senior fitness

Blog

Independence: A Vital Goal For Older Adults


No Comments

Whether it is a 50-year-old woman looking forward to retirement, 65-year-old man that wants to reduce the medication he is taking or a 72-year-old woman that wants to go hiking at the Rocky Mountains with her grandkids – they all want independence. Some may have higher levels of independence than others but they intersect at the same idea.

That idea is to do what they want to do when they want to do it.

The key ability is to live longer and live with better quality of life. This opportunity to stay independent for years does not come by being sedentary. This freedom does not come from being complacent. Attaining and maintaining independence comes from a constant vigilance for a better quality of life – and acting on it.

An important part of how to give yourself the opportunity at longer lasting independence is improving the way you move. This improvement is not done by being part of a gentle program that treats you and your body as though as you are frail, without potential and should not be challenged. Instead, you deserve a program that is introduced in a way that meets you where you are now…and challenges you so you can strengthen that foundation of independence.

Use that person or group class that you attend as your supplement (think of vitamins). That program is a part of what you are doing to improve your quality of life. Thus, this program is not the only thing you are doing – but an important part.

In other words, in addition to that program/fitness professional that works with you individually or the group:

  • Keep on playing.
  • Keep on hiking.
  • Keep on enjoying your dance class.
  • Keep on getting outside, getting your hands dirty and gardening.
  • Keep on planning exciting trips near and far…and physically prepare for them.
  • Keep on golfing.
  • Keep on being attentive to your health in other ways. (ie: eyesight and hearing checks, understanding medication side effects, managing chronic diseases)
  • Keep on learning and being creative.
  • Keep on going for walks with your partner, friends or neighbors.

You deserve a program that fits your needs, dreams and desires. Be vigilant about maintaining your independence and quality of life!

 

 

newsletterclick

Freeconsultclick-2

Blog

How Fit Can You Be Over 50?


5 Comments

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!

newsletterclick

Freeconsultclick-2

Blog

Squashing the Myths About Exercise for Older Adults – Part 1


No Comments

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.

Blog

Exercise Without Assumptions – Train For Balance


1 Comment

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!

Blog

Exercise Without Assumptions: Train for Power


No Comments

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

Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog

Mature Adults & Seniors Deserve More Than Traditional Exercise


No Comments

 

We all live our lives differently. However, the one thing we have in common is the drive to live our lives with not much restriction. Not being able to do what we want to do, like to do or need to do can affect our lives is substantial ways. Outside forces are one thing, but when it comes to our bodies it can affect our independence. Traditional exercise even with its benefits is not a complete enough physical experience for mature adults and seniors. You deserve more.

If balance, mobility or a good range of motion are hindering everyday life and fun activities such as golf it can be life changing.   You want to be able to take that vacation abroad, sign up for that hike and above all do what you want to do – when you want to do it! At its core – these are the outcomes that you seek which fall in the like, need & want categories that Dr. Cody Sipe, Co-Founder of the Functional Aging Institute describes. Put simply – what do you like to do, what do need to do and what do you want to do?

As our population ages, it is no secret that age is nothing but a number these days. Working professionals and retirees such as my parents are active, busy and involved in their community. Sometimes I am lucky if I can get them on the phone! The reason that they are as active as they are is because of the results of being physically active in ways that allow them to make everyday life an independent experience. They are able to do their likes, needs and wants independently and easier.

Why traditional exercise is not enough for mature adults

While you may want to grind out a workout like your 20-year old self, you don’t care to be limping around at work the next day. Also moving in the only dimension that machines restrict you to is not reflective of your every-day life. Mature adults should not only be striving to be stronger but also to move in all directions better.  Their likes, needs and wants don’t fall into one category of strength or conditioning. You are not necessarily attracted to aesthetics as you are the outcomes of being active and the freedom of being able to do what you desire to do.

Priorities may change in regards to your health and your life. Buzzwords like strength or fat loss may be on your list but the words that may more appeal to the mature client are what you like to do, want to do, and need to do.   For instance, mature adults may want to accomplish exciting physical challenges like climbing mountains, challenging hikes or Triathlons. Or because of a fear of heart disease you want to lose weight to stay healthy – not specifically to fit better in your clothes.

Especially at this point in mature adults lives training for three-dimensional movement is pertinent. Re-setting, refining and correcting the grooves of movements of bending, lunging reaching or moving in different directions with weight is often left by the wayside for mature adults. We do not live in a one-dimensional world if we train as such as we age our range of movement and mobility suffers among other things. You deserve a training program that allows you to live your life with a positive view of aging.

