This post will walk you through ways to analyze your gait to help you:
Walk across the room, turning at the wall and repeating the walk for several rounds. How quickly do you go? How comfortable are you, especially at the knees, lower back and neck? How small or big is your stride? Notice whether or not you have to touch the wall to turn, make a wide circle, or pivot quickly. Pay attention to your balance. Be aware of your stride length, especially if it’s small, which means you don’t trust your balance, though you are actually at MORE risk of falling with a shortened stride.
Go watch SpongeBob Squarepants and take a look at how he propels himself forward. See those flapping arms? Nothing going on from shoulder to elbow, but lots of movement from elbow to hands. If this is you, we bet your elbows hurt after a long walk. Same thing if you’re a wrist flapper. Ideally, you want a long arm that reaches out in front of you. And… you want the arm in back to be reaching behind just as far. At the top of your arm swing, you should have a triangle formed from both hands and the shoulder. In other words, what goes on behind you is as important as what’s happening in front.
What do you see when you focus? What do you hear? What is powering your forward movement? It’s possible you favor one side, especially if you’ve had any kind of leg injury. If you can get someone to listen as you walk (without looking at you), a limp or compensation just might reveal itself. So often we are asked why the left leg (for example) hurts when it was the right leg that had the injury. The answer is that the left leg is overtired from being overused due to overcompensation. So get over it!
Use power muscles to power your stride. Are you using your front or back leg to propel? If you want a shapely booty, push from the glutes. As we mention in our post “Why is My Body in Pain After Running and Walking,” running and walking require different muscle emphasis. Pulling from the hamstrings on the front leg will just make them hurt, and might also cause pain behind the knee. Besides, who doesn’t want a shapelier tush?Imbalances in your stance or stride may be aging you #Babyboomers #Walk #Gait Click To Tweet
Slow your walk way down and observe what happens throughout your body. Does your head bob forward or side to side? Maybe your walk improves. Maybe it falls to pieces. Notice if your arms keep moving or freeze in place. Especially note whether you start to move homolaterally (same arm and leg go forward rather than opposing arm and leg). Do you feel less or more stable?
If your head is forward and down, that’s where you are headed (hahaha. so punny). Your head needs to be above your body, not in front of it. Not only does “text neck” increase your risk of migraines and back strain, it also increases your risk of falling. Ever notice those people who are hunched over with their faces actually looking at the ground? See how their elbows are back behind them for balance? They didn’t get that way overnight. To check if that hunchback will be you, do the chin check. Stand in neutral position (read “Finding Neutral Spine” for a full explanation). Put a finger to your chin. Hold your finger in place. Retract head 2-3 times. Mark any gap. A big gap means you are a forward head thruster. A small gap means you win free neutral spine for life!Use power muscles to power your stride. Do you propel from your front or back leg? #gait… Click To Tweet
Remember how we mentioned 5 tips ago that what goes on behind you is as important as what’s in front? Almost everyone knows the posture zip trick for the front, but do you finish that zzzzzzip by going down the back? Once again, you’re in luck, as we wrote a post (with video !!!) about the zip trick as part of our posture series.
Time to zip up this post. We hope you feel giddy about your gait as you get around the block today and every day.
You now know HOW to walk more effectively. Wonder though, what other benefits a refreshing walk will bring you? Go to Living Longer via Walking to bolster your motivation, reasons to get out and about, and your LIFE!
ACTION: Subscribe if you haven’t already and receive your free booklet “Fitness Myths that Weaken Your Abs.”
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
In 2014, Mayo Clinic released a study that stated, “Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.”Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Click To Tweet
And the journal Evolution and Human Behavior did an analysis that noted, “this study provides limited empirical evidence that more facially attractive people (N = 100) may be physically healthier than unattractive people.” Makes me wonder if the reverse is true – are healthier people more facially attractive?
In both my education and writing career, I use (and respect) good research, yet I wonder how much culture influences our self-perception of our attractiveness.
