Fitness

My Holiday Workout Plan

Bob the trainerBy Bob the Trainer -

While a real challenge, finding time for your workouts during this holiday season is very important. Increased calorie temptations, more events to fill your calendar - looks like the world is working against your waistline! Getting in an  exercise session is always a challenge in our busy lives. But during the Holiday season it is an über challenge – all the shopping, planning and year-end stuff is stressful. And I truly believe it is more stressful over 50 because, at least for me, I’m just a tad less patient! That’s why my Holiday workout plan is Rest, Relax and Renew! Read on…

Rest
You need it, not just now but on occasion throughout the year. Yes, we need to exercise, and yes, we need to do it regularly. But we also need to rest our bodies by taking a break. Any workout routine if practiced religiously will begin to wear on our bodies and on our minds. We’ll begin to feel a little dread when facing exercise time, and that’s not good. Plus, your muscles will adapt to the routine and progress will hit a plateau. So depending on my routine at the time, I will take a week-long break after 4-8 weeks on the same routine. Then when I go back to a more aggressive and consistent routine again, I feel fresh, both physically and mentally, and I’m ready to “hit it.”

Relax
Now… just because you’ve decided to jump off of your recent routine to rest your body and mind, it doesn’t mean that you just skip exercise altogether and sit on your duff. Nope, it means that you take a more relaxed pace and have some fun too. It will help you deal with the normal Holiday rush stress!

Especially during the Holidays, stay active with something new, out of the ordinary for you, and maybe something social during this most social of seasons. For example, it’s cooler out, if not downright cold in some areas, so bundle up and go for a brisk walk. Be sure to keep it BRISK and maybe invite a family member or neighbor along. You’ll enjoy the activity and the conversation.

Or take a new class at the gym. Never taken a class before? What a great time to give it a try, when you don’t feel tied to your regular routine. Or go cross-country skiing up north or biking down south. Go to ice rink and put on some skates for an hour, or just take a trek through the deep snow for a half hour – your heart will thank you.

Afraid you’ll miss your strength training? Well, you should keep some up anyway. So try going lighter weights and higher reps during this time, or if you’ve been in a routine like that try the opposite, drop the reps by at least half and bump up the weight or band resistance. And maybe do your resistance training just 2 days instead of 3 or 4 days per week; then fill in with the aforementioned walks, or classes or skating.

For me, I’ll do the “drop the reps and raise the weight” plan just 2 days a week, mixed in with some more “fun” cardio.

Renew
Well now you know what’s coming – the perennial New Year’s Resolution! Not a bad thing, IF you stick with it. But even if you’ve been good and consistent about your exercise and diet plans, this is the perfect time to renew and refocus with a new plan in January. In fact, your Holiday plan can actually be a jump-start to your new plan for after the Holidays. For example, the plan that I’m going on now, lower reps and higher weight, is the plan I’ll initiate in earnest for four days a week come Monday, January 4th. That way I’ll ease into the new routine, getting accustomed to the new moves and exercise order. Perfect!

You might want to try this. You can easily pick a new plan from the 50plus|plusfit Online Personal Trainer and just adjust the days, weights and reps as you wish for your Holiday time.

So try My Holiday Workout Plan – you’ll be rested, more relaxed and totally renewed for a new year of being 50plus|plusfit. Happy Holidays All!

Best Exercises for The Great Indoors

by Ron the Trainer - 
As the weather turns harsh in many parts of the country, people begin looking for indoor workouts - even those of us over 50. We love being outdoors for a workout and many people do. Particularly if you live in the northern tier, you really love the opportunity to get outside and experience the physical activity that you’ve missed all winter. When the weather cooperates there is nothing like getting in some biking, walking, running, swimming, hiking or whatever in the fresh air.

But then just when you get accustomed to the great outdoors for your workout, the leaves begin to turn and your outdoor activity begins to wane. So you know the gym has lots of options, but are you tired of the same treadmill or elliptical. Well the good news is that fitness centers and clubs all over are adding some new and really exciting fitness options for both cardio and strength training.

On the top of the list is CrossFit - but not for the timid! This is an all-out workout that incorporates tire flipping (TRUCK TIRES!) squat jumps, Olympic lifting, etc. If you're up for the challenge, this will test your grit! 

One cardio option is Zumba; Cuban-based dancing (not just for the ladies!) that incorporates simple, but physically challenging moves set to really fun Latin music. Two left feet, no sense of rhythm? No problem! In Zumba, the instructor introduces the move for a few beats and then turns it over to you. Don’t worry, you might not pick up every movement or be with the rest of the class on every beat – just get in there, have fun and sweat to that driving, sensuous beat! But, wait – there’s more!

Belly dancing – Yep, belly dancing has hit the group exercise market in a big way. No, you don’t have to wear a skimpy costume like Barbara Eden in “I Dream of Jeannie” – just come in comfortable clothing and gym shoes. And, of course, this is a huge core workout! Maybe not? OK, then how about …

Nightclub Cardio  – If reaching back into ancient Persia is not your idea of a workout, there’s a very upbeat, contemporary and urban format in group exercise that incorporates today’s hottest dance floor moves – fun and stimulating even for us over 50 types! Need to slow it down a little? Then how about …

Bollywood Dance – Set with music from Bollywood films, Bollywood Dance features traditional Indian dance moves and folk dancing from Bhangra and even Latin and Arabic moves.

OK – back on terra firma … have you not tried an indoor cycling (spinning) class yet? While it can be a VERY aggressive form of workout, it’s still very individually focused – only you really control the level of effort you put into the hour. The instructor will do their best to encourage you to use all of your energy up by the end of the hour but, only you will know how hard you’re really working. And, please feel free to take it a little easy at first. The first few times you “spin” you might need to take only 30 minutes of class and build up from there. That’s no problem – just keep at it!    

Boot Camps continue to be hugely popular and in addition to those held in public parks and empty football stadiums (running stairs is a staple of outdoor bootcamp!) there are indoor versions as well. In bootcamp you’ll do simple calisthenics like pushups, jacks, etc. for a hard-hitting, strength & cardio experience. And, just as in all group exercise, you can always modify your workout to your needs and abilities.

MMA Training – Along the same lines of Boot Camp is MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) Training. This is a new hot twist on getting the most out of an hour – lots of hard work but it really shakes things up!

Kickboxing – Another very popular group exercise class is kickboxing. You punch and kick into thin air and have a great opportunity to release some aggression and pent-up anger (of course, no one has any of those issues!) And yes, you can take part of the class, or all of it and modify to your needs and abilities.

And for sure take a look at our Online Personal Trainer, it's loaded with great exercises and workout routines to keep you plenty fit throughout the rougher weather. It includes workout videos to lose weight and gain muscle, plus online fitness tracking.

So, the message is to find something new to shake up your routine – and encourage your body to respond with positive changes. You can find these classes at your local gym, and even many parks & recreation departments are hosting many of these class formats. Go find something new and keep the summer slim-down efforts going all fall and winter and you'll be 50plus|plusfit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has led over 12,000 group exercise classes and trained more than 9,000 personal training sessions. Ron is a co-founder of 50plus | plusfit and has launched his own website http://www.getfitstuff.com.

7 Best Chair Exercises

By Ron the Trainer -

If you're over 50, you can remember the PBS syndicated show "Sit and Be Fit". I remember what a silly thing it appeared to be. But, as my fitness career and personal experiences have shown, not everyone is able to stand, walk, run, etc. So, for them, sitting is their unfortunate reality. But, chair exercises (and those using a chair as a prop) are popular with those who have limited standing/walking ability. 

Silver Sneakers is a nationally-recognized exercise program for seniors and is responsible for bringing live back into the lives of those with limited ability. In fact, many health insurance plans will pay for a gym membership and as you may guess, those gyms offer Silver Sneakers classes. I recently had the privilege to conduct one of these classes. 

Why a person has limited standing abilities may have nothing to do with aging or lack of fitness. Many times, back trouble (especially lumbar) can render an individual unable to walk - often at an "early age." Of course the term "early age" is subjective and the older we get, the later in life "early" seems!

On to the exercises: 

Equipment needed: A good stable chair, preferably with no arms, light hand weights and an exercise tube.

Exercise 1: Overhead Shoulder Press
While sitting in your chair, feet flat on the floor, press your lower back into the back of the chair. With a hand weight in each hand and palms facing away from you, reach up bringing your hands together over your head. Your arms should be slightly in front of your ears. Bring the weights back down, elbows stopping at the shoulder. Continue this movement for 2 or 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions, as desired and tolerated.

Exercise 2: Lateral Shoulder Raise 
While sitting in your chair, feet flat on the floor, press your lower back into the back of the chair. With a hand weight in each hand with palms facing down, start with your arms at your sides. Slowly lift each arm to about shoulder height. Arms should be straight out from your sides. Slowly lower your arms. Continue this movement for 2 or 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions, as desired and tolerated. 

Exercise 3: Forward Lift
While sitting in your chair, feet flat on the floor, press your lower back into the back of the chair. With a hand weight in each hand with thumbs up, slowly lift and lower first the right and then the left arm to the front. By alternating the arms, you can do more repetitions and reduce the potential for injury. For this exercise, continue for 2-3 sets of 20 repetitions as desired and tolerated. 

Exercise 4: Row with Tube
While sitting on the edge of your chair hold one foot flat and secure on the floor while the other foot is resting on the floor on your heel. Wrap an exercise tube around the bottom of your foot, grasp both handles and pull back, elbows behind you. Continue this row for 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions as desired and tolerated.

Exercise 5: Press with Tube
While sitting on the edge of your chair place both feet flat on the floor, exercise tube wrapped around the back of the chair. Grasp the handles and press forward, returning the elbows just to the shoulder, no further behind you. Continue this for 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions as desired and tolerated. 

Exercise 6: Knee Lift
While sitting in your chair, feet flat on the floor, press your lower back into the back of the chair. With a hand weight in each hand, place your hands on your knees. Lift the right and left knees alternating as high as possible. Make each lift a deliberate movement. Continue for 2-3 sets of 20 repetitions as desired and tolerated. 

Exercise 7: Leg Lift
While sitting in your chair, feet flat on the floor, press your lower back into the back of the chair. Begin by lifting your right lower leg to full extension, slowly lower and then lift the left lower leg. Make each lift a slow, deliberate movement. Continue for 2-3 sets of 20 repetitions as desired and tolerated. 

Like what you see here? Check out the Online Personal Trainer for videos and more exercises. Even if they aren't chair exercises, many can work for people with limited standing ability! 

So, just because you are unable to do some things, doesn't mean that you can't be active - even in your own chair! Try these exercises and I'm sure that you'll feel 50plus | plusfit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has led over 12,000 group exercise classes and trained more than 9,000 personal training sessions. Ron is a co-founder of 50plus | plusfit and has launched his own website http://www.getfitstuff.com.

Exercises for Bad Knees

By Ron the Trainer -

If you're over 50, chances are you have issues with knee pain. Speaking from personal experience, this pain can be the result of many different issues such as injuries or arthritis. Sometimes it hurts so bad you just want to sit down and give up - I've been there too! But, I'm here to tell you that you can continue with an active life with those knees. Here are some tips on alleviating pain and getting back to life!

Flexibility is the key to function. If you can bend your knees so that your calves and thighs are close (not necessarily touching!) you're doing well in the flexibility department. Feel stiff? Get on a recumbent bike and ride for about 10 minutes. The pedaling motion should help loosen up the knee and you should be more comfortable walking. 

Strengthen the Quads! The muscles on the front of your thighs, quadraceps, are keenly responsible for healthy knees and walking. Try un-weighted leg extensions while sitting in front of the TV or when you're not actively involved in another activity. Three sets of 20 extensions a day can be of benefit. 

Strengthen your Calves! Your calves play an important part in walking strong! Heel raises from a standing position will give your calves a boost! 

man pver 50 stretchingStretch your Hamstrings! The muscles on the back of your thighs are probably tight - especially if your quads aren't strong enough. Further, the hamstrings are in their most contracted state when you are sitting - at your desk, at the wheel, at home. You may be surprised how much you do sit! My favorite stretch is to put the heel of your foot up in a chair and with a straight knee, lean in to feel the hamstrings working!

Strengthen your Core! Yep - the core is once again a big piece of your life - or should be! If your core isn't strong, your posture can suffer. If your posture is poor, your legs and especially your knees have to work overtime. Take some of the work off of your knees by strengthening your core!

Avoid Lunges and Squats! On a "bad knee" day especially but, for those of us with frequent knee pain days, avoiding lunges and squats altogether will help reduce your pain. 

There are a lot of reasons for knee pain and, if you take our advice and still have pain, head to your orthopedic doctor! Sometimes you can get relief without surgeries - if you catch it early enough. Many times, your doctor will recommend physical therapy which incorporates what I've listed above and possibly other activities that are custom-designed for you. Whatever the reason, take care of your knees and everything else! You want to stay 50plus | plusfit! 

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has led over 12,000 group exercise classes and trained more than 9,000 personal training sessions. Ron is a co-founder of 50plus | plusfit and has launched his own website http://www.getfitstuff.com.

Obese at 50 Plus - Here's How to Stay Off the List!

by Ron the Trainer -
The statistics are out - and it's not good news. It seems that the over 50 adult population is, on the whole, the most obese group of Americans. That sobering fact uncovers so many issues. I certainly didn’t like reading it and it absolutely shocked me. We, the over 50 crowd is among the most obese in the U.S. and the world. Specifically 36.6% of those aged 40-60 and a full 39.7% of those 60+ are obese!  This is according to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. To read their full report, visit the CDC website.

Sobering facts are that as we age, on the whole, we do become heavier. There are lots of active 50 plus (and beyond) people who will probably never be categorized as obese but, then there are others. And there are lots of reasons for this phenomenon.

As we become empty-nesters and retired or semi-retired, our social lives take a turn for the better. We have more time to spend with friends and likely our finances are better which affords us the ability to eat out more often. Eating out often is a prime factor in becoming obese as you cannot control what is in the food you order at restaurants who commonly serve portions that are much more than you need at one meal.

Many of us assume a few things that logically would suggest that we led better diet and exercise lives than younger generations. For example:

  • We had less junk food available to consume when we were younger
  • There were fewer fast food joints for us  to frequent
  • While we had TV to compete with our physical activity levels, we didn’t have computers and the web back ti add to the tendency to be inactive

We are here to tell you that it starts with the first step - today! So what happened? Out of shape? You're not alone! Have joint or muscle issues? Many of us do but we still move and control our weight. If it hurts to move, get to the doctor and get lined up for some physical therapy. You'll be glad you did! 

Next, once released from physical therapy, seek out a knowledgeable personal trainer to get you started. It's never too late to pay attention to your fitness level and, you may never feel that you're in great or even decent shape. But, subtle changes such as a lower pulse rate, better blood work (specifically cholesterol and glucose) will be your rewards and tell you that you're on the right track! Augment this with food & activity tracker, tips and workouts on the Online Personal Trainer!

Don't be discouraged if your visual appearance doesn't change quickly - you will know that you're doing good things for yourself  by how you move, get up our of a chair, etc. 

Make sure to get cardiovascular training in some form - walking, running, bike riding, swimming, etc. Cardiovascular training is key to conversion of blood sugars, heart health and lower pulse rate - which is a key fitness measurement.

Get in full-body workouts - the National Academy for Sports Medicine (NSAM) recommends a full-body workout each time you hit the gym with attention to chest, back, legs, shoulders and core. As a trainer, I tell my clients "you didn't leave it at home, work it out!"

Next, is how to eat right to augment your workouts. "You can't exercise a bad diet away!" they say. When I started working out, I would stop at Wendy's on the way back to the office - and I didn't see results. I had just eaten more bad calories than my workout burned! 

