recuperation from ‘98, which is another way of saying “physical therapy.” I had a lot of PT, and it hurt. Sometimes the therapy exercises hurt so much that tears would spontaneously “spring” from my eyes. I wasn’t sad; it was involuntary. I know many people don’t do all of their at-home PT because it hurts, which makes total sense. Who wants to self-inflict pain? However, it’s my knee, and no-one else’s, and I want it back in working order as quickly as possible.

advil for headaches

Look ma, no headaches. My mind is completely in balance as I visualize my new knee.

I know what I’m headed for as I teach my body to accept its bionic new joint. It’s going to hurt a lot. That’s just the way it is. But only in the short run. Then I’ll be done with recurring pain, arthritis, stiffness, and compensatory issues in my left IT band. I’ll be done with limping and having a permanently bent knee. Maybe I’ll even be able to kneel on my right knee again too, instead of shifting all my weight to the left.

After my reconstruction surgery in 1998, I stayed with my sister for a week or two. I diligently did my therapy exercises and tried to participate in day-to-day stuff as well. Heck, she even rented a wheelchair and took me along with her on a 5K walk to raise money to help find a cure for MS. Ask her to tell the story of trying to tip me over into the sidewalk plants along Santa Barbara’s State Street. “Accidentally.”

Years later, she had to have some knee surgery and therapy too. After hers, she told me that she had thought I was overdramatizing the amount of knee pain I was in during the time I recuperated at her house, but after having her own surgery realized I was seriously downplaying how much it hurt. Glad she didn’t share her opinion at the the time or I might have clocked her with my crutch.

Running on the Lancaster Mennonite High Regupol track
With this surgery being even more extensive than the original one, I already know it will hurt to get back to normal. But if I let that deter me, I won’t get to my goal – teaching a full load of classes in the Fall quarter, rejoining my dance team, and walking the dog.

I’m not one to reach for meds (over-the-counter or prescription) as a first resort, but I’ve also learned that they exist for a reason. I know that I’ll have to use the pain meds the surgeon prescribes, at least for a few days. I also know I’ll cut the dosage in half because I don’t like what they do to my mind and stomach. Last time I tried to “go it alone,” and had more pain and inflammation than necessary. I guess the obstacle I needed to overcome was my own stubbornness.

Besides determination, what else you can do to overcome pain and obstacles? #ad @AdvilRelief Click To Tweet

Just as I worked hard to complete a half-marathon after one of my lesser knee surgeries, and stay fit after toe surgery (also thanks to soccer, which I still love, but no longer play), I’ll work hard this summer too. It’s MY knee. It’s MY life. And it’s MY responsibility to treat my body (and new knee) with respect. Over the summer, and once I’m back to teaching, I’ll use Advil for the muscle soreness that’s going to be part of adjusting to my new, bionic (I wish) knee. I used it to relieve the arthritic pain from it being bone-on-bone, so I already know it will help. And the active ingredient is ibuprofen, which doesn’t bother my stomach.

Dog walk at More Mesa

My sis will be walking my dog for me until I’m back in walking action.

So no travel posts for a while (no driving for this girl till August), and no self-pity (I might change my mind on that). Mostly I’m looking forward to being active again, but without the issues my poor ol’ bone-on-bone knee had. And you know what hurt the most? Sitting in place for too long. Yup, moving was more comfortable than sitting. Which is exactly as it should be.

Here’s to me and my knee!

June is National Headache month, and Advil would like to know how you deal with headaches. So would we.

Alexandra Williams, MA

photo credits: Alexandra

11

How to Improve Your Brain Today

Skyflying in LA - Kymberly

Lifting My Brain Power and Spirits

Move Your Body to Improve Your Cognition

Scared you’ll lose your memory, mental acuity, or brain function as you age? Have you watched an older loved one’s mental faculties decline, hoping this will not be you one day? Forget hoping and start moving as you have more control over your future brain power than you ever knew.