I am especially wondering this lately, as I recently went on a walk with one of my best friends. I’ve known her for over 30 years, and she has always been considered attractive. I find her to be still attractive, and have assumed she had the same opinion. She exercises regularly and is very disciplined about her health habits. Yet (after a 6-mile hike together), she mentioned being frustrated about her weight and “unattractiveness.” I put it in quotes because I strongly disagree with her, so refuse to give it legitimacy.
According to research, all her exercise and healthy habits should lead to her feeling pretty dang good about herself. Yet that definitely wasn’t the case. If she were in Russia or Greece (or most any other country), she’d be the cultural ideal (think blond hair, blue eyes and Marilyn Monroe curvy). Yet here in the U.S. we still reward women who are size 0 (how can someone be a null and actually exist) or 4. The average U.S. woman is size 12, so quite clearly reality and cultural expectations are not in sync.Do you judge yourself by your smiles or by your weight? Why accept outdated cultural norms? Click To Tweet
This makes me sad. Women, whether your age is 35 or 55, do you judge yourself unfairly, with an emphasis on looks? How often do you judge yourself based on your health? I have several friends with lifelong issues (MS, Hashimoto’s), yet every day they work really hard to have good health. To me, they are attractive because their faces reflect their determination, spirit and feistiness.
Be honest, do you judge yourself by your smiles or by your weight? Why do we accept outdated cultural norms? Why do we compare ourselves to our 25-year-old selves? How can we possibly win against unrealistic opponents such as these?
When I was a grad student in systemic counseling, we learned the expression “Fake it till you make it.” It was advice for our clients, based on cognitive-behavioral theory. I think it’s good advice, and I use it on myself.
Here’s how – My “resting” face is more of a frown than a smile. I don’t have the classic nose, cheeks, eyes or chin that our culture says is beautiful. Yet I don’t want to be 75 and wish I’d appreciated my 50-year-old self. When I was 50 I regretted not appreciating my 25-year-old self, and vowed not to do that to myself anymore. So I tell myself NOW that I’m good-looking. I work on my posture, which is an easy way to look more confident. And if you look more confident, you feel more confident. “Fake it till you make it” in action. I pose for lots of photos and I smile in them all. Then I post the best ones online so other people can comment about how much fun I’m having. My brain hears that and the repetition makes it part of my self-concept that I have a fun life. When someone tells me I look great, I say, “I agree (except on genuinely bad photos, such as a recent close-up of my sweaty nose).”Focus on good posture. If you look more confident, you'll feel more confident. Click To Tweet
If I tell myself I’m attractive, fun and confident, that’s what I’ll exude. And that’s how I’ll be perceived. So this post is dedicated to my truly beautiful friend, and I hope every woman who reads this thinks I’m talking to her. Dear ________, you are attractive, fun, and confident. It will make me very happy if you would do me the honor of agreeing.
ACTION: Now, get out there and kick some ass. And subscribe while you’re at it. You’ll look, feel, and move better for it.
Alexandra Williams, MA
Photo credit for birthday party: Ross Barrett.
FYI, none of the fabulous women in these photos are the friend I mentioned, though they are all definite hotties too.
Yet that is what we see from treadmillers and stairsteppers of all ages – not just baby boomers. Ouch and WTH?! (“What the Heck” – we don’t cuss ‘round these parts much).
At any given moment we can go into the cardio equipment area of a gym and see people working super hard. Yet their form denies them cardio benefits while stressing joints. Don’t let this be you! (If you do want a good workout on a treadmill, read our post “Treadmill Walking Workout.”)What are the 3 biggest mistakes exercisers make on the treadmill & stairclimber? Don't let… Click To Tweet
Three major treadmill and stairclimber no-nos we see involve:
Take a look at our priceless video demo.