O.K., so much for the “why” we are more obese than other generations. Now onto a very serious set of statistics – the costs of treating a generation of obese people.

A (somewhat dated) 2009 study shows that in the US we are spending $270 BILLION per year in health care, lost worker productivity and – listen closely – total disability from obesity. By the way, the cost in Canada is $30 billion – about a 1/10 of US spending. Let’s break this down.  But our population is much bigger too, so if you don’t have a per capita number I wouldn’t compare the two countries, ie. 1/10 of the US.

People with a BMI of 30+ are considered obese. People who are carrying 80-100+ extra pounds are considered “morbidly obese.” That term literally says that the person could die from being overweight. How? When a person is obese, they become a candidate for type 2 diabetes. If the diabetes is severe enough, the person becomes insulin-dependent which means they have to test their blood sugar often and inject insulin to survive. Non-compliance with insulin therapy can cause lots of complications, including becoming blind, losing limbs and death.

Obese people are also at greater risk for developing cardiovascular issues, having a heart attack or stroke which, of course, are often deadly. Additionally, obesity is a common factor in developing some forms of cancer. 

So, if you’re not addressing an overweight problem or not, you now have lots of great reasons to begin. There truly is no time like the present to begin looking and feeling better. Check out our Online Personal Trainer for meal planning and workout programs for weight loss, get to your local gym or community center and get started today. There’s no time to waste in becoming 50plus | plusfit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has led over 12,000 group exercise classes and trained more than 9,000 personal training sessions. Ron is a co-founder of 50plus | plusfit and has launched his own website http://www.getfitstuff.com.

3 Simple At-Home Back Exercises

By Ron the Trainer-
From time to time, all of us have probably experienced some lower back discomfort. It’s getting to be spring-planting time in many areas of the country and I’m already seeing people who have over-worked their backs. But, here are some ways to strengthen your back and feel more functional for longer periods of time.

Stretch before and after! Stretching is very important – it warms up the muscles so that during your workout, you can do more and the muscles will actually feel stronger. And, stretching cools down your muscles after a workout to minimize muscle soreness.

3 Core Work Exercises – My favorite exercises for the core are NOT crunches. Newest research shows crunches are the worst exercise for the lower back and, don’t really help you achieve your goals. My favorites include:

  • Plank with Alternating Leg Lift - *Assuming your blood pressure is not elevated* this is a great way to strengthen your core. Up on toes and elbows, concentrate on keeping your torso flat by contracting your glutes and abs, and b-r-e-a-t-h, don’t hold your breath! Hold the position for 30 or 60 seconds – it’s amazing what you’ll experience in this exercise!
  • Reverse Crunches (aka reverse planks) – These are actually good for your lower back and your abdominals! On your stomach, place your fingers on the back of your head and slowly lift your head/neck/shoulders in one motion while avoiding flexing your neck. Repeat for about 20 reps.
  • Swimmer’s Quadrupeds – A movement loosely borrowed from yoga, this is a great core exercise. Begin on your stomach on the floor with arms extended overhead. Alternate right arm, left leg lift with left arm, right leg lift for about 20 reps.

6 Alternative Exercises - Resistance training for your back is very important as well. If you are experiencing any symptoms, do NOT attempt deadlifts or “good-mornings” as you don’t want to flex forward at the waist. This movement may only aggravate your discomfort. Instead, replace with various back exercises such as:

  • Back rows on the suspension bands
  • Alligator Jaws on the suspension bands
  • Standing Back Rows
  • Standing Back Flyes
  • Cable Rows
  • Supine Pullover

are all personal favorites.

Strengthening and controlling discomfort are the goals here. With a stronger back, you’ll feel more capable. With less pain, you’ll be more willing to stay active – even if it’s just playing with the grandchildren or going for a brisk walk! Find these exercises plus complete workouts and so much more at our Online Personal Trainer.

Remember, you don’t have to live with back pain – it’s NOT a requirement of growing older. Staying active and exercising regularly will help you be your best for years to come, you’re 50plus|plusfit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has led over 12,000 group exercise classes and trained more than 9,000 personal training sessions. Ron is a co-founder of 50plus|plusfit and has launched his own website http://www.getfitstuff.com.

 

5 Simple Rules to Slow Down Aging

by Kay Van Norman -
Most people want to age with vitality and purpose in body, mind and spirit – but it takes more than just wishful thinking.  Here are five simple 50 plus strategies to help you age brilliantly.

Reject Ageism
There’s a saying that can be applied to aging that goes something like this: “Be careful what you think because it becomes what you say. Be careful what you say because it becomes what you do. Be careful what you do because it becomes who you are.”  Consider for a moment how stereotypes of aging can impact health beliefs, behaviors and outcomes.  Research shows that many of the “deficits” blamed on age are actually due to lifestyle habits or a disease process, but many people still consciously and sub-consciously blame age for dysfunction and illness. Train yourself to stop linking age with physical or cognitive decline, and consciously ban the phrase “I had a senior moment” from your vocabulary. Practice a positive mindset about aging well. 

Be Relevant
Follow a passion; infuse your life with meaning and purpose. A basic human need, regardless of age, is to give as well as receive, be of value to self and others, and have a sense of mastery and control.  Find ways to share your hard won knowledge and experience.

Just Do It!
Ultimately, what you’re thinking, saying and DOING on a habitual basis determines your odds of aging well (even more than genetics). Embrace physical activity as a tool for independence. No more excuses – there isn’t one good enough.  Get out and MOVE regularly and vigorously, and resistance train or regularly lift moderately heavy objects at least twice weekly. Independence REQUIRES strength and endurance, so ask yourself what you’re actually doing on a daily or weekly basis to maintain your physical well-being. Get going on the right track with tools like weight loss work out videos or maybe subscribe to an online personal trainer program.

Practice Resilience
Some people are resilient by nature, but anyone can consciously practice the building blocks of resilience- i.e. confidence, social engagement, mastery, self-esteem, gratitude, optimism, meaning and purpose.   At age 81, avid horseback rider Eldo Heinle broke his back and neck.  Seven weeks to the day after his surgery he was riding in the Montana Mountains once again.  His secret?  Eldo never once believed he was finished. He took charge of his recovery, stayed socially connected, and knew he would ride again.  Gradually adding distance and time, within months he rode a 28 mile loop with his group of friends and his dog. 

Embrace Aging
Age has less to do with who you are or what you’re capable of than almost any other single factor.  Create a mindset that embraces rather than “braces against” aging. Forget all the anti-aging and defying aging nonsense we’re fed by the media and simply use all the tools available to you, a healthy lifestyle, resilience, gratitude and a can-do attitude. That’s how  to age brilliantly!

For more information and resources related to healthy aging visit Kay online.

Upper Body Exercises for Runners without Weights

By Ron the Trainer -
Upper body workouts for runners? Don't they exercise enough? The answer to that is very possibly "no". For many runners, you can take a picture of them, cut it off at the waist and each half will look like a different person. 

Many runners think that by staying trim and having great cardiovascular fitness, they are doing all they need. Lots of runners have never stepped into a gym. But, upper body workouts are very important for functionality, injury prevention and core strength. So, what to do?

The average runner doesn't want to pump iron - and that's O.K. There are some options:

Push-Ups: The best body weight exercise - the push-up. With hands directly under the shoulders, arms fully extended and on toes with torso flat (in other words, not sagging in the middle and no "TeePee Toosh"). Lower the body slowly by bending the elbows, stop when the elbows are at 90 degrees, then return to full arm extension. Shoot for 3 sets of 20. 

Back Rows: Hanging from a horizontal pole (often found along a running trail) facing the sky, grab the bar at shoulder width, on heels with flat torso (see push-ups). Slowly lift, until you feel your shoulder blades slide together. Return to full arm extension. Shoot for 3 sets of 20.

Chin-Ups: Horizontal bar, hands overhead, pull yourself up toward the bar until your elbows are 90 degrees, then return to full arm extension. These are probably going to be more difficult than the first two exercises so, try for 3 sets of 12. 

Cat/Cow: Let's focus on the core for a moment. Borrowed from yoga, the cat/cow is a great exercise for your lower back - which takes a pounding when you're running. You start on hands and knees, hands directly under the shoulders, knee under the hips. First, push your spine toward the sky as far as you can, then press your navel toward the ground - don't fall toward the ground, make it an intentional movement, resisting gravity. Continue this for 3 sets of 20 reps. 

Sit-Ups/Crunches: Current mindset in the fitness industry is that crunches (aka sit-ups) actually do more harm than good if not performed properly. That being said, let's do a "slide out" instead.

Slide outs are performed from the same position as the cat/cow. For this exercise, you should be on a smooth floor and have an old towel. Place your hands on the towel and push it away from you until you reach a point that you can't hold the movement without dropping to the floor. Pull the towel back to the starting position. Did you feel your abdominal muscles work? Especially on the return movement your arms are working hard! Keep this up for 3 sets of 20 reps. 

Suspension Systems: OK, I said "no equipment" but suspension systems such as TRX, Jungle Gym, etc. bear mentioning here because with them, you can do countless exercises all dependent upon your body weight. 

Swimming: As a great way to cross-train, swimming for runners offers excellent upper-body work and can be a great change from the trail. 

Yoga/Pilates: Yoga and Pilates are also great cross-training options and offer strengthening and increased flexibility that runners desperately need. Check into a class or, if you're not a joiner, download a video or YouTube lessons. Of course, you'll find many yoga and Pilates movements described and demonstrated at our Online Personal Trainer

Running is awesome and although it's the core of some people's existence, it should be complemented with upper body resistance exercises. Keep going - you're 50 plus | plusfit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has led over 12,000 group exercise classes and trained more than 9,000 personal training sessions. Ron is a co-founder of 50plus | plusfit and has launched his own website http://www.getfitstuff.com.

10 Tips to Boost Your Cardio Workout

bob the trainerBy Bob the Trainer -

When over 50 it is imperative to include cardio exercise in your exercise regimen for the ol’ ticker and your general health. Now some say cardio is so boring, but it doesn’t have to be. For one thing you don't have to spend hours on the treadmill or elliptical.

Here are 10 tips that will help you not only treat yourself to a better cardiovascular system, but burn some calories and body fat as well. And you’ll be able to manage your routine goals in less time.

1. Raise the Incline
Don’t just walk, jog or run on a flat treadmill or path. Instead head for some hills or raise up the incline on the tread.  Getting it done on an incline will boost your heart rate, get you there faster and increase the calorie burn. Plus you’ll improve leg strength and shape.friends over 50 jogging

2. Hands Off!
When using a treadmill, elliptical or bike don't hold onto the handrail, arms or handle bars. Instead let go and pump your arms back and forth. And grab some light hand weights to add even more challenge.

3. Mix It Up
Just like with your strength training, the best thing you can do is develop a routine that you like and stick to it… but not forever! Change your routine periodically, maybe every 4-6 weeks. This will keep both your mind and your muscles ready for the challenge, and give you better results.

4. Get Outa Here -
Hit the great outdoors to add variety and new scenery, challenges and interest to your routine. For example trail biking or running, or hiking on uneven surfaces will help improve your athleticism and balance while working smaller, but very important, stabilizer muscles. And if you like to row, try a canoe or kayak and get some fresh air.

5. Take a Breather
Interval training will quickly get you to increase your workout intensity for optimum results. Alternate between periods of all-out effort with periods of lower intensity or even rest. Try sprinting followed by walking or jogging, then repeat the cycle. Eight to 10 of these will allow you to get in a great workout in a shorter amount of time.

6. Hit the Circuit
Select six to eight body weight or light hand weight exercises to combine resistance training and cardio in the same workout.  Perform the first exercise, and then move onto the next exercise without rest. Go through all exercises for one set, then rest one to two minutes, then repeat 2-4 times.

7. Kettlebell It
Grab a kettlebell and do some two-handed kettlebell swings to improve lung efficiency and maximize heart rate, and provide strength benefits too. And you can knock a great heart-pumping workout out in record time.

8. Go Jammin’
A few tunes while you work out will improve your performance by reducing boredom and fatigue. Pick something motivating and up-beat and fast-paced enough to keep your energy levels high ‘til you take that very last step!

9. Buddy Up
Workout with a training buddy or a few friends to make your exercise time all the more enjoyable. Plus you’ll now be accountable to someone beyond yourself. Guilt can serve as a great motivator, so you won’t skip that workout!

10. Keep a Record
Keeping track of your progress is most important to seeing where you’ve been and plan out where you’re going.  You should do this for your cardio just like you do for your strength training. Tracking all of your exercise routines will also keep you motivated as you see progress.

The 50plus|plusfit Online Personal Trainer has plenty of cardio and strength routines, plus a Fitness Tracker and Diet Tracker to keep you on point.

Bob Merz is the founder of 50plus|plusfit and earned his personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Top 5 Leg Exercises

by Ron the Trainer - 
Leg exercises are popular for many reasons and are very important, especially for those of us over 50. Our legs become ever more essential as time goes by and, just because we're over 50, we haven't given up on being a better runner or a stronger cyclist. And, some of us just want to stay mobile and be able to walk around free from canes, walkers or other stuff that for older people than us! If you're rehabbing an injury, you'll also appreciate the benefits of these five favorite leg exercises. For an instructional video on these, don't forget to check the Online Personal Trainer

Squats - You knew this was coming. Performed properly, squats not only strengthen your walk but also your ability to get in and out of a chair without making "those" sounds - and you know what I mean!  To perform a squat correctly, start with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward. Begin by bending at the knees and hips equally, keeping your knees over your ankles - don't let the knees move forward. This should feel like you're about to sit onto your favorite chair. When your knees are nearly 90 degrees, push through your heels and return to the starting position. Remember to control the depth of the movement to be within your comfort zone - don't go too deep and cause discomfort. You can repeat these for 2 or 3 sets of 20 repetitions. 

Alternating Lunges - If you are just starting out or rehabbing, you may want to limit the amount of lunges. For the rest of us, lunge away as this is a terrific exercise for the whole leg - glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves! Begin with feet together, hip width apart. Step forward with one foot, bending both knees to about 90 degrees. The back knee will not touch the floor but should stop at about ankle high. Bring your "front foot" back to the starting position and repeat by moving your other foot forward. Repeat these with 10 reps on each leg, 2 or 3 sets. 

Leg Extensions - Many of us need this exercise to keep from hyper-extending at the knee when walking. The stronger the quadraceps (front of the thigh) are, the more control we have over knee movement. For this, start with merely sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift one leg until it's almost straight out in front of you. Slowly return the foot to the floor and repeat with the other leg. Repeat for 10 repetitions, each leg for 2 or 3 sets. To pump this up, you can use the leg extension machine in the gym or use resistance tubes that make the movement more difficult. 

Hamstring Curls - Just as important, the hamstrings (back of the thigh) should be exercised as well. Begin by lying face-down on a flat surface such as a workout bench or even the floor. Lift one foot up and try to touch your glutes with the heel (don't worry if you can't get there - yet!). Return the foot to the starting position and repeat with the other foot. Repeat for 10 repetitions, each foot, 2 or 3 sets. To increase the intensity, use the leg curl machine at the gym or, resistance tubes. 

Calf Raises - Another important muscle group that we should work regularly are the calves (back of the lower leg). Strong calves aren't just attractive but also help control movement when walking. Begin in a standing position, feet hip-width apart. Slowly lift your heels and end up on your toes. Return the heels to the floor and repeat 20 repetitions, 2 or 3 sets. You can also add intensity by performing this from a seated position with weights on each leg or, use the calf machine in the gym. 

The more time passes, the more important strong, capable legs become. Add these exercises to your routine and you'll definitely feel the difference in practically no time! Now, get those legs moving - you're 50plus|plusfit! 

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has led over 12,000 group exercise classes and trained more than 9,000 personal training sessions. Ron is a co-founder of 50plus | plusfit and has launched his own website http://www.getfitstuff.com.

