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You Are Not Broken


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One thing that the fitness industry generally fails at is making people feel as if they are a glass half empty. That theme intertwined with fitness makes you think about what you can’t do, can’t do well, can’t do what you used to do, or can’t do at all. Of course, I am not the only person in the world that wants you to recognize what you can do right now and build on that. There are countless individuals not just in the fitness industry that spread this idea. It is just that more often than not exercise is phrased in a punishment way or something you have to hate doing the entire time.

Feeling broken in a physical way can come in many definitions. I would assert that they all connect at the idea that you are unable to physically do something that you used to be able to do or do with ease. The effect of this feeling can include things like: (1) Starting to edit your movements in life to strategically avoid those movements that lie at the heart of that feeling of broken (2) associating a negative feeling to a side/limb etc. i.e. “that is my bad side” or (3) feeling as if there is no hope for any kind of movement that moves in that direction.

There is no way to sugarcoat how defeating and depressing that feeling can be. I have seen it in the body language of clients without them having to talk about it. Asking to help to move better in a way that you have had difficulty with is not easy. There is a fear of making the pain worse. There is also the fear of doing something “wrong.” Some people have told me that they literally can’t do something like a squat. They have that shiny fitness video portrait of a perfect deep squat probably with heavy weights. These same people do a variation of squats every day in everyday life…they just fear that expectation of a cookie-cutter or “perfect” squat.  Once they let go of meeting that a picture-perfect standard, they can practice better movement and build on that to move better. And guess what? They can move better than they thought they could.

Your body is made to move. I could care less how old you are. You are supposed to explore and enjoy your body through movement. There are many things we all do every day of our lives that we easily take for granted. You rolled out of bed and got up. You have the eye-hand coordination to pick things up and put them somewhere else. You have the ability to look over your shoulder. You can walk without any gait issues. The list can go on and on. In perspective, you or someone you know has a difficult time doing one of these or other movements. That can really put movements that can be nothing but an afterthought in perspective.

Start with now. Start with how you move now. Accept ownership of how you have arrived at this point in your state of fitness. Take credit for the good things. Also take the blame for inactivity, bad diets or other things that crept up over time. Now it is time to put that aside and practice. Find ways to practice better movement. Especially if you have the dedication to adopting good habits, move in ways that strengthen your movement foundation or work with someone that is good at both…you can reap great benefits.

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The pitfalls of protected movement


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Recently I was working with a middle-aged gentleman who if you saw him move you would assume that everyday movements were not a challenge for him. In general, you would be correct. Like all of us, he had areas of tightness that could be addressed with everyday stretching or practicing more optimal posture. He mentioned that he had fallen in the past while hiking and was very apprehensive about walking downhill.

I was in the rear of a hike and saw how his body language and posture changed pretty drastically when the trail went downhill or downstairs. The steps become shorter. He lowered himself closer to the ground by bending his knees. His shoulders raised. He was not exactly shuffling but he was not picking his feet up as high off of the ground.

What if he encountered a root or something raised on the trail? Would he be able to raise his foot high enough so he did not trip? Also his base of support became narrower. The way he was moving of course in his mind was safer. However, from an outside view, he was increasing his chances of falling again.

I get it. After any of us fall of any age in the back of our minds, we don’t want it to happen again. We are afraid of it happening again. What would I suggest in this situation? First off it is obvious that we should applaud his want to not stop hiking. That is important. He was wearing just tennis shoes. Changing to better shoes so there is more traction and more confidence can be an easy fix. That in itself could be the game-changer. After the new shoes are on then it would be practicing better breathing (high shoulders means that it was not happening) would be a good step.

Let’s move on from that story. In general ways of protecting often involve pain. Knee injury, shoulder impingement or hip issues are all common areas. Sometimes the pain is gone but it is the fear of hurting it again.

Strength training can be one of the ingredients that your body needs. It does not and probably should not be a ridiculous amount of weight. Start where you are, then move from there. There are always options for a movement. If you continue to protect and not find ways to move better or with more confidence, it can be a recipe for a re-injury. It may take time to not hesitate. It will take patience with the process. It may take a while to really believe that your knee is getting better. However, starting even in small steps can add up over time.  On the other hand, I have spoken with people that claim that they can only pick up a 5lb dumbbell but they lift groceries and put items up in the plane with no issue. There it is a lack of connection between the gym and everyday life. Protecting in an environment (the gym etc.) where you have the opportunity to practice better movement that can help you move better in life can hold you back.

