Fitness

Fitness ArticlesGet the best advice and most up-to-date information from the best in their particular field. What do you personally need to do to be fit? Just as importantly, what do you like to do that can help you be fit? Or what do you want to try that you’ve never done before. Maybe you’d like to try yoga or Pilates, maybe you want to train for your first 5K run or maybe try weight training for the first time in your life. Or maybe you simply want to get more from your overall fitness training. You’ll find that and more right here. Then apply what you learn to your exercise and workout plan in the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer.

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Cardio or Strength – Chicken or Egg?

Jeannie the trainerBy Jeannie the Trainer -

What came first, the cardio training or the strength training?  That's a question that comes up from time to time, and if you're over 50 and new to working out, it's a topic worth covering.  I see it done both ways, generally because of personal preference or dread. We humans tend to put off what we dread doing. But there is a right way to maximize your result.

According to several studies, one from the University of Michigan, strength training should always come before cardio.  Why?  Well because your body only has so much energy available in your muscles.

Your body can store about 80 calories worth of glucose in your bloodstream, while your liver stores between 300 and 400 calories.  That means you have a total of 380 to 480 calories of easy-access energy to burn in your body, before using fat stores.

man over 50 lifting weightsWhen you start your workout--no matter whether you do cardio or strength training--your body begins to burn glucose to provide quick energy to your muscles. You see, your lungs haven't yet begun to take in enough oxygen to keep up with your body’s energy consumption yet! So for the first 10-15 minutes you're converting pure glucose for energy.

It is after your body begins to use the glucose stores that your body starts to pull from the fat stores, or burn fat as energy.  But fat burns secondarily because it takes longer for your body to activate the fatty acids that have been stored in your body's cells, so you get less immediate energy than you would if you were using glucose.

So now back to your workout order.  Let's say you spend 30 to 45 minutes on the treadmill and another 20 to 30 minutes lifting weights. If you did your cardio first, you would burn up all or most of the glucose that is floating around your bloodstream and in your liver. Your run would activate the fat in your body, but it would be a slower burn of energy.  Then when you go to lift weights, you would be low on the more readily available  energy needed for intense strength training.

Now let's turn your schedule around. During the first 30 minutes or so of intense strength training, you burn around 500 calories. That's just over what your body has stored, so your body will be deplete it’s glucose stores and begin the fat burning period.  Then when you hit the treadmill or stationary bike to do your cardio, your body will be calling exclusively upon your fat stores for energy.  So if you do your 30 to 45 minute cardio session after strength, it will be “burn baby, burn” for your body fat!  And that is what you want, right?

 And here's another benefit of strength first, your heart rate is elevated and it stays that way for hours after you're done, whereas cardio only keeps your heart rate elevated for minutes after you finish.  Thus if you lift weights before you run, you'll be able to hit your target heart rate zone much faster when you hit that treadmill or elliptical. Bonus!

Last word: do indeed do 10-15 minutes of cardio and stretching before hitting the weight room? You still need that warm-up to prepare your muscle for the coming challenge, and to avoid injury.  Our Online Personal Trainer always has cardio before strength training fot wrm-up.  So maximize your workouts with strength first, cardio second, and you'll be 50plusPlusFit!

Jeannie Hughes is a multi-certified trainer and Pilates expert. For expert Pilates, Post-Rehab, Personal Training and General Fitness in Houston contact Jeannie at www.YesFitnessTraining.com

Can I Really Start Now?!?!

by Ron the Trainer -
We are often confronted with the topic "am I too old to start working out?" I sometimes am amazed that this is even a topic for discussion but still I hear this often. For us 50 plus, the workout advice often turns to this question. Bet you can guess which way the conversation will go but, please read on anyhow ... see what we have to say.

Many people I encounter ask me if they can really start a fitness program now, at this stage in their lives. I tell them that it's never too late, you too can be 50plus|plusfit at any age. I mention that I started in my 40s and wasn't at all fit when I started but, today I can keep up with people half my age. And, I anticipate the rest of my life will be fuller and richer because I am fit today. 

I see new clients of all ages (and especially 50+) come into the club and begin a workout plan. And, if they have not worked out in awhile (or ever!), and yes, they do need to begin slowly, just as we would with anything else new. Example: once a 55 year old woman started with me. In industry lingo, she was de-conditioned – a little overweight, no balance, no core strength and poor upper-body strength.

We began with 2 sets of exercises on each major muscle group at very light weights. A couple of weeks later, she said, “this is getting easy, let’s go up on the weights a little.” At that moment, I knew that she was not only ready for more weight, but also a third set of each exercise as well. A month later, she was using double the weight she was comfortable beginning with and, in addition to becoming stronger, she had lost weight that was noticeable!

So, yes, it’s NEVER too late to begin taking better care of yourself – in my club I see people from their teens to their NINETIES coming in and doing what they need to do to take care of themselves.

Stepping up to the charge of increasing physical activity doesn’t come without potential peril, however! If you’ve been sedentary for awhile or possibly never worked out, you need to know how to proceed properly without sustaining an injury. That can come from anything like dropping a weight on your foot, to a muscle strain or sprain. And, “hitting it hard” can cause you to not be able to workout for 10-15 days because you’re too sore. That doesn’t move you forward.

Many people 50+ begin a workout for various reasons including strong advice from their doctor, significant event approaching, more leisure time with kids grown and career established, etc. Whatever the reason, the journey is the same - start out carefully as you would with any other new physical endeavor and build gradually on your continued success. 

Oh, by the way, if you haven't worked out since, oh say college, workout theory has changed and continues to change every single day. So, be sure base your workout plan on current fitness trends - for example, a full-range sit-up is no longer considered an effective abdominal workout! Get help in our 50plus|plusfit Online Personal Trainer which has all the latest workouts and and complete exercise library. Many routines designed to lose weight and gain muscle, and all designed by us, all 50 plus trainers.

Anything worth doing is worth doing correctly, and safely. So, if you were thinking it’s too late, get up from that couch and get busy – for the 50plus|plusfit quality of lifestyle!

When to Exercise with Pain

By Ron the Trainer –

Clients and members at my gym often ask if it’s safe to exercise with pain. Especially for us over 50, this can be a tricky question to answer. But, with a good deal of personal experience on this subject, and advice I’ve received from my physical therapists, I can share some tips and advice.

My first question is always, “Are you under a doctor’s care for this pain?” Many times the answer is “yes” and I will ask if the doctor had cleared them for physical activity. My experience is that my doctors have been somewhat conservative in their advice but, it’s kept me from further damaging whatever it is we’re treating. If the person has been cleared for activity I will go through the next steps to determine what they can and cannot/should not do.

First of all, I try to determine where the pain originates – muscles or joints/bones. If the pain is from muscle, I will ask if they have been overly active or have done something out of the ordinary during the last 48 hours. I will ask them if heat makes the pain better. If the answer to these questions is “yes,” my first advice is to stretch and then gently work the affected muscle with light weight or no weight – and to stop if they experience any discomfort.

 

If the problem is a joint or bone (skeletal), once again I determine if they are under a doctor’s care and if so, did the doctor clear them for activity. Usually the question arises about a shoulder or knee – both of which can be very painful and tricky to try and exercise with residual pain. Often, a cold pack makes the pain better with a skeletal issue.

My advice for this kind of pain is to avoid any activity which would aggravate it. For example, if the member’s knee/s hurt, there should be no treadmill or elliptical workout. This person should get their cardio from a recumbent bike or the rower. With either of these, you can get a great cardio workout but you aren’t supporting your entire body weight with the affected knee. Once again, the advice is that if any pain is sensed, they should stop the activity.

For strength training, I recommend exercises that do not involve the affected joint. For example, if there’s pain in the shoulder, exercises for the shoulder should be avoided. And, for chest and back exercises, good choices need to be made to avoid those which would cause discomfort in the shoulder.

For painful knees, clearly squats and lunges should be avoided as well as exercises that involve kneeling or getting up and down on the floor. Gentle tai chi, yoga and pilates exercises that strengthen the legs without full body support are good choices with painful knees. Check out the Online Personal Trainer for some examples of these types of exercises.

Pain comes from different parts of the body from time to time, and for different reasons. Muscular pain should be addressed with gentle stretching and keeping the muscle moving. A sedentary muscle can become stiff and even more painful. It’s better to keep a sore muscle moving as long as it’s not causing further damage or, there are some circumstances that a doctor has told you to stop using it while under medical care.

Painful joints or bones should be treated very differently in that, any exercise that would directly affect the painful area should be modified to keep the joint moving but at a minimum of stress (little or no weight resistance) and to avoid additional discomfort.

Especially for those of us over 50, we need to pay extra attention to the aches and pains in our bodies and take precautions to avoid further damage or chronic pain. If you do have pain, hopefully I have addressed what you can do to keep active and maybe even reduce the pain with the exercises. Remember the old Nike slogan, “Just Do It” and keep moving – you’re 50plusplusfit!  

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has conducted over 9,000 personal training hours and 12,000 group exercise classes. Ron is a co-founder of 50plusplusfit.com and recently launched his own site.

The Cocktail and Your Fitness

by Ron 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!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple national fitness certifications, has delivered over 9,000 personal training sessions as well as 12,000+ group exercise classes and a co-founder of 50plus|plusfit. Check out Ron's new site.

Skipping the Gym

By Ron the Trainer -

I speak with people often who are uncomfortable with going to the gym for their workouts. They are concerned that others will look at them and mentally criticize their appearance, choice of exercises, etc., etc., etc. Maybe these are excuses, maybe not. Possibly it’s a poor self-image issue. But, for these people, they too have options.

First of all, I tell people to get up and get moving! Taking a brisk walk can do more for the mind and body than many of the exercises you can do inside the gym. Many of the people I talk to don’t move – they sit in their chair and “think about it” but never just get up and move. What’s more, a brisk walk in the neighborhood is more challenging than a walk on a treadmill. The treadmill actually helps you move – the sidewalk doesn’t.

There are lots of exercises for stretching and strengthening that can be done in the home without the “benefit” of a gym membership. You’ll find many of those in the Online Personal Trainer. We’re also developing a list of complementary exercises that will appear there so, check back often! Here’s one workout that has been developed using the exercises you’ll find in the Online Personal Trainer:

  • Alternating Lunges
  • Incline Push-ups
  • Crunches
  • Alternating Rows
  • Forward Lifts
  • Cobra
  • Kick-back Triceps
  • Squats w/alternating Knee-ups
  • Reverse Bicep Curls

Many parks in my city have jogging trails with stations to stop and do push-ups or other strengthening exercises so that you can get a really nice interval workout just by following the trail! This is an option that you might check for where you live.

Community centers often have stretching classes or beginner exercise classes that are very low-key and welcoming. The classes might range from strength to yoga and even tai chi which gives you variety and exposure to different types of exercises. Definitely worth checking out – and because it’s the community center, often times there’s only a nominal charge or it’s free!

Speaking of classes, many smaller, “boutique” gyms that are designed for one demographic (i.e., women only, seniors only) will offer small classes that are specifically designed for their target audience vs. the big-box gyms’ classes where everyone is welcome, but not everyone will have the ability to complete the class.

Other options are workout DVDs – but that can become boring pretty fast. Doing the same workout over and over doesn’t maximize your body’s ability to change and improve. So, unless you’re willing to invest in a collection of DVDs, maybe this isn’t your best option.

Finally, a personal trainer can come to you. This might be the most comfortable choice for many people. The trainer takes measurements, tracks progress, designs and instructs the workouts – all you have to do is move the way he or she tells you to. But, that’s going to be expensive. Depending on where you are in the country, a single at-home personal trainer session can cost as much as $100-200. Convenience does come with a price.

So, the message here is, if the gym just isn’t for you, there are options but it starts with the first step – get up out of your chair and move! Studies have shown that every day you sit and don’t move can take months or years off your life. And, if you don’t move now, later on you’ll be one of those poor souls pushing a walker or worse, on a motorized chair. Don’t let that happen to you – get up and move and you’ll be 50plusplusfit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has conducted over 8,500 personal training sessions, over 12,000 group exercise classes and is a co-founder of 50plusplusfit.com. Check out Ron's new site

 

Journaling Your Way to a Healthier You

by Alice Burron

woman journaling her diet and fitnessAre you ready to focus on improving your health by making some lasting long-term lifestyle changes?  Then break out the pencil and paper and start journaling.

A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (Aug. 2008) found that participants who kept a food journal for six days a week—writing down everything they ate and drank—lost almost twice as much weight as those who kept food records one day a week or less. And the same goes for fitness tracking.

Since then there have been many more studies that have shown th.at keeping a journal or tracker to track a specific behavior can help you accomplish your goals; whether it’s to lose weight, exercise more, increase exercise strength and speed, or replace unhealthy habits with healthier ones.

What is it about journaling that makes it so effective?  Experts speculate that it might largely be from the accountability factor—it creates a record of your wrongs.  Another powerful effect of journaling, or tracking, is the realization of what you are actually doing verses what you thought you were doing.

Whatever your behavior focus, tracking and journaling may help you get to where you want to be.  Here are some tips to help you get started.

  1. Look for a journal or tracker that meets your needs.  Use scrap paper, an online tracker or a personal digital assistant (PDA), or a fancy journal from your local bookstore, but make sure it has the features you need or it may frustrate you and keep you from using it.  Bookstores carry diet-specific journals, or blank all-purpose hard-back journals that you can carry with you for instant record keeping.
  2. Begin by assessing and collecting data.  Write down your pre-measurements, such as weight, waist and hip circumference, and pant size if your goal is to lose weight.  If your goal is to exercise more often, write down how often you currently exercise and journal how you feel, on a scale of 1-10, while doing it.  If you want to increase your stamina or walking speed, write down what you are currently capable of doing.  Recording your current status before you embark on a plan will help remind you how far you’ve progressed.
  3. Keep the journal in perspective.  Use your journal or tracker to collect data, not to judge behavior.  Changing a behavior is difficult, and set-backs are expected.  The journal is only one tool that you can use to help you succeed, but it isn’t the only tool, so its usefulness should be kept in perspective.  Learn from your “bad” days, and use them as a researcher would—as another piece of information that you can use to understand the “whys” so that you can plan a strategy to address future potential setbacks.

No matter what your lifestyle goal is, journaling and tracking behavior can be a key tool to helping you succeed. Start journaling, track your progress and see the results you want.

The 50plusPlusFit site has a terrific option for you. Check out the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer, which has over 40,000 foods and recipes, specific diet plans, dozens of workouts and a full library of exercises. And the journaling is very easy too.

For additional insights into all forms of 50 plus exercise, contact Alice at 2BeFit

Start Now for a Svelte Summer

By Ron the Trainer -
In the dead of winter, we tend to eat “comfort foods” (not necessarily low-calorie!), extra meals (“have a warm bowl of stew to warm you up from being outside”), and in general, ignore calorie control. But, of course, we know that whatever passes the lips adheres to the hips – at lease for a while! Spring is still upon us in most parts of the country – and when the sweaters come off, you’ll want to put on clothes for warm weather and look your best!

So, now is the time to bring focus back to calorie control and diet planning. Don’t remember how? No problem! First of all, there are many great ideas in the Online Personal Trainer so, make this your go-to for resource information and ideas. But, don’t forget to back into all that you’re eating and calculate the calories. There’s also a nifty calorie counter at Online Personal Trainer.

apple, dumbbells and tape measure for weight lossFor women with an average activity level, calorie intake of 1,800 calories is ideal for a weight-loss plan. For men, the ideal calorie consumption is about 2,700 calories. Don’t think you have time to make it by summer? Here’s a real-life example:

On March 23rd, I met with a client for the first time. Her goal is to lose about 10-15 pounds and that annoying fat deposit on her upper arms by July 1st.  I designed her strength training and asked her to do this routine daily. The routine was designed to be somewhat gentle as she had not been doing any working out. I also asked her to walk briskly for 30-60 minutes each day. She had already obtained a great meal plan that would keep her from being hungry while helping her with weight loss.

I met with her on March 30th and we took measurements. She had lost 1 pound but she had lost over 3 inches in circumference measurements – in ONE WEEK! She is thrilled with her progress, and her husband told me that he could see the changes.

Remember, healthy weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week. These are pounds that you can take off and with a healthy lifestyle, will stay off. But, it all starts with a plan – if you plan to be svelte, you WILL be svelte!

So, if you have the desire, you need to plan:

  • What you want (e.g., 10 pounds lost)
  • When you want it (specific date)
  • Cardio that you can/will do
  • Strength Training – essential to any fitness goal (check out Online Personal Trainer for exercises, too!)

With this type of planning and regular checking on progress toward your goal, you will be happy with your appearance and how you feel!

Now is the time to toss the winter mindset and get back into the healthy, fit mindset. With proper meal and exercise planning and careful tracking of exercise and calorie intake, you will see success and feel better about wearing summer clothes that aren’t very good at camouflaging those extra pounds. Extra focus is now necessary for a happier you in the next few weeks! Now, take a few minutes to jot down in your calendar when you’ll do your workouts and get ready for the transformation to summer – you’re now 50plusplusfit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has trained nearly 8,000 hours with personal training clients, delivered over 12,000 group exercise classes and is a co-founder of 50plusplusfit. 

The Exercise, Work Day Balance

bob the trainerBy Bob the Trainer -

We all know that regular exercise is good for us, but sometimes our day job just gets in the way. We’re busy with life in general and we try our best to get our workouts in because when over 50 those workouts are more important than ever. But then that special project at work comes along and our exercise schedule gets thrown off kilter.

Adults should get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise each week along with 2 or more days of strength or resistance training. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60% of adults don’t reach the recommended amount of physical activity, and sadly, 25% of all adults perform little or no activity.

For most of us, finding time to exercise before or after work can be difficult; and frankly the best time is first thing in the a.m., so that you make certain that you get that workout in for the day.  So you better be an early bird type. But if you miss a day, some physical activity can still be caught up on while at work. In fact, several research studies have shown that people are indeed more productive at work when they exercise during the day. Here’s a few tips to help you get a little exercise in while at work.

Ditch the Desk Chair

Switch your desk chair for a balance ball. A balance ball will call upon your body to constantly adjust in order to achieve stability and proper posture (so you won’t roll away). Your body must use the core muscles - the abs, hips and back – throughout the day, giving you a steady, low impact workout.

Use Your Breaks Wisely

We all need a break or two during the day. Using your break time to exercise is a great way to boost your circulation and mental sharpness. Take 15 minutes to go for a brisk walk outside or in the parking garage, or walk up and down the stairs. And use those handy resistance bands, stored in a desk drawer; do some leg extensions, chair dips, squats, calf raises on a stair, etc., etc. Just use your imagination. Do this twice a day, and you might tally up your recommended amount of physical movement for the day.

taking the stairs for exerciseTake the Stairs

Take a pass on the elevator or the escalator. You have to go to meetings anyway, or visit another office or co-worker on the production floor, so sneak a little exercise in on the way. Take the stairs two at a time for more of a challenge, and try walking up the stairs backwards to challenge your legs differently; people will only stare the first time. Oh, and this one is particularly helpful if your current routine includes a workout program for weight loss. Walk those stairs and walk it off!

Don’t Eat, Exercise

For many people, lunch is the only flex time during the day, certainly en masse. So organize a group of coworkers together for 30-45 minutes to do some walking, yoga, step aerobics or even light weights. Just leave enough time for a quick, healthy, light lunch.

Stand Up and Be Counted

Many studies suggest that prolonged sitting is not good for your health and increases mortality risk. One such study by the East Carolina University Department of Exercise and Sport Science suggested that there are “drastic health consequences of sitting idle for 2-3 hours at a time.” So try standing at least a couple of times each hour throughout the day. This is particularly easy to fit in when you're not required to be at a computer, like when on the phone, or maybe in a meeting conference room. You'll burn calories and improve your circulation.

The Desk Bicycle – No, Really

Many fitness companies have come out with lightweight compact bicycle pedal contraptions that are compact enough to fit under your desk, ranging in price from about $40 to $300. Use of these “bikes” will keep your circulation, well, circulating, plus strengthen your legs and even your arms if placed on your desk during your break. The aforementioned study authors say that just 23 minutes of pedaling could boost your overall health if done regularly.

The Desk Treadmill – Get Your Boss to Pop for This One!

These are pricey, but very affective. To paraphrase an old Disney tune “whistle, and walk while you work.”  You’ll get your exercise in and stay 50plusPlusFit!

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

 

You’ve Lost Muscle. So Get It Back!

bob the trainerBy Bob the Trainer -

When is the last time you picked up a weight, you know, a dumbbell or barbell? Maybe never? You’re over 50 now and you want to get fit, so do indeed get your heart pumping with some good cardio activity, treadmill, rower, bike, tennis, basketball game or whatever. But, to be truly fit and be able to enjoy life to the fullest, you must do some form of strength or resistance exercise.

In fact, if you want to regain the strength you once had, the strength you need to enjoy life in the best years of your life… you need to regain or rebuild lost muscle.

See, “it ain’t got nothing” to do with age, it has to do with inactivity… in-ac-ti-vi-ty! Sitting on one’s butt will not only make one’s butt bigger, it will make one’s muscles smaller as well! And smaller muscles translate to weaker, less productive muscles.

Strength training needs to be an integral part of life. If you don’t include resistance/strength training into your exercise routine on a consistent basis you will experience muscle atrophy, or shrinkage and in turn loss of strength.

But do not despair my friends, all is not lost. Or said another way… that which is lost can be found anew. Your muscle fiber will rebuild, and it does so in a surprisingly fast pace. The very best way to do that is by weight lifting. Oh I know, really? Weight lifting? Isn’t that for football players, body builders, and gym rats? Well, no, no it’s not. Weight lifting has actually become quite genteel in recent years. You see, those strength and conditioning coaches and body builders knew something, muscle (and strength) either grows or shrinks.

over 50 man lifting weightsYes, you can practice strength training by using resistance bands or tubes, or with body weight exercise, but the most efficient means is by lifting “iron,” period. Nothing will challenge your muscles more, more consistently, and be more easily measured for gain than lifting weights. Nothing will rebuild muscle like traditional weight lifting.