 

Workouts Featuring Suspension Systems

By Ron the Trainer

One of the hottest trends in the fitness industry is Suspension Training Systems and it makes so much sense. Those of us over 50 can get into the act as well.The idea is that you hang from your hands or feet in several different directions and then contract your muscles against gravity. Simple, easy to set up and transport plus, you control how much effort you have to exert.

There are several brands on the market including TRX, Rip Trainer, Jungle Gym and even some similar products marketed by fitness equipment companies and fitness celebrities. They are all based on the principle of a nylon strap and some rubber-padded handles. For the purposes of what I am writing, I will refer to TRX.

suspension exercise for seniors

As far as I can tell, it appears that TRX was first and according to their website, it was originally developed for the deployed armed forces personnel to take fitness with them wherever they found themselves. The original system was a single strap that had an anchor which could be attached to a pole, tree or other stationary object.

So, once you see the straps and understand you hold onto them, pull-ups and pushups seem to come to mind as the logical exercises. But, with a little creativity, shoulders, legs, biceps and triceps are also targeted muscle groups.

There are six body positions relative to the straps:

  • Standing while facing toward the anchor
  • Standing while facing away from the anchor
  • Standing sideways to the anchor
  • Lying face-down with feet in the straps
  • Lying face-up with feet in the straps
  • Lying in a side-plank with feet in the straps

From these six positions, you can target virtually every muscle group in your body from shoulders to biceps, back, chest, triceps and legs. And, there are multiple exercises for each muscle group which vary in intensity based on your strength, ability, flexibility, etc. There may be some things you want to repeat in every workout and some others that you strive to become capable of doing. These basic moves are great to help lose weight and gain muscle.

Controlling how much effort is done simply by controlling the angle of your body – the steeper the angle, the harder the exercise. So, if you are performing a suspended pushup, being parallel to the floor would be much more difficult than being at 45 degrees to the floor!

The biggest benefit of all however, is the core. Exercises done properly with a suspension trainer are truly the best core workout I have ever had. In order to perform most exercises, you will find yourself at an angle to the ground of something other than 90 degrees (standing upright). Because of this, you must contract your abs, glutes and legs to keep from “sagging.” So, if you are keeping all the muscles between your shoulders and knees contracted, you are getting a major workout of those muscles while you workout.

That being said, this makes suspension training ideal for almost everyone. There are videos all over the internet featuring “extreme” workouts using the suspension system but, I have developed exercises to stimulate and improve balance for a stroke victim as well as some of my senior clients who struggles with balance. So, yes, you can really work hard, using your own body weight against gravity or, work smart while targeting a specific problem. And I've just added TRX moves to our online fitness trainer, the 50plus | plusfit  Online Personal Trainer.

Some of my favorite exercises involve merely using your body weight with hands in the grips doing pull-ups (facing the anchor) and suspended pushups (facing the floor). The amount of exertion depends on the placement of your feet so, these exercises are possible for virtually everyone.

The suspension trainer has been widely adopted by fitness clubs as well. Many gyms have the suspension trainers set up for use by trainers and their clients. Some gyms offer group fitness classes in suspension training – very challenging and unique.

The possibilities are as limited as your imagination. So, if you want to augment your workouts with something fresh, new and fairly inexpensive, try a suspension trainer at your local gym or, at home – you’ll be 50plus | plusfit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has led over 12,000 group exercise classes and trained more than 9,000 personal training sessions. Ron is a co-founder of 50plus | plusfit and has launched his own website http://www.getfitstuff.com.

30-Minute Workout with 10 Exercises

Once again you feel limited on time and it looks like your workout is going to suffer. Think again – here are 10 exercises that you can complete in 30 minutes! Everyone wastes 30 minutes in their day so why not put it to good use? Here’s how …

Every time you hit the gym, you should do a full-body workout. After all, you didn't leave anything like your legs or shoulders at home so, work 'em out! According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, an effective, general fitness workout consists of two:

  • Shoulder
  • Back
  • Chest and
  • Leg

exercises with two core exercises each time you workout. These are considered the large muscle groups that, if exercised properly, will give the greatest workout gains. Notice there are no bicep and triceps exercises? The concept is that those muscle groups are working anyhow so, there’s no reason to concentrate on them. So, here we go!

Start:

  • Overhead shoulder press Begin standing with feet about hip-width apart, holding hand weights. Bend at your knees and waist facing the floor - to resemble "skiing." Contract your abdominals and glutes. Begin with the weight just lower than shoulder-height. Slowly raise the hands out to your sides, squeezing the shoulder blades together. Remember to exhale on the exertion side of the movement. Pause momentarily, then return to the starting position, hands about shoulder-height. Do not allow your hands to return to waist-height.(3 sets of 12 reps)

alternate between sets with:

  • Lunges Start with feet together, about hip-width apart. Contract abdominals and glutes. Be sure to keep your shoulders over your hips, e.g., spine vertical. Step forward, stabilize the front foot, then slowly, press your back knee toward the floor to a comfortable level, ideally, the back knee will end up about ankle height while keeping the front knee over the ankle. Pause momentarily, then return by pressing up through the heel of the front foot. Remember to exhale on the exertion side of the movement. (3 sets of 20 reps)

Then …

  • Back Rows Stand with feet about hip-width apart and staggered as shown. Grasp the weights while bending the knees slightly. Contract your abdominals and glutes. Slowly draw the weights toward your waist, not toward your shoulders. Pause momentarily, then return to the starting position. Remember to exhale on the exertion side of the movement. (3 sets of 12 reps)

alternate between sets with:

  • Squats Begin with feet about hip-width apart. Contract your abdominals and glutes. Then, slowly push your weight back as though you're about to sit in a chair, keeping your knees over your ankles. Do not allow your knees to move forward over your toes. Press your weight back to a comfortable level - thighs do not have to be parallel to the floor. Pause momentarily, then return to the starting position by pressing up through the heels. Remember to exhale on the exertion side of the movement. If you feel your toes come off the floor, you're doing it right!(3 sets of 12 reps)

Now:

  • Ball Chest Press Begin on your back on a stability ball with hand weights in your hands, arms fully extended. Contract your abdominals and glutes. Slowly, lower the weight toward your torso, but do not allow your elbows to drop below the top of the ball. Pause momentarily then return to starting position. Remember to exhale on the exertion side of the movement. Be sure to keep your lower back pressed against the ball at all times -- do not allow your ribcage or lower back to elevate. (3 sets of 12 reps)

alternate between sets with:

  • Supine Bridges Begin lying on the floor, a ball or other elevated surface on your back with head and shoulders supported, feet flat on the floor, knees bent. Holding desired weight in your lap, engage your abs and glutes. Slowly press your hips up to create a "bridge" from the shoulders to the knees -- using emphasis on contracting the hamstrings and glutes at the top of the movement. Pause briefly, return to the starting position. NOTE: This exercise can be done on the floor, on a bench, with head/shoulders on an exercise ball or bench or feet on top of an exercise ball or bench for variety.(3 sets of 12 reps)

Then:

  • Supine Back Pullover ********** This is a true combination exercise utilizing almost all muscle groups -- proper form and technique will be crucial in this exercise. ********* 



    Begin sitting on the side of a bench with one heavier or two lighter weights in your hands, feet flat on the floor. Slide out to a position where your feet are flat on the floor, knees 90 degrees and only head and shoulders are supported by the bench. Tighten your glutes and abdominal muscles. 



    Lift hands over the shoulders with arms fully extended, palms facing each other. Slowly lower the weight/s to the floor, overhead while maintaining a strong "bridge" with your torso and legs. Pay particular attention to your personal range of motion by sensing when shoulders say to stop. Do Not overextend, do not let your hips drop. (3 sets of 12 reps)

alternate between sets with:

  • Chest Flyes Begin with head and shoulders supported by swiss ball, feet flat on the floor directly under your knees. Hold a straight line between knees and shoulders by contracting your abs and glutes. Start with hand weights over your shoulders, slowly move into a "fly" moving the weights to the sides. Your elbows may be slightly bent. Slowly return to starting position, hands over shoulders. It is unnecessary for the weights to touch at the top. (3 sets of 12 reps)

Finally:

  • Front Raises Stand with feet about hip-width apart, holding hand weights at your thighs. Tighten your abdominals and glutes. Slowly lift the weight in front of the shoulders, alternating right and left. Use control and avoid letting the weight fall to the starting position, instead resisting during the return side of the movement. (3 sets of 20 reps)

alternate between sets with:

  • Abdominal Crunches Begin lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor (or bench if available), knees bent and fingertips behind your ears. You do not want to interlock your fingers behind your head -- this will give you the ability to bend your neck during the crunch which is not desired. Inhale, contract your abdominals and lift your shoulders toward the ceiling, exhaling on the way up. Remember to keep your neck straight -- it might be helpful to visualize leading with your chest instead of your chin. Keep your elbows out -- horizontal from your shoulders, don't bring your arms close to the sides of your head. Pause momentarily, inhale while returning to the starting position. (3 sets of 12 reps)

The “magic” behind this routine is that you are constantly working – not resting or recovering. While one muscle group rests, another muscle group is working. This is what will get you in and out of the gym in record time!

When you feel pressed for time or, you just want to change up what you’re doing, give this routine a try. You’ll feel 50 plus|plusfit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has led over 12,000 group exercise classes and trained more than 9,000 personal training sessions. Ron is a co-founder of 50plus | plusfit and has launched his own website http://www.getfitstuff.com.

 

The Cocktail and Your Fitness

bob the trainerBy Bob the Trainer -
For those of us over 50, it might be assumed that the majority of us will consume an alcohol beverage from time to time, even if only for special occasions such as weddings and New Year’s. Some of us consume alcohol on a more frequent basis. The purpose of this article is to examine the effects of alcohol consumption on our bodies, especially the muscles and weight control.

According to recent surveys, alcohol affects muscle mass specifically by blocking oxygen flow to the muscles which can cause muscles to literally shrink. When not enough oxygen and nutrients flow to the muscle fibers, growth cannot occur. Instead, a condition known as atrophy (or muscle deterioration) may occur. Atrophy also occurs during periods of extreme inactivity, which is exactly why you need to engage in strength or resistance training to maintain or build your muscles.

 

Of course, alcohol also blocks oxygen from entering the brain causing performance problems. Lack of oxygen causes issues with cognitive skills, or the ability to think and reason clearly. Motor skills are affected because the brain does not have adequate oxygen to send out commands to the muscles. Muscles are under-oxygenated and cannot immediately respond to the commands received from the brain. The result: impaired ability to perform. Don’t exercise after drinking or you really risk injury!

And, other organs are affected by alcohol consumption. There are several factors to consider: fatty liver, enlarged kidneys and inflamed pancreas to name a few. Additionally, alcohol works as a diuretic and causes dehydration of the muscles and organs. So, it’s a double-whammy, stealing oxygen and hydration from your muscles and organs.

If you’re trying to lose weight, alcohol contains some hidden calories: 120 in a 12 ounce beer, 100-140 in 4 ounces of wine and 170 calories in 2 ounces of liquor, all of which are considered to be one serving. For the exact calories of your favorite adult beverage and track your calories, check out the 50plusplusfit Online Personal Trainer.

And finally, another problem after having a couple of drinks is that your hunger sensors are masked and you may continue to eat although you’re not hungry. Ever wonder why many bars have those little cups of nuts, pretzels, etc.? Those salty snacks keep you coming back for another round of drinks. The salty foods cause you to feel more thirsty. Then the alcohol causes you to order the burger; round and round it goes!

So, imbibe if you will but be aware of the drawbacks – especially if you want to gain muscle mass and/or lose weight. The choices are ours but remember, nothing tastes as good as fit feels! Go out and be fit – you’re 50plus|plusfit!

Bob Merz is the founder of 50plus|plusfit and earned his personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Water - and Lots of It!

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Ever notice the more emphasis on drinking water we experience how many people will go out of their way to avoid water? And, for those of us who are 50 plus, the topic of drinking water is possibly more crucial than for others. Read on as we splash into this week's topic.

Bob’s Experience:

Water, aqua, wasser, or whatever it is called around the world - the world depends on water. Ever notice the news stories about international relief efforts to bring clean drinking water to impoverished populations? And that’s not for watering the daisies, no, it’s of course to drink. We humans cannot survive without water. The 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer even encourages counting daily glasses of water consumed as part of your online fitness tracking.

Or maybe you’re one of those that don’t really drink water, preferring other beverages instead. Well, that’s not really a good plan my friends, and especially for us over 50. Nothing re-hydrates like water - not soft drinks, not juice or even tea. Plus, those drinks contain other things like caffeine, which will dehydrate you even more. And it has been proven that as we age we tend to dehydrate at a quicker pace because:

  • our ability to conserve water is reduced
  • the thirst sense becomes less acute and finally (if that’s not enough)
  • you become less responsive to changes in temperature.

WOW… Doomsday! Not really, we just need to know how to deal with it.

So now for the double jeopardy part: we still want to be 50plusPlusFit, and that means getting our exercise regularly and sometimes with a good deal of intensity. So what do we do? It seems simple enough doesn’t it, to simply drink more water. But, we get bombarded with all kinds of alternative drink choices that are touted as good for replenishing lost electrolytes and, those energy drinks and “shots” that are supposed to give us an energy boost, so that we get a good workout in.

I gotta say, I’ve tried a few of those drinks and I don’t really think I noticed much of a difference in my ability to perform my cardio or strength training. I didn’t feel any more energized, restored or even refreshed. But maybe that’s just me. So what’s the real story here Ron?

Ron’s Expertise:

Water, water and more of it – sounds like sage advice. This is one topic that has been researched more and more by more fitness industry groups, colleges – you name it. And, there are some very interesting results to recent studies.

Truly, you can never go wrong with water as it is an essential element found in the human body. We all know that being dehydrated (“low” on water) has serious consequences up to and including, death. But, too much water, or water at the wrong temperature can also cause problems. During exercise, it’s a good practice to consume 10 ounces of water for every 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity. And, if your activity is vigorous tied with a warm environment, drink water that is closer to room temperature vs. very cold water.

Now, for the “other” things to drink … recent studies have reversed earlier options regarding caffeine. It is now suggested that a moderate amount of caffeine consumed before your workout can have a positive effect on your strength and stamina. Again, emphasis on “moderate amount of caffeine.” As Bob stated, caffeine can act as a diuretic and cause at least mild dehydration. So, a little of a good thing goes a long way.

“Sports drinks” that is, those that are flavored and promise to replace lost electrolytes aren’t necessarily all they’re cracked up to be for most of us over 50. You see, you would have to workout for two hours at an intense pace and in a warm-to-hot environment to require electrolyte replacement. Most of us over 50 will not fall into this category and therefore, a sports drink will contain substances that are unnecessary during and after our workouts.

Those energy drinks claim to boost your workouts as well. But, consumed in large doses or over a long period of time, some ingredients in many energy drinks can alter the delicate balance in your liver enzymes and create a whole new set of problems.

So, in the final analysis, those of us 50 plus should consume everything in moderation – including water. But, the lowest common denominator in drinks is water so, for your health, water should generally be your first choice. Let’s clink our re-usable bottles together and toast a great 50plusPlusFit workout!   

Spot Reducing - Myth or Fact?

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Addressing those problem areas such as the illusive six-pack abs or the extra "stuff" on the back of the arms - we can make them go away, or can we? The 50plusPlusFit team is chiming in this week on the topic of spot reducing.

Bob’s Experience:

We all have that big problem area that we’d like to get smaller, don’t we? Some of us, especially when over 50, might have a bigger stomach than we’d like, bigger waist or bigger hips (guys too). And some often try spot reducing to really target in on the problem area.