Exercise Your Way to More Smarts

Cardio exercise has officially moved into #1 spot for best thing you can do for your brain Click To Tweet

Cardio exercise has officially moved into the number one spot for “the best thing you can do for your brain” (AARP Bulletin, Get Moving for a Healthy Brain, Sept 2013, pgs 12-13). Take that crossword puzzles, foreign languages, and musical instruments! (Also touted as great vehicles to boost brain power, but downshifted out of first place given the latest research).

If you want to keep smart, cut your risk of Alzheimer’s in half, repair brain cell damage, and basically grow a bigger brain, you’ve got to dance, baby, dance! Face facts midlifers and baby boomers — if you do not eke out at least 150 minutes of cardio per week, your brain actually shrinks every year post 40, year after sedentary year.

Perform 150 minutes of cardio per week, to prevent your brain from shrinking post 40 years Click To Tweet

Devote 150 Minutes to Add Life to Your Years and to What Lies Between Your Ears

But if you want to increase your brain size and capability — cue harps and trumpets —  then find a way to work in about 22 aerobic minutes each day.  Or 50 minutes three times a week. Or 75 minutes twice a week. I can do this math for you because I boosted my brain teaching step class and walking my dogs. We’re easy around here how you get to the total and new studies support that ease. Sure walking for weight loss is wonderful (read our post on what walking can do for you). Walking for brain gain is even more powerful and impactful! Or try dancing, swimming, getting on a treadmill, biking, hiking, gardening even (could this be any easier? No I am not going to include watching Dancing With the Stars on this list even though I admit total fanaticism for the show.) It really does not take much time or effort to succeed with a brain fitness program.

TV Watching with the remote and a beer. Feet up

No

powerwalking in winter at Lake Tahoe

Yes

Maybe

Maybe.  Never sure whether Alexandra is good for your brain or not. heh heh

Get a Sexy, Tantalizing Hippocampus

Let me stress again how powerful movement is for your brain — each and every time you exercise, you get a bigger hippocampus (that’s sexy talk for the post 50 crowd); you stimulate the growth of new neurons; you cut your risk of dementia by 60 percent. Can I get a rah rah here with a pom pom thrown in please?

The better your brain, the better your life. Move to think and live better Click To Tweet

Dr Michale Luan yoga pose with fitness ball

Dr Michael Luan Balances Body and Brain

As Dr. Michael Luan, a friend and expert on Conscious Movement puts it, “We exercise to become better humans. Conscious Movement evolves your brain. The body is your ultimate tool for success, and we all have the potential for greatness. Success with your body creates success with your career, relationships, and ultimately, your life.”  The better your brain, the better your life, wouldn’t you say?

Movement will improve your focus, increase your mood, enhance your decision-making processes, help your ability to plan, regenerate brain cells, help your memory, and basically outsmart all those young people who can’t believe how sharp you are for a person your age.

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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

15

Cellulite: How Do I Reduce It?

Special Diet and Exercise for Special Fat?

Dear K and A: Can cellulite be tackled with specific exercises? Gaby

What can I eat and what exercises can I do to reduce the appearance of cellulite? Cristina

Celebrities, Cellulite, Fat

The stars align

What Exactly is Cellulite? Why Don’t We Just Call it “Excess Fat?”

Alexandra: Ladies, your questions are so similar that they are now joined together in cellulite love. Let’s first give some definitions, yes? Cellulite originates in the subcutaneous fat beneath the dermis and epidermis (a “dermi” way of saying “skin”). It’s caused by small protrusions of fat into the dermis. Quiz later, so stay with me. And cellulite can be found on slender women; it’s just that weight gain exacerbates the condition.

