What would you do with 30 extra years of life? Give those 30 years back?
If you are like some of the older adults in the Forever Fit Cardio fitness classes I teach, you don’t necessarily want 30 years added to your lifespan. And these are active adults in their 60s-80s, so imagine what inactive people might say to living to 100 and beyond. And yet, it is possible to greet such an offer with delight, not dread, especially if you embrace healthy aging and dispel some common misconceptions.
Redefine How You Age?
The worry about adding years to life without adding life to those years is well-founded. When we interviewed highly recognized active aging expert, Colin Milner, founder of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), he laid out some interesting stats and scenarios facing our baby boomer population.
According to Milner, the US and Canada have shoveled out trillions of dollars to increase longevity. And that effort has been quite successful: we North American humans have added an average of 30 additional years to our lives in just one century. That jump is bigger than the one my sister did when a tick landed on her during a dog walk the other day. The problem with the lifespan jump is that those added years are not proving to be healthy ones. Suuuuuu-prise, suuuu-prise. Or not really a surprise at all to those of us who work with or are older adults.
Basically, as we age, we baby boomers and our parents face 5 key challenges. Can you guess what they are?
Super Sensible Solutions for the Projected Problems
For each problem, Colin Milner offers a corresponding suggestion. (Could be why his nickname is “the Colonizer.”) While he confesses that his advice may seem simple, he stresses that putting it into practice takes effort and focus. Making a plan to age in a healthy, “new thinking” way is hard. Yet aging inactively is harder.
In fact, as a generation, we are NOT aging healthfully. Read about it here: Women Over 50: We are NOT aging healthfullyTop 5 things you can do to age well (even after a lifetime of yuck, blah, & bad habits Click To Tweet
All in all, the key is to be proactive in order to age actively. Whew! That’s a lot of action. But not yet enough, as what we ultimately need to do is create a plan for today and the added tomorrows. We can redefine how we age, writing a new and better ending for ourselves and history. As Colin asks, “What is your plan?” What expectations do you have — of yourself, your health, your future, your present? In short, what will you do with your 30 added years?
Want to be an s active aging superstar? How? Read this post: What Do You Enjoy About Aging?
HOT NEWS: Speaking of the International Council on Active Aging, I was one of 30 national fitness leaders selected to present at their Nov 2016 Reimagine Aging conference taking place in Orlando. My topic? “Integrate Function and Cognitive Challenges into Your Older-adult Fitness Group.” In a nutshell, move, think, do both at once.” Am I qualified? Decide for yourself by reading this post: Midlife Funtional Aging Specialists
Really be impressed with how much you will learn and benefit from the cutting edge advice of Colin Milner and others who specialize in healthy aging for older adults. Take a gander at our TransformAging package. Seriously, don’t simply grow old when you can age actively! Costs nothing to check out this link: TransformAging Summit
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
You’ll love “The Bug” ab exercise whether you’re a baby boomer, older adult, person with neck or head soreness, or simply someone who wants a great option to strengthen your abdominals without rounding forward into spinal flexion. And if you are wondering why you should care about rounding into spinal flexion, read our recent post that has abs training tips for older adults.
But first, check out our newly released “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50,” You’ll get over 23 videos and 10 modules all designed to help you strengthen your core and improve your abs. Click the link, then come on back to try our move.
Now for the video:
This core move is simple to do well, and very effective. The hardest part is remembering to keep your head on the floor or mat. And to bend your knees slightly. And to compress. Speaking of mats, what do you think of our nubbly, no slip beauty? We got it from Stillmotion yoga mats.
Have you subscribed yet to our blog? We come to you twice a week. Enter your email in one of the subscription boxes to get fun and safe ab exercises for older adults – and that’s just for starters!
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Have you tried to set better habits before only to fail? Forget any past unsuccessful attempts. Accept that habit change requires more than willpower or goal setting. You need a tried and true strategy based on how we really behave.
Kymberly: I got to hear licensed psychologist, Neil Fiore, PhD, speak on behavior change at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Spa (“the Ranch”), when I was teaching there last week. Oh, those high level speakers the Ranch attracts for evening sessions — Just another bonus of going to Tecate, Mexico! I plan to make my presence there a habit! (Ya hear that, Ranch team?).
According to Dr. Fiore, a specialist in productivity, successful habit change is a four stage process.
Evaluate the pros and cons of the habit you want and the habit you are trying to leave behind. What are the risks? The benefits? What pain are you feeling and what are you willing to do to “kill” that pain?