I guess the most common is just doing certain leg exercises for the hips or doing crunches until we drop to reduce the size of our stomachs and get those elusive “six pack abs.” But does exercise for spot reducing work? Personally, I think it’s a lot of bunk!

Now, to be honest, I’ve tried this in the past for my stomach, but those six pack abs still eluded me. Why don’t they show? Where are they? Crunch after crunch, even from different angles, but instead of the six pack, I continued have more of a full case! What was I doing wrong? As it turns out I was doing the wrong kind of exercise.

But as it turns out we all have the real possibility of having six pack abs, or slimmer hips, or less flabby arms, etc., it’s just that we keep the six pack and those other desirable body parts hidden behind  a layer of… you guessed it, fat! But how do we get rid of that stuff? Well I know there’s diet and there’s cardio exercise, and I’ve had some success following both regimens. But is there a better way? And does it include so-called spot-reducing? Is it bunk or the real deal?

It would be very easy for me to take you down the rest of this road and make a wrong turn, so I’d better turn this over to Ron the Trainer.

Ron’s Expertise:

This is one of my favorite topics – spot reducing. Frankly, there’s no such thing as spot reducing. I’ll explain…

You see, everyone’s body is unique and, if weight (fat) loss is a goal, weight disappears on different parts of the body at different times. So, let’s say that Sally and Sara are best friends who do everything together – including overindulging. So, they decide to go on a weight loss program together.

Sally and Sara take beginning measurements and weight. One month later, they take measurements again and Sally finds that she’s lost a total of 9 inches – with 5 inches from her chest measurement which is probably the last area she was looking to reduce. Sara’s measurements show she has lost 11 total inches – with 7 inches from her hips and Sally is jealous!

OK, two women doing the same exercises, eating the same, etc. What happened? It’s just that everyone loses weight differently and from different parts of the body – especially at the beginning of a weight loss program. There’s really no way to trigger fat loss specifically from the abdomen, back of the arms or other typical problem areas.

In order to uncover those killer abs, you have to be diligent about (1) meal planning (aka calorie intake), (2) cardiovascular exercise and (3) weight bearing exercise. Those three facets will eventually bring out your better features. If you have a program and it’s not producing the results that you’d like, take a hard look at what you’re doing. Change the mix – change your cardio FITT:

  • Frequency – should be 4-6 workouts per week
  • Intensity – You should be working optimally at 75% of your maximum heart rate
  • Time – each time you visit your cardio workout  you should spend 30-60 minutes
  • Type – Change your form of cardio often

Get a new resistance routine  – often. Check out the 50plusPlusFit Online PersonalTrainer for lots of options, including routines to lose weight and gain muscle. And, visit with a nutritionist to check on what you’re eating; even though you think you’re eating well, maybe there are better meals you can prepare.  Now, let’s move onto a couple of specific points here.

Most people are pre-disposed to either display or never have a six-pack. Sorry guys, but I have seen men with less than 10% body fat who do have a flat stomach but, no six-pack. It will either happen or it won’t based on your little part of the gene pool! For the rest of us, I suggest that we be pleased that we aren’t carrying the whole keg around under our belts! Myth-buster: six-pack abs!

Ladies often ask about the loose skin or that extra weight carried on the back of their arms. They insist on doing lots of triceps exercises. Again, that’s spot reducing and it just won’t work. That specific problem does not plague all women – just those who are pre-disposed to develop this little added feature. Myth-buster: spot reducing for the upper arms.

The bottom line is that your body will respond and you will be:

  • Stronger,
  • Healthier and
  • More Attractive

with a combination of calorie intake control, cardio and resistance training – period.

You must  workout – no exception! Especially for us 50 plus the option of not working out is not for us. In this website we repeatedly talk about being physically able to conduct our daily routines and chores later on in life based on what we do today. So, one more time, I’ll say that you workout today and take care of yourself or, later on you will have to depend upon others to take care of you - possibly even your basic needs. Find your focus and set your target goals for your quality of lifestyle. You’ll be 50plusPlusFit and as a bonus you’ll likely get the body you want, too!

To Sleep is to Be Fit

Sleeping for fitness over 50by Ron the Trainer and Bob -
A good night's sleep is elusive when you're over 50 - right? Or, maybe not ... we offer a couple of different viewpoints on getting the rest we need - read on!

Bob’s Experience:

Is it just me, or do all 50+ folks have trouble sleeping? Some nights I do toss and turn, while on some nights I sleep like a baby. Is it an age thing? I remember my father lamenting that he couldn’t sleep like me when I was a teen. At the time I just figured he was old and that’s what happened when you got old. But let’s clear one thing up from the outset - I am older but not old! After all, I’m 50+/+Fit.

And then there is the double jeopardy from a lousy night’s sleep; when I don’t sleep well I don’t feel like working out, or I do hit the gym and get a less than ideal workout. And I swear I get the munchies and overeat when I’m sleep deprived. So my quality of lifestyle is really compromised all around.

There are some “tricks” to getting a better night’s sleep that I’ve read about, but I can’t say that I follow them religiously, or even trust that they all work. One that my wife and I always violate is watching TV in bed; that one is supposed to get in the way of winding down; I call this one the “David Letterman Syndrome”, and I blame it on Dave.

I do know this, I always feel better after a good night’s sleep and, all other things being equal, I get a good workout in that day. And I know this as well, after a day when I get a good workout in, I sleep much better. Amazing! Sleep and working out seem to work together in a cycle, a “non-vicious cycle!” And clearly this gives me a much better overall feeling throughout my day, and night.

Here’s something else I've noticed over the years of my 50 plus fitness practice: working out when I can’t fall to sleep seems to help me finally get to sleep. For example, sometimes when I awaken in the middle of the night and am not be able to fall back to sleep, I get up and workout. Sound crazy? It seems to have worked for me. I belong to a fitness club with 24 hour access that is close to my home, so it’s easy for me to do. I simply get up, go to the gym, workout, return home, take a quick, hot shower and hop in bed. It seems a little counterintuitive, with all that blood pumping, but I go right to sleep.

But let’s check in with Ron, get his advice, and sleep on it. Ron?

Ron’s Expertise:

The medical community seems to agree that aging has an effect on sleep patterns. But, I suspect they haven’t studied it for cause/effect but made note that a greater percentage of people over 50 have challenged sleeping habits. That being said, there are both causes and effects that I will explain.

First are the causes – we may be older but we’re still busy with lives, careers, etc. Many times we will simply have something on our minds and won’t be able to fall asleep or sleep through the night. Sometimes that’s not avoidable but, sometimes it is. If you spend some time in the evening before bedtime relaxing – and not in front of the TV – you may find you become naturally sleepy. Just sit quietly and take in the view from your front porch or your backyard. Check out the clouds and stars.

The bedroom should be treated as a sanctuary or retreat – no working in bed. No laptops allowed in the bedroom. I don’t even like to read for enjoyment in bed. And the only thing the bedroom TV is for is entertaining you if you’re in bed with the flu. Otherwise, keep the use of the bedroom purely for what’s it’s intended for.

Another great trick for a more restful night is to skip the warm milk and take a warm shower. This opens up your pores, cleanses you and you can relax into a deep sleep. While we’re on the subject of skipping things, alcohol may help you relax and initially get to sleep but, it causes you to wake up as the effects of alcohol wear off at 2 or 3 in the morning. And, you’ll be wide awake.

Now for the effects – and Bob mentioned that he doesn’t feel as well the next day after a poor night’s rest. Also the workout you put in probably won’t be your best. But lack of adequate rest is one of the “stressors” that cause the body to add on body fat as literally a layer of protection. So, if you’re trying to lose body fat or maintain where you are, a string of bad nights will find you disappointed when looking at the bathroom scale.

So, if you’re having trouble sleeping it may not be because you’re getting older … it may be how your lifestyle affects your ability to sleep. Take a look at what you may be doing differently and modify for a great night’s rest! Enjoy a great day following a good night’s sleep every day of your 50plusPlusFit life.

Charles Atlas and Bodyweight Training

Charles AtlasBy Robert Dyer
I recently read an article on Charles Atlas and the benefits of his training magazines which ran for almost 50 years, and it brought back some fond fitness memories.

Some of my earliest memories of fitness training are when I was between 8 to 10 years old, watching my dad doing some Charles Atlas workouts and using his Bullworker. My dad maintained an impressive physique well into his older years and taught me the principles of bodyweight and dynamic training.

I am now a 50 year old personal trainer and I teach my clients how to get amazing results without the use of weights or traditional gym equipment.

Every year we are bombarded with the latest fitness fad, or a celebrity fitness DVD. Before those DVD’s even hit the shelves, those same celebrities seem to have put on more weight than they originally started with. The Charles Atlas principles of fitness are all about health being a lifelong journey, and at fifty years young, I am fitter now than I was twenty years ago. This is thanks to those magazines that my dad used and the exercises he taught me as a young boy.

The fitness industry and men’s health magazines would have us believe that a well toned developed six pack is the exclusive domain of young actors, footballers or those who spend endless hours working out in the gym. Yet a 50 year old trainer who never goes to the gym can have the body of someone half his age, thanks to methods developed decades ago. And you too, be you just 50 or a senior, can benefit from this type of exercise.

Today I teach these same principles to all of my clients and have literally transformed the body of hundreds of people - all without weights, gyms or any other expensive equipment. I owe my physique, unique training methods and lifelong fitness to those Charles Atlas magazines, and will keep on rocking this bus until the wheels fall off.

Thank you Charles Atlas, the legacy lives on…..

What Is the Bullworker?

The Bullworker is a device that's used for isometric exercise. Spring-loaded, contracting cylinders are links to hand grips, and users push inward on both ends of the device to work the arm muscles. The Bullworker also offers corresponding exercises for the legs and lower body.

Isometric exercise is when muscles contract while stationary, without a range of motion. Most of us have seen isometrics at work, possibly when looking at someone holding up a heavy weight load without moving. Isometric exercise is fundamentally different from isotonic muscle contractions where the individual uses their muscles through an entire range of motion. It is a great compliment to the type of workout programs for weight loss and muscle gain found in the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer!

About the Bullworker and Isometric Exercise

For those who are wondering if this kind of exercise works, knowing more about how isometrics differs from other kinds of muscle training is key.

Because isometrics only trains muscles at a specific joint angle (not through range of motion), many fitness experts agree that its main results only prepare the muscle for stationary use. That means that an individual who trains a lot with isometrics may be able to impress others with displays of strength in a stationary position (think about someone holding up a heavy weight away from their body with arms outstretched) but may not get the same kind of gains that many athletes and others commonly use. With isotonic exercises that include a range of motion, muscles will get stronger throughout the entire movement, which is helpful if that's what you're going to be doing in any athletic, recreational or day-to-day capacity, in forms of manual labor or just in helping neighbors or family members with heavy lifting. It's interesting to note that lots of heavy lifting does involve isometric muscle activity, which means that combining Bullworker exercise with other free weight or fixed weight training may really help, for example, on moving day.

This article was written by Personal Trainer Robert Dyer. For further details please visit  Your London Personal Trainer.

50 Plus Fitness and Smoking

By Ron the Trainer and Bob -
If I Smoke Cigars Will I Get Muscles Like Arnold? Well, let's see what Bob and Ron have to say on this topic. Please read on!

Bob’s Experience:
You may have noticed that a really famous body builder, albeit retired from competition, likes to smoke big, expensive cigars. Yep, Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor and former Gov of California, a.k.a.  Conan the Barbarian, a.k.a. The Terminator, a.k.a. Mr. Universe and Chairman of The President’s Council on Physical Fitness under George H. W. Bush, loves to smoke stogies! Big Stogies! But I can assure you, Arnold’s smoking habit never added to his physical prowess. Now, if you do smoke, I’m not going to tell you that you have to quit, or should quit, or anything like that. Why? Well because in our 50plusPlusFit community we’re all about fitness for our quality of lifestyle. So if your quality of lifestyle means that you smoke, it is only your decision.

Now, I don’t condone one’s smoking, but I won’t criticize one’s habit either. Personal choice, as far as I’m concerned is just that. But just like with Arnold, I can pretty much assure you that your workout, cardio or strength training, swimming or biking or whatever won’t be enhanced by smoking. In fact, depending on how heavily you smoke, your workout progress may be less than ideal. I think it only makes sense that anything that taxes your lung capacity and restricts your blood flow can’t help your exercise performance, right?

I really don’t know this for certain because I haven’t smoked anything in years. I used to smoke cigars and I did lift weights and did some cardio at the time. I didn’t notice any negative impact on my exercise, and I didn’t notice any big improvement after I gave up the habit. But then I didn’t consider myself a heavy smoker, 1 or 2 cigars per week. I didn’t look like Arnold when I smoked, and I assure you I never have looked like the Terminator since either. So I very much doubt that smoking will help you get the “Arnold look” either.

As far as the effects smoking might have on your exercise regimen, I’ll leave that to the expert, Ron.   

Ron’s Expertise:

I usually start out where Bob leaves off with my professional opinion. This topic, however, is very close to my heart as I have personal experience. You see, I once was a heavy smoker.

If you have read our “About Us” section, you may be aware that I began my workouts over 20 years ago. The company I worked for then offered cheap gym memberships and even looked the other way if employees took long lunch hours for a workout plus a meal. Needless to say, I jumped for it but brought a lot of baggage in my gym bag, including a 3-pack-a-day cigarette habit.

My workouts weren’t as effective because I just didn’t have the lung capacity or cardiovascular strength. I did continue to workout, and smoke for about a year before I saw my error for what it was.

So, the underlying message here is that very possibly I would not have been motivated to quit cigarettes at least as soon as I did without a regular workout routine. I did, however, feel motivated to drop the habit and almost immediately the quality of my workouts improved! By the way, I utilized hypnosis therapy conducted by a psychologist. Three sessions, and the cigarettes were no longer a part of my life. And, thanks to this therapy, I did not become one a “reformed smoker.”

Bob, you’re right, smoking really doesn’t help you lift better and thanks to my personal experience, I can say with confidence that smoking certainly won’t help you with your cardiovascular fitness. Back in our youth (1950s and 1960s), smoking WAS cool! Many of us picked up the habit to “fit in” or, because we tried it, endured the choking and coughing and decided it tasted good. The little nicotine “rush” didn’t hurt either.

Today, less than 30% of adult Americans now smoke according to many reports. So, in addition to spending serious cash on something that becomes merely ashes to discard, you are also placing yourself in a minority not commonly held in high regard! In my town, it is illegal to smoke in any public place (including restaurants and bars), including 25 feet from any entrance.

Irreversible damage? Nope! Once you are smoke-free, your lungs immediately begin to start clearing and healing. Some research shows that in as little as seven years, your lungs can be completely clear of tar and other by-products of tobacco smoke. Plus, depending on the number of years and the amount of cigarettes smoked daily, you could even reverse the potential for cancer by quitting now. Let’s get started on a healthy 50plusPlusFit lifestyle today!

There are so many compelling reasons to stop – but the most important reason is your future and the quality of your lifestyle! If there is any confusion that smoking detracts from a quality lifestyle beyond age 50, go visit an assisted-care living facility in your area. Ask the staff about why most of the residents are there. You will be shocked at the number of residents who have lung/breathing problems brought on or, aggravated by smoking. Many wear oxygen masks or are confined to a wheel chair because they lack the cardiovascular endurance to take more than a step or two.

Other residents of these facilities (particularly but not exclusively women) could also have advanced cases of osteoporosis – a weakening of the bone density/strength. One major contributing factor of osteoporosis is smoking. Many assisted-care facility residents have to be helped in and out of bed by SPECIALISTS to keep from breaking bones during the transition. How would you like to live out your “golden” years afraid to move because you could break a bone!?!

Oh, by the way, the one single main contributing factor of erectile dysfunction is ... you guessed it, smoking. Hmmm, as we say in the South, 'nuf said!