So…the answer about specific exercise is “No” and “Yes.” Any eating and exercise regimen that includes a healthy diet (with fewer calories going in than being put out, since cellulite indicates a need to reduce some fat), plus cardio (aerobic movement) and resistance training will help you lose weight, which will reduce the visible “dimpling.” But (I didn’t say “butt” or you’d be reminded of the cellulite) since the fat where cellulite comes from is sitting on top of muscle, you can do specific resistance training for the tush (see, I didn’t say “butt” again), hips and thighs. Why? ‘Cause whimpery, weak, mushy muscles show the cellulite a lot more, whereas tight and toned muscles help smooth out that uneven look! Hello squats, lunges, and lower body workouts!  (Go to our post, Wrong and Right Way to Do a Squat to know how to execute squat excellence!)

cellulite, butt dimples, leg fat

Cellulite – Wear it Anywhere

What Bad Habit Worsens Cellulite?

Kymberly: Gaby and Cristina, if you tell me that you are “Smokin’ hot babes, but not smokers,” then good on ya’ because cigarette smoking will weaken the formation of collagen, which may allow for easier protrusion of fat into the dermis. Yup indeedy, smoking can worsen the appearance of cellulite. If you do smoke, then STOP IT!

What Works to Get Rid of Cellulite? What Doesn’t?

Alexandra: In case you have a wistful little voice in your head that asks, “can’t I just apply a cream or something?” the answer is 99% “No.” Surgery, injections, massage, creams/ointments, suction, heat application and herbals have NOT been found to have an effect on your cellulite. Both “shock wave” and laser therapy have shown some results in the improvement of the appearance of cellulite, but the study samples were small and so recent that more research is needed. I just mention it here so that you can kind of keep an eye out for further research on these two possible therapies. While you’re waiting, exercise more, eat less. That’s the bottom line on your bottom line!

Why Don’t Men Get Cellulite as Much as Women?

Cellulite is a normal condition, not disease that needs to be “cured,” says health expert Carol… Click To Tweet

Kymberly: Before I pontificate, let me contradict my sis. You can and may simply apply cream if you want. It just won’t work. Save your money for workout clothes. We have some baddish, badass news (unless you’re a man): cellulite is offered exclusively to women. Darn it! Right in the subcutaneous fat, where the fat protrusions occur, men are structured differently than women. Not only that, but men’s skin is thicker, and we aren’t speaking metaphorically; we mean literally– their skin is thicker in the thighs and butt. Women carry five times more fat cells in the thighs, hips, buttocks than in other sites of the body. Physiological rip-off, we’d say!

So get busy racking up cardio time, do those lower body exercises (check out our post for 5 more reasons to join a Group Strength Class), and eat fuel, not chubby grub. Or wear long pants the rest of your life and curse your ancestors for the genes you inherited. We prefer Action Plan A. Action Plan B could cut into your other inheritance.

Readers: If you have cellulite, have you remembered to text your parents to thank them for the genetic predisposition? Start pressing those tiny buttons!

ACTION: Comment below if you have tried strength training and seen it make a difference — with your strength and fat stores. Please tweet or share if you know someone who could benefit from this info.

Photo credits: Creative Commons

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

10

Life is About Experiences, Not Stuff

When you are active and in relatively good health, you can do things – walk in your neighborhood, travel, join a dance team, go out and meet people, wander around interesting buildings, climb stairs to see giant telescopes, climb rocks to look for seals in the bay – and everything else that YOU would add to this list.

Griffith Observatory TelescopeHollywood signGriffith ObservatoryAs I write this, yet another mass shooting has occurred a few hours’ drive from here, this one at a center for those with developmental disabilities. That’s too close to home, as one of my sons has disabilities. And my heart is still with a friend who lost her child and is left to savor the experiences and memories she built with love.

Find your personal motivating movement factor and focus on it for 2016. Click To Tweet

What do you love in your life? Traumatic events make you think of the things you love. I love my boys. It’s that simple and basic. So I am consciously choosing (did you think I’d say “uncoupling”?) events that can include them.

Hollywood ParadeHollywood ParadeHollywood ParadeIf you read my post about joining the Hollywood Hotel team as part of the Hollywood Christmas Parade you know I went with my younger son to celebrate his birthday.

If you read my post about visiting the Hyatt in Palm Springs, then you saw me with my older son.

