Older Adult fitness blogs

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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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Keep Muscular Atrophy at Bay


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Strength training generally is associated with the “mirror muscles.” The mirror muscles can include biceps, that elusive 6-pack or muscular or toned legs. Those are great and all but muscles help us move not just look good. Muscles help us lift that bag of dog food up and into the trunk. These muscles allow us to reach down pick up a grandchild and play with them. Life involves strength. Life involves the power to come up out of chair with speed and control.

Atrophy is what we want to keep at bay as much as we can. When we are younger we may not be thinking about atrophy.  Atrophy is defined by Merriam-Webster as: “decrease in size or wasting away of a body part or tissue.” When it comes to adults as we get older is that muscular atrophy can happen as an effect of aging.

Here is an excerpt from a great article by Harvard Health about preserving muscle mass… “Age-related muscle loss, called sarcopenia, is a natural part of aging. After age 30, you begin to lose as much as 3% to 5% per decade…” Click here to read more of this article.

Strength training is for every age and gender. The amount of pounds we use when strength training may be less as we get older.  What should not change is the challenging nature of strength training. Gentle exercise does not keep atrophy as bay. Challenges are subjective when it comes to strength training. To keep muscular atrophy at bay for as long as possible incorporate strength training into your regime!

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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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Baby Boomers Guide to Better Movement – Vol 2


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Do Complex Movements

Everyday life activities involve complex movements. Rarely do we isolate one specific muscle when carrying out our daily lives. Not convinced? Think about getting into a car. There are many ways to get into a vehicle depending on how high it is off the ground. However, we don’t just sit down like we do into a chair. At some point, at the least – these things are in play: balance, flexibility, agility, and strength.

Thus, moving better in life involves incorporating complex movements. Walking is more than just using your legs, it also incorporates balance and agility when there are obstacles in the way. Think of these complex movements another way…often when we do move in life we move with weight or moving weight. Carrying groceries, pushing a shopping cart or picking something off the floor are all ways we move that are complex movements. So don’t overthink this idea!

With all of that in mind (pardon the pun)…your ability to perform these movements is something that is not just physical but mental also. Practicing movements is good for your brain.

Examples include:

  • Lateral lunge/step to the side to balance.
  • Squat to medicine ball push out.
  • Performing standing curls or presses with a foot stance that challenges your balance.
  • Starting at the 1/2 kneeling position and then coming up to standing.

 

Be Able To Get Down To The Floor & Back Up

The ability to bring yourself all the way to the ground and back up to standing is probably something that was an afterthought when we were kids. As we get older we may not play as much especially if we don’t have kids or even pets. When the kids are old enough that getting on the floor is not a priority you may not do it as often. For some individuals getting to the floor is not only difficult but it is scary…because they are not confident or able to get back up. This is something that I want all of my clients and you to not be afraid of doing.

That inability and/or lack of confidence is huge. That can greatly increase the chances of falls and injuries. Looping back into the previous section of complex movements…this for sure is a complex movement!

For some ideas on ways to practice this click here. However you do it, don’t worry if it is not perfect. Practice makes better. The more you practice and have that confidence the more you can keep the chances of falls low. If it is easy for you there are many ways to make a floor to standing exercise more challenging.

Do What Works For You – Consistently

It is easy to be assaulted with what works in regards to better movement to improve your quality of life. You may have friends or family that have found success with certain workout routines, diets or gadgets that keep them on track in regards to what they should be doing. End of the day those that tout their success have one thing in common – consistency.

When you just walk every once in a while or go to an exercise class when the spirit finds you then it is not a recipe for progress. It is true that sometimes you may not feel like doing that activity. It is important that you stick to a consistent schedule of movement. It does not have to be the same thing, but a consistent schedule of movement can reap many benefits. You will see that over time there may be a plateau of your progress. When those times happen do not fall into the trap of automatically choosing more volume of whatever activity you are doing.

Variation or variety can be your key to maintaining your quality of life or improving it. For example, instead of going for a leisurely walk outside or on the treadmill – increase your pace. In this instance stick to the mileage, you usually cover and ramp up that intensity to add that variation to your usual walk and make it more of a challenge.

Be Attentive To Your Hearing & Vision

What do your hearing and vision have to do with better movement? Actually much more than you may think…other than the obvious. Everything is connected! Poor vision can negatively affect your balance. Click here to read more about that. This is about your vestibular system.  Curious to know that is involved with that amazing function of our bodies? Check out this overview of the human balance system.

Your ability to hear is connected to more than just than that sense. Hearing loss can bring an increased risk of falls. Yes! Read more about it here.

Don’t Neglect Stability 

First, let’s start with a definition of stability and go from there. American Council on Exercise defines it as: “the ability to maintain or control joint movement or position. Stability is achieved by the coordinating actions of surrounding tissues and the neuromuscular system.” Feel free to read more about it here.

Does that help? If not – think about this idea. Think about owning a movement. I am sure you are familiar with the basic dumbbell bench press. The person is on their back on a bench and pressing two dumbbells up and bringing them back down. For sure, there is a time and place to move those weights up quickly. On the other hand can that person “own” that movement and slow it down a bit so there is less momentum so they are forced to be in control of the entire exercise.