Do you have grandchildren (or want/expecting them)?  Second-hand smoke is a leading cause of asthma in children. Those children affected with asthma cannot run and play without wheezing and losing their ability to breathe. Second-hand smoke comes from smokers – if you are one, this is a compelling reason to stop today to protect the health of children around you. Second hand smoke doesn’t just mean lighting up in someone else's presence – second hand smoke lingers on your clothes and in your hair for hours after your last cigarette (or cigar).  

Convinced? Great! Start by clicking here to visit the American Cancer Society for lots of great tips and tools to help get you started. You can also get tools to help you overcome this addiction – gum, medications (many over-the-counter), hypnosis, support groups. Once you decide you want to quit, look for assistance to improve your chances of success – and stay focused! Congratulations on your decision to move toward a healthier 50plusPlusFit lifestyle!

Ageism - The Knowing and Doing Gap

senior black woman enjoying ageingby Kay Van Norman

Since you are 50 plus or maybe even a “senior,” take a moment to reveal what you’re thinking, saying, AND doing to age with vitality. Start by standing up (yes, I know you feel silly…) then follow the instructions based on your yes or no answer to each question.    

Ageism Questionnaire

1. Do you expect to be healthy and active through your full lifespan?  If you said No, please sit down.

2. Are you intentionally physically active for at least 30 minutes each day? If you said No, please sit down.

3. Do you expect to be at least as strong and agile 2 years from now as you are today? If you said No, please sit down.

4. Do you strength train (resistance exercise with weights, or moderate to heavy lifting during an activity) at least twice a week on a regular basis? If you said No, please sit down.

5. In the past 2 weeks have you made joking or serious reference to your physical performance being diminished by age?  If you said YES please sit down.

6. Have you laughed out loud in the past 24 hours? If you said No, please sit down.

7. In the past 24 hours have you consciously given thanks for the good things in your life? If you said No, please sit down.

8. In the past 2 weeks have your habitual food choices supported good health? If you said No, please sit down.

9. Do you believe you have the ability to prevent loss of mental function?  If you said No, please sit down.

10. In the past 2 weeks have you made a joking or serious reference to having a “senior moment” when forgetting a name or fact?  If you said YES please sit down.

©Brilliant Aging 2010

Are you still standing?  If not, is there a gap between what you’re thinking/what you know about aging well and you’re lifestyle habits?  Are the majority of your daily beliefs, thoughts and actions helping support, or hindering, your desired outcomes?

To age well we have to purge negative stereotypes, so for the next week make a conscious note of every ageist comment you hear (or make yourself), every ageist media image, every ageist joke, every time you wonder if you should/shouldn’t do something because of your age. If it comes from within CHANGE IT!  If it comes from someone else, question it.  I know when I first did this years ago I was really surprised at myself. It took conscious effort to reprogram myself.  Even when you believe that age is just a number there are endless opportunities to get snagged into a subconscious ageist belief. 

It’s pretty easy to determine if something is ageist.  Just replace the reference to age with one describing race, religion, handicaps, etc.  For example, I found a greeting card with a bunny on the front, wrinkling its nose.  Inside it said, I smell an old person. Happy Birthday!  If you replace the word old with a word describing any race, religion, etc., it’s clearly highly offensive. 

I’d love to hear about your experiences during that week.  You can send comments through my blog at Kayvannorman.com

For more information and resources related to healthy aging visit Kay online.

10 Reasons to Love Cross Country Skiing

cross country skiingby Lisa B. Minn

Now that some areas of the country are finally getting some serious snow, it’s time to take advantage of the slippery stuff and get out there and ski. While racing down a hillside may not be for everyone, the sport of Nordic skiing (otherwise known as XC skiing) can offer almost everyone, especially those 50+, a healthy dose of winter fun. Here are the reasons I think it is a fabulous sport that everyone in America should try at least once:

1. It's great exercise: tough on the muscles (including the heart) but easy on the joints. The most fit athletes in the world (as measured by VO2 max) are XC skiers. I believe that you may literally, use every muscle in your body (um... ok, maybe not the stapedius for you anatomy geeks out there). But you don't have to be super fit to ski. All you need to do is be able to slide one ski in front of the other.

2. You can ski for a lifetime. I've noticed that some of the fastest skiers in the events that I've done are older: 50, 60s, even 70s. I suspect that part of the reason for this is that XC skiing attracts people who may have been competitive runners but are unable to continuously pound their joints into the pavement. Maybe they've given up running all together or maybe they only run part of the year. Whether you're the competitive type or not, XC skiing is a sport that can be done well into your senior years to help improve strength, balance and cardiovascular conditioning.

3. It's relatively cheap. Lift tickets in the Tahoe area cost around $92 and rentals are $45 for downhill skis. In contrast you can purchase a trail pass at a fully groomed XC center for about $23 and rentals go for $20.

4. It's outdoors. XC skiing almost always takes place in clean air, among trees and often with breathtaking views. Even urban trails in cold climates such as Anchorage offer a mini-escape into arms of Mother Nature.

5. It's in the winter time. I personally love the white snow and brisk temperatures of winter. But even those who are averse to the cold may enjoy XC because you can stay very warm the entire time you ski. Unlike downhill sports, there are no lifts or lines to stand in. And there is often a lot less wind because instead of heading to an exposed peak, you often can ski in protected groves of trees.

6. It offers variety. You can choose from two different techniques, classic or freestyle. In classic (my favorite), your skis move forward and back in parallel lines, often in grooves on groomed trails. Freestyle involves lateral pushing-off motion, like skating. You also have the option of skiing on groomed trails or going for backcountry skiing on fresh snow. Then there is biathlon if you are inclined to test your shooting skills while your chest is heaving from physical exhaustion. Talk about a mind-body sport!

7. It's an excellent social/family activity. I often see families skiing together. Kids can start to learn as early as 2 or 3 years old. And many children are on the slopes with their parents even before they can walk, hitching a ride in a sled known as a  'pulk.'  Why not take your grandkid out and let their mom and dad have a quiet day in the lodge?

8. It is less weather-dependent than other winter sports. Personally, I am very choosy about the conditions in which I will shell out money for a lift ticket. If it's not soft or powdery, I save money and buy a trail pass. I've skied when it's been icy, slushy, frigid and warm and while some conditions are more fun than others, I've had a great time no matter what the conditions.

9. It's great for moving meditation. One of the best things about skiing is finding that rhythm where you can just focus on the steady state of your breath or the sound of your skis gliding on the snow. This can free your mind and allow you to be purely in the moment.

10. The afterglow. XC skiing leaves you with a beautiful, rosy glow on your cheeks and in your heart after a day on the trail.

If you live in an area where winter has descended, don’t stay cooped up. Get out there now and go play in the snow!

Visit Lisa at The Pragmatic Yogi and lisabminn.com

How To Get a Better Golf Game

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Is it time for you to get back outside and on the links. Fitness (or lack of) is a major contributor to a solid golf game. And, now that you're over 50 and have more time to devote to the game, you can be your best ever! Between muscular strength, opposing muscle group balance and core strength, you game can be the best ever! See what Bob and Ron have to say on this.

Bob’s Experience: (or lack thereof)

Spring is in full swing - and one of the first signs of spring is the golfers' return to the links. I don’t happen to engage in the sport myself, having given it up some years back as I like to say “for the good of the game!” But I do have several 50 plus friends, ladies and gents, who absolutely love the game and will push the season at the slightest hint of a warmer breeze.

My friends are avid, some even fanatical. They all want to hit it harder, straighter and farther, however, all but one ignores my sage advice, that they should train their bodies for a better game – and not by simply practicing on the course. No. I’m really talking about strength training to improve their balance and overall strength, especially in their legs, core, shoulders and arms.

Now I have to admit that I never did this myself when I played, but then I didn’t even know that specific strength training for golfers existed back then. But I have seen it in action at a fitness club under the watchful eye of a trainer, and I do have a friend who swears by the results he saw in his game. I also know that not just any personal trainer can help you though. Trainers like Ron go through special study and certification to train golfers, tennis players and other sports enthusiasts, so I think I best let Ron take it from here.

Ron’s Expertise:

Having been a really bad golfer back before I was involved in personal training, I feel Bob’s pain and can attest that I too gave it up “for the good of the game.” I used to play golf with my customers (great way to get to know what the client is thinking about your product or proposal!). In “customer golf” if you aren’t adept at the game, you take your obligatory shots, then pick the ball up and cheer the customer on. That was what I did best. Now, onto the task at hand.

I have worked with several golfers and have been able to significantly improve their game. One of my clients is pretty strong indeed, but had a terrible time with short drives, slices, etc. In other words, he was all over the course and had a lack of control where the ball went.

As a side note, today professional golfers rely on resistance exercises. In the past, pros avoided resistance workouts because they didn’t want to bulk up. Modern exercise science has taught us that using lighter weights with a high number of reps creates strength without bulking up.

Some of my favorite exercises to improve golf performance include lunges and squats for leg strength, cable twists for core flexibility and strength and cable chops for back strength. See our Golf Exercises article for more information or join our Online Personal Trainer for a terrific routine I designed to improve your game.

Seeing this client’s game improve was exciting for both of us. For me, I sort of wish I hadn’t sold my custom, left-handed clubs so cheap! Oh well, there’s always the future to play too.

Bottom line, if your goal in your 50 plus years is to enjoy golf, get in the gym and focus on overall conditioning with a special focus on core strength. If you can’t or don’t desire to hire a trainer, there are some excellent books on the subject of training to a sport. But, whatever you do, get and stay strong for your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle.  FORE!

Upping Your Testosterone

by Len Lopez

If you’ve been thinking about taking testosterone because of all the commercials you are hearing on television and radio – there are a couple of things you should think about. The number one thing is that what most of these companies aren’t telling you is that you should also be checking your estrogen levels.

That’s right, your estrogen levels because as you get over 50, even as young as forty…for both men and women, convert a lot of TT (testosterone) into EST (estrogen).  This is especially true if you are struggling with a lack of energy, stamina, difficulty adding lean muscle and, of course, lack of libido.

Testosterone is a lot like money!  It’s not much how much you make, it’s how much you keep.   If you:

  • Have a belly?
  • Are more than 25 pounds overweight?
  • Like carbohydrates and sweets?
  • Don’t eat enough protein?
  • Eat something sweet (carb loaded) at night?

Well if so, there is a good chance you are converting more of your testosterone than you think into estrogen.  

The thing you need to realize is that your diet, especially meals that are loaded with carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates (pizza, pasta, pancakes, bagels, donuts, etc…) will cause an increase in an enzyme called aromatase. An elevation of this enzyme will cause your body to convert more of your TT into EST for both men and women.  Late night sweets are the worst for causing an increase in aromatase.

FYI…Everyone converts DHEA, the anti-aging hormone, into Testosterone.  For simplicity…about 90% of the TT will convert into EST for women and they’ll only keep about 10% of the TT. For men it is almost the reverse.  90% will stay as TT and only about 10% converts into EST…that’s the norm.

What’s great for slowing down that conversion process and that aromatase enzyme is zinc, an important mineral that offers so many benefits to the body. It’s amazing but zinc can also be found in various herbs such as saw palmetto, pygeum, pumpkin seeds and nettles…which are commonly found in most of your herbal prostate formulas.  What zinc and these various herbs do is slow down the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a powerful hormone that causes an increase in the size of our prostate, which isn’t a good thing.

The thing is that we want to make sure we are not losing any of our hard earned TT that we are working hard to increase by working out.  Yes, exercise is the best way to increase TT naturally.  The more intense the workout - the greater surge of TT and growth hormones there is.  I’m a big fan of high intensity, burst and interval training, because it really ups those TT and GH levels. 

If you are taking prescription testosterone the reason you want to check EST levels for both men and women is that you may still be dealing with a ‘conversion’ problem.  Yes you will have more TT and more energy, stamina, libido, etc…but you will also have more EST racing through your body (can you say man boobs and hormonal imbalances), because you haven’t addressed that conversion problem.  Your body will simply have more TT to convert into EST.

So, if you are over 50 and want to increase your testosterone levels for whatever reason start a good work out and eating plan - get a few good workouts in a week and eat a well balance nutritious diet. Oh, and make sure you get your sleep.  Sleep is the other activity that causes an increase of testosterone – so get plenty of good sleep and exercise.  That sounds like the remedy for so many problems, doesn’t it? So give it a try!

For more information on testosterone and general fitness from Dr. Len Lopez go to AskDrLen.com.

Golf Specific Exercises

Tennis Exercises

Tennis Exercises for Senior FitnessDuring a competitive tennis match your entire body is being taxed, so you need a total-body workout in the gym.

Running Exercises

Running Exercises for 50 plus fitnessOne needs strong legs of course, but strong arms, shoulders, chest and back are all important too!

Cycling Exercises

Cycling Exercises for fitness over 50Cycling preparation goes beyond checking the condition of your bike and tires. How about your condition?

For Our Seniors

Fitness For SeniorsBeing a senior - it's the best time of your life - or can be, and include your favorite sports activity too!

Sports Performance Overview

Sports Performance Workouts for Seniors OverviewWant to pick up the golf clubs again, brush up on the tennis game or improve on some other activity?

by Ron the Trainer
Performance enhancement specialists often work with those who wish to improve a specific sport or activity, and this can be particularly helpful if you're over 50.  Let’s take a look at exercises that would be enhancing especially for the avid or aspiring golfer.

First of all, let’s look at core exercises. A strong core is essential to good movement, strength and conditioning and for golf, a strong core can dramatically improve your game! Of course, ab crunches are what most people think about when they hear the term “core.”

But, a strong lower back is possibly even more important – especially in golf. Strong lower-back translates into long, controlled drives. Did that catch your attention? Great! For lower back, you can simply do reverse crunches with your stomach on the floor. Looks easy but, try a couple of sets of 12 if you’ve never done them. Where you will feel this exercise is precisely where power should originate in your swing.  Both ab crunches and reverse crunches can be done on your floor at home or in the gym with minimal equipment.

Strong legs – if you have been in the game any time at all, you know that the power of your swing originates in your legs. Strengthening the quadriceps (front of the thigh), hamstrings (back of the thigh), calf muscles (back of the lower leg) and glutes (what you’re sitting on) can make all the difference between a bad or good round. Leg conditioning using squats, lunges and hamstring curls are all of particular benefit to your game. And, there’s nothing like feeling strong enough to climb steps, take long, brisk walks or other activity requiring excellent leg strength.

Next, the upper body has to be strong enough to deliver an excellent swing. This would incorporate arm, shoulder and back muscles that all need to work together in a seamless fashion. Hopefully, that would be one less thing to think about in the milliseconds before your club strikes the ball!

Strong shoulders help you control the club and possess endurance; strong range of motion in the shoulders helps with form and the follow-through. All shoulder exercises would be of benefit, depending on the health of your body but, some such as the cross-medial delt swing and windmill are ideal to strengthen the shoulder muscles that support your swing. General strengthening would come from the overhead shoulder press.

A word about the current condition of your body: if you have chronic pain or limited range of motion, the source of those should be identified and addressed first. And, especially for those of us 50+, the potential is huge for some shoulder concern. For example, if you have rotator cuff damage, the kettlebell exercises mentioned above may aggravate the condition. If you have a frozen shoulder (how are you playing golf at all?) the exercises to address this are very different from the kettlebell examples.  

A strong back may have been the last thing on your mind regarding golf but, the upper back muscle groups make up the largest muscle group in the upper body. Not only does your back have to support you vertically, but in cooperation with your core, your upper back supports most activities that incorporate arm movement. That being said, the latissimus dorsi (lats), rhomboids and trapezius (traps) – those muscles on your upper back below the shoulders and covering your ribs – are really critical to your game. Some of the most golf-beneficial exercises for your back include standing rows and standing flyes.