Then check your form next time you hit the climber, treadmill, and even the elliptical machine. Go for natural arm swing, not death grip on the machine. If you can let go of the side or front bars and stay vertical you are probably doing it right! If your hair looks good when you are done, you are probably doing it light! Ahh ahha.
Dear Climber-Stepper buddies: Are you a wrist leaner? Horse reins grabber? What’s your best piece of advice for cardio exercisers? Besides reading our posts, of course.
ACTION: Want a stronger core and better abs? Check out our newly released program: “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50” (23 videos, 10 modules, popular abs questions addressed).
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
You might be level- headed, but are you level-hipped and level-shouldered? What do the right and left sides of your body tell about your stance if we take a sidewards glance? Are you a “posture cheater” who displays a sneaky telltale clue that gives you away when you fake standing tall?
Part 3 of our Posture series takes a look at posture from “both sides now” to figure out how you stand (Baby boomers – did you recognize that song title? Joni Mitchell was no slouch). We know where you stand–on top! Or lifted nicely once you add our tips on assessment!
For the record, that is not a peace sign K lays on A at the end of this short video, but bunny ears. Hop to it, sis!
Well, pretty much this:
And some of this:
Photo credit: Creative Commons, kittykaht
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: Hold on a moment. Did someone other than F and F just slip in a word play? Stand tall and proud just for that. While you’re standing, do some pec stretches and mid-back strengtheners. The stronger your back muscles are – especially the ones between your shoulder blades, such as the trapezius and rhomboids – the more those muscles will contract to lift your spine erect and to keep your shoulders back.
Yeah, you could hire someone to nag you to bring your shoulders down and back, but that’s no fun is it? Instead let’s think of fun things that FnF could stand for (as seen in your salutation).
Alexandra:What? That is a gimme. Anyone who’s seen my high school photos knows that FnF means Foxy and Fine! Hello? Did you not see those HOT photos of me that were never taken? Let’s pretend for a moment that we are answering Sharon’s question…nope, it’s passed.
But in the spirit of general pride and gaining two inches in height, I’ll give you our mom’s secret (she was a modern dance teacher)–ask someone to poke you between the shoulder blades at the dinner table. It’s a quick, yet mildly annoying, reminder to contract your mid-traps (that is fancy-talk for “pull your shoulder blades toward each other”). Or you could read our post, Look Younger and Thinner Instantly with Better Posture, which is not annoying at all.
Kymberly: Also try our zip trick to remind you that posture involves all the abs, uses the entire core, and requires activating the back side of your body as well.
Alexandra: I also see that Kymberly mentions chest stretches above. What she didn’t mention was that standing up taller and opening up the front of your body makes you more–caution, technical term coming–stacked! Not just appear so, but actually more frontal real estate. And you can then breathe better too. Since it’s hard to remember to pull your shoulder blades into a close, personal relationship, I’ll share a hot little workout trick I made up years ago. Do some of your exercises with your back and shoulders against the wall. For example, bicep curls or forward raises. Even though you aren’t actively focusing on “moving” your back, it will be easy for you to notice if you fall forward off the wall. Find out more about these quick and easy posture reminders at our post, Posture to Perfection.
K: In short, worry less about what you see in front– the pecs and anterior deltoids — and more about what’s happening behind your back. Just like in high school.
A: Did someone say “Off the Wall?” When the world is on your shoulders, Gotta straighten up your act and boogie down. Quick, who sings that? If you can sing and dance this entire song with shoulders back, you win a free Moonwalk lesson!
Readers and posturemongers: What reminders do you use to maintain good posture? Who had a mom who nagged you to stand up straight?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Do you like to stay ahead of the curve? I mean besides the ones on our baby boomer, midlife bodies? Then hold tight as we zoom through some of the key takeaways and quotables from the recent IDEA World Fitness Convention. Alexandra and I just returned from the main industry event that draws fitness professionals from around the globe. By attending many sessions focused on the over fifty crowd (Wheee! that’s most of us), I gleaned some relevant Fun Fit Facts, exercise trends, and plain ole’ good quotes.