What kinds of exercises can improve your stability? Honestly in the right situations slowing down the movement so there is less momentum is one of the best ways to do that. Another example is the dumbbell curls. You could throw up that dumbbell and let gravity pull it back down and do as many reps as possible. Yet a test of stability that is the foundation of strength is raising that dumbbell with the control without much momentum.

Build Your Core Strength and Stability

The core is much more than a 6-pack. Your core muscles are more intertwined with your body outside of that square area below our chest. Learn more about your core muscles here.  Our posture, how we move, sit and carry out our daily life all fires off our core muscles.  A good way to keep lower back pain away is to do core strength and stability exercises. This does not mean doing crunches all day.

Sure you may know about crunches. I personally am not a fan of them as it can lead to neck pain and does not really hit multiple areas of the core musculature. I am a fan of the dead bug exercise. I could write an article about why I do…but why recreate the wheel? Check out Tony Gentilcore’s article about this and also study his videos on mistakes people often make.

Also, all core exercises should not be on the ground. The reason is that we also are using things like balance or strength when we do utilize our core muscles…so why not do that when we are challenging our bodies to improve our core strength? Check out some examples below in the video.

 

 

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The 10 Whys for Investing in a Fitness Professional


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When you invest in something there is an expectation to see some sort of return. It can be in form of money or in a way that progress is seen in the eyes of the individual making that investment. Investing in your health is a long-term investment where progress is seen over time.

Investing in a fitness professional is a choice made that should not be taken lightly. But why should you make that choice?

1.

You want someone else to be accountable to.

Even if you have never done sports you have been in situations where you have done better because someone was guiding you and pushing you to succeed.  You not only wanted to do well for yourself but felt accountable to them.

This extra amount of motivation can be a great driving force to improve your quality of life. It can motivate you to not only stay focused but be that extra push when otherwise you may have done something else. It cannot be ignored that this accountability can also extend to your daily life. As improving one’s quality of life does not end at the end of your session…you may be better at making smart choices during the day.

2.

You are stuck.

You are not seeing the results you want to see (or used to see). Or you are not sure how to practice moving better. You know that you need to exercise but you are unsure how to. Maybe you are overwhelmed walking into that large gym in your city. In addition to new things like kettlebells or TRX, you have an idea that using them could be good for you…but you don’t want to hurt yourself in the process.

So you want to ask for help. You don’t need someone to be with you every time you exercise…but maybe once or twice a day out of the week you want help with strength or form and get better at that.

3.

You don’t want to have to be your own trainer.

Perhaps you have some exercises that you enjoy doing. But when you do them it seems to take a lot of time to do your routine and you want to be more efficient. You are busy or just don’t want to have to think about your programming for your workouts. It can be a weight off of your shoulders to know someone else is thinking about how you can move better and put that into action. Although you are not “turning your brain off” during the sessions – you can instead focus on learning.

Especially with the internet, there is a lot of good information out there. There is some bad information too in regards to health and fitness. You have an idea on where you fall in regards to your values and beliefs. With all of this in mind, you can also use a sounding board of someone that is qualified to work with you and your health history.

4.

You want a supplement to your own activities – so you can do them better.

Golf is your game or maybe tennis is. Or you are an avid runner that enjoys competing in triathlons, road races or trail races. You are doing well but want a secret weapon in your corner. As a competitor, you understand that solid training will lead not only to do the best you can do but also lessen the chance of injury during the event.

You want your coach to hone in on your passion for competition and understand the process of training and tapering before an event. Nothing is more rewarding than putting in the time and effort into preparing for an event and feeling the hard work pay off during it.

Lastly, you may be looking to manage and whittle away current injuries. Thus, stretching and tapping into your coach’s network for massage therapists is a great way to get a solid referral instead of a guessing game.

5.

You know of friends and family that have excelled with theirs.

Friends or family are getting compliments because they are looking good and moving much better than they used to be. They proudly tell you that they have a personal trainer. They may have had to go through a couple until they found the right fit but eventually, they found someone that listens to them, “meets them where they are” and helps them reach their goals. It could be face to face or in this day and age, it could be an online trainer.

6.

All signs are pointing to this.

You know you need to improve your quality of life. Your doctor is giving you another stern talking to about your health and what needs to change. You have done some exercise on your own and are enjoying your results but you feel as if you can do better. Or your significant other or close family member is encouraging you to do something, anything to reduce chances of disease or disability.

The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is exercising its power over you. Click here to read about it! This is when something that you have noticed or been told about starts popping up everywhere. You talk to someone about maybe investing in a trainer and then you start seeing signs everywhere.  Maybe this blog post is a part of it! 🙂

7.

You want to maintain or improve your quality of life.

From reading various news sources and books you know that you want to reduce the chances of disability and disease as the years go by. If retired, you want to do what you have always wanted to do with all of the time in the world. Perhaps you have the health history of parents or relatives that you want to reduce the chances of being diagnosed with.