Let me leave you with one comparison of two pictures below that visually shows a movement in everyday life to an exercise in the gym.

Screen Shot 2019-08-30 at 4.39.32 PM

The woman on the left probably is calling this “picking up a plant” the woman on the right calls this a squat.

You say potato….I say… Exactly 🙂

Find ways to move through that protected movement so you can move with more confidence!

 

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How To Find Your Fitness Habit


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In my part time job at Golden Door Wellness Resort I work with a different group every week. Individuals come to the Door to heal or get stronger whether literally or figuratively. It is much more than a place to exercise. This special place offers an opportunity to recenter for those that want a mental or physical reboot or begin a healing process from life struggles or tragedies.

Of the guests I am matched with as their trainer for the week – physical fitness may be at the forefront of their visit or in the background. Some of these guests I work with either are facing physical limitations or want to avoid issues that family members are dealing with. Those that are in this mental space are searching for the key to core strength, increased cardiovascular capacity or more strength. Others know they should be doing something but are not sure what. Some don’t like going to the gym but know they should be doing something. Some have tried working with a trainer, jumping on the latest fitness fad or bought some equipment that is gathering dust.

If you can resonate with any of this I encourage you to do what works for YOU. These days you are assaulted with new fitness trends, new equipment and diet trends. There are ads or articles talking about how to just target certain areas of the body to reduce fat. Separate the wheat from the chaff.

Start with what works for you. I was brainstorming with a guest while hiking and she mentioned that she liked swimming. She does it occasionally. She felt that she should be running, doing core strength and strength training too. Now she was putting layers of things that she was not to excited about on top of something she liked doing – swimming.

We talked about parsing apart those and just focusing on swimming and getting an apple watch to count her steps. That did not stress her out. Start where you are now. Find that activity that you enjoy doing. Be “boring” for a while and stick to that activity. I told her, if she did 15,000 steps a day and got swimming in twice a week and stuck to that she would start feeling better. Then she could start with other things.

If you find yourself stuck, put aside the pressures of what you think you should be doing…instead do what you can and want to do.
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Seniors of San Diego and Exercise


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Untitled design

Vitality. What does that mean to you? It could be having the energy and ability to do what you want to do. However you define it – your body and mind are firing on as many cylinders as possible.

Exercise in all of its forms is one of the major “medicines” to keep you as strong, agile and full of energy as possible. To stay on that path it is important to practice balance training, add some strength training and find ways to move that help your range of motion and flexibility. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list but it is a great start!

Balance Training

You use balance every time you move, pick things up and even just when standing in one place. It is that program in the background that you usually don’t even think about. When you start to think about it then that means it is past time for you to challenge your balance so you can improve it.

Need some ideas on ways to practice better balance? Click here.

Strength Training

You need strength to move throughout life. Sure you are not powerlifting your way throughout life…but you need strength to be able to do things. You should not have to rock to get out of a chair. Instead, you should have the leg strength to get up with confidence. Pesky refrigerators need to be pulled open. Groceries are picked up, carried and put on a shelf.  You want and deserve that independence to not have to ask for help for menial tasks. Not only is this good for your muscles but also bone density. Especially if you are living with osteoporosis or have a risk of it…this is important! Read this Time Magazine article about strength training here.

 

Range of Motion

Being able to reach things or get down to the floor takes flexibility and mobility. Often in the fitness industry, there is a back and forth about the importance of them. Let us just keep it simple and say that you want to able to move in ways during your life as your life demands. This can include getting down to the floor and getting up again. This can also include getting into a car and being able to do mirror checks, put on your seatbelt and get in and out of the car. Going on trips? Do you want to have to ask for help when putting a light object in the overhead bin? I didn’t think so. Stretching and other ways of moving is a daily routine that we all need to be better about. Yes all of us.

