Damien A. Joyner

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The Joy of Movement


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Forget the term exercise. Forget doing a certain number of reps. Forget cardio classes or lifting weights. Forget counting calories or walking on a treadmill. Forget exercise classes, Pilates, glute bridges, personal trainers or strength training. Forget dumbbells, resistance bands or balance training. Forget toning, sculpting or planks.

I want you to instead think about how you live your life now. At this moment in time when you are going about your day are you thinking about your body? Do you have to focus to do some physical things because they are becoming difficult? Are you beginning to plan your vacations or even everyday life actives around what you cannot do or find painful?

The things in life that bring you joy involve moving your body in some way. Even if you are not moving at the time, you have to get to point A to point B to do what you want to do.  Yes, we can enjoy life in our homes or apartments…but I bet you find some joy traveling somewhere – regardless the distance.

I will even go deeper – before you step outside you will do this and more: you will get out of bed, clothe yourself, bathe yourself, pick up after yourself, open doors, pick things up, possibly drive, get in and out of the car…the list goes on. You have to move to prepare to do the things that bring you joy.

This is where moving better can improve your daily life. There is a vast sea of many ways to improve the way you move every day. The list is as thick as a phone book. Think about how athletes prepare for their events. When you watch or hear about Olympic athletes you hear and learn about their physical struggles and mental struggles that got them to the Olympics. Even if you are not much of a sports fan you probably have an idea of what cross training means.

Why should you approach how you move any differently?

You may say that you are not an athlete, and have no desire to compete in the Olympics. Sure, you may not have any interest. However, we all have an event that we should be training for. Life is a physical event. Life entails movement. Our ancestor’s way before cell phones, cars, buildings and the civilization we know now had to move literally to live. These hunter-gatherers had to run, jump, squat, sprint and more to stay alive. These days we can pick up the phone to get many things…but putting on your clothes, feeding yourself and going about your day still entails movement. Our bodies are meant to move, get stronger, and stay active. We have to have the conditioning to walk upstairs, to do multiple squats, to lift and carry things too.

Approach life as your event. Age is not an indicator or measurement of when one should stop moving. Approach your event with the desire to move better. Even if you have chronic pain, disease or disability you can still strive to move better within your restriction so your everyday life is more enjoyable and reduce the chance of injury or falls.

If you are reading this and don’t have to think about your body during your day…good. What are you doing to make sure that this continues? What are you doing to sustain this? Are you doing more than just standing and lifting weights or walking on the treadmill? Are you thinking that any form of movement that you “have to do” won’t be fun or enjoyable? Step away from that thought and change your mindset – you can practice moving better in a way that will challenge you but won’t be a process that you dread.

Wherever you find yourself in this range of movement – I challenge you to train for the life that you want to live. Seek out those that want to help you on your journey. As a Functional Aging Specialist, I am qualified to help those in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s 80’s and up train for the life that they want to live.

Hold on to that joy and don’t give up on it.

Don’t change your life around your inability to continue doing things you enjoy doing. Move better every day so you can continue finding your joy and creating more moments to reminisce about.

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Don’t Ignore The Elephant In The Room – Move Better Now To Keep Your Independence


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There are things that we can count on one hand that we fear as we age. These fears include disease, disability, and dementia. Exercise can reduce the chances of these, ease the symptoms or improve the overall quality of life and health while living with them. Thus, even if you are living with something like Parkinson’s you should still be exercising! Instead of resigning to the idea that all of these just come with age or that there is nothing you can do – I challenge you to take a firm grasp of what you can do and empower yourself.

Below I share some resources and articles that speak to each of these.

Chronic Disease

Dementia

Disability

I encourage you to do your research within and outside these resources. There are fitness professionals like me out there that are looking for people like you to improve your quality of life – whatever quality that means to you! Whatever you do, push yourself to move better so you can better do what you like to do and want to do, easier, better and with less discomfort.

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Hack Your Mindset About Exercise: Six tips for the 40 and up crowd.