Why traditional exercise will not fully improve or maintain independent lives of seniors

Often in traditional exercise, the assumption about the abilities of seniors sets the foundation. Plain and simple – you are fragile and should be handled with care. You should sit down doing most if not all of your exercises. Assumptions about any client before getting to know them is a disservice without a doubt. When it comes to seniors this restriction will not help you do what you want to do. This only holds you back and does not continue or improve a healthy way of life.

A training program should not reflect your age – it should reflect your abilities. It will meet you where you are and over time will change as you progress. The program should challenge you over time after you have set a good foundation of the step you are on. The program may regress – to help you even more. In time, you are ready to take another step forward. A program should incorporate things like power, strength, balance, and agility.

The risks of falling can be the elephant in the room with an aging population. The factors contributing to falls are 1. Balance and mobility problems 2. Medical conditions and medications 3. Vision and 4. Environmental hazards. According to the Fall Prevention Task Force in San Diego “In 2013, in San Diego over 17,000 older adults were treated and discharged from the Emergency Department and an additional 7,000 were hospitalized.”

Exercise can help to reduce this serious risk. However, automatically putting you in a category of doing exercises while sitting down, using machines that don’t allow you to move as you should is a disservice.

Why Functional Exercise is important to mature adults & seniors

In short – there should never be an assumption that just because we hit a certain age that our quality of life decreases and we are unable to do what we want to do.  The physical functions of mature adults and seniors are more than leg presses or a workout that does not ever challenge you because you are “old.” Instead, the activity should cover the areas that the Functional Aging Institute promotes for such clients: mobility, balance, neuromuscular function, cognitive, cardio respiratory & musculoskeletal function. These areas coupled with meeting the needs likes and wants of clients provide a better foundation for mature adults and seniors to build upon and enjoy their lives however they see fit!

If this sounds like the path that you want your fitness journey to take contact me for a free consult.

 

Damien

Functional Aging Specialist

Blog

Mobility & Balance – Move it Or Lose It!


3 Comments

Being able to move freely or easily is something can be taken for granted. Reaching back to put up your hair could be an automatic motion for you. You could not even fathom that tying a jacket around your waist to be an arduous task. Or let’s talk about your balance. It could be something that you only think of when you see gymnasts or when you try standing one leg. Walking up stairs seems more like an increase in elevation than a balancing act.  In addition, shifting a bag of groceries while walking does not seem like your balance is tested.

Mobility and stability are something that makes moving throughout life easier. When an individual is unable to do everyday tasks, this will affect their lives and well-being. Becoming empowered to regain one’s mobility and balance will put him or her on a path to being more self-sufficient, more confident and improve their way of life.

Yoga & Tai chi are good ways to train & regain balance.png

What happens when mature and seniors lose their mobility and stability? If we don’t know someone like this we may pass them on the street or help them at the grocery store. This lack of good physical performance has a cumulative effect.  There was a study published in 2015 – Age-associated declines in muscle mass, strength, power, and physical performance: impact on fear of falling and quality of life.  A excerpt is quoted below.

Summary: This 3-year longitudinal study among older adults showed that declining muscle mass, strength, power, and physical performance are independent contributing factors to increased fear of falling, while declines of muscle mass and physical performance contribute to deterioration of quality of life. Our findings reinforce the importance of preserving muscle health with advancing age.”

The facts are glaring. In San Diego 1 in 3 seniors fall each year. In 2013 in San Diego 17,224 seniors were treated and discharged from Emergency Departments. San Diego Elderly Falls Report.

geeksme-gfitness-stairs-escaleras-deporte
Even though we may not consider climbing stairs as using balance…we do balance. When walking at some point one foot is off the ground and you are balancing while in motion. Photo Credit.

And you know what was two of the things that the fall was caused by? Yep, you got it – balance & mobility.

What can be done to decrease this chance of falling? Yes, exercise.

No matter what your age stay empowered to choose to move in the so many forms of exercise. If you don’t move it, eventually you will lose it. The good news is that it can be regained. Seek out your doctor to learn how other factors such as medication can affect your mobility and balance. Get cleared to exercise. Then seek out a qualified professional that can help you move better.

You have a great sense of balance and your mobility is good? Great, don’t stop! If you are feeling challenged seek out those that are qualified and excited to help you move better.

-Damien