The chest muscles are the opposing muscle group to the back so, for muscle balance and excellent performance, your chest should be strong. In this muscle group, you can benefit from push-ups, a variety of presses and flyes – all of which would add to your game.

senior man golfingAnd, now for the muscle group for which you thought there would be a focus – arms. Well, yes, strong arms are important but, think for a moment about what has already been covered; if you work shoulders, aren’t you using your arms? If you workout your back, shoulders again – right? And, yes, you guessed it: when you workout your chest – arms are there too. So, are we advocating not exercising arms? No, not at all - but remember there is a balance to be considered in your workouts. You don’t want ridiculously over-developed biceps or forearms because that could affect your range of motion. Overdeveloped triceps may affect the ability to control your swing. Balance – that’s essential.

Speaking of balance, now that you’ve gotten stronger, it’s time to round out your workouts with  a mind-body exercise program such as yoga, pilates or tai chi. After all, if it’s good enough for the military and the NFL, one of these forms of exercise be pretty good for you too!

But, before you hit the links, stretch, stretch and stretch! Warm up with a brisk walk and stretch your legs and upper body before you approach the first tee. Use some gentle, controlled rotational movements at the waist and shoulders, clasp your hands together, stretch your arms in front and behind you to warm up your chest and back.

Now that you have an idea of what parts of the body to exercise, check out our 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer where you can look up even more exercises and use online fitness tracking for your workouts, including a specific routine to help your golf game.

Now, that you have exercised and strengthened your muscle groups and have stretched, it’s time to have the best round of your life! Remember to draw your navel to your spine, contract your glute muscles, exhale on the swing and you’ll have a greater, stronger game than before. All this for a better golf game and your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle!

Keep on Working Out

over 50 woman and man hikingby Ron the Trainer

Across many parts of the country we are experiencing some harsh, record breaking low temps and high snowfall amounts. But, don’t let this pin you into a “cabin fever” situation. Now is the time to embrace your workout goals. Here are some suggestions to keep you moving in spite of the wintertime weather that makes us all want to hide out inside until Spring.

Assuming you can get outside and drive, get to the gym – mine was almost too warm this week! Give yourself a great workout and don’t cut corners. After all, you went through all the trouble bundle up and get out of the house in the first place so, maximize your time away! This might be a great time to push your limits a little to see if you can get in our cardio and your resistance work on the same day! Or, find a big mall and power walk – don’t stop to shop! And, avoid the food court … just walk. Try to walk briskly for an hour.

This time of year, there are always activities to look for. Look for zoo walks, fun runs and other things that seem to show up sometime in late winter to keep us going. There’s a livestock show and rodeo in my town – there’s miles of walking to see everything – just have to avoid all the food there is to eat!

Can’t drive because of too much snow? No problem, get out with the family and build snow creatures in the yard. If it’s very cold you might have to do this in shifts but, you’ll be burning way more calories than sitting in your easy chair next to the fire.

Another non-driving activity that you could enjoy is a brisk walk. Make sure you dress warm and in layers so that if you actually do get too warm because you’re moving briskly, you can remove a layer or two without getting too cold.

You say it’s sub-zero outside? Well, I’ll be the first to tell you to stay inside and not risk your safety in that kind of climate. But, there are things you can do inside your home with little or no equipment. Push-ups, sit-ups, yoga and pilates are examples and great how-to videos can be found in the 50plusPlus Fit Online Personal Trainer. Look at the various workout plans – especially those that require no equipment – some exercises are shown using canned goods or detergent bottles for extra resistance. Be creative and you’ll have some fun while feeling healthy.

When creating an at-home workout area, consider location – make it comfortable and convenient. Don’t put your workout area in a cold, dark corner of the basement or garage – use a spare bedroom or the family room, even if you have to put stuff away between uses.

Don’t let old man winter keep you from getting in your workouts. Be healthy, creative and have fun. Cabin fever? Not you – you’re 50plusPlusFit!

Ron the Trainer is a multi-certified personal trainer and co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

Tips for Your Home Gym

By Bob the Trainer -

Sometimes you just can’t get to the gym.  Life gets in the way, especially when you’re over 50, and the gym takes a back seat to other responsibilities.  But your health and fitness should be a huge part of your life over 50!  So maybe the home gym can be a great alternative for you.

I know what you’re thinking: that takes a lot of space and costs a lot of money.  Well, not necessarily so much.  For example, body weight exercises can be done in any room.  It doesn't matter if you only have a small amount of space or if you have a spare room, you can have a home gym, and not break the bank.

Let’s first discuss space.  You may question why you need to create a home gym area at all.  Well because you need that environment where you think fitness, where you can be focused and uninterrupted.  And don’t get hung up on the word “gym.”  You can think of your “fitness center” when it’s time for working out and as your office, guest bedroom, etc. at other times.

Plus having a dedicated place to exercise will also help you maintain your regular dedicated exercise scheduled time.  In fact, with the convenience of proximity, you’ll have eliminated one of the great excuses for not getting fit, “I just couldn’t get there.

This is simple really, because you don’t need a great deal of costly equipment.  Just look at the body weight exercises in the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer.  Or look at the bands workout, or the dumbbells workout.  All of these exercises and routines are easy to do in an apartment living area.  And yes, these can indeed help you lose weight and gain muscle.

But let’s say that space is not an issue for you, but the budget is not huge.  Well, you can get a really good quality exercise bike from a specialty fitness equipment store as little as $500.  Then add an adjustable 3- way bench for $200 and adjustable dumbbells for around $300, and you’ve got a full gym for a grand.  Not bad at all!  That’s less than the cost of 18 months at some gyms.  But let’s say that your current gym is cheaper and the breakeven period is 24 months.  Still, think of how fit you’ll be in 24 months with the convenience of a home gym.

Yes you can have a much more complete home gym if you have the space and money.  And if so, go for it. Get that new treadmill or rower, or one of those terrific functional trainers – you’ll love it!  But regardless of your situation, the cost of your home gym will offset the cost of that gym membership over time and will be way, way lower than the medical expenses you’ll avoid by getting and staying fit.  You see, being 50plusPlusFit at home is actually economical!

Bob Merz is a National Academy Sports Medicine certified personal trainer and founder of 50plusPlusFit.

Keeping A Journal

senior fitness food journalby Ron the Trainer
Keeping track of what you eat and how you exercise is a must if you want to be 50plusPlusFit!

Diet Tracking

Research shows that people who write down everything they eat and convert it all into total calories are more successful at losing unwanted weight, and afterward, maintaining a healthy body weight. So much can be consumed each day in “hidden” calories like a smoothie or something you just ate mindlessly such as a piece of candy or handful of nuts.

But writing down everything you eat? Yep. The research doesn’t mislead… it works! By recording everything you’ve eaten, you can track your caloric intake throughout the day and thus keep yourself on track. And if you do somehow fall off the diet track for a day, you’ll be able to see just where you went astray and make a better plan for the next days ahead. You’ll need to write down everything; look up and calculate the calories, sourced from a reliable nutrition book, calculate your calories consumed and keep a running total or an end-of-day total.

Now a great option to doing everything manually is the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer, which does all of the planning and calculations for you. With online diet tracking this system you track food eaten every day and the calories are calculated for you – no reading labels and guessing. The diet tracker is easy to use and contains plenty of diet plans plus a vast database of foods so that you don’t have to enter the calories, grams of fat, etc. to calculate your meal or day’s nutrition values. Calories, fat, protein and other elements of what you’ve eaten are displayed so that you have a clear picture of how successful your meal planning has been over the last 24 hours, week or even months. In fact, whether you choose one of the prescribed diets or design your own diet, you can plan out a week or more in advance, and then print a handy shopping list.

If you do take a look at the Online Personal Trainer, check out the BMR calculator for your daily calorie requirements,  plus the other great calculators!

And our Online Personal Trainer has recently been recognized as the best personal trainer and health digital resource for over 50!

Exercise Tracking

Just as with diets, journaling your exercise pays off as well. For resistance training, it’s a great idea to log sets and weights; for cardio it’s essential to track your time, distance or steps. You’ll be able to closely monitor your progress, and as with diet tracking, you’ll be able to see where you might have fallen off your routine. Some sporting goods stores have paper journals to track your exercise, and some accommodate both strength and cardio training.

Again as with diet tracking, there are a great set of tools in the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer to track and keep records of all of your workouts, which helps you organize your trips to the gym. You’ll find hundreds of exercises and dozens of complete workouts to choose from, to lose weight and gain muscle and for beginners or the more advanced. With this tool, you have your past workouts right at your fingertips so that you can refer back to what you should be doing or, determine when it’s time to increase the weights you’re using or go for a longer distance. The Online Personal Trainer database’s exercises all come with video and printable instructions. And you can even add your own custom exercises and save a workout as a “favorite.”

By tracking your workouts in our fitness tracker, you also see how many calories you’ve burned during your session. The system analyzes what you include in your workouts and calculates the calories burned. This helps you understand your calorie requirements, at least for that part of your day.

5 Lifestyle Tips for Restoring Muscle After 50

bob the trainerBy Bob the Trainer –

Once most people pass 50 it’s quite common that they give in to the theory that they are relegated to grow weaker and weaker as they continue to age. And there is some basis for this supposition, because as we age, our bodies experience a natural reduction in hormones, testosterone and human growth hormone. But this isn’t a phenomenon of the 50 plus crowd, for these levels begin to decline in our mid-20s. So it really has been somewhat more difficult to build or even retain our muscle mass for some years already. But notice I said somewhat more difficult, but certainly not impossible. You actually can make a few very simple lifestyle changes that will help you restore and build muscle mass well into your 50s and beyond. I and others are living examples. Read on…

 Lift Some Weights

As we age we absolutely have to add resistance training to our exercise regimen, and lifting weights is by far the best form of resistance training for maintaining and adding muscle mass to one’s body, bar none! You have to challenge and “stress” your muscles or they will atrophy, reduce in size and lose strength over time.

man over 50 on weight machineTrain with dumbbells, barbells, kettle-bells and weight machines.  If you are just starting out use weight machines until you get comfortable with the resistance and the motion. Then advance to free weights, dumbbells, barbells, etc. for greater flexibility, balance and overall progression. Add this to your schedule at least three times a week.

Eat More, Not Less

Like so many in our age range, you’ve likely spent much of your life trying to eat fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight. But if you want to regain muscle you’ll have to reverse your thinking on this. You have to fuel your body with sufficient calories to build more muscle fiber. But keep in mind that you need to get your extra calories from as many healthful, whole foods as possible - focus on good nutrition, and scrap the junk food!

Eat More Protein

Increase your protein intake. Often people over the age of 50 don’t consume enough protein to truly support the building of muscle tissue. It’s important to make sure that you’re getting a serving of protein at each meal. You can get protein from whole grains, eggs or egg whites, lean meats, fish, beans and other legumes, and nuts.

Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese can also provide you with plenty of protein, and the low fat variety are ideal. Also a protein shake or bar can help you increase your protein consumption. They are convenient, but be sure to watch the sugar content.

Loose the Booze, Sort Of

First of all, alcohol is comprised of completely empty calories, no nutritional value at all. But the calories can go through the roof. Add to that, consuming alcohol does cause your testosterone levels to drop faster than they normally would with age, and you need to maintain as much testosterone as possible in order to build muscle. By the way, this goes for the ladies as well as the gents.

That all being said, the American Heart Association (AHA) still reports that the incidence of heart attack is lower among moderate drinkers than non-drinkers. But the AHA suggests we limit our consumption to no more than two drinks each day for men and one per day for ladies. You’ll do your heart health well and help maintain your testosterone levels to boot!

Get Plenty of Sleep

Your body builds (repairs) muscle tissue when at rest or sleeping. Plus your mental attitude needs a recharge as well. And when 50 plus, you need the rest to allow your body and your mind time to recover from a good workout. So shoot for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. And I’m not kidding!

Follow these 5 muscle building tips and you will be on your way to restoring muscle you’ve lost over the years and maybe add some more. You’ll be stronger, have better balance, better flexibility, feel better and look better.

For more detailed plans on how to accomplish this through exercise and diet plans, try our 50plus|plusfit Online Personal Trainer.  

Bob Merz is the founder of 50plus|plusfit and earned his personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Tennis Specific Exercises

Golf Exercises

Golf Exercises for senior fitnessWant a better stroke and a longer drive? Here are the exercises for the avid, aspiring or returning golfer.

Running Exercises

Running Exercises for fifty plus fitnessOne needs strong legs of course, but strong arms, shoulders, chest and back are all important too!

Cycling Exercises

Cycling Exercises for fitness over 50Cycling preparation goes beyond checking the condition of your bike and tires. How about your condition?

For Our Seniors

Sports Fitness For SeniorsBeing a senior - it's the best time of your life - or can be, and include your favorite sports activity too!

Sports Performance Overview

Sports Performance Training for Seniors OverviewWant to pick up the golf clubs again, brush up on the tennis game or improve on some other activity?

By Ron the Trainer

Tennis after 50? But of course! In fact your game can still get much better.

Special performance enhancement exercises are your best resource when you are working toward a specific sport or activity. We've got a specific exercising program or workout in our Online Personal Trainer, but let’s just take a look at some choice exercises for the avid or aspiring tennis player.

The entire body is in use during tennis – strong, agile legs, strong arms, shoulders, chest and back for powerful strokes – it’s all important. Therefore, a total-body workout in the gym is ideal.

But, as important as all of that is, the core is vital to a great tennis match. Let’s look at core exercises. A strong core is essential to good movement, strength and conditioning and for tennis, a strong core can dramatically improve your game! Of course, ab crunches are what most people think about when they hear the term “core.”

But, a strong lower back is equally important. A strong lower-back translates into controlled leg/foot movements and strong forehand or backhand. Did that catch your attention? Great! For lower back, you can simply do reverse crunches on your stomach on the floor. Looks easy but, try a couple of sets of 12 if you’ve never done them. Where you will feel this exercise is precisely where power should originate, in your stroke.  Both ab crunches and reverse crunches can be done on your floor at home or in the gym with minimal equipment. Speaking of the gym, ab benches and machines are available as well but, are not the trainer’s choice as most are designed poorly and allow or even promote poor form. Floor crunches or ball crunches are ideal.

Strong legs – if you have been in the game any time at all, you know that the power of your stroke originates in your legs – especially at the hips. Strengthening the quadriceps (front of the thigh), hamstrings (back of the thigh), calf muscles (back of the lower leg) and glutes (what you’re sitting on) can make all the difference between a bad or good game. Leg conditioning with squats, lunges and hamstring curls are key along with glute strengthening. Of course, these exercises aren’t only beneficial on the courts but also in everyday living!

Now, the upper body has to be strong enough to deliver an excellent stroke. This would incorporate arm, shoulder and back muscles that all need to work together in a seamless fashion. Hopefully, that would be one less thing to think about in the milliseconds before your racket strikes the ball!

Strong shoulders help you control your racket and possess endurance; strong range of motion in the shoulders helps with form and the follow-through. All shoulder exercises would be of benefit, depending on the health of your body but, some such as the cross-medial delt swing and windmill are ideal to strengthen the shoulder muscles that support your swing. General strengthening would come from the overhead shoulder press.

A word about the current condition of your body: if you have chronic pain or limited range of motion, the source of those should be identified and addressed first. And, especially for those of us over 50, the potential is huge for some shoulder concern. For example, if you have rotator cuff damage, the kettlebell exercises mentioned above may aggravate the condition. If you have a frozen shoulder (how are you playing tennis at all?) the exercises to address this are very different from the kettlebell examples.  