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If you are over 40, you may get some reminders from your doctor or friends and family that have had health problems about being more attentive to your health. Perhaps you believe that you won’t have health problems, or that you will deal with it if the time comes… Or you may believe that things just stop working as well as they used to as you get older. This and other ways of thinking need to be hacked. Below are six tips on how to hack that mindset.

  1. Think about a time when you were the most physically active. What was the activity that you enjoyed doing? Everyone has something, it does not necessarily mean that you played organized sports. How can you tap into that feeling of excitement and motivation? Find a gym, studio or adult intermural league to join. Or if it is other endeavors find a hiking club or a community garden that you can not only get you moving but stimulate your mind.

 

  1. You don’t have to wear gym clothes to move better in life. If the gym is too much for you and the great outdoors is your mecca then go for what makes you happy. Make sure you have some suitable footwear for the terrain that you will be hiking on. If you enjoy company then make it a time to catch up with friends while exploring the trails.

 

  1. If you are having health problems, thinking that exercise won’t really help much is the wrong attitude. The benefits of increased blood circulation, maintaining muscle tone and pushing your cardiovascular limits not only contribute to positive effects in your body but also you mind. If anything, a sense of accomplishment that you stuck to your schedule of whatever you enjoy doing while being physically active is important.

 

  1. Contemplating something more physical than a walk does not have to be a mind over matter battle. Investing in your health by seeking out qualified allies can help dipping your foot back in the water easier. If you suffer from chronic injury then talk to your doctor or look to a physical therapist or corrective exercise specialist. If the doctor gives you a green light to exercise and that is not enough then find a personal trainer. Any of these allies are a supplement to what you do. You will see them a few hours out of the week. Use that as your motivation to start changing the other hours of the day that you spend at work or retired.

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  1. Stop holding yourself back from being physically active because of discomfort or you are always tired. Use that opportunity to improve your health so you can do what you want and like to do. Perhaps there is a trip you have always imagined would be so much fun. Regardless how close or far the location is use that as your goal. Speak with your doctor about any chronic conditions and look at your options. Sometimes water aerobics is a great low impact way to improve things like cardiovascular health or strength and it is low impact at the same time. There are often many services that are inexpensive if not free for older adults. Check with your county government or agency.

 

  1. Doubting your physical capabilities leads to a path of a sedentary lifestyle that is riddled with a lack of mobility, strength and balance. Instead of thinking of exercise as something you cannot do – think of it as an opportunity to learn. Why learn? This is a chance to learn about your body and how it adapts and changes. As you introduce the right kind and right amount of exercise you will see that you can regain important physical functions. Also, the confidence level will also improve especially when it comes to what you can more easily do with less thought about your body.

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Squashing The Myths About Exercise for Older Adults-Part 3


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Despite our cultural depictions of aging, we all have the ability to age well with the strength, agility and balance to maintain our quality of life and the activities we enjoy. Traditional exercise programs, and even many fitness professionals, often disregard the ability of mature adults and seniors to maintain and gain qualities like strength and agility.
Regardless of age, we should all make the time to move, exercise, or play. Let’s squash one of the myths that hold mature adults and seniors back from moving better:

#3 Okay…exercise, but just take it easy…
To counter this myth, Fred Devito summed it up with his quote “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”
Progress in fitness will only occur over time when you are challenged. Sure, it is important to start off light when you begin a new fitness program, but soon your body will become used to the exercise and a plateau will happen. Progressions should be incorporated that continue to challenge you to move forward. My clients trust that I will push them just enough so they continue to see the results of their hard work, but not to a point of injury or exhaustion. The key to maintaining the right balance of challenge versus safe progression does not require a steep incline, instead the magic word is variability.
For example, if you enjoy walking on the treadmill, instead of going at the same pace for an hour – do intervals. Try 5 minutes at a comfortable pace then 2 minutes at a challenging pace. Keep coming back to the comfortable pace to recover, then ramp up again to stay challenged. Another simple variation to stay challenged is to vary your foot pattern if you enjoy working with dumbbells. Instead of standing neutral (i.e. feet hip-width distance apart) try a staggered stance as thought you’re midway through a walking step with one foot ahead of the other. Not only are you doing your curls but also you are testing your balance and core strength.