Hollywood Christmas ParadeHollywood Christmas ParadeBoth events required me to walk a lot. Yeah, one of my knees is bone on bone and needs surgery (long story why that’s postponed till 2016), but I can still do MOST things, so I do. We have so many videos and posts about the ways and whys to exercise (and Kymberly has a downloadable Ultimate Abs series coming out soon), and as 2015 comes to a close, I beseech you to find your personal motivating movement factor and focus on it for 2016. Spend time with grandkids? Be the hottest hottie at your high school reunion? Prevent disease? Feel comfortable in your own body? Whatever is between you and the experiences you want (excluding those financially out of reach), is it within your power to close that gap?

Police motorcycles Hollywood ParadeEntrance to Hollywood HotelAnd if you’re headed to Hollywood or Palm Springs, I really had great experiences at both the Hollywood Hotel and the Hyatt Palm Springs. If you’re in the Santa Barbara area, come watch the Downtown Holiday Parade this Friday, Dec. 04 at 6:30 pm. I’ll be dancing with the La Boheme Professional Dance Group (just before Santa’s float). No matter where you are, we invite you to subscribe to our blog using the handy box right over there ——>La Boheme Christmas Parade

Alexandra Williams, MA

Photo credits: All photos are mine, though I wasn’t able to have my external flash with me on the parade route

23

Perfect Body Season is … Never In Season

Trying to lose weight over the holidays before you see any judgy relatives,  grandkids who want to play, or the crotchety old uncle who said you’d never amount to much? Fuggetaboutid! Give yourself the ultimate gift of self-love this season and revel in the ribald revelry of winter with some gusto, acceptance, and balance. Being “thin” was not always in. Being healthy and active (with good posture) is always in style. And hotter than mulled cider!

* See our series on the subject of how to assess, then improve your posture to look more fit. You are welcome!)

Body image & a perfect physique are matters of perspective, culture, history, & whatever… Click To Tweet

Health and beauty are inside jobs! Body image and a “perfect physique” are matters of perspective, culture, history, and whatever the mass media tells us.

Can you say “Mixed Messages?” Don’t believe us? Take a brief tour through past wistful wishes for va-va-voom figures. Look at what people were willing to do to achieve that “look du decade.”

Too Skinny, Men?

Hottie or Nottie?

Don’t make us talk about you years from now! Our gift to you as we wrap up — no, not gifts. We are not that organized! — Work the look you already have. Embrace it; Look it in the eye and say “Ell-bees – you and I are going into the New Year together baby, guilt- and stress-free!

Whoa now you Vixens, Dashers, and Red Nosed sorts! Don’t go overboard — or is that “oversleigh?” We said give yourself some body-lovin’ self-acceptance while staying active, not plunk down your hiney so finey!

Done with Exercise until 2016? Hope not.

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

 

 

15

Stretching: Before or After Walking, Running, Hiking, Fighting?

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

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

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

In warm-up, do the type of movements you'll be doing in your workout, but at a lower intensity… Click To Tweet

Statically Stretching Post-Exercise

Kymbelrly stretching w tree splits at Rancho la Puerta

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

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

Which Movements Belongs in Pre-Exercise?

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

Bob walking up beach steps

A loooong stretch … of up

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

Dynamically Stretch in Warm-Up

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

Static Stretching Before Exercise Neither Reduces Soreness nor Minimizes Injury

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


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


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

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

Dear Readers and Crankyfoos: What is your favorite stretch after a long hike? What do you argue about during your strolls?

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Photo credits:
Photobucket.com

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

5

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.

But first, take a look at our recently released program, “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50,”  (over 23 videos, 10 modules, popular abs questions addressed).

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!!

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Photo credits: CreativeCommons. org

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

8

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!”

Change up about 20-30 % of your workout every few weeks to achieve better strength Click To Tweet

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).
Time to switch up your routine? One option- switch out chest press for push up. Click To Tweet

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
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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)

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