It won’t hurt you if done correctly, any more than any other form. And no ladies, you will not get all bulked up, unless you want to. But ladies, that posterior will regain the round and full look by adding size. And gents, your chest can occupy more space under your shirt again, rather than your belly, by adding size. So not only will you add muscle to live a more active, fuller boomer life, you’ll regain some of the ol’ bod as well!

How to do it if you’ve not lifted in a while, or ever? Sloooooowly!

Don’t just jump right in and begin throwing weights around. You need guidance. You need to learn just some very simple technique tips to get the most out of your workout, avoid injury and reach your ultimate goal. Form is critical. Lifting the wrong way on the other hand is a waste of time and leaves you open to injury to boot. So if just starting out, you might want to hire a personal trainer, or try our Online Personal Trainer, where we have several routines for beginners, videos, printable instructions, fitness tracker and diet plans. Either way, don’t go it alone, but go!

Here are some basics:

  • Start with light weights until you get good with form.
  • Initially work the same muscles, or muscle groups, every day for 3 days per week, say Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
  • Lift a weight for 8-12 repetitions, rest 60 seconds, then repeat 3 times for a muscle group (3 sets).
  • Gradually you will add number of repetitions and sets, plus split your routines so that you work each muscle group more aggressively but only 2 times per week, and split your routine into halves for 4 days per week.

Confused yet? Don’t be, and don’t be discouraged. It is easier than you think. Just get some advice and you’ll be fine, regaining muscle fiber and mass, regaining strength and regaining a fuller life. You’ll be 50plusPlusFit!

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

Low Back Pain – The Overlooked Cause

senior with low back painBy Dr. Len Lopez

Low back pain is a common ailment for many adults but especially people over 50. And if anyone has had low back pain the obvious place to look for the cause is in the “low back,” right? Well, unfortunately a major cause of back pain that is commonly overlooked comes from the front side – not the back.  I’m talking about tight hip flexors that have a tendency to becoming tight due to all the sitting we do in our normal day.

The reason they are overlooked is because they are not obvious to where the pain is coming from.   When you look at where the hip flexors (psoas and iliacus muscles) attach, you will quickly see why they could be the culprit to your low back and hip pain.  They attach at the inside of your upper thigh and run up to attach to the front of your lower spine, specifically the discs and vertebra’s of your lower lumbar’s.

These muscles easily become short and tight because of too much sitting or bending at the waist.  It is even more so if you’ve lead a sedentary lifestyle as you enter your fifties.  It doesn’t matter if you are sitting at a desk, recliner, plane, car or sleep in the fetal position.  The fact is that when you have your legs bent at the waist for a certain amount of time – your hip flexors will become shorter and tighten.  

The problem comes about when you try to stand or straighten your legs.  If you’ve been sitting for a couple of hours (watching a movie, plane ride, meeting, etc.) those hip flexors have literally become shorter.  They have re-adjusted themselves and have become shorter - and thus begin to pull harder at the attachment sites when you re-stretch the muscle when you stand or try to lay flat. 

Yes the abdominals give support to the front of your spine, but the hip flexors actually attach to your spine, so they have more involvement in stabilizing your spine.  If your psoas is too tight it gradually begins to pull on those vertebraes and disc from the front side.  That continual pulling pressure could be displacing those vertebraes and discs, which is what is causing the nerve irritation.

A simple test you can perform to see if your hip flexors are part of the problem is to:

  1. lay flat on the floor with your legs straight for about a minute, make a mental note as to any discomfort if any.
  2. Now, bend your knees, feet flat on the floor.

How does that feel?  If it decreased the discomfort, that is an obvious sign that you are dealing with tight hip flexors.

If your doctor or therapist isn’t addressing your hip flexor, it may explain why you haven’t received the results you had been looking for.  I would recommend finding someone who knows how to relax your hip flexors.

FYI…if you are a message therapist or personal trainer this is a great way to screen your clients to see if they are struggling with tight hip flexors.  If they have a tight psoas there are specific areas you need to be working on to help bring relief.  If you are a trainer, there are some specific exercises you want to stay away from so not to further tighten those muscles.

Stretching your hip flexors can be of some benefit, but stretching is a passive action. Greater benefits can be achieved when you contract the opposing muscles. This allows the hip flexors to go through an ‘active’ stretch by contracting the gluteus muscles and erector spinal muscles. You'll find stretching exercise and full workouts on this site's Online Personal Trainer.

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

I Don’t Feel Like It

By Ron the Trainer -

We’ve all been there. It’s a new day, and you feel compelled to get in a workout. Will I lift today? Will I do my cardio or, both? Never mind, I don’t feel like doing either. This is the moment of truth – it’s matter over mind – just strap on some shoes and get out there and do something. And, it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the gym.

Oh sure, if you have your workout equipment at home, it’s time for you to put aside the rest of the day and do something good for yourself. Remember to remind yourself that these workouts lead to a life that is more functional, healthier and possibly more pain-free for a longer time than if you didn’t work out.

For those of us over 50, workouts can be the lifeline to keep moving. Many of us have had injuries or surgeries that require regular exercise from now on to keep that area of the body from losing range of motion or strength. That, of course, would lead to the inability to do a lot of things you like to do.

Case in point, I mentioned in a recent article that I have had a total knee replacement. The exercises that I should do every day include stepping up on an 8” platform to strengthen the muscles that support the artificial knee and to control swelling. This should be done from now on, period.

So, I’m human and I got busy and forgot to do my “step-ups” for a couple of weeks. Gradually I noticed that the knee was not feeling good and I was struggling to walk. Walking continued to get harder and I really struggled. Then I remembered that I hadn’t been doing the step-ups. I began doing a full set (90) twice a day. Now my walking had become strong, easy and pain-free.

One of my clients is doing a fantastic job managing his body fat and maintaining healthy muscle mass. But, he came to me for a body fat measurement and then headed for the door. I stopped him and asked if he was going to work out. He said that he didn’t feel like it.

I asked him what he had done yesterday. He said that he did cardio which, in his mind meant that he needed to lift today but his heart wasn’t in it. I told him that I understand, but something daily is important. This guy always does traditional lifting in the weight room which can get boring. I took him over to the training area and introduced him to the TRX suspension training system. He got all of his “lifting” in for the day in a totally new way.

Another client was walking out of a group strength class and usually afterward, gets on an elliptical for her cardio. Today she was heading for the door. I asked her what the rush was to which she replied, I just don’t feel like it.

That was an exceptionally nice day so I suggested she leave her bags in the gym and go for a brisk walk down to the bayou (about 8 blocks away), along the bayou to a specified street and return. She said “OK” and I looked up about a hour later when she returned for her bags. She said that the change felt good and being on an elliptical while watching “The View” was getting pretty monotonous.

So, when it comes to getting in a workout, exercise can be found in different places – you just have to be creative enough to fool yourself into getting it in. the same old thing might be good, and probably effective, but sometimes we needs something fresh to occupy our minds. Don’t be afraid to try new things; if you see a new class being offered at your gym or the community center – check them out. You’ve always wanted to try “hot yoga”? Go for it – there has to be a reason it’s so popular! Of course, don’t forget to check out the Online Personal Trainer at 50plusPlusFit for some fresh workout ideas.

As humans, we constantly require stimulation to remain interested. The stimulation can begin from within – if you try. So, the next time you don’t feel like it, determine why  you don’t. Then think about alternative ways to make you body move in the same ways. Viva la difference – you’re 50plusPlusFit.

So You Missed the Gym Today?

By Ron the Trainer -

over 50 man exercisingLife can get very hectic…we do live in a crazy busy world. Even though, or maybe because we’re over 50, our obligations can be increasing rather than decreasing. So there are times when we might just miss out appointment with our exercise routine. It Happens! But you can to stay somewhat on track with your fitness goals even when your day seems to be getting away from you. If you know it’s going to happen (and it will), try these simple alternatives as your back-up plan to at least maintaining your fitness -

1. Take a Daytime Break at Lunch or Whenever

You have to get a break during the day, whether it is for lunch or just sneaking it in at some point, take a break and move. If your employer doesn’t have a fitness center, as many do nowadays, go for a brisk walk around the office, the neighborhood or to a nearby park. Or walk the stairs; even if the building is not that tall, a few trips up and down the stairs can burn a few calories and keep you glutes and legs in shape. You can even do some calf raises or pushups off of the stairs. But if you do this during lunchtime, don’t skip a lunch meal, but grab a protein bar or some fruit instead. You can eat and walk at the same time can’t you?

2. Drop the Chips Bag and Drop Down for 20 Reps

You’re likely going to watch some TV in the evening, so make it work for your fitness. If you are lucky enough to have a treadmill, stationary bike or other piece of cardio equipment at home, watch the boob tube while you walk or ride or row. Don’t have such equipment? No excuse – drop down for twenty push-ups, sit-ups and squats each. Just use your body weight and do this for every commercial break and during an hour show. Who knew the TV of all things could help you stay on track with your fitness.

2. Less Fuel Needed

If you don’t make it to the gym for a full workout, and even if you do follow the tips above, your body will likely require less food as fuel. So don’t use a less active day as a time to pig out. Instead reach for some more healthful and lower calorie food options lean meats and other lean proteins, good carbs like fruit, nuts for good fats and plenty of water to cleanse. You should be eating this way on your workout days anyway. And if you’re on a weight reducing program, just cut a few more calories.

4. Weekends Were Made for Make-Up Days

“Weekends were made for Michelob,” went the old slogan. Well times have changed. Now instead of over-indulging in beer or other libations, use your weekend to make up for your lost workout. And you don’t have to necessarily alter your weekend plans with family and friends either. Gather those folks up and take a bike ride, go for a hike, a fun run or just a long, long urban walk to rediscover your city or town. But remember to log your activity, so you know mentally and to keep yourself on track. The 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer mobile app can help you here. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t still enjoy your weekend.

5. Finally, Be Nice to Yourself

Remember, if you miss a day or two of your planned exercise routine, that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Also, you’re only 50 plus, so you’ve got lots of time to make it up. So give yourself a break; you didn’t do this to yourself, life did. You can still be 50plusPlusFit!

Ron Mattox is a Fitness Trainer with numerous national certifications and a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

Regaining Muscle Tone After 50

By Bob the Trainer -

over 50 man exercisingIt is commonly believed that you will lose muscle as you age.  Actually, that is an “old wives tale.” Just because you are over 50 does not mean that you have to lose muscle.  Age has nothing to do with muscle loss, inactivity does. You simply won’t retain muscle if you are sedentary, if you don’t move and get some exercise!  And you sure won’t be regaining muscle tone after 50 by sitting on your duff!  But you most definitely can regain lost muscle after 50.

The best way to regain muscle or add new muscle fiber is to engage in resistance or strength training.  Weight lifting is the traditional way to build muscle, but there are other options available too, like using resistance bands, resistance tubes, weight machines or even good old fashioned body weight exercises.  However, for the most flexible and varied training, you really should try free weights at some point.  Yet, if you are just starting out, you might want to start out on machines because they are really the easiest to control and thus the safest form of strength training.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of strength training and regaining muscle tone after 50:

Mix It Up -

While we are advocates of using free weights for ultimate flexibility and variety, it is often it's better to use cable-based machines for certain muscle groups. For example, one of the best exercises for your lats is the wide-grip pull down, and this exercise actually can’t be done without a machine. You can even mix in bands or body weight training for variety.

But as mentioned above, if you are just starting out, machines are your best bet. You can move on to free weights, body weight exercises and other forms as you progress.

Consistency Counts to A Point -

Consistency is critical in resistance training. Exercising on a set weekly schedule and exercising the same muscle groups with the same movements is important to developing the muscle and adding fiber. But never changing your workout can lead to a fitness plateaus and a stall in your progress. To really keep things moving in the right direction, mix things up. Your muscles will get accustomed to a workout after four to six weeks, so change your reps and sets, or change your exercises entirely to keep your muscles strong and growing. You’ll find consistent routines to follow in the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer, or you can customize your own routine and schedule.

Reps And Sets -

And speaking of reps and sets, each muscle and muscle group requires a different combination to respond to. For example, your quads, chest and back are bigger muscles and need the most, while your abs, forearms, and calves can go with fewer. Your triceps demand more attention than your biceps, and your lower back should be worked harder than your oblique muscle area.

Generally speaking, your goal should be six to eight sets of 8-12 reps per muscle per workout. Then work each muscle group twice over 7-8 days; that will provide 2-3 days for recovery of the muscle group.

Rest, But Not Too Much -

Your muscles need a break between sets, but resting too long can lower your heart rate and stop your body from refueling your muscles. It's recommended that you rest for 45 to 90 seconds between sets. The length of rest depends on the type of weight and rep combination you are using, but regardless, any longer and you begin to cool down.

Control Your Cardio Exercise -

While cardio exercises are great for burning fat calories, they are not effective for building/restoring muscle. Cardio exercise will use up the glucose your muscles need for energy during your resistance training. Cardio is important for your heart and lungs of course, but if muscle building is your primary goal for now, you should not overdo your cardio, and do it after your strength training.

We generally recommend 3-4 steady, low-intensity cardio workouts per week, or 2-3 high-intensity workouts, max!

Feed Your Muscles -

This mistake is even made by many seasoned weight lifters, even though they're eating more than normal. Increased food intake is to provide fuel for your workout, but that doesn't mean you should eat more of just whatever you want. You should increase your protein and healthy fats intake, keeping your carbohydrates at a normal level. Carbs won’t provide long-term energy for your workout, and you need extra doses of lean protein to help rebuild muscle.

Follow these few simple tips and you’ll be stronger, leaner, more toned and 50plusPlusFit in no time!

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

Faster or Slower?

By Ron the Trainer -

Look around the gym during your workouts and you’ll see people lifting at all sorts of speeds – fast , slow and in between. Is it all OK? If not, what’s the proper speed at which to lift? Is it different if I’m over 50? Let’s look into this topic!

Pace of lifting is important for many reasons. The first, and probably most important reason is safety. If you are moving the weight (or machine) too quickly, it’s possible to injure a muscle or joint.

Correct speed is also important to get the most out of your workout. Experts say that 60% of the workout should come from the “return” side of the movement. So, for example, in a biceps curl, the movement back down to full elbow extension should be conducted slowly enough to provide control to the movement and to squeeze the most out of it.

Additionally, with the correct speed, you can really pay attention to proper form and technique. So, in the example above, when returning to the start position, the elbows should be fully extended. A common error with this movement is that on the return side, the elbows stay slightly bent until the next rep, especially with women (sorry, not a statement, just an observation!). With proper speed, you can watch your reps in the mirror and perform them correctly. After all, with full extension, you’ll develop long , sleek muscles!

In some group strength classes, the speed is constantly changing and is led by the beat of the music played. The constant adjustment is the result of studies by Gin Miller (inventor of step aerobics) and Reebok. The concept that they developed is called Periodization – and has been in use for about 20 years.

They determined that by lifting at different speeds within the same set of exercises, greater strength and endurance can be obtained. To explain, first we need to know that music is developed in 8-beat blocks which, at 130 beats per minute (bpm) takes about 15 seconds to complete. So, in the first block of music the instructor calls for 3 beats on the exertion side and one beat on the return – that would give us time to complete 2 reps in 15 seconds. The next block might be two counts on exertion and two counts on return. The next block might be 1 beat on exertion and 3 beats on return.

So, clearly if you are using music, you can control the speed of your reps by listening to the beat. But, for the rest of us who might be listening to music, but just for the fun of it, we need to gauge how fast to complete each rep. Try slowing down your reps, especially when they are getting tough – don’t let go on the return. Instead, squeeze out the return and make it the best part of the set!

Lifting is a science. We all learn a little bit of the science here and there. Don’t get discouraged if it seems like there’s so much to learn – keep doing what you can. And for lifting tips and correct form and technique, be sure to check out the videos in the Online Personal Trainer.

Keep lifting – there are super benefits especially for us of over 50. A fit person can:

  • Perform daily tasks
  • Control some forms of pain
  • Reverse the effects of osteoporosis and
  • Maintain muscle mass.   

 

It’s time to keep lifting for all of those benefits but mostly because you’re 50plusPlusFit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has trained over 8,500 hours of personal training, is a group exercise instructor with over 20,000 classes led and is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

From Physical Therapy to Personal Fitness

By Ron the Trainer

This week, I’m speaking from personal experience. Being over 50 is tough enough but, as a trainer and someone who’s constantly pushing himself more than his clients, I end up on the “DL” (disabled list) more often than I would like.

The latest in a long line of recoveries is my personal journey from a knee replacement back to my “real life.” Four months ago, I received a new knee. I started physical therapy the next week. I had a set-back and took two weeks off from therapy and then returned.

Under the guidance of a skilled physical therapist, I slowly regained use of the knee (and therefore, the leg). I moved quickly from using a walker to using a cane. But, being a trainer and awfully proud, I couldn’t stand the thought of using either once I felt strong enough. So, I forced myself to walk without any assistance.

Therapy went well and soon I was feeling like I could take on more exercise outside of my three therapy sessions per week. That led to being very sore and over-doing it. Ouch!

So, onto now … I have “graduated” from physical therapy. At my last session, my therapist encouraged me to slowly take on more and different exercises in my workouts. Of course, that led to more over-doing it. But, we learn and continue.

My journey has had ups and downs but if I can offer advice that I’ve learned the hard way, it would be to take on a new exercise about every other day, using lighter weight than that you used before the injury. Assess how you feel later in the day or the day after. If you feel OK, it’s time to continue with that same exercise and weight for a week or so before you increase reps, weight or add another exercise on the same muscle group.

If you feel like you’ve over-done it, lay off from the exercise you’ve added for at least 3 days, use naproxen and ice (20 minutes on, 60 minutes off) to help with pain and any inflammation. If you feel like the discomfort is more than just muscle fatigue, be sure to call your doctor immediately.

Listen to your body – if you feel like you can take on something new, go about it with caution. The first few weeks (or maybe even months) after physical therapy can be a re-learning period for your body. Fitness experts agree that if you’ve not exercised for three weeks, you should resume at a pace as though you’re starting over to control discomfort and lessen the risk of injury, or re-injury to the affected area.

Also, if your physical therapist releases you but advises to continue with exercises or stretches that you did during therapy sessions, be sure to keep them up! In my case, I skipped stretches for a couple of days and my knee would not flex as much as I had been able to make it.

Be sure to listen to your body, progress slowly and keep up any prescribed exercises and stretches – not only will you hopefully stay off the DL, but you’ll be getting stronger and more able every step of the way. Keep moving, have goals and treat your body as though it’s the only one you have ‘cause you’re 50plusPlusFit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has delivered over 8,000 personal training sessions and is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

What is Muscle Balance?

By Ron the Trainer

If you read articles on the internet or hang around fitness pros, the term “muscle balance” will eventually come up. But, what do they mean? Why is that important to me? Let’s look at this further …

Most fitness pros use the term muscle balance to mean that opposing muscle groups are equally strong and that a person’s joints are supported by muscles that are equally strong. For example, the biceps muscle group (on the front of your upper arm) should be balanced with the triceps (on the back of your upper arm). The biceps and triceps work as opposing muscles. That is, when you bend your elbow, the biceps are working. But, let’s say that you hold your arm over your head, bend it at the elbow. Now, to extend your arm straight up, the triceps will work instead.  This same relationship with muscle groups exists all over your body including arms, legs, torso and core.

In fact, muscle imbalance is often responsible for lower back pain. You see, most of us are forced to sit quite a bit at desks, behind the wheel, having meals and socializing. This often causes the lower back muscles to be weaker and the hip-flexors (opposing muscles) to be tight. And that’s a perfect combination for lower back pain.

When you have muscle balance, you are typically more able to perform tasks and often experience less muscle and joint pain. Therefore, having muscle balance is desired.

When there’s muscle imbalance, one muscle group is stronger, tighter or overactive and causes there to be an imbalance between that muscle group and it’s opposing group. In this situation, one might often feel less able to take on tasks and frequently feel muscle or joint pain. Additionally, over time, the imbalance may cause permanent changes and/or damage to joints, posture and gait.

Muscle imbalances often cause problems in the way a person walks (e.g., gait). Here’s a quick test: find a full –length mirror and take about 20 paces toward it, watching your feet, knees and hips. If one hip is higher than the other, one or both knees move inward or outward or your toes don’t point forward, you may have some muscle imbalance issues to address.

So, what to do? Start by moving more. Take walks when you have 30-60 minutes free. As you feel tightness or something unusual, stretch. Check out some great stretches at our Online Personal Trainer. Moving and stretching are the best ways to address muscle imbalances.

Also, a fitness pro can assess you for imbalances and prescribe exercises to correct your unique situation. Ignoring imbalances will not make them go away and may lead to permanent damage. If you feel that you have any issues with performing tasks or have some issues walking or with balance, now is the time to assess your particular issues and address them before they become permanent or damaging. So, find a fitness pro and make sure you’re imbalance-free! Move strongly and without pain, you’re 50plusPlusFit!

Ron the Trainer is a Fitness Trainer who holds multiple nationally-recognized fitness certifications and a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.com

Top 10 Exercise Mistakes

from Ron the Trainer -
I believe we’ve convinced you to refresh your commitment to your workouts from time to time. Especially for those of us over 50, we can’t afford to slack off and lose momentum to a healthier lifestyle. So, now that we’re all back in the gym together, let’s focus on the right way to workout and some common mistakes that I see every day.  

  1. Squats – The perfect squat has these elements:
  • Toes are connected to the floor at all times
  • Knees are over your ankles – not out over your toes
  • Chest is held high
  • Flexing at the hip and knees equally

These will only happen if the transverse abdominis and the glutes are engaged and holding your core firm. Use a mirror (especially to the side) to check your form and insure you’re doing it right.