Original Strength has a wonderful and refreshing take on movement. I doubt if you have moved in ways that they display. I find it is a great way for individuals to reconnect with their bodies. There are always options. Check out the short video below about a way to help work on your posture.

 

Above all, I encourage you to find ways to move! You deserve the quality of life that allows you to do what you want and like to do. If you are in San Diego I encourage you to attend a workshop where you can get a hands-on chance to learn more! Click here or below on the graphic!

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Thoughtful Movement


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It is much more convenient when you don’t really have to think when you are moving. Things become second nature. In everyday life, it can be a plethora of things. We go on autopilot often and muscle memory kicks in.  But there was a time we had to think and focus on how we moved. You were thinking more when we were learning.

It is like when you first learned how to ride a bike or even drive a car. You were probably hypersensitive to your balance and your speed when you were learning how to ride a bike.  As for driving a car balance was not an issue…but all of the things you had to do (check your rear mirror, then your side mirror, check out your speed, turn your signal on, watch for that stoplight) was kind of a sensory overload. Soon all of that calmed down and you got it. It became second nature.

As for your movement now it is a bit different. Perhaps you don’t play as much as you used to do when you were younger. Maybe you are tired of being beat over the head about exercise with a capital E. It could be you feel disconnected from your body.  Whatever it is, you know you need to do something, and you are trying.

I still challenge you to be engaged. If you dance – get into it. Let the music take you but reconnect with your body and play with your movement. If you are going to the gym or doing more conventional ways of exercise don’t just go through the motions. Study. Learn. (…and trying to say you are old won’t fly with me!) I don’t mean be a perfectionist about form. I mean notice your breathing. Learn about the importance of creating tension in your body during a movement and notice how that feels. If you do work with a trainer still don’t turn your brain off. Notice how much weight you are moving with. Be a good student and learn. Take ownership of your sessions.

Exercise is good for your brain and there are definitely ways to move that make you think and be more aware. It can be more like riding a bike again. This way of engaging does not stop at strength or conditioning…stretching and moving in ways to increase your mobility should be a mindful activity too.

You may come up against a barrier. It could be a physical barrier of a range of motion or a mental barrier as to something you think you cannot do or a movement that once lead to injury. Listen to that and don’t pack that away. Being aware of that and allowing that feeling to sit in the present is all about thoughtful movement.

Your brain was firing on all cylinders when you learned something for the first time. Those first times are still now and in your future. You just have to be open to learn, seek out advice and try different things. Allow yourself to learn how to ride a bike again. It can be scary but also exciting and stimulating. Again, you are never too old to learn. You can create more neurological pathways at any age. Read more about it here.

Get on that metaphorical bike & learn. Make mistakes. Avoid comparing your progress to others. Fall and get back on. It is all part of the process of better movement. It feels new and different.

Walk towards more thoughtful movement 🙂

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The Baby Boomers Blueprint To Better Movement – Vol 1


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Your generation is very diverse however in between all of the different lifestyles and priorities there is one idea, in particular, you intersect on. That point is the ambition to do what you want to do when you want to do it. Largely, the first thing that comes to mind are the things you enjoy doing. Next are the things that you need to do in your life and everyday life. However your priorities fall, better movement plays a powerful role in doing what you want to do when you want to do it.

Here are some things to keep in mind to give you some structure.

Avoid Protecting

Pain sucks. I get it. An injury is not fun either. We remember when we were injured especially if it greatly impeded our everyday life. Perhaps after we have healed that episode is imprinted in our head. You may move a bit differently. You may move in ways to avoid that injury that happened. It can include moving more within our range of movement, thus moving less in ways to protect something like our backs. Possibly this is affecting your breathing and you are holding your breath more. You may also be tighter in some areas and not even aware of it because you are engaging certain muscles for longer than you used to do.

Obviously, there is a mental and physical part of the pain. They are intertwined very well.

But there has to be room for movement. There needs to be room to discover ways to improve things like your strength, stability or become more aware of how you are compensating in your movements. Making room for movement does not mean throwing caution to the wind, ignoring pain or acting like you never were injured in the first place. Making room instead includes learning how you can reduce the chances of it happening again through ways of movement or breathing. Making room includes variations like an assisted squat instead of a bodyweight squat. Making room can also include seeking out qualified professionals that can help you. You don’t have to do this alone.

