Functional Aging Specialist

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How Fit Can You Be Over 50?


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This question may come to mind when fitness and healthcare professionals strongly encourage various forms of exercise. How much “in shape” or “fit” do I need to be?  Many articles and studies highlight the numerous physical, neurological and cellular benefits to exercise.

The best answer is to turn the question back on you…how fit do you need to be to carry out the physical demands of your everyday life? What can that entail?

  • Sitting down.
  • Getting up.
  • Stepping to the side and reaching for something.
  • Reaching up to get something.
  • Carrying heavy items on one side while walking.
  • Turning to see what is around you.
  • Walking up stairs or on uneven ground.
  • Conditioned enough not to be winded at the top of the stairs.
  • Clothing and bathing yourself.

The list goes on…

This physical ability to carry out everyday tasks is also called your functional capacity.

Another way of phrasing this is – what do you enjoy doing and what do you need to do physically to be able to do it? Vacations? Visiting and playing with grandkids? Hiking trips? Running marathons? Enjoying the sites at a national park? Everything that brings you joy incorporates some sort of movement, regardless if that just means walking across the floor to open the door for a family member.

To answer the question one way: You should be as fit as your life demands.

This idea means you should not structure your life around your bodies limitations especially if they include your functional capacity. Instead, you should practice, exercise, and “train” to be able to do what you want to do easier and with less thought about how your body is moving.

Another way to answer the question is: Be as fit as you can possibly be.

Striving to be fit is a lifelong journey. As we age we may have to adapt and change the ways that we do exercise, but that does not mean we stop challenging ourselves. The more you move better every day you are rewarded with independence, confidence, and peace of mind that you don’t let your age determine what you can or cannot do.

To be clear, being “fit” is more than strength (although it is important, as especially leg strength is associated with morality).

It is also the power to move quickly if necessary.

It is also the agility to be able to walk over and around objects.

It is also the balance to be able to walk, bend, carry things and do things simultaneously.

It is also the mobility and flexibility to move your ankles, knees, hips, wrists, neck, and shoulders.

It is also the ability to be able to get to the ground and stand back up.

 

You CAN be fit over 50. You deserve to live the life you want to live!

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10 Articles of 2017 That Promote Healthy Aging


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As we welcome the new year being mindful of moving better and other aspects of healthy aging have to be a part of our goals. Even if this is not directly a goal of yours…often we all reflect upon what we are thankful for. The health of our loved ones and yourself is often at the top of the list. With that in mind to continue being thankful, we must strive to choose the option to be able to do what we want to do and live the life that we want to live.  A result of choosing that path includes learning how to move better every day to improve if not maintain your physical capacity to perform everyday life activities with ease. Thus, here are 10 articles in no particular order from 2017 that you can use as your foundation for the new year.

Have a great start to 2018!

1.

Mobility is an important aspect of everyday life activities. There does not have to be a prescribed age where one is unable to do what they need to do. This article touches upon the mobility benefits that exercise can provide. Click here to read.

2.

Brain Health is often a concern as we get older and we want to know how to keep our brain sharp. This article speaks to how aerobic exercise and the lifestyle that you live can positively affect your brain health. Click here to read.

3.

Fitness Apps can make your life easier. Yes, you don’t have to be in your 20s to get hip to using a phone application to improve your fitness level. Click here to read.

4.

Flexibility and whole body coordination are absolutely important to be able to do what we want to do and like to do in life. The practice of Tai Chi is not only great exercise but also can prevent the risks of falls. Perhaps some may think that moving so slowly is easy and more intense movement could be more beneficial. I challenge you to take a Tai Chi class. Click here to read.

5.

The physical benefits of dancing reach far beyond the happiness it can bring (which is great in and of itself!). This article discusses a study by the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Germany. They found neurological benefits to dancing, along with balance improvement among other things. Click here to read.

6.

Move it or lose it is a saying that rings true every day and the anniversary of our birthday. This article highlights a study done by researchers from multiple schools which included University at Buffalo and Stanford University. Click here to read.

7.

Striving to be physically fit keeps your brain in good shape too. In a study by Boston University School of Medicine researchers found those physically fit performed better on memory tests than their less in shape counterparts. Click here to read.

8.

Misconceptions about exercise and older adults will lead you astray from where you should be.  In this article Dan O’Brien, Olympic athlete dispels the myths of exercise and other adults. You may not be a former Olympian but you can still benefit from his advice…because this pertains to anyone over 50!  Click here to read.

9.

What you eat plays a substantial part in how you age. My friends at IDEA Health and Fitness Association here in San Diego published a comprehensive article about what has changed and stayed the same in regards to the Dietary Guidelines of Americans. Click here to read.

10.

The intensity of how you exercise can play an important part in your physical fitness. This article discusses a study that found that exercise of an intense pace can positively affect you even at a cellular level. Such a type of exercise is not only for an individual of a certain age as the level of intensity is adjusted to someone’s fitness level. Click here to read.

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How You Can Re-Define What Aging Means


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Think about your average commercials or the way in which individuals over 60 are depicted. Often in society “old people” are depicted as hunched over, frail and as if their best days are behind them.  This stereotype of a lack of mobility or range of motion, fragile nature, inability to do want to do in life does not have to be the quality of life for you. I urge you not to internalize this…or if you are a family member don’t allow that to affect how you view your loved ones and their potential.

In reality, that picture described above is and can be different. People are going on trips of a lifetime, running marathons, in the best shape of their life, continuing to move better and training to be stronger…all of the above and more. That can be you.

There is no mold, you can train for the life that you want to live.

How can you re-define what aging means to you?

  • Move better every day. Strive for progress in your movement, think of getting better at exercising as practice to do better over time.
  • Tap into what motivates you to move your body. Join a dance class, join an exercise class at the YMCA, join a hiking club..the possibilities are endless!
  • Be consistent about moving every week…but embrace variation.
  • Challenge your balance and agility. These are key to having a quality of life that you can enjoy and independence you deserve. Just being strong is not enough. Be a better walker, stair climber, better movement in your life.
  • If you have fallen, don’t let that define you. Find qualified professionals that can help you improve your balance and agility so you can decrease your chances of falling again.
  • If you have a disability you can still find ways to move better to improve your quality of life. Exercise is a flexible and adaptable way of moving and it comes in many, many forms.
  • Change your mindset that your best days are behind you. If you strive to move better every day you can continue to do what you want to do and like to do…or lead your life with more independence and confidence. You choose!
  • Take ownership of any chronic conditions that you have and discuss with your doctor how to reduce symptoms and how certain types of exercise can help.
  • Reach out to allies in your community that are experienced, qualified and excited to work with you and help you move towards your goals.
  • Never think that you are too old to learn something. Often exercise, especially when trying something new is a learning process. Be patient with the process. Also, that learning aspect along with exercise is great for your brain!

Choose the path that leads to a lifestyle and quality of life leads to you being able to do what you like and want to do!

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