  1. Lat Pull-downs – ONLY in front of the head, NEVER behind. A lat pull-down behind your head is a prescription for a torn rotator cuff. I know you can “feel the burn” but, it’s just not safe. A perfect example of doing this correctly can be found in the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer, along with plenty of over 50 fitness and weight loss tips.
  2. Machine Adjustments – If you’re using weight machines, be sure to adjust the seat, handles, etc. to fit your height, arm length, etc. For example, a chest press performed with the seat too low will engage shoulders at an angle that becomes an imbalance. If you aren’t sure how to adjust the seat, ask a trainer or other gym employee. Still confused? Skip the machines and head for free-weights. Many experts feel free weight workouts are best.
  3. Deadlifts – Without an expert to watch your form, this can be a really bad exercise – especially for your lower back. The risks outweigh the benefits of deadlifts, especially for someone over 50, so make this something you can skip. There are better ways to derive the benefits of a deadlift without doing them.
  4. Crunches – The current thought among many fitness industry experts is that the crunch should never be done again. A person is either blessed with the propensity for a six-pack or not. And, after 50, your attention should be on the strength of your core, not wash-board abs. Focus on lower back strength and other ways to strengthen your core. Check out suspension training and functional training techniques to strengthen your core.
  5. Step-Ups should never place your knee at an angle of less than 90 degrees. Avoid stepping up on a plyo box or bench that’s too high for you.
  6. Upright Rows – The vast majority of people who do this exercise perform it incorrectly. Most experts agree that the upright row works very few muscles and that other exercises offer greater benefits. Skip the upright row and add in standing rows coupled with military presses instead.
  7. Cardio workouts – Your cardio should be aggressive enough that you can’t read while working out. It’s not exactly a waste of time but, you can improve much faster if you work just a little harder. The current cardio trend it interval training – work at your target level for a few minutes and then pick up the pace for about 90 seconds, come back down to target level and repeat.
  8. Working out on an Empty Stomach – Did I hear someone say that they burn more fat calories working out on an empty stomach? Sorry, that is an incorrect assumption! What happens when you workout on an empty stomach is that you run out of energy faster and, can even become faint. Your stomach is a lot like the gas tank in your car. You fill it up and the car runs until it’s empty. Your body is the same way. So, don’t ignore good nutrition and make sure you have something healthy to eat before your workout.
  9. Ignoring Hydration – Especially when doing your cardio, make sure that you consume at least 6 ounces of water every 20 minutes of exercise. The experts tell us to “drink before you’re thirsty.”

So, be a little more aware of what you are doing at the gym and how you are doing it to enjoy a safer, more effective workout. And don’t forget to check out the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer for more exercises, workouts and tips. After all, you’re 50plusPlusFit.

Setting Your Fitness Goals

By Bob the Trainer -

woman over 50 exercisingGoals, objectives, targets… we set them or establish them throughout our lives.  And by the time we’re over 50 we’ve set plenty and hopefully reached the majority.  Has one of your objectives been to be really fit, maybe for the first time in your life?  No?  Well it sure as heck isn’t too late, even if you’re a true senior (whatever that is).  Whether you have just turned 50 or are well into your 70s or 80s, there is no time like the present to set your personal goals to improve your level of fitness.

So here are some quick tips to get you started –

Get Real… And Short
Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, you didn’t get out of shape, or de-conditioned as we trainers say, overnight!  Nor will you get fit, lose those extra pounds or regain lost strength next week.  Set goals that are realistic and attainable.  Yes, set long term goals, but set shorter goals as well, ones you can see and reach in short order, like next month.

Commit To You, In Writing
Write your goals down on a piece of paper, bright yellow or orange.  Then tape them to the fridge, on the bathroom wall near the scale, on your dashboard (so you don’t drive by the gym) and anywhere else that will remind you of what you want for yourself.  This is a physical record that you’ve commitment to you, for you.

They’re Your Goals, But Share
The support of others can be powerful.  Tell your best friends and closest family what you want to do.  Tell them how excited you are that you’ve committed to a fit life, and encourage them to check up on your progress.  You’ll be surprised at how excited others can be for you, and they’ll really “get into it.”

Stay On Schedule
… to workout.  We have busy lives.  Life can easily get in the way and working out sometimes gets the short stick.  Avoid this by scheduling your workouts on a calendar, just like any other work or social appointment.  You’ll find a terrific planner/calendar with printable workout log in our Online Personal Trainer and phone app.  In addition, whenever you find a spare minute, find ways to sneak in a little extra exercise, like doing a few squats while standing at your desk, taking the stairs or doing some crunches or push-ups while watching the boob tube.

Celebrate!
You're dedicated and working hard at getting fit, so every time you reach one of your short term goals (see above), celebrate and reward yourself.  You deserve it!  A little reward for a small, but significant step forward will act as a great motivator to keep you on track for achieving your ultimate goal.  And I’m not one to say your reward can’t be a favorite food you’ve cut back on or reduced.  You do deserve to maintain your lifestyle and some semblance of normalcy after all.  So maybe your little reward is pizza night with the family, or a second glass of red wine at a dinner out with friends.  Of course you can also reward yourself with non-food items like a new workout outfit – looking snazzy at the gym!

And Finally…
Just remember, these are your goals. So set them realistically, commit, share, schedule, celebrate… and be 50plusPlusFit!

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

Exercise Right Or Not At All

By Jeannie the Trainer -                                                                                                                                                               
woman over 50 doing crunchesWe all need to exercise regularly when over 50, and whether a Baby Boomer or older, we’ve all heard the saying “anything worth doing, is worth doing right.”  Well nothing is more worth doing right than exercise.  All exercises can lead to serious injuries if they're not done correctly, with proper form, with the right weight in the right tempo.  This is particularly true with resistance training, and in that realm there are a few movements that call for particular attention.

Squats
This exercise is actually one of the best for your lower body, but how you do them can make them dangerous. When you squat too deeply, you tend to bend forward and extend your knees over your toes. Not good - you're risking your lower back by bending and overextending your knees.  When executing a squat never go lower that your thigh being parallel to the floor.

Jump Squat
Unless you're a real veteran in the gym, this is a movement that can easily lead to injuries.  There are a lot of joints involved, and there is a lot of explosive power, so this one is definitely not for the newbie.  That being said, it is a terrific exercise for the more advanced.  Have a personal trainer show you the proper form, or simply view the personal fitness training video in our Online Personal Trainer.

Lunges
Lunges are another great leg exercise, but can increase your risk of knee, hip and lower back injury.  If your knee extends over your toe, you bend forward and you do it too quickly, you're risking serious pain.  So here is an easy one; when executing a lunge, never, ever extend your knee beyond your foot’s instep and make the movement steady and at a controlled speed.  

Thigh Adduction and Abduction
Ladies, you know the machine for your inner and outer thighs where you either press your legs together or spread them apart, right?  And guys, you can do these as well, just do them correctly.  Both of these movements involve hip muscles that are meant to be stabilizers, not prime movers, so make certain that you do not load too much weight on for this exercise.

Crunches
Yes, even the most popular stomach exercise can lead to injury if done incorrectly.  To avoid injury, DO NOT clasp your hands behind your head!  Keep your hands on your chest or arms crossed on your chest.  Putting your hands behind your head won’t really assist you and will put too much strain your neck.

Upright Row
This is a great shoulder exercise, yet the risk of shoulder injury is quite high with bad form.  To avoid injury only raise the weight to the level of your nipples.  Go higher, and you risk shoulder impingement – sustain this painful injury and you won’t be doing any shoulder moves for a quite a while.

Lat Pulldown - Behind The Neck
The wide grip pulldown is amazing for your lats, but NEVER pull the bar down behind your neck.  If you do, you will put undue strain on your shoulders AND more importantly, your neck, resulting in a very painful injury.

Shoulder Press  - Behind The Neck
Similar to the lat pulldown, for the shoulder press, DO NOT lift behind your neck!  The front shoulder press will do just fine for your overall shoulder work, and there are other great and much safer exercises for the rear deltoid of the shoulder. 

All of these exercises, except the aforementioned “behind the neck” varieties, can be excellent if they're done just right, but some will be challenging, especially for those new to the gym.  So again, get the help of a professional or watch our videos in our Online Personal Trainer.  These exercises done right can indeed help you to be 50plusPlusFit!

Jeannie Hughes is a multi-certified trainer and Pilates expert. For expert Pilates, Post-Rehab, Personal Training and General Fitness in Houston contact Jeannie at www.YesFitnessTraining.com

Go Take a Walk

By Ron the Trainer
A quick check of the national weather today shows the majority of us now have weather that’s pleasant enough to spend some time outdoors. So, what’s keeping you inside? Is it the evening news or a favorite series? Grab your water bottle, slip on your favorite pair of sneakers and get outside!

A stroll through your neighborhood or at your favorite park (maybe discover a new park?) is an ideal way of adding some calorie burn to your workout routine. But, wait! There’s more!

Many fitness industry experts suggest that a brisk walk after dinner will aid in digestion, help you sleep better and even elevate your mood! Defining “a brisk walk” … you should be walking along quickly enough that you really have to concentrate on keeping the pace but, you can still carry on a conversation.

Just think, you can get re-acquainted with your neighbors, meet new ones who moved in over the winter, check out the nice things neighbors are doing with their homes and yards and maybe even take your pooch along for some exercise. A daily walk, morning, evening or whenever you can fit it into your day will go a long way toward burning calories as well as helping you become stronger and healthier.

Try to schedule your walk when you might indulge yourself in snacks or other diet-busting activities. So, instead of a cocktail (or several) after dinner, grab water and go! If you have a snack attack mid-afternoon, grab water and start walking. Many times we will establish habits of eating at a certain time of the day due to sheer boredom or, just because it’s “time to eat.”

It’s been said many times, but try to eat when you’re hungry - not just by the clock on the wall. Of course, you don’t want to be starving at mealtime because you may overeat, make poor food choices or both. But, stay satisfied while not feeling over-full. One dietician I know describes it by comparing your stomach to the fuel gauge on your dashboard … stay between ¼ and ¾ full. Never top off the tank, and don’t let the low-fuel warning light come on!

So, back to the walk … make this your new habit! Then, even as the days become warmer, you’ll look forward to getting out and taking a brisk walk. Ideally, the walk should last about an hour but, if you haven’t been walking briskly, you may have to start out with a 20-30 minute walk and work your way up to an hour. Also, if you have physical limitations, you may have to modify your pace or total time per trip.

So, this week the message is short and simple – go take a walk ‘cause you’re 50plusPlusFit!

Ron the Trainer is a multi-certified personal trainer with more than 8,000 client sessions serviced and co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

2-A-Day Workouts Over 50

By Ron the Trainer -

man over 50 on weight machineFor some people over 50, one workout a day just doesn’t get it done.  No, really some find it better to get in a workout twice a day.  Or, said another way, to split their workouts.  Why?  Well, it can help reach a certain goal, or help with stamina, or help with scheduling your busy day.  Tight on time and working out twice a day… does that work? For some, yes.  Some find it easier to sneak in two shorter workouts during their busy day with the greater flexibility.

First of all, 2-A-Day Workouts can be beneficial.  Several studies have compared the health impact of working out once a day for an hour versus two 30-minute sessions for example.   Now there is scant concrete conclusion from the various studies, but there does seem to be some benefit derived from raising your heart rate twice a day versus just once.  And for raising your heart rate adequately our hearts respond more to the intensity of exercise versus the length of any one exercise session. 

By raising your heart rate to your prescribed target zone twice a day you can positively impact your progress toward your specific goal, be it to lose weight, muscle gain, lose weight and gain muscle or cardiovascular conditioning.  But the exercise intensity has to be there, no relaxing.  Plus, Two-A-Days can even lead to safer and more effective strength and cardio training, and slip into your schedule more easily than the one hour long session.

woman over 50 doing ball crunchesDo It Twice, Do It Right – Here’s How

1. Be Balanced
When planning to exercise more than once a day, avoid over training by balancing workouts between muscle groups for strength/resistance training, for example chest and triceps in the morning, with back and triceps in the evening. Or, do strength training in the a.m. and cardio in the p.m., or the reverse.  You choose. Or simply take one of the workout routines in our Online Personal Trainer and divide it into two sessions.

2. Space It Out
Don’t do your 2-A Day sessions too close together.  Allow adequate time between single workouts to recover, and also to allow your heart rate to return to its resting level.  Then your next bout of raising your rate will be all the more beneficial. 

3. Fuel Up
Have a pre- and post- workout snack for each session.  Now keep the snack smaller; you want to avoid doubling calories. 

4. Drink Agua
Don’t forget to hydrate!  Just because each session is shorter doesn’t mean you should ignore your water bottle.  Even in an intense shorter session, lack of hydration can cause damage to your muscles.

5. Stretch
Just like with keeping hydrated, don’t think you can skip stretching, especially before you exercise. And this shouldn’t really add time because you can focus on the muscle groups you’re going to exercise during each individual session.  And try a little self myofascial release with one of those terrific firm foam rollers.  This is a great way to loosen tight muscles.

At the end of the day, though there is some benefit to raising your heart rate more than once per day, it doesn’t matter that much whether you workout once, twice or three times.  2-A-Days can help you schedule your fitness, but however you fit it in your day is not as important as just getting it in.  And of course, doing it right – balanced, with the right intensity and the right amount of care.  Will you be twice as fit?  Likely not, but it might be just a bit easier to be 50plusPlusFit!

Ron the Trainer is a Fitness Trainer who holds multiple nationally-recognized fitness certifications and a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.com

Would You Know What to Do?

By Ron the Trainer
You’re at the gym, feeling great, doing one of your favorite exercises and then, you feel something strange or hear a pop. What the heck? What now!

Well, you don’t have to be over 50 to sustain an injury while working out or, doing practically anything. But, injuries can happen and so it’s important to know what to do.

Bob has written that he was sitting on his weight bench and reached out too far for a weight and injured his bicep. I’ve done all sorts of things to injure myself – from falls to pushing myself too hard when lifting.

So, when you feel an injury, what are your choices? You could ignore it and keep doing whatever it was that you were doing. If you don’t feel pain, that might be a logical choice. You could stop what you’re doing and go home to rest the injury.

The best care for an injury to a joint such as a knee, shoulder, elbow or you back is to RICE it:

  • Rest the affected area for at least a couple of days. Many minor injuries will heal fairly quickly.
  • Ice the injury. No more than 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off. Ice will help reduce inflammation and swelling.
  • Compression for the injury. Use an elastic bandage for the injury. There’s no set amount of time but be sure the bandage isn’t so tight that it constricts blood flow.
  • Elevation for the injury. Especially if the injury involves your ankle or knee, elevate the injury to help with blood flow and avoiding further inflammation.

This is advice that we’ve received from fitness industry experts for years. And, as a frequent orthopedic patient, I can say that the doctors often recommend this approach to an injury as well.

After about 48 hours of RICE you should start feeling some improvement – that doesn’t mean for you to get back to what you were doing and hitting hard again! After a few days’ rest, you might want to slowly get back to what you were doing – using less weight if you were lifting when you injured yourself. Although it only takes a moment for an injury to occur, you will need to give it time to heal.

Do seek prompt medical attention if:

  • There is severe pain
  • You can’t put weight on the ankle, knee, etc., or move your arm, shoulder
  • There is no relief from the RICE treatment

or you believe the injury needs to be checked out. Of course, if you suspect a broken bone, care should be immediate.

So, after a couple of days you don’t feel better? That is the time to seek out medical attention. You may choose to see your primary care physician (PCP) and, depending upon your insurance coverage, you may need a referral from your PCP for a specialist such as an orthopedic. If your insurance allows and you have a relationship with an orthopedic doctor, an appointment with him/her might be the fastest path to relief.

Whatever you do, listen to your body. If there is pain or swelling, something is wrong. And, if something is wrong, you take care of the injury and allow healing to take place before you ask 100% from your body. Even those of us in great shape can suffer with an injury. But, take care of yourself – you’re 50plusPlusFit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has trained over 8,000 hours with clients and is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

Boosting Cardio Exercise After 50

By Ron the Trainer -

over 50 man and woman hikingMaking cardio workouts part of your exercise regimen is a must for those of us over 50, as important as resistance exercises for toning or restoring lost muscle.  Some find cardio exercise boring though because of the repetitiveness of most forms.  However there are ways to make cardio more interesting and also shorten your time spent on the treadmill or elliptical, etc., yet achieve results.

Here are a few simple tips for effective cardio workouts that will get your heart rate in the proper range, strengthen your lungs, plus burn calories and fat.

Walk a Hill

Instead of walking, jogging or running on a flat treadmill, increase the incline.  Running or walking “uphill” will naturally increase your heart rate and increase the calorie burn too.  Additionally, an incline will hit your muscles differently, improving leg strength and tightening the ol’ gluteus maximus!

No Holding On

When using a piece of cardio equipment like a treadmill or stationary bike, do not hold onto the handrail or bars.  Pump your arms instead.  Holding on reduces your exercises effectiveness, while those arm pumps will only add to your cardio efficiency.

Try Intervals

Try interval training to increase workout intensity and maximize results in a much shorter period of time.  Crank the speed or resistance up to your maximum effort for 30-45 seconds or more, then “rest” at a slower pace or at lower resistance.  For example walk at 3.4 mph, then crank it up to 6.5 mph for a short burst, then go back down again for 1-2 minutes of “rest” or recovery.

Try A Circuit

Get in some resistance training with cardio benefits.  Choose eight to ten resistance exercises and do them in a circuit type workout. Do the first exercise of 8-10 reps, and then move onto the next exercise without resting.  At the end of one circuit of all exercise, rest for one to two minutes, then repeats for 2-3 more circuits. You’ll build muscle, while strengthening your heart and lungs.

Ring Your Bell

For another workout that provides both cardio and strength benefits try kettlebell training. Swinging a kettlebell (or 2) like the two-hand squatting kettlebell swing will get your cardiovascular system pumping and build some good muscle to boot. If you haven’t used kettlebells before start out with a lighter weight until you get accustomed to the swinging action.  Bonus: this is one of the best workout plans to lose weight!

Crank The Tunes

Listen to some favorite heart pounding tunes during your workout to keep your tempo going and add some entertainment to the task.  Plus, something fast-paced will help keep you energized and jazzed-up throughout the workout.

Skip The Gym

Go outside!  Take the kettlebells outdoors or hit the strength circuit at the local park, or just do a body weight exercise circuit in the back yard.  Then how about hiking, mountain biking, trail walking or running on uneven surfaces?  All of these which will help improve balance by working your smaller stabilizer muscles, while giving you a great cardio workout. Just keep a brisk enough pace.

Cardio, Cardio, Cardio

While we always emphasize strength or resistance training as particularly important for us over 50, we would never deemphasize cardio.  You need both to retain/regain your muscle fiber, keep your heart and lungs strong and burn that extra body fat.  Hopefully these tips will help keep you from getting bored with cardio and keep you 50plusPlusFit!

Ron Mattox is a Fitness Trainer who holds multiple nationally-recognized fitness certifications and a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.com

 

Protect Your Back

By Ron the Trainer -

Spring is all around for many of us and it's a perfect opportunity to whip the yard and garden into shape. But, at what cost? This is a prime time to suffer from lower back pain.

According to the American Red Cross, approximately 80% of American adults will at some point experience lower back pain. This can be caused by:

  • Improper handling of heavy items
  • Poor posture
  • Bad ergonomics while seated

along with various other ways. This can manifest itself as a strain, pain or something more serious. As the lower back is considered a part of the “core” of the body, a healthy back is considered essential. Let’s examine causes a little closer.

Men: Do NOT carry a big, fat wallet in your back pocket! Our back pockets are designed so when sitting, a wallet will rest on the sciatic nerve – the biggest nerve in the human body. Pressure on that nerve can cause lower back pain, numbness in the leg(s) and other things you don’t want! Look at your wallet’s contents – do you really need all those membership cards and multiple credit cards on a daily basis? Could they go in a planner or desk drawer instead? What do you NEED to carry? Clean out your wallet today. Then carry your new lighter wallet in your front pocket. It will not cause bodily harm and could prevent you from being pick-pocketed!

Ladies: Big, huge purses? Are you kidding yourself that you NEED all of that? A small purse with essentials is much more becoming and practical. Plus, a big purse slung over your shoulder will cause fatigue and eventual mis-alignment of your muscular-skeletal system. Ouch! Go shopping for a small purse that will hold just what you need today!

ALL: Backpacks and luggage are big-time problems. Again, attempt to carry the essentials you’ll need – not everything imaginable “just in case.” Remember, “less is more” in many situations and when it comes to what you’re carrying all day, every day, that’s a good rule of thumbs! If a lot of stuff is essential to you, try to find a roller bag that will fit your needs and lifestyle. They may be “nerdy” but better that than suffering with unnecessary pain – right?

Lifting/Carrying Items: When lifting and carrying heavy items, we need to be VERY cautious to avoid lower back injury. If at all possible, get someone else to help you with very heavy items. If that’s not possible, try to load the heavy item on a cart or dolly so that you can push (not pull) it along to it’s destination. Should those not be options available to you, the Red Cross asks you to remember to:

  • Activate your Core (draw in at the navel and contract your glutes)
  • Check for ragged or sharp edges before lifting the item
  • Bend at your knees and hips equally to engage stronger leg muscles, avoid using only your back muscles
  • Pick the item up slowly, keeping it in front of you – never turn at the waist while carrying something heavy
  • Keep the item close to your center of gravity – don’t try to hold it out away from you
  • Move slowly, be prepared to set the item down if you lose your grip or feel discomfort
  • Know your limits – if the item is just too heavy for you to handle, defer to one or more other people to handle it instead – even if you have to wait for someone to arrive

Using these techniques will help you stay healthy and pain-free. But, let’s say you injure yourself anyway. In that case, immediately after any injury that involves muscle, remember RICE; rest, ice, compression and elevation.