Step Into Strength

Physical strength is used in our daily life. This does not diminish as we get older. Your priorities may have changed in regards to your physical stature but your body still thrives from strength. Leg strength is one of the indicators of your mortality rate. If you do walk that is great. However, strength training builds that foundation for a lower extremity that can take on the terrain of various levels and softness. Building strength means fighting some sort of resistance. Things like claiming that you don’t squats, deadlifts or lunges in real life leads to avoiding the exercises you need to be doing. You do variations of all three exercises in your daily life including pulling, pressing and twisting. Reaching for the lightest weight possible does not translate to lifting, carrying and placing a heavy bag of groceries on the ground.

Stay On Balance

Balance is not a physical attribute. Balance is not a measurable thing like height and weight. It may not be the sexiest like impressive feats of strength or some flexible yoga pose. However, the ability to have the balance to move throughout your life is easy to take for granted. As you move…think of balance is a program running in the background. It runs in the background when you are walking down the street, mounting stairs or picking something up off the floor. That program is running when an obstacle is in your way or when you are carrying the groceries inside.  Don’t wait until the warning signs come to the forefront of balance that has eroded. Remember – your life involves movement. When you do work to challenge and improve your balance incorporate movement.

Train For What You Enjoy

Your life involves movement. Especially when it comes to the things we enjoy doing, we want to be able to move well. You don’t need to be some daredevil to justify practice so you can move better. It should be pretty straightforward – you enjoy golf, swimming, running or hiking? Why not learn how to be stronger, more agile confident and just plain better at those things?  Even if activities like that are not on your list of things to do – again life involves movement. Your life involves various strength exercise, things that take core strength, movements that demand balance and agility.  That joy of movement is what makes things enjoyable and memorable.

Get Out Of Your Head

I don’t know who came up with the quote but loosely paraphrased – the gains largely happen on the days that you don’t want to exercise. When we feel like rocky it is easy to exercise however you see fit. It is those days when it is a bad week, you are not feeling strong or something is just off. Also, don’t expect every time you move to be some monumental step of progress. Often we are practicing a movement and working to perform at it better. We all have different lengths to achieve the goal of a better movement. Lastly, setbacks happen to the best of us and listening to your body is ever so key as we get older.

Sometimes the truth is that you may not be able to do some things physically like you used to do. That does not mean you should give up on learning other ways to move. If you keep on drawing lines in the sand as to what you will not do or try soon you are stuck in a small box of movement. That restriction does not bode well for a quality of life that allows you to do what you want to do – when you want to do it.

Also striving for perfection when it comes to exercise in its various forms can be problematic. Striving to move better and moving towards a goal of moving better than yesterday is a better way to think about exercise. This does not mean you are taking things easy. It just means that moving better is a process. We all have different ways of learning and the rates of which we progress.

Volume Is Not The Holy Grail

Increasing volume in ways like spending more hours exercising, adding more weight or increasing reps is not necessarily the path that leads to a better quality of life. So what if you are walking or jogging for an hour? Is it a leisurely pace and you are wondering why you are not seeing an increase in your cardiovascular health? So what are ways to tweak a workout other than volume?

Four ways to change up the way you move are Time, Intensity, Duration or Variation.

Time

Using the running example, time can be a factor. How far can you get in 20 minutes?

Intensity

The question posed above can also apply to intensity because you are picking up the intensity of the run. Also, you could do some sort of intervals. Let’s say 800 you go at “race pace” and then the next 800 you back off and go slower. You do this for 3 miles.

Duration

Yes, this is volume here. You run for an hour. Of course generally, in this instance, you will not be pushing the pace. You are focused on staying steady and a pace you can stick to. However don’t get comfortable. After you are doing well then it is time to see if you can cover more distance.

Variation

This could be cross training or other ways of running. Maybe you are doing some agility drills like high knees, quick backpedaling or lateral shuffles. All of these and more contribute to you being a more agile and body aware runner.

Do What You Know You Should Be Doing

There are some things that we should be doing that don’t involve a doctor’s prescription, recipe or a how-to manual.  Don’t play dumb. We all are guilty of it. Nobody is good at everything.