Now to lay some of those fitness pro insights on you, so you can revel in the workout fun that lies ahead. Or more specifically, get your trending fitness quotes now while they’re hot!
Speaking of standing up, presenter Tomi Toles asked attendees at his “Walking Tall” session: “What muscles and structures do we walk from?” Most of us fell right into his trap — “Why, we walk from the legs, doncha know.” Wrong! After watching a video of a man with no legs “walk” on his ischial tuberosities (google it), we could see that great gait really comes from the abdominal wall muscles and spine. Want to be a better walker AND tone your abs at the same time? Check out our post on achieving great gait.
Come to my group fitness classes and look for our upcoming package of moves for “Fitness Over 50” if you want to try what we learned.
And that is it for quotes that “Inspire, Connect, and Transform” from the first day at IDEA. Subscribe, open your emails from us, and keep reading if you wonder how Day Two and Three managed to surpass the quality that was Day One. Coming soon to a blog near you. Near and dear, we hope.
By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Readers: Which is your favorite fitness quote? One of the above? One to share from elsewhere? Let us know in the comments below.
Alexandra Williams, MA
Whether you have weak abs or strong, this exercise has a version you can do. And the good news is that it might be perfect for people with bad backs or knees, or even for people who want to avoid lying down.
What is the purpose of the obliques, you don’t ask? I’ll tell you anyway. First of all, you have both the external and internal obliques, making something like an X along the sides of your torso. They help flex, rotate and abduct the trunk, support the abdominal wall, assist in forced respiration and in pulling the chest downward to compress the abdominal cavity.
And of course, the abdominal muscles all help support the spine and good posture. And those of you mainly concerned about the aesthetics of the waist get your wish too, especially if you work on good posture.Seated Obliques Circle gives you a leaner look in the waist, stronger abs, and better posture. Click To Tweet
I won’t describe the exercise in writing, as it’s far easier for you to watch the video. Besides, I want you to watch the video. Mainly so you can do the move with me. I don’t want to
suffer look amazing alone.
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Though there were hundreds of vendors in the Expo Hall, I shall share seven that grabbed my attention.
The founders wanted to make a substitute that tasted like meat, and they’ve achieved their goal. Free of gluten and cholesterol, the 100% plant protein beef and chicken products are also non-GMO. Great flavor. The ingredients list for the beef crumbles: Water, non-GMO pea protein isolate, non-GMO expeller-pressed canola oil, beef flavor (yeast extract, maltodextrin, natural flavoring, salt, sunflower oil, onion powder), rice flour, tomato powder, caramel color, contains 0.5% or less of: calcium sulfate, evaporated cane juice, potassium chloride, oregano, dried marjoram, ground basil, lemon juice concentrate, citric acid, black pepper, salt, dried thyme, dried rosemary, red chili pepper flakes, onion extract, garlic extract.
Cute compression fitness apparel that assists with posture support and pain relief. As we mentioned in one of our six posts about posture, it’s important to “zip” down the back as well as up the front. When I stopped at the IntelliSkin booth, they emphasized this aspect too. Technology truly is being woven into our clothing, just as predicted in this 2007 article about the fitness facility of the future.
My very first aerobics job was in 1983 in West Berlin, and this is the mineralwasser I drank when I lived there. So to me, Gerolsteiner has been around for a long time, though it is definitely new to the U.S. In the 80s, I drank it because I liked it. Now I know about its health aspects too. No calories, no sugars, and no preservatives, it’s even sold in glass bottles, as plastic bottles are known to have phthalates. With over 2,500 mg/ minerals per liter (yup, the Germans don’t do quart measurements), the three main minerals are calcium (bones, teeth), magnesium (metabolism, muscle & nerve function), and bicarbonate (regulates acidity). Even though it’s the world’s #1 sparkling natural mineral water, Gerolsteiner is just now coming to the U.S. so you might have to request it from your local grocery store. And I don’t think they’ll mind if you pronounce it wrong.