In this case, having injured your lower back, you’ll need to rest and use ice packs to control inflammation and discomfort. RICE can be effective during the first 48 hours. If symptoms persist, you should consult your physician for examination and professional care.

And, I would be remiss to skip an opportunity to promote good core strength – a great tool to help prevent back pain in the first place. To check out advice to the core strength section, check out the Online Personal Trainer!

So remember, take the tips from the Red Cross (and 50plusPlusFit) to avoid back pain. You’ll save time, money and discomfort because you're 50plusPlusFit!
 

Ron The Trainer hold multiple trainer certifications, has delivered over 8,000 training sessions and is co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

Pilates Exercises for Over 50

By Laurie Neri -

woman over 50 on Pilates reformerEvolved from techniques created by Joseph H. Pilates more than 80 years ago, Pilates exercise dramatically improves strength, flexibility, balance, coordination and posture. It creates a body that looks long and lean, with slender thighs, flat abdominals and a strong back. It's gentle enough for those over 50 or even seniors, yet challenging enough for the super-fit. It's a program that works for everyone, regardless of age or condition.

HOWEVER, all these benefits totally depend on who is teaching you. First and foremost it is all about finding neutral spine. That is where all the benefits come from in any form of movement. Not just Pilates.

Footwork, leg circles, frogs, etc. have no benefit to you if you are not coached properly from someone who has a good eye on whether you are holding proper core alignment.  Range of motion in all your movement should match your ability in your core strength level. For example; why are you aiming for big, large leg circles when you’re arching your back and doming your belly throughout the movement? Hate to tell you this, but you are causing more harm than good. Smaller movement equals more stability.

 

Time and time again I see Pilates teachers too concerned about showing all the great choreography, and taking you to the next level of difficult movement when you are not ready. This is sometimes due to lack of experience, or what provider they have trained under.

If you are in the market for private sessions, be sure to look for someone who preferably has an extensive fitness and/or rehabilitation background as well as Pilates expertise, and also does not give you the "cookie cutter" workout. That is not what you are paying for in private sessions. If classes are your choice, it might be a good idea to take a couple of private sessions first to get your fundamentals strong.

Joseph Pilates often said, "The way to achieve a stronger body is through the mind." So let us also be "mindful" in our choice of teachers in life.

For expert Pilates instruction in the Houston, TX area, contact Laurie Neri at Synchronized Kneads.

A Toned Body Over 50

By Jeannie the Trainer -

over 50 woman exercising with reisitance bandsMost people exercise to lose weight and gain muscle, or tone up. And that is particularly true when you are 50+ and have maybe been ignoring your health and fitness for some years.  If you have avoided exercise, or if you have done cardio exercise but avoided strength or resistance training, you have no doubt lost muscle mass.  Health and fitness experts call this muscle atrophy.  But most of us over 50 don’t desire to build big muscles, we just want tone. And we can do this.

Toning or the addition of lean muscle is appealing to most, and toned, lean muscle also has health benefits far beyond simply gaining muscle bulk. Numerous studies have found that more lean muscle mass may allow kidney dialysis patients to live longer, give older people better cognitive function, reduce depression, boost good cholesterol, lessen the swelling and discomfort of lymphedema after breast cancer and help lower the risk of diabetes. That’s a lot of health benefits.

So how do we get that toned lean muscle? With just three simple healthy steps… read on…

Strength Train For Tone, Not Bulk

There are different weight lifting, or band and tube training techniques in place for maximum results that vary resistance and repetitions to meet different goals.  For lean toning, lower resistance and higher reps is the best method.  You should be performing exercises for two sets for approximately 18-20 repetitions with a weight you can handle.  Or try high-intensity circuit training, completing one set of 12-15 reps of each exercise with little rest in between.  Complete a circuit of 10-12 exercises, and then repeat for two more times. You should be training for tone (and strength) at least two to three times per week.

Now Don’t Drop Your Cardio

Just because we are advocating that you start or step up your resistance training, it doesn’t mean you get a pass on cardio.  For a toned body you still need adequate cardiovascular training. Performing enough cardiovascular training will help you acquire and maintain a toned physical condition by burning off additional body fat, thus exposing or uncovering that newly gained tone. 

Eat For Tone, Not Fat            

You may not want to hear this part, but if you don't tailor your diet for the appearance of lean muscle, you won't reach that taut and toned look. It should be obvious really, the lower your body fat percentage is, the more defined and toned you will appear.  So eating take out, fast food and any manner of fat, salt and sugar-laden foods numerous times a week will only make your hard earned muscle tone hide beneath a blanket of fat, no matter how hard you work in the gym.  Eat lean protein, low fat, and plenty of fruits and veggies for carbohydrates.

So yes, a toned body over 50 is definitely possible. A little exercise done right and a healthy, balanced diet is all that’s required. Practice the three steps above and you’ll be toned and 50plusPlusFit!

For expert Pilates, Post-Rehab, Personal Training and General Fitness in Houston contact Jeannie at www.YesFitnessTraining.com

Change Is Good… For Exercise

By Bob the Trainer -

over 50 man exercisingThe old saying “change is good” was never more spot on than when it comes to your exercise regimen when you’re over 50.  You need to change from time to time for two reasons: 1) you will get bored, and 2) your muscles will get bored as well.  Your muscles will get so accustomed to the same old thing that they will stop responding as positively as they need to get stronger, or just maintain your current level of strength.  Same goes for challenging and improving your cardiovascular system.  So change Up Your Exercise Routine!  Here’s how…

Try The Cardio Smorgasbord -
Try a different cardio activity like going outside instead of working out inside.  Try the rower instead of the elliptical, or try swimming instead of running.  The possibilities are really an endless smorgasbord: hiking, walking, jogging, running, cycling, elliptical, swimming, trampoline, hula-hoop, group fitness classes, DVDs or dancing.  And just ‘cause you’re over 50, don’t overlook kickboxing or martial arts.

Strength W/O Weights
Strength training does not always have to mean lifting weights, nor using machines.  If you use free weights, try machines, and if you use machines, try free weights.  Or try using body weight, resistance bands or tubes.  Try kettlebells or medicine balls, or best of all, try a combination of all of the above.  And here again, try a TRX class at 50 plus!

Resistance And Reps
Strength training is also referred to as “resistance training,” and there is an easy way to change your routine whether you’re using weights or bands, etc.  Simply a) increase the resistance level, weight or band thickness, and decrease the number of reps, or b) do the reverse.  For example, change from 12-15 repetitions with lighter weight to 8-10 or 8-12 reps with heavier weight or thicker tubes.

 Hike The Intensity
This too is an easy one, and you can easily vary intensity from day to day.  Changing intensity includes changing the incline of a bench when lifting weights, changing the incline on the treadmill, notching the elliptical tension up a bit, adding speed work, adding distance, or adding intervals (see below).

Try Intervals

Interval training is a great way to boost your cardio capacity and burn some extra calories in a shorter period of time.  For example, I do interval training on both the treadmill and rower.  On the tread I simply walk at about 3.4 mph for 1 minute 45 seconds, then crank it up and run at 7.2 mph for 1 minute 15 seconds.  The more intense time really works your heart and the slower speeds are for recovery.  But your muscles are also challenged differently and you won’t get bored, believe me.  You can do the same on the rower, elliptical, running track, bike, or whatever you like. 

It is very, very important that you create variety in your exercise routine so that you can continue to improve your fitness level and overall health.  And as a bonus, if you’re trying to lose weight and gain muscle, you’ll avoid those common plateaus by changing up your exercise, losing weight all the more steadily.  Change is indeed good for being 50plusPlusFit!

Oh That Workout Soreness

By Bob the Trainer -

cold sore muscle therapy treatmentDon’t ya love that feeling after a good workout?  You’re working out to lose weight or gain muscle or both.  You have a feeling of accomplishment, your muscles are tired but you feel energized and sleep like a baby that night.  But next morning, or maybe two mornings later from strength training, and now you’re feeling more sore than anything else, and you’re feeling it throughout the day.  But you don’t have to necessarily, even when over 50. 

Sore muscles are simply part of the deal, from time to time they come with working out regularly.  Yes, we all know that warming up and cooling down, particularly stretching is the way to prevent sore muscles.  But what do you do if you overdid it, are just getting back to the gym after a break, or you’re working new muscles in a new routine?  Any of these situations can lead to sore muscles.  So what to do?  What can you do to at least reduce the soreness?

1. Massage

This might be my favorite because it directly makes contact with the sore areas.  Yes, you can go to a masseuse, or ask your significant other to rub your sore muscles, but you can also do it yourself.  There is a special type of massage called Self Myofascial Release, or “self-massage,” that can help to loosen up stiff, sore, and tight muscles.  If you want to try this method, all you need to do is buy an inexpensive high density foam roller. They generally include an instruction manual and they work wonders.

2. Bath or Steam

Soaking in a very warm bath for half an hour will not only relax you completely, but it will loosen up those muscles.   You can also try the steam room at the gym or club, but I think the immersion in a warm bath will deliver a deeper effect.

3. Ice

One of the reasons your muscles are sore is because of some swelling, which is a normal part of the muscle-repair process, and an intense workout will definitely “tear down” your muscle fiber.  So if you hit it hard at the gym or on the running trail, you can reduce this swelling by applying an ice pack to the sore muscle areas.

4. Heat

The heating sensation of rubs and balms will get the blood flowing to your sore muscles, loosening them up and helping you use them with reduced discomfort.  And go moderate with it, because Just a bit of heat can take away a lot of the soreness.

5. Workout

Avoiding the gym is not the answer.  No, you should actually workout.  You'll find that a light workout of the sore muscles can help you recover, because just like some of the above remedies, a light workout warms the muscle with increased blood flow.  Frankly, my experience has been that my sore muscles feel much better, in fact are completely relieved of the soreness, after my next workout.  This is particularly true when lifting weights for strength training.  Just don’t work the same muscles group with the same intensity until 48-72 hours have passed, thus allowing time to rebuild the “torn muscle.”

6. Listen to Your Body

Finally, remember that you should always be careful to avoid overtraining your muscles by pushing too hard too soon.  Your body knows best, so “listen” to your body.  If you've just run a full marathon, biked for untold miles, or gone through a rigorous heavy weight lifting session, give those muscles a break.  That way you’ll be able to resume your workouts without fear of injury and setbacks.

So try some of the aforementioned treatments or remedies, and don’t let a little bit of to-be-expected soreness get in the way of being 50plusPlusFit!

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

Buddy Up!

by Ron the Trainer

Do you find yourself skipping workouts? When you do workout, are you completing all your sets and doing what you’d planned? If you have a problem with stick-to-ativeness as we all do from time to time, get a workout buddy!

First of all, you’ll actually get to the gym as your buddy will be there waiting for you. So, there’ll be no blowing off your workout! Have a plan, tell your buddy you will meet him/her on set days, at a set time. Then, just like any other appointment, schedule it in your calendar and don’t allow other appointments to interfere. There are 24 hours in a day, so if someone wants your workout time, politely say that you have a conflict and suggest other times that are available in your calendar. And, yes it really is as simple as it sounds. After all, if you don’t workout, someday you may not be physically able to do the other things in your life.

As well as having a plan for the days and times you’ll meet your buddy, have a workout plan – what exercises you’ll be doing once you’re there. It may be the same thing you tried (and failed) to do on your own or, you might spend a few minutes researching exercises that will help you meet your goals. One source for research is our 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer. We have loaded videos and descriptions on how to do lots of exercises – many of which are “trainer favorites” that you may never have seen!

When designing your workout, don’t forget stretching along with flexibility and balance exercises. Most trainers agree that each time you go to the gym, a full-body workout is desirable. So, program back, chest, shoulders, legs and core exercises (at least two each) for your best overall workout.

When you hit the floor, make sure it’s clear how many reps and sets you plan to do. Then, make sure your buddy doesn’t cut you any slack – you must finish your sets! That’s the 2nd benefit that a buddy brings to your workouts!

When working out, there are several different buddy methods. One method is to alternate using the same machine or alternate doing the same exercise. Another is to use free weights so that you and your buddy are doing the same exercise at the same time (more time-efficient). Yet another method is to alternate between complementary exercises, for example shoulder and leg exercises. That way, you can alternate with your buddy between the exercises that might be machine-dependent.

Just to be on the safe side, make sure that you and your buddy are both working out and that your behavior never appears to be a trainer-client relationship. Many gyms have a strictly enforced policy against outside trainers working on their workout floors. So, just make sure you and your workout buddy are both working out!

A workout buddy is a very good thing to help you show up regularly at the gym and work to your plan and potential. You should feel energized and maybe a little competitive which will help you get the most out of your trip to the gym. How do you find a buddy? If you have a friend (or spouse) who might be interested, just ask. If there’s nobody in your personal life who would be a suitable workout buddy, ask someone you see regularly at your gym. You might be surprised that someone you’ve seen for years might be the best person to keep you on track. So, find a buddy and stay focused. After all , you’re 50plusPlusFit!

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

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.

A Strong Core, Sans Crunches

By Bob the Trainer -

man and woman over 50 using kettlebellsDo you hate doing crunches? Some folks really, really do. All that lying on the floor or on a bench, sometimes in a decline position, and being careful not to strain your neck… not necessarily my idea of a good time.  But a strong core is so important, particularly for those of us over 50. Oh I do crunches, but mostly just for the abdominal muscles, and I really don’t do that many. Six-pack abs are not your complete core anyway, so there are several other exercises that you should do to build a strong core. BTW, these exercises are also good for 50 plus fitness and weight loss.

1. Side Raises

This is a great move for strengthening the side muscles at the waist and oblique. Side raises are a terrific move done on the low back extension bench. You simply mount the bench as you would for low back moves, then twist a bit so that the side of your hip rests on the pad. Lower your body just as you would for your back (you won’t be able to go as low) and rise back to the starting position.  After the desired number of reps, switch sides.

2. Squats

The squat is terrific for your core because proper form requires that you engage (tighten) all of your stomach, back and oblique muscles. If new to squats, start out with the body-weight variety; then move on to the barbell or dumbbell squats. If using a bar, grasp the bar with an overhand grip and then rest the bar on your rear shoulder (the upper back). Bend at the knees while pushing your hips into a sitting position with weight distributed onto your heels. At the bottom of the movement where your quadriceps are parallel to the floor, press through the heels and drive your hips to return to the standing position.

2. Ab Wheel Roll-Outs

You’ve seen these on TV, but this one actually works. Using an ab wheel, kneel on the floor. Your knees will be under your hips and your hands on the handles of the ab wheel, under your shoulders. Slowly begin to roll the wheel forward while allowing your hips to follow your hands forward. Tighten your core muscles and extend your arms as far as you can. When you reach full extension, or until you feel like you are no longer in control, contract the abs and begin to pull your hips back to the starting position. To avoid low back injury start out as slowly. You’re not in a race!

3. Kettlebell Swings

When you do a kettlebell swing it calls upon the core in a big way. And this move delivers some cardio calorie burning to boot. To perform this move, hold the handle of the kettlebell with both hands and sink into a moderate squat allowing the weight to hang between the legs. Keep your back erect, your core tightened, and arms loose. At the bottom of the movement shift your weight back onto your heels. Drive through the heels while using the hips and legs to swing the weight forward and up; resisting the urge to pull with the arms. Choose a weight that you can comfortably control.

5. Pull-Ups or Assisted Pull-Ups

This upper body move will indeed strengthen the core because you need to engage all your middle muscles to help your arms as they do the heavy work. And if you can’t manage a complete pull-up yet, try the assisted pull-up machine available at most gyms.

So remember how vitally important a strong core is over 50, and jump on these exercises. You’ll be that much more 50plusPlusFit!

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

Can Exercise Reduce Cellulite?

By Jeannie the Trainer -

Cellulite, what a pain! We ladies over 50 seem to get more than our fair share. And BTW, this is not limited to the females in the audience either; men can have cellulite deposits as well; sorry boys. So can we work it off, or away? Well the answer is sort of. But be cautious and suspect of false claims. Way, way too many exercise programs are marketed as cellulite-blasting. The ads claim that if you only perform the right exercises, your trouble spots will disappear and your body would be free of those “dimples.” Dimples!?! Who came up with that description anyway? Dimples are supposed to be cute, but not so on your legs and butt, right?

So can certain exercises really rid your body of cellulite? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but no it cannot. But there are some things you can do to reduce the appearance, making it less obvious. Here goes.

Reducing cellulite requires proper exercise, nutrition, proper circulation and the control of body fat. Not an easy task, but not insurmountable either. Unfortunately, your genetic makeup will determine whether and how much cellulite you have. Some of us are just destined to have cellulite. But let’s move on to how to manage this malady. The critical components of a good anti-cellulite training program are losing giggly body fat, firming the muscle underneath the skin to reduce dimples and crevices, following a low-carb diet, and boosting circulation and blood flow. So here’s what you need to do.

Cardio to Reduce Fat

You must try interval training. Involving varying the intensity of your activity, intervals are a great way, if not the best way to burn body fat. For example, walk on a treadmill at say 3.2 mph for 2 minutes, then crank up the speed to as fast as you can go for 30-60 seconds (or 15 seconds if that’s all you can do); then slow down for a period, then crank it up again. Over time try extending the time of your intense interval.

Strength Training

Whether using free weights, machines, bands, tubes or body weight, firming the muscle underneath the cellulite will help smooth the skin's appearance. And combining strength training with the aforementioned cardio exercise will give you a total workout to lose weight and gain muscle. Now since most cellulite appears on the lower body, focus on resistance moves that build up the hamstrings, quads, buttocks and hips. Good moves to try are step-ups, lunges and squats. Aim for training the lower body at least two times a week, increasing the weight over time to challenge your muscles.

Carb-Reduced Diet

Notice I didn’t say no-carb diet. Eating a low-fat diet consisting of lean proteins and veggies is a great way to lose body fat. You will also need to greatly reduce sugar, starches, alcohol, processed foods and fruits with high sugar content. Additionally, a Harvard School of Public Health study has suggested that a low glycemic index carbohydrate diet will help in reducing fat weight in particular.

Improve Circulation

Finally this is the icing on the cake, so to speak. In addition to engaging in regular exercise that includes both strength training and cardio, you can increase your circulation by getting massages. Improved circulation will increase the blood flow to the skin and make your entire complexion look brighter and smoother.

So ladies (and gents), if you’re going to be 50plusPlusFit, why not look it? Just practice these simple steps and you will.

For expert Pilates, Post-Rehab, Personal Training and General Fitness in Houston contact Jeannie at www.YesFitnessTraining.com

Pilates? Where Did That Come From? Is It New?

Surprised? Well actually the Pilates form of exercise has been around since the early 1900s. Then why did we not really hear about it until the 1980s? Joseph Pilates was so far ahead of his time that the fitness world had to catch up with his expertise before it could be understood and accepted by the general fitness public. It was a well kept secret for elite athletes and dancers.

So, let’s see how this unique form of exercise came to be. Then in future articles I’ll shed more light on the wonderful world of Pilates and what it can do for your fitness and wellbeing.

German born Joseph Pilates was living in England, where he was a circus performer and boxer, when he was placed into forced internment at the outbreak of WWI. While in this camp, Pilates began to work with rehabilitating detainees who were suffering from diseases and injuries. It was invention born of necessity that inspired him to utilize items that were available to him, like bed springs and beer keg rings, to create resistance exercise equipment for his patients. From these humble beginnings evolved the equipment we use today like the popular Pilates Reformer.

Joseph Pilates initially began his craft from his personal experiences in conditioning and fitness. Unhealthy as a child, he studied many kinds of self-improvement systems including the Eastern practices and Zen Buddhism. On his way to developing the Pilates Method, he studied anatomy and eventually became a talented, multi-faceted athlete; a body builder, wrestler, gymnast, boxer, snow skier and diver

After WWI, he packed his bags and like so many took a ship to America. On the voyage to America, Joseph met Clara, a nurse, who he would wed. He and Clara went on to establish the first Pilates fitness “studio” in New York City. It was there that he evolved the Pilates method of exercise, invented the spectrum of Pilates exercise equipment, and of course, trained casual followers and students alike. He referred to his work as Contrology, proclaiming it to be “the comprehensive integration of body, mind and spirit.”

Pilates taught in New York for forty years starting in 1926 and over the course of that time he trained a number of students who went on to spread the word and teach this wonderful fitness form. Some of his students taught the master’s work exactly as he had taught to them, the “classical style” Pilates. Others have taken the classical form and incorporated their own additional learnings in anatomy and exercise sciences

Joseph Pilates died in 1967 however he had maintained a fit physique throughout his life and remained in remarkable physical condition until his passing. He is also said to have had a flamboyant personality and was described as an intimidating instructor, however he was just as dedicated to his students and their growth. And in that spirit, his prize student Clara carried on his dedicated teachings for a decade following his death. Today, the Pilates mantel is worn by the growing Pilates teaching community, both classical and more contemporary advocates.


Pilates is a great way to lose weight and gain muscle when your over 50 or a senior. So give Pilates a try; it could easily become an integral part of your exercise regimen, and might quickly become one of your favorites. And look for Pilates routines coming soon in our online personal trainer.

Jeannie Hughes is a multi-certified trainer and Pilates expert. For expert Pilates, Post-Rehab, Personal Training and General Fitness in Houston contact Jeannie at www.YesFitnessTraining.com

How’s Your Progress?

By Ron the Trainer -

Here we are – a good eight weeks into the new year and the push is on to get better! But, in the midst of all of the cardio and exercises we find ourselves doing daily (right?), have we made progress? An even better question is, did we set goals that make sense?

Time to take a step back and determine if we took measurements, etc., and then made measureable goals or did we just jump in doing what we did in the past year(s)? Do you remember if you were successful last year with your routine? I have a feeling for most of us, there was room for improvement! So, here’s a different approach to getting better…

First of all, let’s determine your approximate body fat percentage. Let’s say you’re a 60 year-old male, 205 pounds and 5’ 9” or a 55 year-old female at 155 pounds and 5’3”. Using the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer, his body fat is around 31% while healthy is considered less than 24% and hers is about 36% where healthy is under 31%. That means that your goal is trim the fat – but how?