A strong back may have been the last thing on your mind regarding tennis but, the upper back muscle groups (latissimus dorsi aka lats, rhomboids and trapezius, i.e., traps) – those make up the largest muscle group in the upper body. Not only does your back have to support you vertically, but in cooperation with your core, your upper back supports most activities that incorporate arm movement. That being said, the muscles on your upper back below the shoulders and covering your ribs – are really critical to your game. Some of the most tennis-beneficial exercises for your back include standing rows and standing flyes.

The chest muscles are the opposing muscle group to the back so, for muscle balance and excellent performance, your chest should be strong. In this muscle group, you can benefit from push-ups, a variety of presses and flyes – all of which would add to your game.

And, now for the muscle group for which you thought there would be a focus – arms. Well, yes, strong arms are important but, think for a moment about what has already been covered; if you work shoulders, aren’t you using your arms? If you workout your back, arms again – right? And, yes, you guessed it: when you workout your chest – arms are there too. So, are we advocating not exercising arms? No, not at all - but remember there is a balance to be considered in your workouts. You don’t want ridiculously over-developed biceps or forearms because that could affect your range of motion. Overdeveloped triceps may affect the ability to control your racket. Muscle balance is essential.

Pulling all of this together, you can also benefit from the use of resistance tubes (found at sporting goods and discount stores) for exercises that emulate your swing. Simply connect the tube to a steady surface, grasp the handle and pull on the tube in the direction of your normal swing.

Speaking of balance, now that you’ve gotten stronger, it’s time to round out your workouts with a mind-body exercise program such as yoga, Pilates or tai chi. After all, if it’s good enough for the military and the NFL, one of these forms of exercise could be pretty good for you too!

But, before you hit the court, stretch, stretch and stretch! Our tennis enhancement workout in the online personal trainer absolutely starts with stretching. Warm up with a brisk walk and stretch your legs and upper body before you hit the court. Use some gentle, controlled rotational movements at the waist and shoulders, clasp your hands together, stretch your arms in front and behind you to warm up your chest and back.

Now, that you have exercised and strengthened your muscle groups and have stretched, it’s time to have the best game of your life! Remember to draw your navel to your spine, contract your glute muscles, exhale on the stroke and you’ll have a stronger game than before. All this for a better tennis game and your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle!

Ron Mattox is a multi-certified personal trainer and co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

50+ Fitness and Making Adjustments

Workout getting stale? Dealing with an injury or chronic issue as a 50+'er? There are ways to step up your workout and yet work around any issues you may have. Read on to see what Bob and Ron have to say on this topic.

Bob’s Experience:

From time to time I have to make some adjustments in my 50 plus fitness plans by changing my routine. First off, I’m sure Ron would recommend changing your workout periodically anyway just to mix it up to keep challenging your muscles and cardio system. I’ll let the expert address that. However, there are also those times when you might need to make an adjustment for other reasons like illness, time constraints, an injury, travels, etc. I’ve had to make adjustments for all of the above; a short term example is carrying part of a strength training routine over to the next day because of time pressures and combining it into a longer session the second day.

But I have a recent example that’s a doozy, needed because of my neglect in the past.
For some time I’ve been working my hamstrings and glutes by doing, among other things, lying leg curls and they had been going O.K. But, one day I decided just to make a change, to mix it up a bit, and did I get a surprise. As some of you know, you can do the leg curls either two legs at a time or by alternating each leg independently, and I decided to try the single leg variety which I hadn’t done in years. Man, I was shocked. My left leg was much, much weaker, or less strong, than my right leg. No, my left leg was just flat out weak. And I know why. I did something really dumb!

A few years prior, I had injured my left hamstring, actually tore the muscle while water skiing. A cross wake hit me and I lost control, fought to regain control and the rest, as they say, is history. Without going into all the gory details, maybe I should have sought out some physical therapy, but I didn’t and that was just me being a dummy.

Anyway, after I was over the recent revelation, I decided that I really needed to train my hamstrings independently so that I could focus more pointed training on the weak hammy. I started out by using less weight for the injured leg, thinking that was the best approach. In fact I was using about 40% lighter weight for the left leg. However, rather than go off on my own prescription, I decided to not be a dummy this time and consult with a pro, so I turned to Ron.

Ron suggested that I work both legs independently but with the same lighter weight, otherwise the weak leg would never have a chance to catch-up to the strong leg. Of course that makes all the sense in the world, and that’s why I better turn it over to Ron to give you additional (and I dare say more insightful) examples of making adjustments.

Ron’s Expertise:

Wow – Bob you’re beating yourself up and giving a lot of cudos in this one! But, your example is a primary reason why I am constantly changing up a client’s workout – injuries. It’s so frustrating for the client and me when I work them out using good science and common sense, then he or she will go out on their own and do something crazy to injure themselves. Your water-skiing accident is a prime example. Other examples from my client base are a bicycle collision with a moving SUV, fall from an extension ladder, and the list goes on. This is stuff I could never train someone to endure!

But, once you realize you have an issue, “pushing through the pain” or otherwise ignoring what you have going on is even more detrimental. Attempting to ignore a muscle strain or sprain will often cause extended periods of pain and a longer period of time away from normal activities than if you had stopped and dealt with it at the onset.

Once you have a situation, seek medical attention. Immediately ice a fresh injury to reduce pain and inflammation. Time is of the essence when it comes to medical attention. If, for example, you fell and now you can’t walk, the emergency room is your next stop. They will likely wrap (or cast) your injury, prescribe an anti-inflammatory and ask you to schedule an appointment with the ER’s referral doctor on the next business day. (Sounds like the voice of experience, huh?)

If you have a chronic issue, ask your doctor for the best way to treat it. Many people love their heating pads or whirlpool baths but only your doctor can advise if heat or cold or something else is the correct approach. Sometimes that soothing heat will cause more harm than healing, sometimes ice is the wrong approach. Get your best advice from the professionl!

On the top of my adjustment list is your workout and the body’s ability to quickly adapt to a given workout routine. After just a couple of weeks of doing the same things, your body will stop responding to that same old workout – that is, stop growing and getting stronger. I constantly change my clients’ workouts for this reason – they may think it’s boredom but, it’s really for their own good. That’s why we have included an Exercise Guide with multiple ways to work all of your muscle groups – so that you can pick and choose a couple of each for every different workout.

Just then, I mentioned the “B” word – boredom. I constantly nag my clients to change up their cardio – get off the treadmill, get on an elliptical, stairmaster, take a spinning class, kickboxing, boot camp, Zumba – you name it. But, every week should be a new world in the eyes of your body. This keeps you interested and keeps your body responding by getting better!

When traveling, try to find something new that might not be available to you back home. Maybe you’re traveling to a mountain area (and you live in the plains). A high-altitude hike will really humble even the most ardent enthusiasts from the flat-lands! Or take a swim in the ocean if you are visiting a coastal area and don't have regular access to the sea.

If work or other obligations get in the way of your workout, treat it like prescription medication – pick it up at the next scheduled time to workout but, don’t try to double-up. This is the point where many injuries take place. More of my clients who find themselves injured have done so by overuse, sounds good at the time but, not so much!

We get so fixed on being dedicated to our workouts, and that’s good. But, recognize that when you have an injury, go on a trip or work gets in your way; you need to be flexible. And, try to be flexible in your regiment – your body will respond appropriately and thank you for it. Now, get out there and make whatever adjustments you need to enjoy your 50+/+Fit Quality of LifeStyle.

Seniors Sports Performance

Golf Exercises

Golf Exercises for fifty plus fitnessWant a better stroke and a longer drive? Here are the exercises for the avid, aspiring or returning golfer.

Tennis Exercises

Tennis Exercises for senior fitnessDuring a competitive tennis match your entire body is being taxed, so you need a total-body workout in the gym.

Running Exercises

Running Exercises for fitness over 50One needs strong legs of course, but strong arms, shoulders, chest and back are all important too!

Cycling Exercises

Cycling Exercises for elderly fitnessCycling preparation goes beyond checking the condition of your bike and tires. How about your condition?

Sports Performance Overview

Sports Performance Workouts OverviewWant to pick up the golf clubs again, brush up on the tennis game or improve on some other activity?

by Ron the Trainer
Tennis Anyone?

Being a senior, it’s the best time of your life – or can be. You’re likely retired, have children grown, maybe even grandchildren and now you finally have time to pursue the activities that you only hoped to enjoy a few years ago. Golf, tennis – you name it; maybe even a round playing against that grandchild of yours.  It’s yours for the taking and wouldn’t it be great to dominate your chosen sport? Yes, it would be a lot more fun to play great! But, is it too late? Never!

So, it’s time to think about training your body to perform as you wish – to hit that great drive or strong serve. How about moving more freely and confidently on the tennis court or anywhere else? It’s possible with the proper preparation – just get into the gym and:

  • Strength/resistance train
  • balance train and
  • most importantly in sports, core train.

You can be in your 70s, 80s or beyond and still hit a great golf ball or cast a fly reel. Find exercises that help define and shape the types of movements that your chosen sport demands. Get stronger shoulders, stronger and more flexible back and stronger yet more nimble legs. It’s all possible and there’s no time better than right now! Check out the 50plusPlusFit  sports performance articles for examples of specific exercises for a number of sports.

There are also other sources to help you get started:

  • Books
  • Videos  
  • Personal Trainers
  • Online Personal Trainers
  • Group Exercise Classes

But if you don’t feel confident about starting your training on your own, get a personal trainer who specializes in sports performance, and better yet, in sports performance and senior fitness. Trainers aren’t all thick-neck guys with a whistle and clipboard who stand around and bark orders. Today’s best trainers have extensive education and experience working with all types of clients, young, older, fit or challenged. Rather do it on your own, but still need some guidance? Try a personal online trainer. Some have specific exercise routines to improve your game. It's like having a personal trainer at home with workout and eating plans.

You can also check out a group exercise class at your local gym, or community center. Depending upon your current ability, you might be able to start in a mainstream class designed for everyone or, check out classes designed specifically for seniors.

With a little checking you should be able to find exactly the help you need to get you stronger and better at whatever sport you aim for. And, as always, remember to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Be sure you have clearance from your doctor first and if you have a shoulder, hip, knee or other issue, obtain specific workout directions from your physician. Once you have the clearance, take off and get into the best shape you can to enjoy your active senior lifestyle!

Choosing a Club

senior man strength training on weight machine at fitness clubby Ron the Trainer
Before you sign on the dotted line, particularly after 50, look inside yourself. Think about choosing a club or home gym. You might ask: How do I start? How would I decide whether to invest in a fitness center membership or a piece of home equipment? These questions come up often. Here are some ideas on how to decide on a gym or club for pursuing your 50 plus fitness. 

Topics we’ll examine include in order of importance are:

  • Your Personality
  • Discipline
  • Convenience
  • Home/Work Locations
  • Time of Day
  • Space at Home
  • Available Funds

First of all, are you willing to share your workout time with others or, would you rather use this as quiet time to recharge and renew? Maybe when the long day is done, you’d like to workout and relax – but evenings in most gyms are noisy and crowded with other people. However, depending on the gym and location, the gym may be less crowded during some times during the day; 6 a.m. is generally considerably less crowded than 6 p.m. Other times of the day may be less and less busy. Again, if you want a relaxing experience, a home gym might be best – you control the TV or music choices and don’t have to be around others. This might be the MOST important factor to consider. If this is the case, you might want to give real serious consideration to a Home Gym.

But, along with that will be your discipline. Go to most ANY garage or moving sale and you’ll find underutilized home gym equipment for sale. They just didn’t use it and finally gave up on keeping it around! Would you REALLY use it every day? Be honest with yourself. If not, a gym membership might  be a better choice.           

OK – You’re going to take that all-important first step and join a gym. That’s GREAT! But, this is not a decision to be taken lightly! As a 50+er, considerations to include, but not limited to:

  • Location
  • Convenience
  • Amenities
  • Price
  • Hours and
  • Other members.

woman over 50 exercsing on leg strength machine at gymLocation: Consider if it’s located near your home, near your work or somewhere between work and home, to make it convenient and usable.

If you travel often for your job or pleasure, make sure the gym you pick has multiple locations or a reciprocal agreement with clubs located where you plan to be, such as those belonging to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclubs of America (IHRSA). With IHRSA, you can show your membership card from your hometown gym and pay a nominal fee to use a club in the distant city.

Amenities: If you are (or wish to be) an avid swimmer, the gym of course, should have a pool. The fitness industry is seeing many of us 50+ jumping back in the pool for one of the best overall exercises – especially now that you may have fewer family responsibilities and more time on your hands.  Also, be sure there is an adequate quantity of treadmills and other popular equipment available for use during peak hours.

If you have small children or grandchildren, the gym should offer good-quality childcare. Be sure that you are getting what you need before signing the agreement and paying for the membership.

Price: If your entire disposable income is at jeopardy by a gym membership, you may wish to shop around. There are generally options available to you in larger cities such as independent gyms, YMCA/YWCA, and regional/national chains with lots of membership options. Don't get drawn in by pretty surroundings and lots of “bells and whistles” if you honestly can't afford it or probably won’t use those upscale amenities. Be sure to ask about membership specials and options so that your buying experience is within your financial comfort zone.

Hours: If you have a job that asks you to put in unpredictable hours, you may wish to choose a gym that offers around-the-clock access.  Often, we see in the industry that 50+ people who are not working (retired, disability, etc.) will choose to use the wee hours of the morning to workout (3-6 AM). Maybe they can’t sleep, or just like the relative quiet that working out at that time offers. If you think this might be something you’ll choose to do, make sure the gym is open the hours you’ll want to use it. Some clubs may even offer personal access keys which allow you to admit yourself to the gym facility when not staffed.

Other Members: Very Important! Since you are reading this, we might assume that you aren't a 20-something that is looking for a gym that resembles a singles bar! Depending on location, some gyms appear to be just that – especially during the early evening hours directly after work. When shopping for a gym, visit during the times that you expect you'll be able to use it. Then, check out who's working out. Are they similar to you or would you feel uneasy and somewhat of an outsider? If you don't feel at ease touring the club due to muscle jocks or gym bunnies everywhere, look elsewhere.

Staff and/or Trainers available? Like with anything new, you may desire some instruction. You wouldn’t buy a new car or electronic device that didn’t come with a manual. And, unfortunately, when you join a gym, there’s no instruction manual provided. Are you a novice at working out? Does the club have equipment that’s intuitive or that’s familiar to you? Ask what help you can get in starting off on the right foot. An investment in a good personal trainer can make the difference between a lifestyle change and a bad experience, but the costs can add up. So another great option here is to join a good club and then sign up for our Online Personal Trainer. It is loaded with tools to help you like online fitness tracking, workout plans for losing weight, an online weight tracker, diet plans and much more.

Circuit Training Gyms? One other option some often consider is circuit training gyms, which are small gyms set in an organized machine/group setting. These gyms have benefits and drawbacks – especially for those of us 50+.

These are usually small, gender-specific, franchised operations with a “circuit” of machines set in a pattern where you and the other members systematically work from one machine to the next until you workout on each machine maybe two or three times per visit. Typically there’s a staff person at the club who serves as a circuit leader. The staffer typically has been educated on how to lead participants through the circuit but, generally has no education regarding physical fitness such as that which would be possessed by a certified personal trainer or group exercise instructor.

The attraction here is that someone just starting out may not feel confident enough to walk into a “regular gym.” Someone who’s de-conditioned may feel intimidated by other people in a gym. So, for this type of person, gyms with a handful of equipment fashioned into a circuit were developed. However, sometimes the equipment found in these clubs is not of the sturdiness and quality found in a traditional gym. And, these little gyms may lack the ability to encourage the participants to work at their potential – the workouts are rather gentle and may not challenge you and your body.

So, let the exerciser beware –specialty circuit training gyms are a fair option for the very de-conditioned but, most of us will probably need to meet somewhere in the middle – for a healthy, productive you.