Often we gravitate towards some new trend, new diet or fast lane to a healthier us. The boring stuff gets left on the curb. Don’t let that boring stuff get left behind in your routines. Need an example? I am sure you have heard all of the statistics about how much percentage of our bodies are water and the importance of hydration. Yet how many excuses have you given as to why you are not drinking enough water?

  1. It is boring.
  2. It does not taste like much.
  3. I keep forgetting.
  4. There is water in my coffee (So basically, I get enough water).
  5. I don’t like the way it tastes.
  6. I know I should but…

Drink your water, come on. Find what works for you whether it be a bigger water bottle, some sort of routine or a ribbon tied around your wrist. Dehydration is a road that can lead to bad compensations and results.

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Don’t Let A Fitness Coach Coddle You


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You have decided to invest in a personal trainer, or you are considering it. Finding the right personality, style, location, and rates that meet what you are looking for is important.

S/he or they should listen to you about what your goals are. There should be a bit of digging to unearth what you really mean. The reason they should do some digging is –  let’s be honest you may be saying something you have read, someone has told you or you don’t want to look dumb. Usually, there is a bigger reason why you chose this moment in time to move your body more or differently. That is part of the psychology of working with someone as their personal trainer. We as fitness professionals have to listen with more than our ears and ask some probing questions.

After the initial meeting especially during the first couple of sessions your trainer should be paying attention to things like how you move, your range of motion, body awareness and what your actual fitness level is (compared to what you may have said…because sometimes people overshoot or undershoot). During that time it is understandable if your trainer is cautious or wants to focus on creating things like stability before moving to a heavier weight. You should “earn” the right to add more weight or do an advanced movement if you have not mastered a foundational movement. 

Side note…if your coach is not listening to you and your goals or instead of paying attention to how you move they just give you a cookie-cutter workout that is not tailored to you…that is another reason to move on and find someone else to work with!

But is your trainer coddling you? Are they so focused on your age, gender or other factors that they are not really “listening” to your current fitness level? They should be meeting you where you are at…not making assumptions about who you are. 

Two examples of this coddling are: a 75-year-old client walks into the gym without any serious issues walking or balance. That client asked to sit down for the majority of the exercises, always physically “helped” across the gym? At least from those few facts, I would argue – that client is being coddled.

Another example is if a female client is told to stick to the lighter weights after showing that she has the strength and stability to do more than 5lb. Again, she is physically strong enough to do an exercise with a heavier weight. She can do heavier. She wants to go a bit heavier. She enjoys getting and feeling stronger.  Why is that trainer holding her back? It is not about trying to do some dangerous amount of weight when a client is put in an unsafe place. It is about helping someone get stronger. 

A fitness professional should meet you where you are at and introduce some challenge into your sessions over time. The challenges don’t have to be ridiculous.  Subtle changes or options to an exercise can provide the opportunity for a client to have a goal to practice something so they can perform better at it. You don’t need to be (and honestly should not be) crawling out of the gym after a session. 

What should not be happening is a trainer that is “protecting” you in ways that are only holding you back. This coddling can be one of those if-I-see-it-I-know-what-it-is things. It is not about comparing your workouts to other clients in the gym or asking your friends what you did with their trainer. This is about an individual giving you enough respect to see potential in you. 

A fitness professional regardless of how accomplished they are or how many letters after their name should find that sweet spot of safely working with you and at the same time challenging you. It may be a bit out of your comfort zone but nothing unsafe. Obviously, they keep in mind any restrictions you may have when working with you and creating your program. However, treating you as if you are fragile, not strong or capable is only doing you and your body a disservice. 

If you feel this is the case give that professional a chance to explain their process of your sessions. Perhaps there is a rhyme to their reason and progressions are around the corner. Maybe they are working on improving an aspect of your movement and strengthening a foundational movement is a priority. After that conversation, you feel as if that lack of respect is continuing it is time to start shopping around. That relationship needs to end regardless of how much you may like them.  At this point, there is no value to you personally of the services they are providing to you. Clients’ goals and aspirations can differ as much as the next person’s. However, goals of different shapes and sizes all intersect with the idea of progress. Even if you want to maintain your current physical abilities, challenges will facilitate that, coddling will not. 