We move throughout life engaging multiple body parts simultaneously – so why isolate just one when we are exercising? Train for life!
Don’t let these myths hold you back from living with the quality of life you want! There’s no such thing as too old to exercise. Especially as we age, exercise may become but more about what you can DO rather than just how you look. A healthy fitness program means being able to play with the kids/grandkids, enjoy a good golf game, take that trip of a lifetime, or maybe just get around easily.
It is never too late to train to move better in your everyday life!

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Squashing the Myths About Exercise for Older Adults – Part 2


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Despite our cultural depictions of aging, we all have the ability to age well with the strength, agility and balance to maintain our quality of life and the activities we enjoy. Traditional exercise programs, and even many fitness professionals, often disregard the ability of mature adults and seniors to maintain and gain qualities like strength and agility.

Regardless of age, we should all make the time to move, exercise, or play. Let’s squash one of the myths that hold mature adults and seniors back from moving better:

2. It is too late to exercise or You’re too old for that

This myth seems to be based on a limited and subjective definition of “exercise.” Exercise does not have to happen in a big box gym, nor do you necessarily have to be wearing fancy exercise clothes. (You don’t have to wear leg warmers, tights and a headband unless that’s what motivates you!)

Consider all the activities that can contribute to exercise and fitness. For example, building and tending to a garden incorporates squatting, lunging, digging, pulling, dragging, pushing, core strength, carrying objects, and more. If you don’t have the space (or interest) to be a neighborhood farmer, then going for hikes, joining a rec league, pilates, enjoying the social, mental and physical benefits of Tai Chi, or trying out some group exercise classes at a gym/pool are all great ideas.

If you have a favorite park or enjoy walking in your neighborhood? Start there! Finally, if you do want a gym, shop around and find one that you are comfortable at. Independent gyms vary greatly. Find one that you’ll enjoy and will continue going to rather than paying for a membership that you are not using.

Find the exercise that fits your preference and lifestyle. Do something that YOU enjoy doing!

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Squashing the Myths About Exercise for Older Adults – Part 1


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Despite our cultural depictions of aging, we all have the ability to age well with the strength, agility and balance to maintain our quality of life and the activities we enjoy. Traditional exercise programs, and even many fitness professionals, often disregard the ability of mature adults and seniors to maintain and gain qualities like strength and agility.

Regardless of age, we should all make the time to move, exercise, or play. Let’s squash one of the myths that hold mature adults and seniors back from moving better:

  1. You will hurt yourself

This myth implies that mature adults and seniors are too frail and weak to exercise and moving will just lead to injury.

That is a just plain wrong. Yes, anyone starting a new exercise program should start off slow and set a foundation based on their current fitness level. Yes, consulting your doctor, getting your eyesight checked, being aware of the effects of medicines, etc. are important considerations. Lastly, yes, it is important to recognize any physical restrictions based on past injuries or current mobility challenges. These are factors to be considered at any age when changing lifestyle or starting a new fitness program.

The key is to recognize these factors and develop exercise options based on this awareness. For example, if walking places too much strain on joints, Nordic walking (i.e. with walking/hiking poles) is an excellent option. These poles actually facilitate an increase in oxygen consumption and energy expenditure by engaging the upper body instead of just the legs.

Contrary to this myth, improved fitness levels actually reduce the chance of injury. People with reduced mobility, tend to modify their movement based on fear or discomfort. Imagine walking on a narrow bridge over a swamp of alligators. How are you walking? Probably with shuffling steps in a hunched position. In this position you have a narrow base of support, walking is difficult and uncomfortable, and catching yourself if you trip will be difficult. Now, imagine a beautiful walk on the beach. You are relaxed with a more comfortable and confident gait. With a better range of motion, posture, and gait there is less of chance of injury or falls. Gait and balance issues are a major cause of injury in older adults.

One of the key contributing factors to reducing falls is exercise. Everyday life takes mobility, flexibility, balance, coordination, agility and power. Testing and training those functions in a proper fashion will lead to more confidence and ability to move throughout life with more ease.