Up until now, you probably would respond by saying, I’ll get on the treadmill and cut out fast food. That’s a good start but, let’s maximize your efforts … starting with caloric intake.

Remember, six meals (small ones!) per day – never let your body get hungry. Plan your meals out with a great balance of low-fat protein, and carbs. Don’t fall for a gimmicky diet, balanced meals are best – for this 60-year old male, about 2,500 calories maximum per day and for the 55 year-old female, 1,800 calories is ideal assuming moderate daily activity.

Increase your water intake, reduce caffeine intake and eliminate sodas – especially the “diet” sodas.
The ingredient that makes a diet soda sweet is aspartame and recent studies have shown that moderate to heavy use of aspartame can actually lead to weight gain!

Now to address physical activity … cardio for 30-60 minutes per day, 4-6 days per week is an ideal goal. But, that’s not all you need to be doing! Strength training is just as important as cardio. Development of lean muscle mass is a great way to burn off excess fat – and quickly! Plus, a proper strength training program will help you to be more functionally strong – in other words, be able to perform daily tasks more easily than if you hadn’t been strength training. Let’s shoot for strength training 3-4 days per week. So, you can strength train one day, cardio train the next. Or, you can do your cardio and strength the same day – however it seems best for you.

Now for goal – setting… if you’re 205 and 5’ 9” with 31% body fat and ultimate goal of 24% (or less), you have about 45 pounds to lose to meet that goal. This assumes a male with average build and average overall condition. If you’ve been riding a road bike or competed in some other sport, there may be above- average muscle mass that would alter the calculation. If you feel that this might be the case, get measured with a set of calipers. Skin fold measurements often more accurately measure body fat percentages than circumference measuring.

For the woman at 155 and 5’ 3”with a body fat of 36%, let’s shoot for a goal of 28%. That will be about a 20-pound weight loss. Again, if there is a lot of muscle mass due to sports activities, etc., a caliper measurement should be taken,  

Now that you have that goal, let’s determine a timeline. Safe, effective weight loss occurs when an average of one-two pounds per week are lost. This is weight you can keep off! So, let’s shoot for goal in 30 weeks – somewhere between 1 and 2 pounds/week loss for the man and about 18 weeks for the woman at a loss of 1-2 pounds per week. Regardless of size or gender, weight loss that is substantial and can be maintained comes off at 1-2 pounds per week.

So, where are you after the first eight weeks of the year? If you haven’t made the progress you’d like, re-assess your workouts and meal plans to accelerate you into the person you really want to be! After all, you’re 50+ so why not be 50plusPlusFit!

Ron Mattox is a Fitness Trainer who holds multiple nationally-recognized fitness certifications and a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.com

The Best Time to Exercise

By Bob the Trainer -

women over 50 exercisingWith our crazy busy lifestyles it can be a real challenge to find time for exercise. Many of my friends and clients over 50 ask me first, how I find the time, and second, if there is a best time to exercise. The truth is that any time is a good time. However, if you are aiming for a certain goal, when you schedule your workout can indeed make a difference in your results. Everyone has a circadian rhythm that impacts energy levels, so being aware of how your body works will help you choose the best timing for your exercise.

Peak Performance Time

According to ACE, the American Council on Exercise, the best time to exercise is in the late afternoon, when your body is warmest and thus your muscles are most flexible and strongest and your blood pressure and heart rate are relatively low. They claim that you will feel as though you're actually exerting less energy than at other times for similar workout routines

But unless you’re retired, not too many of us over 50 can just break away and hit the gym, pool or road in mid-afternoon. So from my standpoint the best time to exercise is when you can get it done. If that is morning or night, so be it. But it is a good idea to try to workout around the same time most days, just to keep your body’s rhythm in sync. So let’s review a few simple things you can do to maximize your results at the times when most of us exercise.

For You Morning Birds -

That’s me. I find that I need to get it done and checked off before the crazy day starts or I risk missing the gym; not good. And just like with me, research has indicated that people who work out in the morning are more likely to make exercise a part of their lifestyle. But, your muscles are coldest in the morning and thus more prone to strains, pulls and other injuries. So we need to take some extra time to warm up before hitting it hard. You can’t just crank the treadmill up to six mph or grab that heavy kettlebell right off the bat, at any time of day, but certainly not when your muscles are at their coldest.

For You Night Owls

If you can only exercise after work, or if you simply get your second wind in the evening, that’s o.k. too. However, if you hit the gym too late at night, it could interrupt your sleep schedule and that is definitely not good. Exercise will elevate your heart rate and energize your body, which can make it harder to fall asleep, and you don’t want to be relying on sleep aids just to get your workout in. Pull back your workout time to at least a few hours before your normal bedtime. Regular exercise is supposed to help you sleep better, not mess with your good night’s rest.

For Everyone

The frequency you work out is far more important for your health and fitness than when you work out. Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate cardio activity per week. That equates to 30 minutes per day over five days per week. If you wish (or must) you can break it into shorter sessions of exercise, but do al least 10 minutes at a time or you really lose the cardiovascular benefits. And remember, that 150 minutes is the MINIMUM! You can do more.

Lastly, don’t forget or skip your strength training. You should do resistance training two to four times per week. A good online weight training log can help you stay on point. Weightlifting, using resistance tubes or taking Pilates are all good. And you can certainly mix it up too. Just pick something that you like and do it to be 50plusPlusFit!

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

Be Fit and De-Stress With Yoga

By Jeanie the Trainer -

We live in an increasingly, incredibly fast paced, stressful world. And it seems that for many of us over 50 it just never lets up. With ongoing career pressures, kids, grandkids, caretaking of parents, etc., etc., etc., it is no wonder that we need to find a way to de-stress and chill out.

Some of us are turning to alternative treatments, as we really should do our best to avoid additional meds. And one of the most effective methods for de-stressing (and being fit) is to practice yoga. Stretching and breathing are two of the main activities of this practice, and the flexibility and calming results are quite helpful in dropping the harmful effects of stress. Yoga is truly an overall mind and   body experience.

One of the primary goals of yoga is enabling you to gain access to your universal consciousness. And likewise, the body must be balanced in order for your concerns and related stress to be relieved. Deep breathing also takes on a whole new meaning when practicing yoga.

More people from all walks of life are turning to yoga as a means to achieve health like no other method has offered. Several studies have proven yoga`s effectiveness in that many illnesses and pain issues have been helped and even eliminated when practicing yoga. And of course, this scientific confirmation is a welcome change to always popping pills to deal with anxiety and stress (sorry big pharma). A lot of medication is not the answer, and doesn’t have to be when you have yoga to turn to. Additionally, if yoga has any side effects, theY are all positive, like increased strength and improved balance. Plus all the following:

  • Increased Energy,
  • Stronger Core,
  • Total Body Toning,
  • Enhanced Sexual Virility and Drive
  • Improved Digestion,
  • Improved Circulation,
  • Strengthened Immune System,
  • Reduction of Various Chronic Conditions, and of course
  • Reduced Anxiety and Stress.

You can pursue your yoga practice at many specific yoga studios that often offer different forms of yoga including bikram, or “hot yoga.” Also, increasingly many health clubs and gyms of all types offer several yoga class options and times.

You can also easily practice yoga alone at home if you prefer. But like with any form of exercise, safety is a factor when beginning yoga; skill and flexibility must be increased gradually to prevent soreness or injury. That’s why a good yogi, personal trainer or video instruction is a necessity.

So if you are in need of reducing your anxiety and stress level, and who isn’t to some degree, you may want to give yoga a try. It could be a great addition to your fitness regimen or the complete answer for you. Either way, yoga can help you relax and enjoy being 50plusPlusFit!

For expert Pilates, Post-Rehab, Personal Training and General Fitness in Houston contact Jeannie at www.YesFitnessTraining.com

Longevity Through Exercise?

By Ron the Trainer -

over 50 man doing crunchesIf you're over 50 and already sweating the Grim Reaper... don't! You can fight him off. You’ve got all the tools you need in exercise. Yes it is really true; all that sweating at the gym will help you living longer. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), with a healthy exercise program, you’ll likely be around to enjoy life considerably longer than your sedentary friends. Not that you want to lose your friends.

In a recent study, researchers found that people who got the CDC’s recommended 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week, or just 1.25 hours of vigorous exercise per week, lived an average of 3.4 years longer than those who “skip the gym.” And those who doubled the recommended amount of exercise lived an average of 4.2 years longer than the sedentary crowd. Further, it appears that even a small amount of exercise is indeed better than nothing, as people who got just half the recommended amount of exercise still managed to extend their lives by close to two additional years.

More proof comes from a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute, showing that people who engage in regular physical activity live as much as 4.5 years longer than their sedentary counterparts, concluding that the more you exercise, the longer you're likely to live.

But the really great news about living longer (other than the obvious) is that you will live well. At 50plusPlusFit we believe that we all should shoot for more than a good quality of life, as the medical community is prone to reference. No, those of us who are 50plusPlusfit should shoot for a good quality of lifestyle! Who wants to be an octogenarian or older some day, but not be able to lift themselves out of the ol’ easy chair? Not us!

We can accomplish so much with regular exercise; Improve our heart health, reduce cholesterol, improve blood pressure, of course lose weight and maintain a healthy weight, build strength and stability and improve balance for our later years, reduce our diabetes meds if used, and reduce doctor visits. In general, improve our quality of lifestyle.

Cardiovascular exercise will help maintain a healthy weight and strengthen your heart and lung capacity, while weight-bearing activities will help build muscles of course, but also increase bone density and reduce osteoporosis and the greater risk of bone fractures.

And now that we are over 50, we can’t stress enough the importance of strength-training exercises. This can include the old standby, lifting weights, but can also include Pilates classes, using exercise resistance tubes, or just doing body-weight exercises like pushups and knee bends. Routines for all of these and other exercises to lose weight and build strength can be found in the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer, so no excuses.  Need more incentive - according to a CDC study, after following just a sixteen week strength training regimen, seniors with moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee showed a 43-percent reduction in pain (often better than their meds), as well as increased mobility.

And finally, regular exercise will make you feel much better mentally. If just starting an exercise routine after a long period of being sedentary, you will suddenly notice a renewed sense of well-being. Moderate to more intense exercise prompts the release of endorphins and other “feel good” chemicals in your brain, inspiring happy thoughts while fighting the downer you want to avoid. And while we’re discussing longevity, a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs study found that depression shortened life span by nearly five years.

So there you have it; exercise will extend your life, will provide you with the capability of a much richer quality of lifestyle, and make you happier overall. What more do you want than being 50plusPlusFit!

Ron Mattox is a Fitness Trainer with numerous national fitness certifications and a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

Winter Colds and Exercise

By Jeannie the Trainer -

over 50 man and woman doing mat pilatesIt’s that time of year, winter. The time for freezing, staying indoors as much as possible and catching colds. And maybe because we’re over 50, those colds seem somewhat harder to shake, or maybe we just haven’t learned how to cope and avoid the common cold even now.

Well one good piece of news is that if you’re 50plusPlusFit, meaning that you exercise regularly, you will be less susceptible to catching a cold. In fact according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) several studies show adults who exercise regularly get sick less and have a shorter duration of feeling those blahs. So keep up a regular routine of exercise and you’re ahead of the game.

Exercise As The Cure

Now, if you do catch that nasty cold, is there anything you can do that will help you get back to your regular routine? Well, yes, yes there is, and it is continued exercise, at least if your symptoms are limited to those experienced above the neck. In other words if you don’t have a chest cold, fever or muscle aches, go for it.

You will need to pull back some though, so limit your exercise to low to moderate intensity, no high intensity workouts for a while. Several studies have concluded that continued mild exercise while having a cold, did indeed shorten your period of the sniffles. Further,  if your normal routine is moderate to high-intensity exercise, the lowering of your intensity while suffering the cold will make it easier to fully resume higher-intensity workouts once the cold symptoms have subsided and you feel up to it.

You may even use this time to try a new routine for the first time, maybe something a bit less intense like yoga or Pilates, or just stretching exercises and walking. The 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer includes some routines that would be just right for continuing your personal fitness training despite that darn cold.

Taking this another step, actually many more steps, in another study with marathon runners as guinea pigs, it was indicated that the immune system weakens further for six to nine hours following intensive exercise. So again, intensive exercise should be avoided until a few to several days after your symptoms subside, and depending on the severity of your cold.

But despite the benefits of exercising with a cold, remember that if you have more serious symptoms like fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph glands or extreme tiredness, complete rest for 4-6 weeks is recommended. Then you can gradually work your way back up to your normal routine.

Get Your OJ

Vitamin C won’t really help you avoid the common cold so you don't need to take a daily supplement unless directed by your doctor, but it can help shorten the duration of your cold symptoms. Your best sources of vitamin C are fresh fruits and vegetables that will also deliver many other important nutrients such as antioxidants, minerals and other vitamins. Some examples of high vitamin C fruits and vegetables are oranges of course, plus cantaloupe, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and raw green and red bell peppers. And no… mimosas are not recommended!

Be Polite To Other Gym Members

The common cold virus is transmitted through hand-to-face contact or inhalation of the virus through your nose or mouth, so if you go to a gym with your cold, please be aware of your fellow members. Maybe wear a face mask for a while. They are pretty commonplace in other public places like airplanes and even in the airport, so the members won’t be so shocked.

Also, wipe down the equipment you’ve just used with even greater care than you normally would. Many gyms and health clubs even provide disinfectant wipes you can use before and after using a machine. Your members will like you more than ever.

So don’t let a few sniffles keep you from staying fit. In fact use your exercise to banish that old cold and keep it away the rest of the winter. After all, you are 50plusPlusFit!

For expert Pilates, Post-Rehab, Personal Training and General Fitness in Houston contact Jeannie at www.YesFitnessTraining.com

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.

Barriers to Change and Fitness

By Kay Van Norman -

over 50 woman with nutritious smoothyHave you ever wondered why changing habits and behaviors is so hard, even with excellent intentions and Just do it mocking you from every angle? This can be particularly challenging when it comes to beginning a weight loss or fitness routine. And like that old dog, new trick adage, it can be daunting to get back in the gym when over 50.

A Pattern to Change -

James Prochaska’s (2009) “stages of change” theory lends insight into what individuals usually go through when forming a new habit or changing a behavior, including:

  • Pre-contemplation:  Not intending to or ready to change (e.g., Uncle Phil who claims smoking gets a bad rap because his grandpa smoked and lived to be 90).
  • Contemplation: Thinking about changing, but pros and cons of change judged about equal. (e.g. “I probably should get more exercise but I’m doing alright so far without it”)
  • Preparation: Intending to make a change, with a short term action plan (e.g., “I’m going to join the gym and start exercising in earnest after I get back from my trip next month.).

Action (taking action on a regular basis) and Maintenance (the change becomes part of  a person’s lifestyle) are the final two stages of change.  But it’s estimated that at any given time, fewer than 20% of people with a “less than ideal behavior” make it to the action stage of change! 

Stumbling block -

Positive change ultimately comes directly from your own personal beliefs about whether change will result in a net positive or negative in your life. If you’ve made failed attempts at changing a specific behavior, it could help to consciously identify which stage of behavior change you’re stuck in, and why. 

Stages and barriers -

Perhaps you know you could do better on eating nutritiously, but don’t feel motivated to change eating habits. You might be stuck in this pre-contemplation stage until an “index event” – like a sudden change in health status, or the stark realization that although you’ve always identified yourself as “healthy” you have increasingly low energy and digestive problems.

Stuck in contemplation? Are you justifying a behavior with “selective” beliefs? I regularly encouraged my uncle to stop smoking and every year he’d report that his health check-up showed his lungs “were clear”. Ignoring all other compelling information, he chose to believe this “evidence” that smoking wasn’t harming him; until he called to report he stopped smoking because he had emphysema. If you’re having trouble making a change, dig a little to see what “selective” belief or idea may be blocking positive change in your life.

Many of us are great at preparation, buying exercise machines or joining a gym. But the gap between preparation and action is usually the largest and most shopworn.  Make it as easy as possible to consistently take action towards a change until it becomes habit; like improving nutrition by pre-washing and cutting veggies and fruit for easy to grab snack packs when the munchies hit. Or keeping a journal of your progress for motivation. The 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer might be just the tool for you with its powerful workout and eating plans plus easy diet and exercise tracking.

Ultimately, you can become the master of your own behavior when you identify which personal beliefs must be ransomed, and what simple bridges you can build between intentions and actions to make lasting positive change.  

Prochaska, J.O., Johnson, S.S. & Lee, P. (2009). The Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change.  In: the handbook of behavior change; (eds.) S. Schumaker, et.al.

For more information and resources related to managing and executing change visit Kay online.

Get The 50 Plus Fitness Habit

By Bob the Trainer -

man and woman exercisingYou're over 50, so you certainly should already know that exercising will make you improve your health, live longer, and you'll live a true quality of lifestyle too. So why are you stuck just thinking about exercising more and not doing anything about it? Well just maybe you simply haven't planned it out logically. Really, planning out an exercise routine and sticking to it is not really the insurmountable goal you might dread. You're 50 plus, so take control already!

Here are a few ideas to help you plan for it and stick to it.

1) Take care of #1 first -

Your fitness and health are all personal things, done for you. You've heard the saying "if you’re not happy, you can't make others happy," or something like that. Well that's particularly true if you're not feeling your best, and that means you need to be fit and healthy. So as you plan your exercise, despite the tugging forces of family, friends and work pulling at your time, schedule exercise time just for yourself. You have to be somewhat selfish and do this!

2) Find something you like -

Don't do a workout routine just because it's popular. And you needn't lift weights or take yoga or run just because your friends do it. Fitness should follow the FITTE rule. FITTE stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type and Enjoyment. Those last two are very important; figure out what types of physical activity you enjoy and do that more often. It might be hiking or biking, Pilates, strength training or yoga. Or maybe all of the above, which is great. Just plan it out and get out there and do it... regularly!

3) KISS -

OK, being 50 plus, we’ve all heard of this one – Keep It Simple Stupid! Being healthy and active does not require a club membership or expensive equipment. You can keep it simple instead, like do body-weight exercises and yoga anywhere, any time. And going for a walk or jog doesn't cost a dime. But if you did want some equipment, a set of dumbbells and a jump rope provide endless options for circuit training. The 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer offers lots of simple exercise options and video demos, plus fitness tracking to keep you on track. And if you don't need a fitness club you'll be able to eliminate the "I didn't have time to get to the gym" excuse.

4) Get A buddy -

You have to take control of your actions and decide to be healthy, but you don't have to go it alone. Find a workout buddy. It may be someone you already know or maybe someone you’ve just met at the gym. A workout buddy can make the experience more social and fun. And if you find yourself wanting to skip out on workouts, your workout buddy can help you stay on schedule because they rely on you and you owe it to them too. Particularly with a workout buddy before you know it, being active and healthy won't be a necessary evil; it will become part of your newfound social scene too.

5) Be Accountable -

One of the best ways to keep yourself accountable is to track and record your progress. The Online Personal Trainer and its mobile phone app are excellent tools to have at hand. But even if you just make notes on a piece of paper, keep an activity log and a calorie count, then review and adjust if necessary. Oh, and pat yourself on the back when you’ve done well, or even reward yourself with that occasional ice cream or piece of cake.

Embrace Your New You -

After a while I assure you that you won’t think of exercise as a chore. Instead you’ll think of it as essential part of your new fit and healthy lifestyle. You can't live without food and you can't live without exercise anyway, and your new plan will allow you to live a happier life overall, and then you can focus on making others around you even happier than you’ve done in the past, guaranteed!

Here’s to being 50plusPlusFit!

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

 

Setting Realistic Fitness Goals

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Keep Your Fitness State of Mind by Setting Fitness Goals! Human nature being what it is, we often set great goals for finances or other worthwhile life events. But, sometimes we set our goals a little too high and then when we don't meet them, we become discouraged and feel like a failure. Or, we don't keep focused on the goals we've set and fall off-track. And, for those of us over 50, we still haven't learned our lesson and continue to struggle with goal-setting.

Bob's Experience:

Setting goals for my fitness has always been a part of my regimen, well that is since I began a fitness regimen.  And, I dare say, it has been a part of all of our lives as well, most probably when we try to lose weight. The problem for me has generally been that my ability to stay with the program has not been consistent – it’s been a series of hits and misses. My ability to stick to my goals has varied from time to time. At times I’ve been terrific at keeping on point, a real training system, on auto pilot, making progress all along. But at other times, well let’s just say I’ve been a slacker.

So as I look back at the times I’ve stayed on point and not slacked off, it’s clear that I met my ultimate goal for that period of time. I really practiced a good, consistent 50plusPlusFit lifestyle.

But what made the difference for me? Why did I sometimes fall off point? Gee, could it be a combination of things? I think that part of it is the simple fact that life gets in the way - work, family and the general stresses of life. For me, sometimes it just seems easier to lay off, which of course is just the wrong thing to do, especially if you’re stressed. Yes, it was amazing that when I got back on the routine, my life’s stress levels dropped.

The other thing that has sometimes tripped me up in the past has been setting unrealistic goals. Everyone wants to lose that weight quickly, right?

Well, we’ve all heard time and again that is it really impossible to effectively lose weight quickly, but nonetheless we set ourselves up for disappointment and failure. And this can apply to all of our goals, not just losing weight. For example, I wanted to be able to lift my body-weight on the bench press, just to reach a commonly heard measure of strength for guys who weight train. But, with this type of goal we can also set ourselves up for failure by wanting it too fast and asking too much of ourselves.

For me, I’ve found that baby steps of progress are still getting me closer to my goal. So I set smaller increments and then I show advances I can feel good about. And, it motivates me too. I have something to celebrate!

So how do we set these goals? I like to think I’m getting better at this for myself, but for our community, let’s let the expert be the expert. Ron?