If you don’t want to leave your workout machine to get some wipes, you no longer have to, as this is a packet of wipes that attach to an arm band. The sales crew at the booth had me at “helps prevent staph infections” because my son got staph when he wrestled in high school, and it was serious. The website is under partial construction, as the Wypes are brand new, but don’t let that deter you from spending $3.79. Total deal.
Okay, nuts aren’t new. But I did learn that peanuts are not a tree nut. The nine that are: Brazil, almond, hazelnut, walnut, pistachio, pecan, cashew, macadamia and pine nuts. The council had research papers that I grabbed, knowing you’d be interested in the health findings. I read that tree nuts are inversely associated with both metabolic syndrome and obesity, and total and cause-specific mortality , plus associated with decreased health risk factors for cardiovascular disease. I happen to love almond milk, and am glad it’s working with me and my body. I still hate Brazil nuts.
As the owner of four pairs of Ahnu Shoes, I was stoked (70s organic-y, surfer expression) to see them at the Expo for the first time, showcasing their super attractive footwear. We even got to meet the co-founder, Jacqueline van Dine (a good Dutch name if I ever heard one). Now owned by Deckers (conveniently based in our town of Santa Barbara), Ahnu has a catalogue full of cute shoes. We even got a sneak preview of their upcoming line, which made us drool a little bit on ourselves. And they follow the Ethical Supply Chain Guidelines.
With a mission to “provide style choices for women that spark interest in fitness and promotes healthy lifestyles in mind, body, and spirit,” this company makes dumbbells and kettlebells that are cute and colorful. Not just a single color – boring. These weights come in pink camo, floral blue, cheetah, zebra and hope. I had fun playing with these at the booth. And I like their tag line – Strength Comes in Many Colors.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
One last thing – I’ve seen the various celebrity ice bucket challenges (fundraisers for the fight against ALS) going around, and saw a big one live at the convention, when the founders of IDEA joined up with some of the fitness industry’s leaders for a group ice-freeze, but had no interest in doing one myself, especially here in drought-stricken California. But this morning my nephew wanted to tag me, so I agreed because I believe in the project (if not the waste of water) and couldn’t say no to a kid. Known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is well known to the fitness industry, due in large part to our long-standing relationship with Augie Nieto, founder of Life Fitness and Augie’s Quest. I hope you watch my video and go tag three people with your own video. Of course, the point is to raise money, which seems to be working.
Go forth and be healthy! Challenge yourself to something new today.
Kymberly: Want the Ultimate Baby Boomer Body? Personally I am ok with the “Ixnay on the Bikini, but I’ll Still Wear a One-Piece” Body. To get either version, you’ll need to incorporate 7 important, midlife-specific training principles into your exercise routines.
First, we need to establish and agree that midlife exercisers are special, with unique attributes.Want the Ultimate Baby Boomer Body? Incorporate these 7 midlife-specific training principles… Click To Tweet
So what do we unusual, interesting, unique, and different women need to do to achieve functionally strong and healthy bodies, minds and attitudes? How can we create targeted workout routines for women like you (and us)?
Alexandra: I am seriously hoping the answer involves Clive Owen or Colin Firth, but I’ll settle for just assuming you are speaking of ME when you use the adjectives “unusual, interesting, unique, and different.” Hmmm, second guess. Does it involve bacon? Even though I am a vegetarian, I feel certain that the answer to many things is “bacon.”
Now, you said midlife women are special in 6 ways. And if you’d given 6 training principles, I’d know Bacon was the answer — Kevin Bacon. If you don’t know about the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, you can read the link while doing your seven training principles. To defy gravity (and age), plus engage in gym movements, do this Footloose workout.