Alexandra: For many people, the habit we are trying to leave behind is “eating food I know isn’t good for me.” What that really means is, “This food is not good for my weight loss goal, but it is good at giving me an immediate, temporary good emotional feeling.” So the habit to leave behind isn’t eating those foods; it’s eating them as a mood amelioration. One idea is to make up your mind to change that link.
Kymberly: Make a plan to get from the old to new habit. Map out the small steps required to shift from A to B. Consider the distractions you will face. Become aware of each action item needed to transition to better health.
Alexandra: Using the example above, commit to writing down your mood whenever you eat. Not just your mood on foods you feel aren’t helping your long-term goal, but also the ones that are. Probably the biggest challenge will be committing to writing everything down! Write that down! Jacktastic! (If you get this reference you are part of the Melissa McCarthy groupies club, and should definitely be committed!)
Kymberly: Decide where and when you will start the new habit. What is your schedule? Accept that you will face doubts and anxious moments. Then show up despite your fears.
Alexandra: Okay, sometimes it’s not so good to show up, especially if Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream is calling you like one of Homer’s sirens. Your action plan would be to write down your food intake and moods and just observe. That’s it–observe what occurs. Interestingly, when people become aware of their habits, they change them without a lot of conscious effort (and the anguish that goes with it). Just as you picked up some bad habits without really intending to, so can you get rid of them. Obviously, it’s harder for some habits than others, especially if chemicals are involved (think smoking).
Kymberly: Truth?! You CAN handle the truth!: You will have setbacks. What is your recovery plan? Dr Fiore highlighted this as a key component of habit change success. Those who fall by the wayside give up after a setback, thinking one mistake or one bad moment means failure. Happy habit changers have accounted for the probability of setbacks and create a “get back on track” strategy.
Alexandra: In other words, plan to fail. Because planning will lead to success. No-one likes to be bossed around or told what one should or can’t do, even when it’s you talking to yourself. Create your plan based on what you can and will do! Picture your road to success as having rest stops, not as one big U-turn. Changing habits is mental so if you plan to incorporate the slow-downs, you’ll think, “Aha, I was expecting this, and now I will move forward again,” which is totally different than, “Aha, I’m a loser because I got off the straight and narrow and therefore forget it.”
There you habit!
Readers: What new or improved habit are you currently working on?
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As our parents (and grandparents) age, they tend to lose a lot of their strength, mobility and balance. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sarcopenia (progressive decline in skeletal muscle mass…that may lead to decreased strength and functionality) is common among older adults, but exercise can help prevent muscle wasting (yup, the article in the link is by OUR Alexandra).
In honor of Father’s Day, and all fathers (mothers can do this workout too) who need more strength and mobility, we have created a functional, achievable mini-workout. Have your favorite fairly inactive older adult try it and let us know how it goes![youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ordMc5oBDM[/youtube]
Cardio: 10 minutes
* Lower body – foot movement
* Upper body – arms and torso movement
If you use music, 150-160 bpm is ideal for really working up a sweat in this seated workout
* Sit to Stand – 10 reps – leg & core strength
* Wall Push-ups – 10-15 reps – upper body & core strength
* One- arm reach and rotate – 10 on each side – core strength, flexibility and balance
Heck, why not try it out yourself? It’s effective! May all our dads be around to enjoy good health for many years!
Clothing: Top by YMX Yellowman
Workout pants by Nike
Hiking/ Running shoes by Vasque Footwear
We are asked a LOT by our students and readers if soy is a good pre- or post-workout food. It’s a protein, and if you click to read the link you’ll discover
a picture of donuts and coffee that carbs and protein are your best choice after a workout. Soy has been controversial (The only food that isn’t controversial is dark chocolate – right?), so we try to stay up on the latest so we can give you our informed answer of “it depends.”
Alexandra: My son was allergic to soy when he was young, yet I can eat a gi-mantic bowl of edamame and feel nothing but full. So when we were offered the chance to write about some new research that just came out about the benefits of soy protein in combination with whey and casein, I was right in front,
shoving my colleagues out of the way raising my hand. Because I’m a vegetarian, I’m always interested in finding ways to get a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in my diet, especially as I’m not fond of fish oil (who is, I want to know? And who’s keeping anchovies on the pizza menus? Gag).
Kymberly: I am fond of fish oil that comes in fish. I like fish.
Without going in-depth about the research (we’d enjoy it, but you might start to glaze over and drool a bit), the bottom line is that soy (in combo with whey & casein) has been found to prolong muscle building and recovery after exercise. The study was done with college-aged subjects, yet the implications for helping older adults deal with sarcopenia (muscle wasting) are really exciting to me (not because we’re old; because we plan to BECOME old)!