Possibly you have family or friends that you have seen suffer or deteriorate because of their sedentary life. Or you know of others that have tried to work out on their own (maybe you too) but still keep losing interest and restarting on occasion. Thus, you would appreciate a coach to keep you on track.

8.

You don’t know how to use the fill-in-the-blank equipment.

You may see them or hear of these:

  • Different weight machines
  • BOSU
  • TRX
  • Kettlebells
  • Resistance Bands

Of course, the list may go on. You have seen YouTube Videos or even people using them at your gym. However, you are hesitant to just hop on and give it a shot without knowing proper form. It is understandable that you may be overwhelmed and not know where to start. Or you may even question if all of the new things are really needed to help you reach your goals? Is it to be for strength, conditioning both or more?

Some gyms do give a quick introductory walkaround of the equipment. Usually, that is bookmarked by a session with a trainer. Perhaps you see someone working out and you ask them how do use it but you don’t want to interrupt their workout.

9.

You read many articles about fitness but want advice and guidance specifically geared to you.

A fitness journey is a life-long one. This journey is not one-size fits all. Your body is different than the next persons. You may see many advice columns about what do to. Maybe you have implemented some of the advice into your life and they have worked to some extent. However, you are missing the personal attention to your life, schedule and your personality. You are equipped with a lot of knowledge but would appreciate some guidance.

10.

You are ready to make a change in your life.

This is probably one of the most important on the list. The reason is if you are not ready to make a positive lifestyle change that can be the elephant in the room that you cannot escape. There is something called the Transtheoretical Model (TTM) of Behavior Change that has five stages of change. You can read more about them here on the American Council on Exercise’s website. Click here.

To put this simply – if you are not convinced that any of the various forms of exercise should be something that is a priority for your quality of life then that is a significant issue. Could you just invest in a personal trainer and expect them to motivate you and convince you to show up at each session and put forth the effort? I hope you answered no. This is not about having a bad day, being tired or going through things in your life  – which happens to all of us. If you are not ready to make a change you are not seeing the value in physical activity in your daily life.

Making a change can be anything. This change could be getting up early before work to exercise. Or this change could be cutting back on a sedentary lifestyle and instead of being more active in your everyday life also (i.e. taking the stairs instead of the elevator). The change could be as simple as recognizing that you need to improve the quality of your life – you may not know exactly how but that is okay. The important thing is that you are open to learn new things and make the time to move better in life. YOU have to make that realization that your health should be a priority of yours. Regardless of how good a personal trainer is he or she cannot be the single source of motivation. This is a team effort!

When you are ready to make a change it could be acknowledging something like wanting to lose weight or get stronger. I challenge you to go deeper than that. Think about how you would feel or be able to do if you reached your goal. Especially if your goal is just about the numbers…what would you do after you reached that goal? …just food for thought. Already having such deep conversation with yourself will help you be a better “investor.”

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What can you do TODAY?


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What can you do today within the 24 hours of this day to improve your quality of life?

 

 

Keep it simple.

What can you do today to improve your quality of life? There are many moving parts to improving or maintaining one’s quality of life. These moving parts don’t just involve how you move but what also put into your body, and the many things you do when not eating or exercising. Small choices and decisions can reap positive benefits. Obviously, these decisions become more powerful over time when they become habits. But just focus on today…what can you do today? Below are just three ideas…but you know yourself better than me. You may already know what you will do today!

Be social

Social interaction is important to your well-being and health.  Get out of the house and be social, it does not necessarily have to be an exercise class…or invite some friends over to catch up.

Drink more water

 

 

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The amount of water in your body could be anywhere from 50-75%. Credit: Illustration by Hugo Lin. © 2018 ThoughtCo.

Fill your glass more during the day. Everyone benefits from being properly hydrated. Especially as we get older it is imperative to stay hydrated. The risks are real for you as you get older if you don’t stay properly hydrated…think that you should wait until you get thirsty? Think again!4.1.1-monograph-aging-fig-2.jpg

 

 

Practice doing your everyday movements better

Stand tall, walk tall, get out of a chair without rocking. It can take a lot of concentration and effort to make sure you have proper posture all day…especially if you have some bad habits to break! Perhaps all of these would be easier or your form would improve if you stretched today.

When I suggest stretching, you are probably thinking of the traditional stretching holds. If you enjoy those then do more of that. If you don’t enjoy the traditional stretches (and even if you do!) give a different way of moving instead. I am certified through Original Strength as a Coach. I begin, end and sprinkle in some of their movements into my client’s workouts. They feel great! Check out the links below to learn about rocking and a longer article about why everyone should do it. I find that this way of moving really reconnects people with their bodies..and it feels good!

Click here to read about why everyone should do this!

So what will you do today??

These are only three…what can you do today? Maybe one or all of these three? Or you can do something else today? Whatever you do…this is not a planning thing. Do something today to begin creating a groove that this act can snowball something that can contribute to your quality of life in a positive way. The size of this act does not matter.

Sound good? Have questions? Comment below or email me at [email protected]

Are you ready to improve the way you move? Click below to set up your free consult!

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