Ron's Expertise:

So true – fitness goals need to be attainable and reachable. So often I see clients who may ultimately need to lose 60-100 pounds but, I refuse to set that total goal in their workout plan. Instead, I set a goal that should be attainable in 2-3 months. That way, it doesn’t look or feel like they have a mountain to move, and the goal feels closer and possible.

When it comes to losing weight, we first discuss calories in vs. calories burned. One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. Consider that the average male should consume about 2,500 calories and the average female’s meal plan should consist of about 1,800 calories – that seems as though in order to lose weight, we have to skip eating a day or two per week but, that’s not correct. Instead, divide the 3,500 calories by 7 days in a week; the result is 500 calories. If we honestly burn 500 calories per day more than we consume, we’ll lose a pound of pure fat each week – and that will be weight that will stay off. Experts tell us that if you change your eating habits to something more healthy and calorie-conscious, after about three weeks of this new eating, you will develop new habits and not eat like you did when you gained weight.

Armed with that information, I usually ask my clients to adhere to their daily calorie intake and document it! Then, after 3-4 weeks, we re-check body weight and measurements. At that time, we renew focus on the goals and modify them if necessary.

Quick weight loss? Suffice to say, those gadgets and supplements you see on T.V. infomercials are probably going to set you up for failure. My “favorite” rip-off is the vinyl suit that was originally sold in the 1980’s to promote weight loss by causing the wearer to sweat. It’s recently resurfaced – and we’re seeing up to twenty “solar suits” a day in our gym.

O.K., let’s think about this for a moment – fat is fat, not water. Therefore, excessive sweating will NOT promote weight loss. In fact, in some climates, it can put you in danger of collapse and that’s not healthy! Also, my clients occasionally report that they have tried some new supplement found at the corner drug store – some costing nearly $100/month! The result? They usually report diarrhea and other counter-productive conditions, but no fat loss. A recommended ais in reaching you goals is by working with a personal trainer like me. But if you can't because of conflicting schedules or expense or just wanting to do it on your own, a great alternative is our Online Personal Trainer, which is packed with features like workout programs for weight loss and muscle gain, diet plans and online fitness tracking.

Other goals should be set in a similar fashion – so that there are a series of short-term goals that are more easily attainable, measurable and keeps us more motivated to stick to a plan. We should also re-examine our goals periodically to see if we need to alter them – maybe the “big picture” has changed or we’re bored and need something new.

Or, maybe you’re one of the fortunate few who don’t necessarily need weight loss – maybe your goal is better cardiovascular endurance,core strength, better golf game, etc. Good for you! But, be sure to set measurable goals with a reasonable timeline. Don’t expect to go from a golf score of 99 to a 70 in 3 weeks!

Goals in life, fitness or otherwise, are very important – otherwise we’re just doing “stuff” and not working toward an end. It would be like starting the car, and driving aimlessly. Maybe fun for a little while but, it would get boring – just like working out without a “destination.”

So, let’s carefully set our goals, and get busy working toward a really great lifestyle … toward being 50plusPlusFit!

I Love Cross-Country Skiing

By 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

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.

New Year's Resolution Planning

By Ron the Trainer and Bob
We're deep in the middle of the Holiday season but, fast approaching is the New Year. What we do now will depend on whether we renew over 50 or go into it with guilt and remorse. Yes its New Year’s Fitness Resolution time, so read on for planning tips that are useful and effective today!

Bob’s Experience:   new year's party items

Oh those New Year’s resolutions! I’ve certainly made (and broken) my share over the years. And if you’ve read my bio on the About Us page, you’ll know why. I battled weight gain a great deal during my younger years. Actually, I continue to battle weight gain yet today, I just have exponentially more control over the situation.

But yes, I’ve set ambitious, well-intentioned resolutions, and I’ve broken ‘em, year after year.  And looking back there seems to be a couple of things that I did where I simply set myself up for failure, it was cooked into the plan. Mistake #1: since I knew I’d be joining the rest of the world after New Year’s Day and going on a very strict, crash diet, I really let myself go wild with food and drink over the holidays. Of course that simply added to the weight I had to lose. Boy was that a huge, dumb mistake or what? I don’t do that anymore. If you’ve started doing this already this year… STOP NOW!

Mistake #2: trying a really strict, crash diet following the turn of the year. Wow, how smart was that, going from FEAST to FAMINE? And of course I knew I was going to workout every day of the week with a military-like basic training effort… right, that really happened! The result: big failures, repeated year after year after year.

But I do believe that smart New Year’s resolutions can be very good for all of us, and we can pull them off successfully!  Our 2014 50 plus fitness resolutions do not have to be destined for failure. No, they can actually help us truly be 50plusPlusFit in the coming year and for years to come. And to help us succeed, let’s turn to our resident expert Ron. 

Have a Healthy and Happy 2014!

Happy New Year Ron!

Ron’s Expertise:

What a perfect setup for my comments – a testimonial! Yes, there are resolutions with very good intentions which unfortunately are not planned or executed properly. I will explain.

As Bob said, many people allow themselves to really enjoy the holidays consuming mass quantities of those special foods that may only be available during this time of year. Who makes fudge in July? And, when was the last time you had eggnog for Memorial Day? Even a little of some of these holiday goodies can be too much for your waistline. Staying on track every day creates a path to success.

Then, around January 1st the regret sets in and the strict ultra-restrictive diets begin. But, those aren’t effective either. So, we don’t lose the holiday weight and now, are heavier than this time last year – compounding year after year. Such is the American dilemma.

New Year’s resolutions that are weight-loss and fitness related are great – if the plan is sensible and not radical. So many people choose to skip breakfast, drink a weight loss shake for lunch and starve till dinner. Then dinner comes and they are out of control, eating everything in sight for the rest of the evening because they have been hungry all day. That plan is counter-productive because of the “sundown binging” plus, stressing the body with hunger will trigger a defense mechanism which will actually cause the body to pack on more fat. We’re going in the wrong direction!  

Let’s say that you need to lose 15 pounds. Health experts agree that by using a sensible meal plan, you should be able to lose 1-2 pounds per week. A sensible meal plan will contain a reasonable breakfast, healthy lunch and dinner as well as a couple of snacks – all designed to never allow you to feel really hungry. That way you can control your choices and quantities much easier. Plus there will be no defense mechanism in play.

You’ll be losing weight gradually, safely and sensibly. So, your weight loss goal of 15 pounds is 7-8 weeks in the future – not 30 days! Quick weight loss is just not a great idea. Setting your goals to lose more than 8 pounds per month will set you up for failure – you could easily become discouraged and abandon your weight loss efforts completely.

It’s better to:

  • Control yourself throughout the year,
  • Design realistic meal plans,
  • Set reasonable goals,
  • Measure your progress regularly, and
  • Stay focused on your results.

There are many tools available to help you plan, track and measure your progress, like our Online Personal Trainer. You can choose from many good workout plans to lose weight and add even add lean muscle. It’s loaded with sensible diet plans for everyone, including vegetarians, vegans and those with diet restrictions and intolerances.

So atrt 2014 off right. Take some time to research and set your journey off in the right direction – on a path you can stay on all year. You’ll feel great about your progress and ability to stay focused. And, you’ll be 50plusPlusFit!

The Perfect Press-Up

push ups for over 50by Robert Dyer
Many of us will do press-ups at some time in our training life. Some of us will enjoy them, some will hate them. Others will think of them as a necessary evil in the aim to improve upper body strength. In this article, Robert Dyer from "Your London Personal Trainer" explains why.

The press-up incorporates the use of many muscle groups all working in a coordinated manner to achieve the desired result. Not only are you getting a workout for your Triceps, Pecs and Shoulders, but the core muscles around your midsection are also working to stabilise the body throughout this motion.

The exercise can be performed with the minimal amount of equipment (maybe a mat if your kneeling on a hard floor), and is adjustable for beginners right up to the super fit.

The easiest version will be with the knees on the floor at a right angle to your body, and the arms slightly in front of you, a little bit wider than your shoulders. Then move your chest down towards the floor while keeping your stomach tight and your back in a neutral curve.The further you move the knees back, the harder the exercise becomes. This is until you reach the point where your knees are off the ground and you are balancing with your hands at the front and your toes at the back. This is known as the full press-up.

There are many variations on the full press-up and the degree of difficulty can be adjusted depending upon what part of the body you are targeting and the type of exercise you are trying to do. Once you are comfortable with the full press-up, here are a few ideas you can try to vary the exercise and the effect on different muscle groups:

To make all the muscles work harder, slow down the motion by going up and down in four movements. The movement would go like this, halfway down (pause) then fully down, halfway up (pause) then fully up. This method removes the natural momentum of the exercise and causes the muscles to ‘fire up’ twice in each repetition instead of once.

To increase the workload on the triceps, simply bring the hands closer together in the middle. As you become stronger,  move the hands closer and closer together until your thumbs and forefingers are touching together to make a diamond shape in the middle. The down phase of the press-up will be easier than the up phase, due to the fact that the small triceps will be working almost in isolation to raise your bodyweight.

To make the pectoral muscles work harder simply move the arms wider apart, whilst maintaing the full range of movement up and down.

If you want to get really good definition on those shoulders then this time we can spread the arms and change the angle of movement from side to side. This will develop great strength in the supporting shoulder muscles and help to protect the joint from a common injury suffered by many sports enthusiast (rotator cuff).

Once we have mastered the basic movements above, many fall into the common mistake of simply increasing the number of press-ups over a period of time. Psychologically it feels good to start off at say ten press-ups and progress to the point where we can do over a hundred in one go. However, at this point we have switched from a strength exercise to an endurance exercise. If our goal is to improve our upper body strength then its time to increase the difficulty and reduce the numbers. Of course if your goal is to lose weight and gain muscle, high repetitions are indeed called for.

In summary, whether you are a beginner or a fitness nut who has been training for years and years. The press-up has a place in everyone’s strength training regime. It is flexible, can be done almost anywhere, requires no equipment, and can work all of the major muscles in your upper body.

So if you aren’t already doing press-ups as a regular part of your strength training, then the question is WHY NOT?

For further details please visit  Your London Personal Trainer.

I Feel Burnout – Now What?

man over 50 lifting weightsBob’s Experience:

It happens to all of us over 50. We are pretty good about getting our exercise or workout routine accomplished like clockwork for months and then, we get a little lax. And there is definitely a reason for this… we simply get burned out. We get tired both physically and mentally about hitting the walking or running trail or going to the gym. But it is not that you’re lazy; you’re just in the “burnout rut.” This is particularly true for the seniors among us, but it hits all of us, even if we’re a kid of 50. So it’s time to shake it up a bit.

What we all need from time to time is something fresh. That’s exactly why the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer has so much exercise and workout routine variety, to keep you and your exercise regimen fresh. Why not try Pilates or yoga? The Online Personal Trainer has lots of new exercises and several workouts for those in the personal training programs.

So if you’re feeling like you’re in that burnout rut, it’s time for a change. As Ron the Trainer points out, this can be the worst time to slack off. Ron?

Ron’s Expertise:

It’s the fourth quarter – and attendance at gyms is dropping off. Just when holiday parties and big meals like Thanksgiving are merely days away, lots of us are missing workouts and in general, losing focus. More food and fewer workouts spells a recipe for disaster! But, what can we do?

Now is the time to adjust your workouts and put your “appointments” in your calendar. In other words, schedule your workouts like you would schedule any other activity in your day. If it’s 5AM or 5PM, put it in your calendar so that you have a reminder.

Now, pack your gym bag before you go to bed. Then, make sure it gets out the door with you. One of the hardest things to do is to come home, change and then try to leave again. Get the gym in before you come home! 

Adjust your workout – do something different to regain interest and shake up your body. I have just started swimming again. And, because I’m not a great swimmer, it’s a killer workout! That is happening for me at lunch time. Once I’m done with my laps, I can have a smart lunch and feel great about myself.

I have a friend who is 5’ 2”, not exactly NBA material, but he comes into the gym and shoots hoops – at lunch time when the court isn’t crowded. He says it helps clear his mind from all that is going on in his work day. If this guy can shoot hoops, so can you!

Burnout is a real condition but, you can control and combat it! Find something new or different for your workout to stimulate your mind and body. And, be sure to treat your workout “appointment” as the most important “to-do” in your day – you will feel great and make it through the next couple of months without guilt or losing all the fitness progress you’ve made throughout the year. Keep working out – you’re 50plusPlusFit!

The Spirit of Tai Chi

by Rod Morin

The true Tai Chi player is exactly that, a player. We understand that life, just as comedian Bill Hicks used to say “is just a ride”. Tai Chi (taiji) philosophy teaches us that the material world or more poetically phrased “the world of the ten thousand things” is an effect of Yin and Yang interaction and Yin/Yang duality is itself an effect of Wuji (no-thing, the void) splitting into two interrelated polarities.

When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good, other things become bad.
Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Tao Te Ching Chapter 2

What all this means is that when one goes down the rabbit hole far enough you will eventually reach a point where you either throw up your hands in frustration because the mind cannot conceive of a reality where everything comes from Wuji (no-thing) or you do get it and you are left the knowing that all life is about is the experience.

Tai Chi philosophy teaches us that we should become like the hub of a wheel. This means that we stay relatively stationary and just watch as the rest of the world (any point on the surface of the tire) spins faster and faster, seemingly traveling great distances but ultimately ending up back at the original starting point.

Life has nothing to do with accumulating materialistic things or money or power or control, as all of these concepts are transitory. What life is about, is the journey and what happens on the journey and the types of experiences you pursue. This is the only goal that makes any sense and the only goal worthy of cultivation.

Taiji (tai chi) literally translates into “Supreme Ultimate”. Taiji is not the slow motion exercise practiced by millions world wide it is in fact a philosophy. It is a philosophy that burrows deep down into the human microcosm and marries it to the macrocosm of the Universal system. Everything is interconnected, never separated by time or space. All energy starts for Wuji (no-thing) and ultimately finds the path back to source completing the journey.

Walking the path of tai chi then becomes a simple task. All we ever have to do is cultivate what experience we deem is appropriate at any perceived point in time. There is no other goal. There is no greater reward.

Therefore the Master acts without doing anything and teaches without saying anything. Things arise and she lets them come; things disappear and she lets them go. She has but doesn't possess, acts but doesn't expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

For more information on Tai Chi contact Rod at BarrieTai Chi.

Back Pain and Exercise

Bob’s Experience:

Back pain - more specifically lower back pain. Can I say that this can be a “real pain in the #@%*&!”

I’ve experienced this from time to time, but mostly my back pains have been related to some ill-conceived movement or a mistake when exercising, that admittedly related to being distracted and not focusing on what I was doing.

However, I have friends and family members over 50 and a few seniors who complain about back pain, some for years. And I have offered my advice from time to time, but alas far too often falling on deaf ears. So they continue to suffer and compromise their lifestyle to boot. Too bad!

There are specific stretches and exercises that can address lower back pain and alleviate much if not all of this pain. Our 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer has a full library of these stretches and exercises as part of the working out programs, and they’ve been successfully used by members.

Beyond friends and family, I’ve trained a few clients with this malady and they have found that the back pain has greatly subsided or entirely disappeared. Good news, no? But let’s get the master trainer’s take on this chronic condition. Ron?

Ron’s Expertise:

According to several sources, over 80% of American adults will suffer significant back pain at least once. That’s a frightening statistic, but what’s worse is experiencing the pain and suffering. I speak from personal experience.

So, you are dealing with back pain. The best idea is resting until the pain goes away – right? Actually, that would be wrong. You want to keep moving to keep those muscles from getting even tighter. There are, however, “good idea” exercises and “bad idea” exercises. Let’s look at what we should be doing to help control back pain. Of course, you should first check with your doctor or physical therapist first – especially if you are in active care and haven’t been exercising regularly.

First, you need to stretch. If you have muscle pain, there are probably tight muscles involved. Lie on your back and slowly pull one knee into your chest. Hold the stretch and feel the muscle start to release. Even more slowly, return the leg to the floor and pull the other knee into your chest. The stretch will be felt in the tighter muscles but, you should ideally feel the stretch in the vertical muscles on either side of the spine. Confused about stretches? No problem! Check out the library of stretches in our 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer.

Now, stretch your hamstrings. From the floor lift one leg and hold the foot with both hands. Try to straighten your knee so that you feel a stretch on the back of your thigh and across the back of your knee. Hold that stretch until you feel the muscle release – switch legs and repeat.

When stretching, be sure to avoid a stretch where you are standing and you reach with your hands to the floor with straight knees. This bent-over stretch is not good for your lower back.

Next, concentrate on core muscles – those muscles that surround your torso – and not just your abdominal muscles. The “core” supports your spine and when functioning properly, will help protect you from back pain. The sit-up is now considered one of the worst movements for your lower back. Pelvic tilts, bridges, leg lifts are all movements from the same position – lying flat on your back and will work your core effectively. You can find these core exercises and more at our 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer.

Try the pool – walking in the water is great exercise and the water helps to provide support so that you can move without further harm to your back. Swimming might be even better exercise for people with back pain.

Skip the treadmill – jarring movements should be avoided. Jogging, especially on hard surfaces can aggravate lower back pain. The twisting motion of an elliptical trainer is also a bad idea. Likewise, it’s wise to skip contact sports like soccer and volleyball. And, do I even need to say “stay off the trampoline”?

Round off your routine with an experienced yoga or Pilates practitioner. Go to class early and speak with the instructor about your pain. The instructor will be able to suggest modifications and emphasize correct movements for you during class.

So, when pain strikes, don’t just sit down and wait for it to go away – you can speed your recovery with stretching and exercises. Be sure to listen to your body and if the condition worsens, you should seek medical attention. Be sure your doctor knows what you plan to do and enjoy moving to being pain-free because you’re 50plusPlusFit.

Injury Prevention for Runners

injury prevention for senior runnersby Lisa B. Minn

Running can be an ideal way to exercise, especially since all it requires is a good pair of shoes and an open road, trail or treadmill. The benefits of running for those 50 plus include a slowing down or even reversal of the normal changes of aging. Without regular exercise such as running, aerobic and anaerobic capacity will diminish, body composition will shift to more fat and less muscle and bone density declines. Running can ameliorate all of those changes. On the flip side, older runners do require more recovery time in between runs and injuries will take longer to heal.

Luckily there are several common sense strategies one can use to prevent injuries.

Always wear good, supportive shoes. As we age, we lose shock-absorbing fat in our heels, the joints in the feet can spread out and the arches can become flatter. Consult a specialist to determine the best type of shoe for your particular foot and whether or not you need additional inserts or arch supports. Shoes should be replaced after running 300 - 500 miles or every 6 months.

Training regimens should progress slowly. It is estimated that more than half of all running related injuries are due to training too hard and fast. Running more than 40 miles per week is associated with a higher incidence of injury. Only increase mileage by 10% or less each week. Be prudent with adding increased intensity, in the form of speed drills and/or hill running, to your training program and keep a journal of your progress like in an online fitness tracking system.

Speaking of hill running, older runners should be extra vigilant about stretching the Achilles tendons and getting an adequate warm-up before climbing steep hills.

New runners or those recovering from an injury would be wise to start with a run/walk program. Start with a brisk walk to warm up. Then jog for 2 -10 minutes, depending on level of conditioning or the sensitivity of the previously injured body part. Walk for 1 minute then do another interval of jogging or running. Continue this pattern for 20-30 minutes the first time out. Increase the duration of intervals and/or total length of workout by no more than 10% per week.

Make sure to schedule cross training and rest days each week. The number one predictor of injury in runners of any age is the presence of a previous injury. Many running injuries require at least 4 weeks of rest to fully recover. Cross training and rest will help to prevent that first injury and adequate rest after a minor injury will help to keep it at bay. Good options for cross training include swimming, water running, cycling, cross-country skiing, hiking and walking.

Do not neglect stretching and strengthening of the legs and torso. Over the years, I have heard many runners say that they only do upper body strengthening because they believe that the act of running is enough strengthening for the legs. But the vast majority of runners who end up in physical therapy have significant weakness of the lateral muscles of the hip, especially the gluteus medius. This weakness contributes to poor gait mechanics and is associated with injuries of the hip, knee and back. Make sure to stretch after every run and do some strengthening exercises 2-3 times per week.

Yoga can be an excellent tool for incorporating several of these prevention strategies. Next time I will share some details on why yoga is good for runners and how it can help to prevent injuries.

For more expert fitness advice on yoga and fitness in general, visit Lisa at her websites  The Pragmatic Yogi or Lisa B Minn.

Losing Weight and the Mature Individual

By Ron the Trainer and Bob

Is weight gain that is resistant to loss inevitable with growing older?  Experts everywhere agree “NO” and we are here to help you break the chain of frustration.

Bob’s Experience

At a recent party I saw some friends and met some new ones - all of them were over 50 or seniors. And while there the normal topic of “what do you do” came up. After I mentioned 50plusPlusFit and being a personal trainer, an age old myth was mentioned – that as you age it becomes more difficult to lose weight, claiming reduced metabolism. Well I did my best to dispel that myth.

You see it really isn’t a naturally reduced metabolism that occurs as we age. No, it is generally an un-naturally occurring increasing inactivity by most. Your metabolism does naturally decrease if you don’t move, and unfortunately because of life’s other responsibilities and interruptions, we neglect being physically active. Most of us were way more active as kids and adolescents, but we slowly let lack of activity creep into our normal routine. Want more proof? Sadly today’s youth is nowhere near as active as we were 40 years ago, and of course now America has a childhood obesity epidemic. It is lack of activity folks!

And of course to lose weight, the people I was talking with had only tried dieting, not exercise or any activity beyond their normal day-to-day.

Basically I told this group that they can indeed lose unwanted pounds by combining a healthy, balanced diet with a regular exercise regimen. Many questions arose about how much exercise and how many calories to cut, etc. and I handled those as best I could at a party, but I also directed them to the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer, because they can find all those answers and helpful tools like online diet tracking and a daily calorie calculator to determine just how many calories you need or should cut to drop the weight.