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Exercise Without Assumptions – Train For Balance


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We rarely enjoy it when individuals make assumptions about us based on our beliefs, how we look or our age. When it comes to moving better and exercise don’t let assumptions about your potential hinder you. Regardless of your age, you should be training for a physical experience – life.  I strongly believe that age should not restrict someone from moving better. You can read more about it here.

Balance

When you walk, run, climb stairs, get in and out of a car you use balance. It doesn’t take actually standing on one leg during your day for your balance to be tested. Merely shifting your weight can be difficult if your balance has eroded. If you don’t take the time to test your balance regardless of your age – your ability to use your balance over time will decrease.

The good news is that you can re-train to improve your balance.

Consider changing your stance when you are doing some upper body movement that you enjoy doing. For example – curls or presses with two dumbbells are often done in a neutral stance. Your feet are about shoulder width apart and you are doing all the work in your upper body.

Consider changing where your feet are at next time you do curls or presses. A staggered stance – with one foot back will test your balance. Or an individual could do the exercise with a narrow footprint – feet close together. In both instances, your balance will be tested.  Often I have clients do is a rear lunge and then a press. Thus, I ask them to perform a rear lunge and stick it and stabilize before pressing the weights. Very quickly they will see how challenging it can be especially since they have to do it in steps and not just throwing the weight up. An option is to instead step back instead of a full lunge and driving the back knee down.

Especially as we age having good balance will keep you out of the hospital and greatly reducing the risk of falls. It is one thing to be able to do a 350 lb double leg press on a machine. This feat does not translate if the person has difficulty walking upstairs or stepping up onto a curb because their balance is not good.

What is good balance? Generally, good balance is being able to shift your weight, walk and do everyday life activities without an unsteady or unstable gait. Of course conditions like arthritis can affect how you shift your weight. If you do enjoy going for walks and feel as if you can’t anymore consider getting some walking poles.  You can still move better within your chronic conditions.

Test your balance in however you choose to exercise. It can be done by seeing how long you can hold a leg up. Just remember our bodies move in life as a unit. When you want to really test your balance you should be moving. This movement can include lunging or moving with weights. Just remember to mix things up and change your foot pattern.

Of course, consult your physician before starting an exercise program. Medications can affect balance so it is important to understand what the side effects can be from a qualified professional.

 

Train for life!

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Maintain or Improve Your Functional Capacity


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Take a moment and take an honest look at your health and ability to move well. This doesn’t just mean being able to lift, shoulder press or leg press an impressive amount of weight. Moving well includes being able to sit down and stand up without having to rock or use the arm rests. This also includes the balance, strength, and power to climb stairs. Even if you may have restrictions because of issues like chronic disease or arthritis you can still strive to improve your quality of life and move well within those restrictions.

Challenge yourself – if you are moving well right now what are you doing to make sure that as you age that does not change? If you are not moving well right now what are you doing to improve your physical ability?

Take a look at the below graphic. It is a simple and straightforward way of thinking about aging well. To explain what a functional capacity means – think about your daily life. Think about those daily activities that you need perform every day. These activities include what you need to do to maintain your health and well-being.  This capacity includes being able to go to the bathroom to pick up an object off the floor.

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I also challenge you to also include the things that you want and like to do. That capacity includes being able to get in and out of a sailing boat, competing in a triathlon or getting on the ground to play with the grandkids. What do you want and like to do? What do you have to improve so you can do those wants and likes easier or with less discomfort?

Maintaining your independence involves having that functional capacity. Maintaining your quality of life involves being able to move how your life demands. Introducing more or different ways of exercising will not only help you physically but also mentally and neurologically. Stay “in the green” and on the right path of a good functional capacity for your life!

 

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Exercise Without Assumptions: Train for Power


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We rarely enjoy it when individuals make assumptions about us based on our beliefs, how we look or our age. When it comes to moving better and exercise don’t let assumptions about your potential hinder you. Regardless of your age, you should be training for a physical experience – life.  The benefits allow you to move muscle more quickly. Read more about the research behind power training for older adults here.

