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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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How Much Do You Want it?…A Better Quality of Life.


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I had a great soccer coach when I was in High School. He turned our team around from dismal seasons to a nearly undefeated record. He instilled in us the drive to improve and to work together during that process. One of the things he said a lot was, “ how much do you want it?” He wanted to pull out of us that drive to be a better team with more wins and more success for the school. His saying can ring true to many aspects of our lives and ambitions.

Often clients answer their own questions when it comes to things that should change to meet their goals. I worked with a woman in her mid 40’s that was in good shape but she wanted to lose some weight. She had a respectable exercise regime of 4 days a week and she was no couch potato. I asked her what she was eating these days. She blurted “oh I love sugar, I know that is my problem.”

She answered her own question, but she still wanted a tough workout to help her lose weight. Sure she could use some tweaks to her workouts. But she quickly admitted that those yummy m&ms were a large contribution to her weight gain. She still kept eating them. How much did she really want to reduce the sugar in her diet?

Another quick story. I hiked with a woman that used hiking poles during her hikes. They can be a great tool for those that do walk. Her balance was pretty good from the brief time I was hiking with her. She mentioned the next day that she noticed that her balance was not what it used to be. She wanted some ideas about exercises she could do to improve her balance when she had the time. I proposed that she leave the hiking poles in her room for her hike. Why? She could also use that opportunity during a hike to practice better balance. Yes, she would have to go a bit slower and focus. However, hiking was the perfect opportunity to improve her balance. It may be a bit uncomfortable and should have to go slower – how much did she want to improve her balance?

When it comes to improving the quality of your life there is no magic pill, 30-day turnaround or one-size-fits-all workout. It takes time. Especially if you have lived years of inactivity, ignoring tightness and pain or only wanted to do easy exercises you may be facing a wake-up call.  The truth is that it takes time, effort and patience to improve or maintain the quality of your life through fitness. Wanting a better quality of life should not influence unsafe or unhealthy ways of forcing the issue.  Improving the way you move is one habit to get into. There may be other lifestyle habits that you may need to learn (or unlearn!).

The benefits of taking this motivational saying to heart reach far to our everyday life. It does not have to be perfection. It does not mean working out 7 days a week and on a strict diet of broccoli and water (which sounds pretty miserable!). It means making small choices that add up to improve your quality of life.

Drink more water. Move more every day. Get enough sleep. Reduce the amount of sugar you are drinking and eating. Get stronger. Improve your balance. Move in different ways to challenge yourself. Enjoy how you move better.

If you have physical restrictions consult qualified professionals that can give you ideas on how you can improve the way you move. Make time to improve the quality of your life. Stop making excuses on what you don’t have time to do. Stop using your age as an excuse.

How much do you want it? 

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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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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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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 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.