I know that Ron has had more experience with clients’ weight loss, so let’s turn it over to him.

Ron’s Expertise

Just about the time I think I’ve put this topic to rest, it comes back! Today, I began working with a 60 year-old woman who has been working for 18 months to lose about 20 pounds with no success. We discussed her meal planning, quantities, alcohol intake and her workout routine. There were a few holes in her plan.

You see, she once had a young inexperienced trainer who told her to walk the treadmill at 3.5 miles per hour for 1 hour, 3 days per week. He also prescribed a patent list of about 10 exercises for her to do each of the 3 days she was in the club for the treadmill. And she faithfully followed these instructions for 18 months - with no weight loss.

Today’s session was centered on shaking up the types of cardio, monitoring heart rate and increasing from 22 minutes to 35-45 minutes per cardio workout. So, we stepped onto elliptical trainers, I asked her to maintain 80 strides per minute. After 3 minutes she was too exhausted to continue. You see, her body had become very complacent with regard to the treadmill – but the elliptical was something very new for her.

Going forward, her goal is to work with the elliptical, stair stepper and rower until she’s able to do each for 35-45 minutes. She will begin with 3-5 minutes on each, as she can tolerate and finish out the cardio with the treadmill. Next session, I will introduce a functional core, full-body workout using body weight and free weight – no machines.  

The point is, as we’ve said many times before, keep your workouts fresh. Challenge yourself! If your workout doesn’t really leave you more than a little challenged, your body won’t show the changes you’re hoping for. Even after 50 or more senior, many of us will find that we could do more – if we try.

So, if you’re doing chest presses, add a couple of pounds or additional reps. Or, make it a “push-up” day! Are you fresh out of ideas? Check out our Online Personal Trainer for workouts, meal plans and a place to track your progress! Keep challenging yourself – you can do it because you’re 50plusPlusFit!

The Order of Muscle Command

by Laurie Neri

In all my years as a fitness professional, the most common complaint brought to me from clients is "my hamstrings and lower back are always tight."   I wish I could tell you that stretching on its own would correct this problem, but that is just a small fraction of the imbalance.

Tight hamstrings (back of the thighs) and lower back are caused by the Transverse Abdominus (TA) and the glutes not firing properly.  If this chain of command is not in order, then your hamstrings and lower back are doing a job they were not hired to perform!!!

When our bodies begin to move, the TA SHOULD BE the first muscle to fire. Usually injuries, and/or poor habits which cause improper movement patterns prevent this from happening.

Proper muscle firing using TA and glutes will stabilize the pelvis. With pelvic stabilization, your torso and legs can have a proper transfer of energy (muscle balance) to support efficient muscular engagement so your back, hamstrings and joints don’t have to over-work to support movement.

Your core is your foundation of strength.  The TA and multifidus are engaged through neutral spine only. Neutral spine does not utilize the overworked Rectus Abdominus which is a superficial muscle providing no pelvic stabilization whatsoever.

So, maintaining neutral spine is essential to correct posture and body movement. Without these, your back and hamstrings will be overworked and discomfort will persist.

Next in command are the glutes: big muscle, big job but over-active hip flexor muscles may cause the glutes to fail to fire. Hip flexor muscles are at the top of the thigh and are responsible for the movement of lifting your leg at the hip. Sitting, driving, poor training or overtraining on a bike will all force these muscles to work instead of the glutes.  Tight hip flexor muscles can also cause an excessive lumbar curve which will keep the glutes and core muscles from activating. And, of course, an excessive lumbar curve can contribute to lower back pain. Are you starting to see the pattern of pain? 

When hiring a personal trainer, be sure you are working with someone who is qualified in recognizing these imbalances, and knows how to retrain neural patterns, with the proper exercises, and myofascial muscle stretching work utilizing the foam roller. And of utmost importance, your trainer should train you in body movement, not just body parts. If a one-on-one personal trainer is not a practical option for you, the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer offers a library of exercises and stretching that can help you correct these muscle imbalances.

Take control of your muscle order.

For more information contact Laurie at Synchronized Kneads

Seniors Strength Training

Weights & Machines

Weights & Machines for 50 plus fitnessWeights and machines are the most popular workout tools for strength training, and for good reason.

Circuit Training

Circuit Training exercise for over 50A workout method moving from one muscle group to the next offers proven effectiveness for those over 50.

Core Strength

Core Strength training for senior fitnessThe core is much like the foundation of your body - if it's strong, your body functions well. If not...

Balance & Flexibility

Balance & Flexibility exercise for fifty plusThe #1 physical fitness issue people face as they age is lack of balance and flexibility, but it doesn't have to be.

Kettle Bells

Kettle Bells workout for fitness over 50Kettle Bells have recently hit the fitness industry with renewed popularity and the promise of an awesome workout!

No Equipment

Fitness above 50 Using No EquipmentNo equipment presents no problem! There's so much you can do with your body weight and household items.

Resistance Bands

Resistance Bands workout for senior fitnessAt home or at the gym, resistance bands are convenient, relatively cheap and, most importantly, effective!

Water Exercises

Water Exercises for 50 plus fitnessGot a knee, hip or back issue, but want to get and stay fit? You need to jump in the pool and make a splash!

Exercise Guides

Exercise Guides for senior strength trainingYour best basic exercises for 50 plus! Exercise examples for your core and overall strength, plus stretching.

Strength Overview

Strength Training Workout for seniors OverviewThere's no big secret to resistance training and the benefits are so many for those of us who are 50 plus.

By Ron the Trainer

Resistance training, even weight lifting for seniors? But of course! The functional benefits are numerous and they are the very same as for those of us who've just turned 50. And with a little work there is no reason why a senior can’t still be 50plusPlusFit! Functional training benefits include:

  • Muscle Strength
  • Core Strength
  • Balance and Flexibility, and
  • Functional Ability.

And, even more so for seniors in their 70s, 80s and beyond, strength training is critical. As we age, we naturally lose muscle – as much as 30% loss between age 40 and 60. By age 60 we might only possess 60% of the muscle that we had at age 30. But you can reverse that trend, you really can. Want some proof? Then check out this study from Mature Fitness on senior strength training and you’ll see remarkable proof.

So, strength training exercise is just what the doctor ordered to obtain and maintain functional health – that type of health that helps you live a fuller, more independent senior lifestyle.

Exercising major muscle groups and constantly challenging your balance is essential – especially as we age. You can use light weights, bands or even household items at home or virtually anywhere performing multiple repetitions to develop and maintain good muscle strength. Regular strength training is essential to functional fitness; you will want to get in 2-3 strength workouts per week to develop and maintain a stronger, more capable body.

For seniors who may be unaccustomed to exercise and who may be apprehensive about their balance, beginning can be just as effective using exercises while seated.  Various exercises can be completed using lighter weights while seated in a chair. Check out your local PBS channel for a series called “Sit and be Fit” that was created in 1987 by Mary Ann Wilson, a registered nurse.

Or, if you don’t have a balance issue, good, so head to the gym and utilize the equipment located there. Make sure you’re fully checked out on the equipment and always use it safely. There’s nothing worse than believing you’re doing something good for yourself only to end up injured! Ask for demonstrations of exercise equipment before using. Also check out our 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer, it's chock full of video demonstrations all done by personal trainers over 50, with specific senior workouts and workout videos to lose weight and gain muscle strength.

And, while in the gym, check out the group fitness classes – many can be easily adopted into your workout program. There are also senior fitness classes available at gyms, YMCAs and community centers, including some of the seated variety.

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!

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.

A Look at Suspension Training Systems

suspension exercise for seniorsBy 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.

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 50plusPlusFit  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 50plusPlusFit!

Any Distance Is Worth Running

senior runningby Debbie Voiles

Four miles? Five? Great, if you’ve worked up to that distance gradually and wisely, but what about two miles or even one? Is that even worth leaving the house? The answer is a resounding “Yes, absolutely!”

As a running coach, I organize a large group run each weekend. The average participant age is about 42, but fully one third is over 50. Everyone falls in with other people going their speed, and we have a great time.

It’s not uncommon for some of the 50+ runners to out run or out last much younger runners, and that’s fine; in fact, it’s great because it shows younger runners what life over 50 can be, but hopefully, we also set an example that we are reasonable and sensible in our training. Those fast and very fit 50+ runners have reached that level by investing in years of training, not weeks or even months.

Whatever the age, but especially for senior runners, my concern is to make sure everyone runs at a conversational pace. That’s what we call the ‘talk test.’ If you can hold a comfortable conversation, then that is a reasonable pace for you.

That old adage “No pain, no gain” has no place here. Each week, before we begin I make this same announcement: “Go as fast as you want, as far as you want, and turn around when you want.”

Those are probably the most important words I utter all morning.  I never want a slower runner to feel compelled to keep up with faster runners. They got out of bed and they’re exercising; that’s great. Some experienced runners may do many miles, but it’s not a good idea for newer runners or less fit runners to push themselves to do too much too soon or to exceed the speed or distance their training has prepared them to run. That’s where the talk test comes in. It’s a good tool for every runner to judge how hard they are working.

It never fails that after the run, someone will say to me, “I only did 3 miles” or “I just did two.” My response is always the same, “I don’t have many rules, but I do have one: Never use the words ‘only’ or ‘just’ in the same sentence with the number of miles you did. While you were running, 99 percent of the population was still sleeping or sitting on the couch.”

With enough time and proper training 50+ runners can run any distance, but the greatest benefit of our age may be the wisdom to realize that we need to be extra careful to increase mileage at a safe and gradual rate, and to listen to our bodies. If that means keeping the intensity lower by doing a walk/run, there is nothing wrong with that.

Of course, people say, “But I walked some of it.” I point out that walking is great exercise, too, and interspersing walking with running is a great way to keep the intensity lower, making it safe to exercise longer. And it's a good idea to record what you've accomplished, like in an online fitness tracking program. For example the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer has walking and running programs that allow you to record distance, time or steps along with workout out and eating plans to maximize your plan.

Slow but steady really does win the race, and that includes the race to fitness. Consistency is king. Try to find a group to join at least once a week. That will help you stay motivated. Then try to get out there most days. Add a little distance each week, or even every other week, and you’ll increase your fitness while avoiding injury. With time, you’ll discover that as you build endurance, you’ll also be going faster while still passing the talk test, a clear indication of improved fitness.

For more expert advise on your running journey visit Debbie at MojoForRunning.

Cardiovascular Stationary Equipment

Cycling

Cycling Exercises for SeniorsEven after 50 getting back on a bike is just lie, well "getting back on a bike;" you never really forget.

Swimming

Swimming for 50 plus peopleYou know what they say after 50, right? Stroke baby, stroke... swimming strokes that is!

Walk/Jog/Run

Walk, Jog, Run Exercises for SeniorsWith just a good pair of running or walking shoes you can get real cardio benefits for life.

 

For Our Seniors

Fitness for SeniorsNo matter how senior you are, you need stamina and a healthy heart... pretty basic stuff here.

Cardiovascular Overview

Cardiovascular Workouts for Fifty Plus OverviewAfter 50, you should give your heart a "good beating" every day... or at least a good workout!

senior man on elliptical machineby Ron the Trainer
Many people over 50 prefer their cardiovascular workout on equipment either at home or in the gym. A good, safe and effective 50 plus fitness workout can be obtained on a treadmill or other piece of cardio equipment. Let’s look at the different types and compare/contrast. Remember though, regardless of which equipment you choose, monitor your heart rate for best results.

Safety Note! Just like with any physical exercise, be sure to use good form including keeping your back stationary, and in the case of bikes, adjust the seat at an appropriate height to protect your knees and ankles. If you don’t know how to set the equipment, get assistance from gym personnel. If you’re working with home gym equipment, ask for help is setting up when you purchase the item. You can also watch demonstration videos in our Online Personal Trainer complete with printable written instructions.

Treadmill
The treadmill is probably the most popular cardio equipment because the movement is familiar – walking. You turn on the treadmill and as the belt starts moving, you simply begin walking (or running depending on what speed you’ve chosen). Many treadmills also have an incline setting to emulate walking uphill. Bob has actually spoken about watching a football game on his treadmill – and at the gym, we often see people watching most, if not all, of a game on Sundays while on a treadmill.

Elliptical Trainer
The elliptical trainer feels odd at first to most people but, has some advantages over a treadmill in that you never pick up your feet, you merely move them back and forth – sort of like the cross-country ski machines that were popular a couple of decades ago. Improvements from the cross-country ski machine make the elliptical the trainer’s choice. Most ellipticals can help you target specific leg muscle groups (e.g., quads, calves, hamstrings, glutes) and provide resistance settings as well as incline settings (sometimes called cross-ramp settings) so that you can better control your working heart rate. The elliptical is considered better for those with a knee or ankle issue since there’s no “pounding” effect of picking up your feet and putting them down again.

Stairclimber
A “tried and true” cardio machine is the stairclimber. They’ve been around a long time and continue to be very popular. The stairclimber can deliver a very aggressive workout and therefore, is a good option for cross-training. There is, however, an injury potential to the knees and ankles if proper form isn’t followed.

Stationary Bikes

Another “tried and true” favorite is the stationary bike. Many people still prefer the bike over any other type of cardio equipment. It’s also a familiar movement, just sit down and begin pedaling.

Recumbent Bikes
A slight twist on the stationary bike is the recumbent bike, considered to be the safest of all cardio equipment. With a recumbent bike, you sit in a seat that almost resembles an office chair, and your feet are out in front of you – not under. So, you can’t support your body weight with your feet but, you’re still getting a good cardio workout (assuming you’re working hard enough).

The Rowing Machine - Bob's Favorite
I would be remiss to not mention the rowing machine – another device that’s survived the test of time. With a rowing machine, you sit on a sliding platform, and pull back on a cable to emulate rowing a boat. Your arms, legs, chest and back are all involved in this movement which provides a true overall workout. Many people love to use the rower as a warm-up for their resistance workout or, or to cool down after a hard run on the treadmill. Either way, it’s a great piece of equipment.

To summarize:

Type of Cardio Benefits Drawbacks
Treadmills Familiar movement. Tedious
Elliptical Trainer Better on the joints, popular in the gyms. Feels unusual at first, can be tedious.
Stairclimbers Very effective, involves core work. Boredom can lead to tripping. Can be tedious.
Stationary (Upright) Bikes Very familiar moves. Tedious.
Recumbent Bikes Very good with ankle, knee or back issues. Tedious, not as aggressive of a workout as other forms of cardio.
Rowing Machines Full-body involved. Not good with back issues.

As you can see, there are several different cardio devices available – and the best advice of all is to keep changing what you use. Your body will quickly adapt to what you do often, you might get bored, and the benefits won’t be as great. But, if you change it up, and change often, your body and mind will respond by giving you better cardiovascular endurance and maybe you’ll drop some of those extra pounds – if that’s a goal for you. Lastly, for optimal results, try to get in a cardio workout 4-6 days per week, 30-60 minutes per day. And you can try a longer cardio workout program for weight loss it that is your goal.

So just choose something and get started today – for the quality of your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle!

Back to Cardiovascular

6 Tips to Boost Your Cardio Exercise Experience

Because we are 50 plus we need to pay particular attention to are cardio health, but also a good cardio workout can help us maintain our weight and body fat levels. Ya know that extra fat around the middle is the worst kind, right? And spot reducing is a myth, so to lose the middle you have to lose fat all over, and you can best do so as you build your cardio strength and endurance.

But cardio exercise can be arduous, time consuming and boring to some. Well, here are 6 tips to make your cardio exercise more productive, allowing you to get more out of less time and keep it interesting.

Tip 1 - Intervals

Regardless of what type of cardio you prefer, walking, running, elliptical machine, rower, bike, or whatever, adding an interval routine to your session will boost both your cardio system and your fat burn. In fact, interval training routines  are great work out programs for weight loss. Follow these steps:

Warm up with a brisk pace outside or on any of your favorite machines for 5 minutes, and then step up the pace. If on one of the machines below, use the speed control to pick up the pace and control your intervals.

Here’s a typical interval routine. Start by walking at a brisk pace for 2 minutes, then jog at a comfortable pace for up to 1 minute, then drop back to your brisk walking pace. Do this 6-9 times. The result will be a boost in your heart rate that will burn more calories and body fat, and do so in a shorter period of time. 

If your machine has a heart rate monitor, or you wear one while exercising, all the better for getting an accurate measure of your effort. The simplest way to determine your target heart rate is the straight percentage method:  subtract your age from 220, and then multiply by your desired heart rate training zone. The 3 training zone multipliers are:

  • Zone 1: .65 - .75, for building a good aerobic base,
  • Zone 2: .76 - .85, for aerobic and anaerobic endurance, and
  • Zone 3: .86 - .95, for building higher work capacity.

So if I want to exercise in Zone 2, and I’m 63, my target training heart rate is: 220-63 x .80 = 125.6. And for that interval routine explained above, hit Zone 1 for the longer period and Zone 2 for the shorter, more intense boost. Research has indicated that this back-and-forth intensity is even better for strengthening your cardio health.

For most of us over 50, zones 1 or 2 is where we want to be, whether doing intervals or not, just remember to start slowly if you’ve been away from exercise for a while.

Now that we’ve established the interval as a solid cardio exercise booster, let’s look at some specific cardio equipment.

Tip 2 – Raise That Treadmill

Not too many walking, running or biking trails are absolutely flat, so why should your treadmill be flat? Increase the treadmill incline to just 1 to 2 percent. That little bit of incline will increase your intensity of your workout without putting too much additional strain on your leg muscles, but it will get your heart pumping and burn more fat in less time. The higher the incline the more intensity.

Tip 3 – Don’t Sit Out Your Bike Ride

When you get to a higher speed or intensity, by upping the resistance, get off your butt! Particularly if you’re doing the recommended intervals covered earlier, stand up like you’re climbing that outdoor hill on a mountain bike. You'll have to bring your core and upper body into the action, resulting in more of a total-body cardio workout.

Tip 4 – Don’t Baby the Elliptical

Don’t let momentum do the work instead of using their legs to move you. Pump up the resistance to a high enough level to feel like you're actually using a pushing effort on the downward/forward move. The elliptical may be classified as “low impact,” but you’ll get greater impact out of your workout if you boost the resistance for greater intensity.

Tip 5 - Row with Your Legs

Use your biggest muscles, your legs, to start the movement and then pull the handle back toward your chest in the reverse move. Remember to keep your back and core totally engaged and keep your legs flat until you get the rower handle past your knees.

Tip 6 – Mix It Up

As with resistance or strength training, you can get bored doing the same old thing, and so will your muscles. You may have a favorite form of cardio exercise, but try something new on occasion. If you like the stationary bike, try the rower or treadmill instead one or two days during the week. Or try a half-and-half; half your allotted time on your favorite and half on something new for a more interesting and challenging cardio variety pack. And if you're new to a particular type of cardio, the 50plusPLusFit Online Personal Trainer has instructions and how-to-videos to help get you going.

To summarize, regardless of your favorite form of cardio exercise, remember to:

  • Increase the intensity at a pace that you can handle, one workout at a time,
  • Always practice good form,
  • Add intervals to any favorite exercise, and
  • Mix it up.

Try all of these tips at different times for your 50 plus fitness and weight loss. You’ll have a stronger heart and lungs and a leaner body to boot.

Corrective Exercises

Corrective Exercises For Over 50s and Seniorsby Ron the Trainer
For a more active over 50 quality of lifestyle, corrective exercises can help you be more active and functional. Human movement such as walking, sitting, standing facilitates not only daily activities but sports and entertainment as well. Of course, we at 50plusPlusFit hope that you enjoy moving for exercise and improvement of your health and well being.

But, after an injury or surgery, we often find our abilities to be limited. With corrective exercises administered by a professional (physical therapist and personal trainer during post-physical therapy) we have a greater chance of improving functionality to  normal.

When recovering from an injury or surgery, we are so fortunate in the U.S. to have access to talented Physical Therapists who are so highly educated that in some foreign countries, they actually qualify for the title of Physician. And, physical therapy definitely improves your chances of recovering quickly.

But, physical therapy lasts only so long - often due to insurance limitations. Often post-therapy, the patient often doesn’t feel fully recovered and has difficulty with the last portion of the restoration of normal function. This is where a trainer certified in Corrective Exercise can make all the difference.

Additionally, for many of us over 50 and especially for seniors, the decision to workout or the attempt to get started exercising is not without some special considerations. Over the years, we may have been injured or are suffering from a long-standing joint issue such as a knee, hip, shoulder; possibly our backs aren’t strong and pain-free. Finding a trainer to assist in dealing with these issues is ideal. If you have some special condition, you cannot safely jump in and take on working out without some consideration to your specific concerns.

If you do jump in and attempt to workout while ignoring your specific concerns, you may aggravate the situation and end up with more pain and possibly medical expenses. We’re getting active to get better – not worse! For example, you may suffer a muscle injury and be told to take a few weeks off to let it heal. O.K., Mr./Ms. Type-A, ignore that advice and keep going. Then, you may find yourself out of the game for several months, facing additional expense paying for physical therapy, lots of pain, and more time away from activities you enjoy. All because you jumped in with both feet – full steam ahead! The message here is to listen to your body. Sorry, the United States Marine Corps’ catch phrase “Pain is weakness leaving the body” doesn’t work for those with a real injury.

Customizing your workout to address specific recovery needs will help you to more quickly return to full function. This training includes stretching exercises to address the affected areas in addition to a good overall workout. But, more specifically, your corrective exercise practitioner will focus on imbalances of opposing muscle groups (e.g., biceps vs. triceps). In this way, addressing these specific needs, you’ll be more fully functional, more quickly.

Once you have worked with a trainer who can show you how to workout in spite of your injury-related or pre-existing conditions and explain what you need to do, you’ll be able to maneuver the gym like a pro and be confident that you’re truly helping yourself! And, over time, you could find yourself fully-functional and find it unnecessary to work around the now “former” issues.