Before you say in all caps, ‘FOLLOW THE MONEY,” we’ll tell you right out that the research was funded by Solae LLC (they develop soy-based ingredients). We didn’t have to follow that hard; it’s listed on the abstract! But, we kept following and found out that Solae has also been recognized for 3 years in a row as a world leader in ethics.
Alexandra: So I’m going to do what I have been doing all along – eat a balanced diet that has all kinds of organic choices, in moderation, which includes soy and soy-based foods. Heck, the Japanese have been eating tofu, bean paste and edamame for centuries and they’re healthier than we who eat a western diet! However, I will NOT be eating natto. That stuff looks, smells and tastes like a science project gone mutant. I tried it at the National Products Expo so you wouldn’t have to! It’s tied with Marmite for nastiest food in the universe as far as I’m concerned.
What about you? Are you more interested in post-exercise muscle building and recovery, or the possibilities for preventing sarcopenia in older age? Me, I’m off to figure out why our dachshund likes to eat empty edamame pods.
Are you on Twitter? There is a Twitter chat about soy protein on Wednesday, May 23, 9 PM EST/ 6 PM PST, hashtag #SoyProtein. Join the chat. Bring your questions. Do your workout first!
FitFluential LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own.
Check out how our mom transforms herself from an active senior to frail little old lady back into a force to be reckoned with in less than 1 minute. Learn our quick zip trick to look 10 years younger in less than 10 seconds.
Agents, talent scouts, and publicists – our mom is available for media interviews and bookings. Ya gotta admit she’s pretty cute!
Photo credit: Creative Commons
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Alexandra: The brain is linked so strongly to what you eat and how much you move that its size, shape and function actually change. As your weight goes up, your brain size goes down. You do NOT want to become a victim of Dinosaur Syndrome – big body, little brain = extinct! Sadly, the brains of obese people look 16 years older in scans than they are. And Dr. Amen showed a picture of a very healthy 82 year-old brain, so age does not guarantee brain deterioration.
Kymberly: However, having a birthday this weekend guarantees age! Only 6 more shopping days until twinnie’s birthday. I hope she gets some new dendrites, ganglia, and neurotransmitters for her big day.
Having read 6 of Dr. Amen’s books, I developed serious brain envy, so for my birthday I plan to work out and eat healthfully. Right after the small piece of chocolate cake. I want to do what it takes to stave off any mental decline and have the heaviest, most active brain possible into my 90s and beyond! My real birthday wish is for you all to have the same!
A: The mind controls the body, not the other way round. It’s your brain that tells you it’s okay to eat a second helping of ice cream, and it’s also your brain that tells you to push away from the table. So here are some tips to help you put your brain consciously in control:
K: So, does your lifestyle enhance your brain power or detract from it? Remember, the choices you make today affect your brain TODAY and into the future. Hey, if my brain is the ultimate controller, why does Alexandra keep saying she’s in charge?
Dear readers: This seems like a perfect moment to direct you to our e-book/quotes that help you stay motivated and on track.
Dino photo: Creative Commons[plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]
guest post by Jerry and Ginny
Jerry: Then in December of 2009 I experienced a Hemorraghic stroke. My principal deficit from the stroke was extreme mental and physical exhaustion. My energy level varied drastically during the day making it difficult to be productive. I literally crashed after eating and sometimes could not sustain concentration beyond 20 minutes without stopping to rest.
I wanted to take an active role in my recovery and healing so decided to join Club 14 Fitness, a locally owned gym on Amelia Island. Ginny went along to encourage me. We were assigned a trainer and enjoyed working out together. I really benefited from the structured workouts The exercise helped raise my energy level and spirits making me feel more “normal”. Specifically, the exercise helped my circulation, and the sauna afterward relieves arthritic pain.
After the initial 16 weeks of structured exercise I regained the strength and energy I had lost from the stroke and am now a third of the way toward my weight loss goal.
Ginny: I am so glad I went along to the club with Jerry! I definitely gained weight during his recovery from being home more, being less physically active, being stressed, and eating more. Finally I broke through procrastination and had the opportunity to see the results of working out three times a week.
I have dropped two dress sizes and feel amazing. Both Jerry and I are fitting into clothes we have not worn in over 20 years. We have also altered our diet, limiting starches and adding more veggies. Now the gym is a habit and we no longer allow other priorities to interfere with our health and Jerry’s recovery.
Our Advice: No matter how difficult life gets after an unexpected health problem, find a way to exercise. It is good for the body, mind and spirit of the patient and the caretaker!
Readers: What would it take to motivate you to work out more consistently and purposefully?