Kymberly: We know my sister is really Baking, not Bacon Woman. Anyway, stay Footloose and Bacon Free when you incorporate the following into your regimen:
Continue to build bone strength by selecting impact activities. Especially at our age, we need to strike the ground by walking, jogging, skipping, and stepping to stimulate our bones. Step classes are particularly effective at offering impact without adverse joint stress. This is a case of wanting gravity’s effects!
Choose movements and exercises that mimic daily life activities such as climbing stairs, loading groceries into the car, carrying luggage on fun, exotic, vacation trips. (A boomer can envision, nicht wahr?) Such exercises might include step ups and squats, for instance.
Brace through the core and hinge from the hips. Add dead lifts to your repertoire — but let’s call them “live lifts,” shall we? Look for opportunities to activate the back (dorsal side) of your body in addition to performing ab and core work.
Be sure to sit and stand “strong.” Address muscle imbalances. Take action now to improve posture now and later. No Dowager’s Hump for you, just Dowager title and property rights. Speak to me Downton Abbey fans!
You can see where fitness classes really are ideal for those of us wanting more than physical payoff from our workouts.
Reap on land some of the gravity defying benefits of water exercise. Who doesn’t look forward to reduced joint stress, buoyancy, and a certain lightness of being? Translate that “up” feeling to land movement by emphasizing the up phase. For example, with squats, engage your muscles more when standing than lowering. Change the pace, speed, or emPHAsis of moves to prioritize the press away from the floor. In short, concentrate on the parts of exercises that work against gravity.
I, I, I , yi yi! Use both cardio and resistance training to target age-related risks and preventable declines. Do the exercises you choose challenge your mobility? Balance? Bones? Coordination? Just as you might choose nutritionally dense foods, select movements that offer a compound or multiple return for your invested effort.
Kymberly: Begin with the end in mind — increase overall strength, stamina, core strength, mental agility, resistance to disease, and ability to continue pursuing life with vigor and enthusiasm. Heck, we also want to look good, right?
Alexandra: I’ve only got my end in mind.
Action: To really be ahead of the game, try Training Principle Number 8 — Subscribe! Have us come to you twice a week with fitness pro insider insights on how you can age more actively than all the other baby boomers you know. Enter your name and email into any of the subscription boxes. Plus claim your bonus.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
We’re going to let you in on a non-secret so that you can put it on your radar for next season while it’s still easy to obtain a spot–Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite runs a superior Health and Wellness Retreat.
We just got back from presenting at their first retreat of this kind, and we were blown away by the caliber of the services, presenters, and food. Whether you drive in from California or a neighboring state, or fly into Fresno, then drive into the Sierra mountains, it’s worth a trip.
Tenaya Lodge sits at the gateway into Yosemite, so we knew the scenery was going to be fabulous. What we didn’t know was that the whole experience would be even more so!
In just 48 hours, we:
Ate copious amounts of amazing food created by chef Frederick Clabaugh, CEC, and attended workshops on:
Kymberly presented an edu-taining seminar, Great Gait and Powerful Posture, while Alexandra wore hot pink shorts to lead a rousing Drums Alive class. Oh, did we mention the 90 minute massage we each got? Or the nature hike where we tasted lichen, flowers, berries and pine needles? Hint – the sushi was better.
From the gift basket and personal note at arrival, to the boxed snacks that included San Pellegrino limonata at departure, the entire experience had flourishes and flair. Heck, they even put Kymberly into a room with a jacuzzi tub. Her suite was bigger than the cabin she lived in for eight years, but we won’t remind her of those dark days!
We heard a rumor that Tenaya Lodge might run another retreat in the Fall, so you might want to sign up for their newsletter so you’ll be notified of the dates. We know you take our recommendations seriously, and we say with full confidence that this was a very high-class event at an affordable price.
Disclosure: We were not paid anything to share our opinions, though we did receive the entire retreat as a thank you for the workshops we led. At no point were we asked to write anything except our own truth.