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The Rocks, Pebbles & Sand of Movement


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You may be familiar with the Rocks, Pebbles and Sand Story (aka Jar of Life Story). If you are not it is a great little story that reminds us of what is important in life. Take two minutes and watch it here.

I will wait…

Obviously, the message that this story brings displays what is really important in life. Without a doubt.

After thinking about this story it can also apply to improve the way you move by prioritizing. Now that you know what this story is about I will break up how we move in 3 parts: rocks, pebbles, and sand. This is not an exhaustive overview…but it will give you an idea of prioritizing how you practice better movement.

Rocks

The rocks of movement are what we have to do to carry on with our everyday life. This can include:

  • Getting in and out of bed.
  • Going to the bathroom.
  • Walking with agility and balance so we don’t fall.
  • Picking things (or little people) up, carrying them and putting them in other places.
  • Getting into and out of the car (which can involve pulling & climbing).
  • Being able to turn our head to look for things.
  • Navigating uneven terrain along with inclines and decline.
  • Clothing and bathing ourselves.
  • Taking care of our children/family.
  • Carrying babies, pushing strollers and spending time on the floor.

Some that see this list may feel that it is mundane. If that is the case then these activities are not arduous or take much thought.  Or you or a family member may have problems doing this, there may be some compensation to perform them or at the most extreme – someone is helping them do it.

These rocks of movement are imperative to be able to do. A vacation is different when you are not able to get up, move, put your clothes on or other movements on your own.

Because these are the rocks of movement it is so undeniably important that we practice moving better so can either move better or with less discomfort…or continue to be able to do them.

Pebbles

The pebbles of movement can include what we do for a living or who we care for. This can include:

  • Sitting for long periods of time (don’t worry I will talk about this below)
  • Being on your feet for long periods of time.
  • Lifting heavy weight and placing it elsewhere.
  • Walking long distances
  • Professional/Amateur Sports
  • Manual labor
  • Carrying babies, pushing strollers and spending time on the floor
  • Caring for older individuals

This is what we do that can involve different ways of moving aside from everyday life activities. It can be a movement that we should practice so we avoid injury (like mobility or strength). On the flip side if we sit all day our posture will be affected. Also, the footwear that we are wearing can also affect us. We should be aware of the pebbles that should be developed so they don’t erode. We should also be aware of the pebbles that can negatively affect how we move and find ways to reduce that chance.

In other words, you have to think about what your pebbles are. Especially you have chronic pain or tightness in these pebbles it is time to assess how to eliminate them. Our pebbles are what we need to do so we can live a comfortable life however we define it.

Need an example? What if your job involves picking things up and putting them in various places. That not only involves your arms but your legs, core…yes your entire body. This video below also applies to the rocks! You reach to pick up things all the time.

Sand

The sand of movement can include what we do for fun or ways of movement that have a greater chance of injury if not performed correctly. This can include:

  • Sports
  • Competing in half-marathons obstacle course races and the like
  • Physical feats like climbing Mountain Everest

What do you do for fun? Golf? Running races? Adrenaline-fueled activities? You could still continue doing what you need to do in your life but this is what makes it so much fun. However, if you ONLY did these that is not good. Why? You should be strengthening your rocks and pebbles so you can reduce a chance of injury and perform at your best!

Think about it this way – if I only ran Marathons every month and nothing else I would not be at my best. Why? I would not be working on strengthening my legs, core and entire body for the event. Also, any pain and tightness coming from not addressing the mileage I am putting on my body will affect how I live my daily life and also my job. It is not fun when you are hobbling around the house or have to do your job is awkward because of a chronic it band tightness. At the worst, I may have to stop running marathons because I was not strengthening the foundation of my rocks of movement.

Wrapping up…

You may have different types of sand, pebbles, and sand in your life. The way you practice moving better for the rocks and pebbles is important. If you only take the time to pour all sand in your jar you are neglecting to strengthen your rocks and pebbles. Also, when it comes to improving movement is more than just strength, the ability to move, have the flexibility, coordination, and balance is just as important!

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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!