Armed with all of this information, a wise, informed choice can make the difference between a great experience that will jumpstart your trip to a 50 plus healthy life or a very disappointing situation that could turn you off totally to exercise.  But, don’t give up! Get out there and find the best gym – traditional or specialty, for your needs and achieve a healthy 50plusPlusFit lifestyle!

Exercising With Low Blood Sugar or An Empty Stomach?

over 50 exercise with low blood sugarby Len Lopez
Are you training on an empty stomach or with low blood sugar? That’s an important question, because there are a lot of people out there making the mistake of training with low blood sugar. 

When your blood sugar is low, it effects how well your body burns fats and whether or not your adrenal glands will have to kick in to help out.  This isn’t a good thing, especially if you are over 50 or more senior.

Low blood sugar is different than an empty stomach. You can have an empty stomach while your blood sugar is stable, which is the best way to approach a workout, especially if you are over 50.  This is the age that blood sugar problems become more rampant.  However, an intense workout with food in your stomach that hasn’t been digested is going to lead to bloating, gas, indigestion, and other digestive problems.  

FYI…Any type of strength or high intensity training will activate your ‘fight or flight’ mode (sympathetic nervous system), which in turns shuts down your ‘resting/digesting’ mode (parasympathetic system).  So you don’t want to workout with food in your stomach, because chances are that food will pass through undigested and promote bloating, gas, indigestion, etc.

If it’s an easy aerobic workout, it probably doesn’t matter if you have food in your tummy, because the intensity isn’t high enough to shut off your ‘resting/digesting’ mode.

But do a moderate to intense workout with low blood sugar and chances are all the calories you will be burning will come from the breakdown of lean muscle. The fact that your blood sugar is low means you don’t have very much sugar/glucose/carbohydrates to draw from so it’s more than likely has to breakdown protein (lean muscle) for energy.  

Burning calories doesn’t necessarily mean you are burning fats. You can burn calories all day long, but if you’re not burning stored body fat, you probably won’t get the results you are after.

Carbohydrates provide quick energy. Without any carbs in your body, your body goes to the next resource for energy, which is protein. But remember you don’t want to burn proteins, because that’s the quickest way to develop cellulite!

If your workout intensity is moderate to high – you’re probably not burning fats for energy either…which is again one of the most common mistakes I often see.

FYI…Low blood sugar is interpreted by your body as starvation, which triggers your adrenal glands to produce more cortisol and adrenaline.  These two hormones will work to raise your blood sugar.  But you can’t over-use them and deplete your adrenal glands. This could prevent them from dealing with the ‘real’ stresses in your life.

Adrenal fatigue is the term used to describe the adrenal glands being over-worked due to constant, prolonged stress.  This is why checking cortisol levels are a good thing, especially for anyone over 50 and also struggling with a chronic health condition that isn’t getting better.

Don’t make the mistake of training on an empty stomach! But don’t make the mistake of doing a somewhat intense workout with food in your stomach that’s only going to sit in your stomach and rot and putrefy because your digestive system slowed down while you were working out.

Certain foods take longer to digest than others.  I won’t go into all that at this time, but will follow up with that information on my next article. Remember it’s not about training harder or longer – it’s about training and dieting smarter.  It’s all about the TEAM concept which is time, energy and money!

6 Great Yoga Poses for People Over 50

By Ron the Trainer -
It’s been around for centuries, is practiced under several disciplines by people on every continent. So popular but, never advertised because it’s unnecessary! Yoga is a great form of exercise (or cross-training) and with few limitations, is ideal for everyone.

Here are 6 of my favorites that you can do anywhere and with no special equipment. While these descriptions are very detailed, some of us learn by watching. So, you’ll find over 60 Yoga poses in our Online Personal Trainer. Benefits of Yoga include balance as well as strengthening and stretching muscles. Let’s get started!

Mountain Pose: Begin in a standing position, feet directly under hips, hands at your sides. Build your foundation by focusing floor contact at the big toes, little toes and center of the heels.

Lift your knee caps by flexing the muscles on the front of your thighs, tighten your glute muscles. Draw in your navel, expand your rib cage, drop your shoulders down and back. Tuck in your chin and breathe deeply in and out. With each breath you should fully fill your lungs then exhale to completely empty your lungs.
This pose is held 1-3 minutes or to your level of comfort.

Warrior I: Begin standing with your feet close together, facing the side of the room. Press your toes into your mat, activate your abdominal muscles and glutes while bending forward at the hip. Breathe so that you completely fill and empty your lungs with each deliberate breath. Step forward with the foot closest to the front of the room, toes pointing to the front of the room while toes on the back leg face the side wall. Front knee will be slightly bent while back leg will be fully extended. Extend your arms horizontal, dropping your shoulders so that the pose is felt in the biceps and triceps, not the shoulders. Hold this pose 90-120 seconds then, return to the starting position with feet together.
Change sides and repeat. This pose can be repeated as desired.

Boat Pose: Note: this pose is not recommended for people with chronic lower back issues without first consulting their physician.

Breathe so that you completely fill and empty your lungs with each deliberate breath. Begin in a seated position with your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on the floor on either side of you (beginner) or place your hands on the back of your thighs (advanced). Shift your weight back onto your sacrum and slowly lift your feet off the floor while leaning  back with your torso so that there is a 45° angle at the hips. If your strength and comfort level allow, slowly straighten each leg so that knees aren’t bent. Hold for no more than 20 seconds. Return feet to the floor in a slow, controlled manner.
Repeat as desired.

Cobra: Begin lying on the mat on your stomach, hands under your shoulders, toes tucked under. Engage your abdominal and glute muscles by drawing in your navel and squeezing your glute muscles together. Breathe so that you completely fill and empty your lungs with each deliberate breath. Slowly press your torso up until your elbows are fully extended. Hold your abdominal muscles strong -- do not allow your lower back to support you during this pose.
Hold for 90-120 seconds and repeat as desired.

Cat and Cow: Begin on hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under the hips.  Breathe so that you completely fill and empty your lungs with each deliberate breath. Starting at the bottom of your spine, lift each vertebrae up toward the ceiling (visualize individually). Press your entire lower back up, then the vertebrae between your ribs, finally drop your head and actively press your entire spine toward the ceiling while drawing your navel up. Hold this pose for about 20 seconds, then slowly lift your head while dropping each individual vertebrae between your ribs from the top of the ribcage to the bottom. Then drop each vertebrae individually in your lower back. Press your stomach toward the floor. Hold this position about 20 seconds.
Repeat alternating between these two poses as desired.

Half Locust I: Begin on the floor lying on your stomach, hands at your sides with palms facing up. Breathe so that you completely fill and empty your lungs with each deliberate breath. Slowly lift your right leg from the floor without bending the knee to your full range of motion. (Visualize=press the back of the knee toward the ceiling). Slowly with control bring the right leg back to the floor and repeat with the left knee.
Repeat as desired.

There are literally hundreds of Yoga poses, depending on the discipline. These are some of my favorites as they can be done anywhere, without special equipment and are simple plus effective. Give these a try today and check out the Online Personal Trainer for videos and many additional poses. Yoga – a key to being 50plus|plusfit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has led over 12,000 group exercise classes and trained more than 9,000 personal training sessions. Ron is a co-founder of 50plus | plusfit and has launched his own website http://www.getfitstuff.com.

 

The Functionally Fit Body

senior exercising for stabilityby Laurie Neri
Chances are since you are reading this article; you are currently involved in an exercise program. I guess the questions would be "am I truly benefiting from my current routine, and am I exercising properly and efficiently?" This is particularly important when you are over 50, and critical if you are a senior.

Usually by the time someone has sought me out for my services, there is frustration at some level that something in their body is not functioning harmoniously.   Most times its pain somewhere in the body and it's been there for quite a while. No amount of weight training, golfing or running seems to improve it, and it is not going to!!!  That is because nothing can take the place of functional movement.

There has to be a balance in the body between mobility, stability, and strength.   Somewhere along the way, usually with injuries, our body figures out a new way to move outside of our primal movement patterns we instinctively new as infants. So even though we feel we have healed through our injuries most times we have healed around them. The body and mind are very smart. You will figure out a whole new way to move to avoid pain. The end result is   Shutting down certain muscles and overcompensating with others.

The first session consists of a Functional Movement Screen.  (FMS).  It is a series of seven movements incorporating upper and lower body simultaneously. The FMS shows movement patterns that are important to normal function. It will help identify limitations and asymmetries based on a score. This score is used to track progress and give specific exercises to customize a treatment plan. People of all fitness levels, from the least fit to the professional athlete will benefit. The system is a simple way to both communicate to the client and the practitioner current limitations and possible risk for injury.   If the individual remains committed to the program, regular testing about every three months is performed. A great way for both to see and continue to be motivated. It really is a much different kind of personal fitness training, and it is perfect for those over 50 and seniors.

So when you are searching for an answer to truly being fit ask yourself this question. "Am I functioning in my daily life tasks as efficiently as I would like?"  If not, the amount of weight you’re pushing in the gym doesn't matter in reality, only a meaningless number in your head.

For more on being functionally fit, contact Laurie at Synchronized Kneads.

Exercising With A Caffeine High

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
A substance found in nature surrounded by so much controversy - caffeine. And, for us over 50, there are a whole different set of topics, discussions, etc. Let's look into the benefits of caffeine before your workout.

Bob’s Experience

I’ve been reading conflicting articles recently about the merits of consuming caffeine before you exercise. Should you have little coffee before your workout, or maybe a lot? Or maybe have one of those highly caffeinated energy shots? That’s a question I get asked a lot by friends. A female friend says she absolutely can’t workout without a jolt of java first, because she works out first thing in the morning before heading off to work. I don’t know about the wisdom of that, because caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it has a dehydrating affect.

Plus, I’ve heard that we 50 plus need to watch our hydration levels. So what to do? I’ve done the 5:30 a.m. workout routine in the past, and I did it without my morning cup o’ Joe. So can I still get by without that caffeine boost? Or is it bad for me?

I have heard, even years ago, that a heavy dose of caffeine can boost your strength training, particularly if you’re lifting heavy weights and working out very hard. Remember Brian “The Boz” Bosworth? In the eighties he played football for the Oklahoma Sooners and then went on to play a few seasons in the NFL. Well I’ll never forget a Sports Illustrated cover story about The Boz where he said that he got all juiced up for a heavy day in the weight room by guzzling a gallon (you read that right) of iced coffee, which he said gave him massive energy. Did it work? He was huge and very muscular.  But then some months later he did get busted before a bowl game for testing positively for steroids. So much for getting “juiced” on caffeine!

I’ve drunk coffee before a workout sometimes and I didn’t necessarily see any impact at all. I didn’t have a better session of rowing, nor did I lift any more weight, but then again I don’t think my exercise routine suffered either. However, I’m not a really heavy coffee drinker, and I do drink a good deal of water throughout the day and during my workout, so maybe the water provided some dietary balance.

I know that Ron the Trainer drinks some java, so let’s ask him. Ron, is caffeine good or bad for your exercise routine? What’s this “brewhaha” all about?

Ron’s Expertise

The caffeine chatter – it’s once again the “latest” approach to workouts. And, it’s now OK for someone with hypertension to drink coffee – again. I say “again” because over the last decade or so, there have been studies published with conflicting findings regarding the use of caffeine – especially in persons with hypertension. First all caffeine is bad, then later on, there are benefits to consuming caffeine. And now there are energy drinks – have you had one? So, with all of the chatter, let’s take each and examine.

There are some recent clinical studies that show a slight (I repeat – slight) performance improvement with consumption of the equivalent of 1.5 cups of coffee prior to a workout. There are, however, conflicting studies that conclude there is no benefit whatsoever. So, bottom line, if you are like Bob’s friend and need an eye-opener before your 5 AM workout, that’s probably OK – in moderation. As Bob pointed out, caffeine has a diuretic effect, so consuming larger quantities of caffeine may affect your hydration. And the type of performance improvements documented in the studies was primarily enhanced weight lifting which might not be an applicable goal for those of us over 50.

Energy drinks have become a daily staple for many people. Some energy drinks are a one-shot boost, others come in 12-16 ounce servings. And, some people are on a nearly intolerable “high” from those drinks because they routinely consume 4 or 5 times the daily recommendation. The jury is still out on the long-term effects of these drinks, but considering most of those drinks are either sugar-based or contain aspartame, the side effects are suspect - especially for those of us over 50.

And by far the very best beverage to consume when exercising is, you guessed it, water! In fact, our Online Personal Trainer even lets you easily record and track your daily water consumption, which is a key part of any good plan to lose weight and gain muscle.

My doctor is currently in the camp which recommends limiting caffeine from all sources, coffee, sodas even tea. His position hasn’t changed in over 10 years and we’re both healthy so, I think I will follow his advice. If however, you feel compelled to consume caffeine, just make sure you monitor the quantity, everything in moderation. Also, be careful to limit hidden calories in “designer” drinks such as lattes. Eat healthy meals, supplement your good foods with vitamins and you’ll be able to put in powerful workouts because you’re 50plusPlusFit

Does How You Sit Affect Your Health?

Correct sitting for 50 plus health by James Crow

One of my biggest bug-bears is watching people sit badly, particularly when they are over 50 Why's that? Well, as an Alexander Technique teacher my job is to help you be much more body-aware, and it just kills me to see you work out, eat well, be active and push yourself for improvement, before slumping down in your couch, crunching down over your computer, and cramming your neck down to your phone.
Did I catch you sitting badly as you read this? Were you pulling down into yourself, compressing the lovely curves in your spine? They're there to give you bounce and free range of movement – indulge them!

We get so entranced by our screens that we forget our own bodies. And that's not going to help you stay fit and fabulous when you're 50 plus.

This site's Online Personal Trainer not only focuses on the best workouts to lose weight and gain muscle, but demonstrating good form and posture while exercising. Now you need to be mindful of the same throughout your daily life as well.

It's not the chair!

A major cause of bad posture is our chairs and furniture. But just as important is how we sit in our chairs, and if you're just sitting unthinkingly, the chances are you aren't doing yourself any favours. Back and neck problems are pretty much a global epidemic. See if you can figure out how much time you spend sitting each day. Now compare that to how much time you spend in the gym, and ask yourself how much difference a little change in how you sit could have on your overall health! Buying a really expensive chair might be an option, but if you're still going to slump in it then it might not be as effective as you hope.

Don't panic! It's not too late…

Sitting well has to be a conscious decision, and now that 'mindfulness' or self-awareness is becoming so popular, why not apply a little to how you're sitting right now? Our necks are so important to how we hold ourselves. A little too much tension in the neck can compress our heads down into our spines, causing excess tension and less poise as we move or exercise! Just give a little thought to releasing any tension in your neck - but don't strive to achieve anything or put effort into reducing effort! The little thought is enough! See, now that you're paying attention to your neck and reading this, how you can be much more self-aware. See if you can keep thinking of releasing your neck as you read this.

When you're sitting, giving a little attention to your neck is a great way to avoid pulling down into yourself or sitting with bad posture. As you carry on thinking of releasing your neck tension, just imagine your head floating upwards away from your shoulders, and allow that to continue all the way through your back. I'd bet my bottom dollar you're sitting better now! So next time you find yourself sitting down, give a little attention to your neck and make sure that you're getting the best posture changes from all of your great efforts to stay fit at 50 plus.

Sit bones...

Deep down inside your buttocks are too bony pivots. Go on, have a rummage around and see if you can find them now. They're in there, I promise! Are they supporting you? Can your spine be long and released between these sitting bones and your head? Do you think you could manage this next time you sit down? Give it a go! I think you'll find yourself sitting much more comfortably and find it less painful, so you can have great posture even if you're not up to anything. And the benefits of this can build to support you as you improve.

Got any questions? For expert Alexander Technique advice, check out James at AlexanderPlus