Power

Not many of us are powerlifters…but all of us do power moves in our daily lives. We don’t move as explosively or straining under enormous amounts of weight – but not every move we do is a fluid or slow movement.

Consider opening up a refrigerator whose magnet is not budging much. A slow and easy pull may not do the job. Instead of tightening your grip, contracting those muscles and giving a forceful pull allows you to open that door.

Other examples of when we use power – climbing stairs, rising from a seated position or lifting objects.

Yes, there is strength involved – but speed is involved when it comes to power. For instance, if you slowly rose from a seated position you may fall back if you didn’t go fast enough. With the ability to stand up firmly without using your hands (or rocking forward) takes power.

We all trip over things – it is the catching that is important. Being able to move quickly and shift your foot so you don’t fall takes not only the ability to move the foot but to firmly plant it. Being able to reach out your hand quick enough to react and grasp something or catch your fall is very important.

Consider adding short bouts of moving with weight and moving as fast as possible to your regime. Of course, consult your physician before starting an exercise program especially if you are getting yourself back on track to train for life!

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The Fitness Triangle


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Draw a strong & healthy foundation for your life to rest on. Three important things are in play when moving better in life to improve your health or sustain what you have. Your mind has to be in the right place. Find out what really interests you. Also be consistent in moving, exercising, whatever you decide to do. Lastly, always mix things up and keep your body guessing.

Mind

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Where is your mind at? What motivates you? Taking the time to move better in life comes in many shapes in sizes. You can’t miss the countless gyms and boutique studios popping up. Depending on who you are – it can be welcoming or overwhelming. Follow that path if it attracts you & shop around for not only something that is good for your pocketbook but also makes you want to come back again! Join a group fitness class or get outside and join a hiking group. Sign up for a race & start training for it. Grab a friend to join you on your fitness journey.

Don’t turn that brain off from moving better those many other hours of the day when you are not exercising. Using your feet as a mode of transportation, taking a break from sitting at your desk and standing up is also so good for you. Do what you can with what you have – start with that.

Where is your mind at when it comes to what you are putting in your body? Moving well is only one piece of the puzzle. Be mindful of what you use for fuel. This does not mean an all-or-nothing take on what you eat…it means that you have balance. Seek out qualified professionals to help you if you want to get advice about what foods are good for you and how to compliment all the work you put in moving better.

Consistency

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Be consistent just like Forrest Gump…you don’t have to run though.

After you find what you like to do – DON’T STOP. The movement, exercise, activity that gets you blood flowing & raises your heart rate that you keep on doing is the one that is good for you.  Make it more than one activity. There is no substitute, pills or supplements for consistency. Be consistent about moving.

Think of an analogy of driving a car up a gradual incline. If you take your foot off the gas pedal the car will eventually stop and start coasting back. If you keep your foot just enough on the gas pedal you still are moving forward. You don’t have to (or should not) slam that foot down and floor it for your workout regime. You need rest days for your body to heal & rest!

Yes, this also means being consistent about what you are putting in your body too! You are only as healthy as what you are eating. Make sure that there is more of the good stuff coming in than the bad stuff. Also, Water…lots of it.

Variation

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Mix it up and go for a hike! Find a challenging trail & put one foot in front of the other.

Variation to your regime is the magic potion. You are consistent at moving every week – but are you doing the same exact exercise at the same exact pace/weight/stance/etc? If so eventually your body would get bored.

Think of eating your favorite meal every single day for 365 days. No matter how much you loved it, it would get old. Think of reading a article and each sentence was the same. Think of reading an article and each sentence was the same. Think of reading an article and each sentence was the same. Think of reading an article and each sentence was the same…

Got it?

Mix it up! Change your intensity. Change the speed. Change your stance. Change from standing in place and moving weight to moving with weight. Your workout routine should not be the same every week.

Of course there are other important things to keep in mind when focusing on a lifelong journey of health. Just keep in mind these three things on your journey to continue to build on that foundation that you have built. Drop me a line if you want a coach in your corner to help you set that foundation!

-Damien