Another application to corrective exercise is to help you move more efficiently. For example, if you are a runner or wish to take up running or jogging, a corrective exercise specialist can evaluate your running form and technique to identify muscles that need particular attention in stretching and/or strengthening.

Once you have worked toward correcting these issues, you could find yourself able to run faster and farther than before. All based on scientific analysis and approach, you could now have a more enjoyable run than ever!

So, don’t believe that you’ll have to settle with partial recovery or that you’re “slowing down in your later years” when Corrective Exercises are available. And, don’t think you have to push through pain and keep yourself injured just to get in a workout. If you’re in a post-physical therapy situation or have some pre-existing issue to address, use Corrective Exercise for the quality of your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle.

Not Being Fit… Not An Option!

If you’re out there considering whether you want to start exercising, and maybe start watching what you eat, let us help you out here. The answer is yes you do.  If you’re at this point then you’re at the stage that our personal trainers, Ron and Jeannie call pre-consideration. So let’s try to move you a notch or two closer, at least to the full consideration stage.

One of the things that may be holding you back is some expected, even natural apprehension. This apprehension on your part is usually based on two key unknowns or concerns. Number One:  you might be wondering why it’s such a big deal, and Number Two: you’re probably thinking that you really can’t do it now that you’re over 50. Let’s take these one at a time.

Number One - It Is A Big Deal, Now More Than Ever!

This fitness thing is a big deal and especially since you’ve joined our 50 plus crowd. It is it really, really important to get fit now, really? Is it critical? If you don’t get fit, is it dire? Well the answer to these questions could be yes, or the answers could be no. That all depends on you, what you think you need, and what you really want. So let’s consider some possibilities of what you might need:

  • Do you need to lose weight? Be honest. Obviously you’re not alone as most of us need to drop at least some or maybe many pounds.
  • Or do you simply lack energy, and would you like to have more?
  • Are you hypertensive and would you like to better control this condition?
  • Or are you just always on edge or stressed out from work, family demands or just life?
  • Do you have high cholesterol and would you like to lower it to a more normal level?
  • Are you worried that you’ll develop osteoporosis, or do you already suffer some symptoms?
  • Do you find it increasingly difficult to work in the garden or do those household chores?
  • Are you diabetic or have you been told that you’re pre-diabetic?
  • Is your back always achy or worse yet do you have chronic lower back pain?
  • Have you been told that you have a heart condition or even coronary heart disease?
  • Are you just not as agile as you were ten years ago and would you like to be?
  • Do you have arthritis, or beginning to get the symptoms?
  • Do you always take the elevator because you get winded when you walk up the stairs?
  • And here’s the Big One, the bottom line that makes fitness a Big Deal: do you want to enjoy life more, get more out of life and have a real Quality of LifeStyle?

If you answered yes to any one or more of the above, then being fit is a Big Deal, especially for you!

It has been proven time and again that getting fit and staying fit can have a significant positive impact on all of the above. Regular exercise and a good, healthful diet may not totally eliminate your particular malady, but the data from many health and medical studies have proven that being fit can at minimum help reduce the severity or relieve the symptoms. Ergo you have a better quality of life and the promise of a better Quality of LifeStyle!

Even if you are just starting out on an exercise and diet regimen, the changes and improvements you’ll realize can be nothing short of amazing. Just read our Strength Training article and you’ll find an encouraging study on resistance training with octogenarians. Yes, you read that right, people in their 80s... in a nursing home! These folks began a light resistance program and experienced remarkable progress. It turns out that exercise really can improve your overall health, your particular conditions and your lifestyle.

Number Two: You’re Over 50 and Yes, You Can Do It Now!

Did you read the last paragraph, or were you nodding off? Sorry, we get pumped up when we take on this topic. At 50plusPlusFit we’ve all hit or passed the BIG 5-0, but it really doesn’t matter to us. We all have our personal fitness success stories. We don’t care that we’re over 50 and don’t believe we need to slow down one bit. In fact we always want to pick up the pace, get the blood flowing and enjoy life. Just read our article Strength Training and read that featured study and you should have all the evidence you need. Then read our Cardiovascular feature article and then the Exercise Guides, etc., etc. We’ve got all the info and tools you’ll need. We even have an Online Personal Trainer available to guide you through with workout plan for losing weight and gaining muscle.

So whether you’re 52 or 61, or even if you consider yourself a senior, what are you waiting for? Get fit, get 50plusPlusFit and enjoy life to its fullest!

Mind and Body

Pilates

Pilates for fitness over 50Pilates - what is it and what does it do? And is it a good form of exercise for over 50?

Tai Chi

Tai Chi for senior fitnessA form of slow, flowing movements which provide stretching, strengthening and yes, even a good sweat.

Yoga

Yoga for senior fitnessYoga will keep you trim, fit and give you exceptional functionality, core strength and balance. Yoga means "union."

For Seniors

Mind and Body Workouts for SeniorsYes It Is Good for Your Mind Too! Pilates, Tai Chi and Yoga are perfect exercises for the senior.

by Ron the Trainer
Being truly fit after 50, your workout routine should incorporate some form of mind-body exercises such as yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi. Why, you ask? There are several reasons – but they are a great option for promoting your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle. While very different, yoga and Pilates are both a “mind & body” exercise practice. In fact, to the untrained eye, they can look very much the same.

There are many particular studies in yoga. Over the thousands of years, the practice has simultaneously gone slightly but distinctively in several different directions. One form of yoga, Bikram or “hot yoga” is conducted in a very warm (105 degrees) room – offering additional “lengthening” and stretching benefits. It’s commonly accepted that a warm muscle will stretch or move, farther or longer, than a cold muscle.

What is common in all is that each pose, depending on the yoga method or study, is held for 30 seconds to several minutes. Holding a muscle in a fixed position is considered an isometric exercise which is very effective in stretching and strengthening muscles. In addition, most yoga poses require extensive use of the core. A strong core helps in many ways including addressing lower back issues and balance.

Pilates was developed in the early 1900’s in New York City by Joseph Pilates. His focus was on the core – before the term “core” became a common fitness industry term. Mr. Pilates developed about 80 exercises which address multiple muscle groups simultaneously and almost all of them address core strength. Pilates movements are typically held only a few seconds; some utilize slow, fluid movements.

Tai Chi is an ancient form of exercise that is mostly performed in a standing position. The basic stance for Tai Chi is the “horse” position, feet under the hips, knees bent, hips flat and level. From there, rhythmatic arm and foot/leg movements dictate the workout. Slow, repetitive movements will leave you feeling like you’ve put in a great workout!

Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates each can be done in the privacy of your home with instruction materials such as the videos found in our Online Personal Trainer. Group classes can also be found both at most gyms and, at private studios specifically for these types of classes. Costs vary greatly – and if budget is a consideration, very good quality classes can be found at your local gym – typically at no additional charge over and above your monthly membership dues. Some community centers also offer classes.

Mind and Body workouts are often used by many athletes (amateur and professional) as a form of cross-training. Athletes and body builders often have very tight or sore muscles. The lengthening and stretching performed in mind and body workouts will help to alleviate these and other problems. So, if it works for them, imagine what benefits the over 50 or even senior can receive from yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates! For the quality of your lifestyle, hit the floor and get started today to promote balance, flexibility - you're 50plusPlusFit.

 

 

 

Tai Chi

Pilates

Pilates for 50 plus fitnessPilates - what is it and what does it do? And is it a good form of exercise for over 50?

Yoga

Yoga for senior fitnessYoga will keep you trim, fit and give you exceptional functionality, core strength and balance. Yoga means "union."

For Our Seniors

Mind and Body Fitness for SeniorsYes It Is Good for Your Mind Too! Pilates, Tai Chi and Yoga are perfect exercises for the senior.

Mind & Body Overview

Mind & Body Exercise for Seniors OverviewYour workout routine should incorporate some form of mind-body exercise. Why, you ask?

by Ron the Trainer
You've likely all heard of yoga, but another ancient form of exercise that is terrific for the over 50 crowd is Tai Chi. The exercise is in the form of slow, flowing movements which provide stretching, strengthening and, from personal experience, can really work up a good sweat! The health benefits according to the Mayo Clinic are plentiful and may include losing weight, gainng muscle, mental well-being and stress relief. And, of course, if stress is reduced, you can potentially lower blood pressure which reduces the risk for heart disease/stroke. And for the body part Tai Chi is a great workout program for weight loss too.

Tai Chi in its purest state, is practiced early in the morning or at sunset in an outdoor setting, either individually or in a group setting. Well experienced practitioners will often set aside a part of their day and devote time to Tai Chi. If in an outdoor setting, obvious mental benefits include being in nature, hearing only sounds of birds singing, etc. which can definitely be a departure from a modern lifestyle.

Some health clubs also offer Tai Chi in a group setting. Similar to yoga, participants will be bare-foot, wearing loose fitting, comfortable clothing. Unlike yoga, there is no need for a “sticky mat” in Tai Chi as most moves are performed in a standing position.

During a typical Tai Chi class held in a group setting, expect to find a subdued-lit room, and soft, almost spiritual music. The instructor will start with beginning poses and possibly an introduction to what will follow.

Moves flow one into the next without stopping or holding (such as yoga) and incorporate large, flowing gestures arms and big leg movements in a very graceful, yet deliberate pattern. There is a reason for the design of the movements in Tai Chi – and many believe it to be both physically and mentally healing. Yet all muscle groups; shoulders, back, biceps, triceps, core (abdominal and lower back), chest and leg muscles are stretched and exercised in Tai Chi.

If there is any question that Tai Chi isn’t really working out, one must experience it first-hand. As a Tai Chi practitioner, I find my muscles very taxed at the end of a class, and I am very warm, much as if I had performed “traditional” lifting. A skilled and talented Tai Chi instructor can utilize the participants’ own body weight to obtain optimum results.
Most poses or exercises in Tai Chi can be performed regardless of skill level, unlike yoga where excellent balance and core strength are often taxed to their limits. Tai Chi is self-paced and can be done by virtually anyone, especially in an individual setting. That being said, you should have a conversation with your physician prior to beginning any exercise program especially if you have skeletal issues, are pregnant or have other conditions that could be aggravated by changes in your exercise activity or intensity.

As mentioned above, it is thought that there is emotional support gained from Tai Chi. As Tai Chi is an ancient Asian practice, the “mind” portion of “mind and body” cannot be excluded. Some people find almost a meditative quality to Tai Chi.

Mind and Body in one workout – what do you have to lose? Find a class and get started today. Your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle is waiting for the next level!

Working at Exercise and Exercising at Work

We all have to work at maintaining and improving our fitness and health. We all know that, especially after 50, but time can be an issue, oh yes it can. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week, and adding in some resistance training at least 2 days per week is also recommended to maintain or even lose weight and gain muscle. But do we? The answer for most of us is “sometimes.”

Unfortunately for the U.S. adult population, most don’t get in the recommended amount of exercise, and a full 25% get none at all. Sad but true. And from a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control the reason most often given is lack of time.

For so many of us finding time to exercise before or after work is difficult to fit into and around all of life’s other commitments, family, chores, etc. But hey, why not workout while at work? There is even a benefit for your co-workers and employer, you’ll be more productive! Several recent studies conclude that people are considerably more productive at work when they exercise during the day.

How to do that, you ask? Well, just try these ideas and watch your workload easier to lift!

Stand Up and Be Counted!

Sitting on our duffs all day is a pain, literally. Clinical studies have even indicated that sitting for long periods negatively impacts your overall health. Those of us that travel have heard for years that we should get up and walk a bit during long flights; the same holds true for work.  Get up and move around least a couple of times an hour. Do it especially when you're on the phone, or even when reading something. And please do walk around when taking a break. You'll burn some calories and improve your circulation which is good for your ticker.

Skip the Elevator

Instead… skip up the stairs, or walk. Always take the stairs, but also use the stairs as your on-site “Stairmaster” machine. You’ll also work different muscles in your legs, gluteus maximus and torso from climbing and descending. Ya know, what goes up must come down. And take two steps at a time to really get your 50+ heart pumping.

Give Yourself a Break

Again here, research has indicated that taking a break during the day improves productivity at work. So definitely here take 15 minutes to get up and move. Take a brisk walk outside or just around the hallways. Or keep some resistance bands in your desk drawer and impress your co-workers with your knowledge and skill. Or even simpler, just do some bodyweight exercises like pushups, wall squats, leg extensions, or chair dips.

Lunch on Activity

Rather than going to that rib joint with the gang, get your exercise in during the lunch hour. Even if you just go for a brisk walk in the fresh air, your lungs and your attitude will love you for it. And speaking of attitude, nothing builds co-worker camaraderie better than group exercise, so get  a few friends together and make it a group activity, whether it’s for that brisk walk or going to the nearby gym; you’ll all be in a better mood when you return to work.  And you can have a quick, healthy, guilt-free lunch afterward. You’ve earned it!

Follow the Swiss

Rather than a desk chair try a Swiss balance ball. There are even balance ball chairs available… on wheels at that! Sitting on a balance ball will strengthen your core muscles, plus increase your overall posture, stability and balance. They don’t call it a balance ball for nothing. That balance ball chair is really cool; they come with small backs to support your low back as well.

OK, now we’re gonna get a little crazy here…

Walk Your Desk

Yep, there are desks built just for surrounding a treadmill, set just at the correct height to allow you to use your computer, desk drawers, etc. You’ll put the incline low and the set the speed low as well to allow for work function, but you’ll be amazed at how many calories you’ll burn over the course of a day. Oh, you’ll likely have to get your employer to allow this and might have to pop for the cost yourself, but some progressive employers even offer this as an option, recognizing the benefits. It can’t hurt to ask.

But for the more timid, yet still effective approach…

Go for the Desk Bicycle

These things are actually pretty amazing. They are compact enough to fit under your desk, and won’t break the bank either. For about $60 you can get a lightweight compact bicycle, with pedal movement that is natural feeling and that can be adjusted for varying tension. And here’s a little bonus - during a break, you can move it to the top of your desk and work your arms a bit. Genius!

Count on It

Just like any work plan, plan your workouts and work the plan. Put this on your calendar to remind you to stay on point. And record your progress in our Online Personal Trainer. You can even do this from work… shhhh!

The bottom line is that we know we, the 50 plus worker, are the most productive anyway; now we can show them what we’re really made of. 50plusPlusFit and über productive!

Pilates

Tai Chi

Tai Chi for fifty plus fitnessA form of slow, flowing movements which provide stretching, strengthening and yes, even a good sweat.

Yoga

Yoga for senior fitnessYoga will keep you trim, fit and give you exceptional functionality, core strength and balance. Yoga means "union."

For Our Seniors

Mind and Body Workouts For SeniorsYes It Is Good for Your Mind Too! Pilates, Tai Chi and Yoga are perfect exercises for the senior.

Mind & Body Overview

Mind & Body Exercises OverviewYour workout routine should incorporate some form of mind-body exercise. Why, you ask?

by Jeannie the Trainer
Pilates – what is it and what does it do? And is it a good form of exercise for after 50?

Pilates (Pill-ah-teez) has been around since the beginning of the 20th century…..but was a well kept secret for most of the 1900’s partially because of its creator, Joseph Pilates. You see, the creator developed these exercises with a specific target audience and was not interested in “franchising” his theory to the world. His goal was to help dancers and other specific people with pain, muscle imbalances and other physical issues that can be addressed with Pilates.

More recently, Pilates has been recognized as a terrific component of an overall fitness regimen, with particular benefit as lower back and core strength exercise.

Pilates was so ahead of his time in the fitness world, this unique exercise program was not understood or widely accepted until the end of the 20th century. The philosophy and the actual Pilates exercises are much more involved than they at first look, yet Pilates now is loved and practiced by a wide range of people including seniors, people with injuries and diseases like Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis, as well as professional athletes, dancers, football players, golfers, everyday exercisers and fitness newcomers.

Of course, Pilates is a perfect partner as those of us 50 years old and plus move into our active, flexible, balanced, and fun filled 50 plus years.

Pilates exercises can be done in a variety of ways, on the floor or mat, as well on several specific pieces of Pilates apparatus. The most well known of the apparatus are the Reformer, the Cadillac, also called the Trapeze Table, and the Wunda Chair. You can learn more about these options and explore the mind and body benefits of this terrific form of exercise in Pilates Principles.

Pilates is not just for stretching and it is not just for working the core, but fulfills so many needs of the body and mind, that it could easily become a vital part of our fitness program, definitely an integral piece of a well rounded and balanced fitness program. A knowledgeable trainer is always helpful, as is tracking your progress, and we've got both on our Online Personal Trainer.

As we all mature, we are naturally presented with more balance, flexibility, strength and posture challenges. Once we leave our 20s and 30s, we quickly begin losing balance and flexibility due to career, family and other obligations which consume our time that was once spent in sports, exercising or just being more active. However, maintaining a regular Pilates routine will address all of these challenges and enhance and energize your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle.

Yoga

Pilates

Pilates for 50 plus fitnessPilates - what is it and what does it do? And is it a good form of exercise for over 50?

Tai Chi

Tai Chi for fitness above 50A form of slow, flowing movements which provide stretching, strengthening and yes, even a good sweat.

For Our Seniors

Mind and Body Fitness for SeniorsYes It Is Good for Your Mind Too! Pilates, Tai Chi and Yoga are perfect exercises for the senior.

Mind & Body Overview

Mind & Body Exercises for the 50 Plus OverviewYour workout routine should incorporate some form of mind-body exercise. Why, you ask?

by Ron the Trainer
If you are over 50, and aren't we all here, then yoga is for you.

Ever known someone who’s consistently practiced yoga for a period of years? Generally speaking, that person will be very trim, fit and have exceptional functionality, core strength and balance. Why, you ask? There are several reasons – let’s look into yoga, the original “mind and body” workout. While very different from other types of exercises, yoga is often misunderstood and underrated. But it is a terrific choice for over 50 and senior weight loss.

Yoga is an ancient form of exercise with roots in India. Yoga means "union" in Sanskrit - the language of ancient India. This “union” occurs between the mind, body and spirit. There are literally thousands of movements or “poses” used in yoga. Each pose, depending on the yoga method or study (and there are many), is held for 30 seconds to several minutes. Holding a muscle in a fixed position is considered an isometric exercise. Isometric exercises are very effective in stretching and strengthening muscles. In addition, most yoga poses require extensive use of the core. A strong core helps in many ways including lower back issues and balance.

Yoga poses often include the use of multiple muscle groups which increases the value of the workout versus simpler exercises which utilize a single muscle group, such as a bicep curl. Additionally, the muscles become longer and the participant may look leaner. One form of yoga, Bikram or “hot yoga” is conducted in a very warm room (over 100 degrees) – offering additional “lengthening” and stretching benefits. It’s commonly accepted that a warm muscle will stretch/move farther/longer than a cold muscle.

Yoga poses are performed in both a standing position and horizontal either lying on your back or stomach. Participants are typically barefoot and wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. Because of the nature of the poses, a “sticky mat” is incorporated. The mat helps the participant hold positions without slipping and provides some cushioning.

Yoga can be done in the privacy of your home with instruction materials such as the work out videos available in our Online Personal Trainer. Group classes can also be found both at most gyms and even community centers. Private studios exist specifically for these types of classes. Costs vary greatly – and if budget is a consideration, very good quality classes can be found at your local gym – typically at no additional charge over and above your monthly membership dues.

Like other mind and body workouts (pilates, tai chi) yoga is often practiced by athletes (amateur and professional) as a form of cross-training. Athletes and body builders often have very tight or sore muscles. The lengthening and stretching performed in mind and body workouts will help to alleviate these and other problems. So, if it works for them, imagine what benefits those 50 plus or seniors can receive from yoga!

The other portion of the union is the emotional support obtained from yoga or the “mind” portion of “mind and body.” The society we live in can leave even the most stable person stressed and anxious. Taking an hour out of your day to practice yoga in a quiet room with soft music while really stretching and exercising your body is an excellent way to put stress out of your mind – at least for a little while.

So, for the good of your body and your mind, give yoga a try. Hit the floor and get started today in promoting your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle!

Study: More adults Tracking Diet and Fitness

Bob’s Experiencewoman tracing diet and fitness online

Now here’s a study that is a real eye-opener!  From PEW Research -

I’ve never been a forgetful person and, I’m not now at 50 plus. Why should I be? But I’ve always been a note keeper and a file keeper.  And I also have been one who refers back to things to see how I’ve done versus goals and targets set. I guess part of this was growing up in a family business and then entering corporate life. So when I finally got serious about my health, weight and fitness it was a natural for me to track my progress. It turns out that I was way ahead of the cultural curve.

A recent study by the PEW Research Center* discovered that an increasing number of adults are tracking their health in one form or another, in fact a full 70% of adults are tracking. Many are monitoring, tracking or journaling their health stats because they have some chronic condition. But the largest and increasing group is tracking their weight, diet and exercise routine as shown in the chart below. 

But what is not in the chart was another key finding: “Older adults are more likely than younger ones to track their weight, diet, or exercise routine: 71% of those ages 65 and older do so, compared with 61% of 18-29 year-olds, for example.” And we’re as young as 50!

I guess it’s obvious to anyone that if you have a chronic health issue or two, you’d better keep track of your vitals. But what was most encouraging to me was the percent tracking their diet and fitness. Why am I encouraged? Well, because countless studies by the American College of Sports Medicine and others have proven time and again that people do better at losing weight, controlling and maintaining their weight and are more fit overall if they keep a journal to track their progress in some type of journal or tracker. And there are numerous reasons why tracking helps.  I know of some of them and I could go on and on about how well it has worked for me personally, but Ron the Trainer does it professionally, as do all of his clients. I bet his experiences and those of his clients could tell stories, and successful ones at that!

Ron’s Experience

The study and Bob are right. Over the last several years, Americans have become more aware that a healthy lifestyle leads to a better quality of life. A healthy lifestyle includes controlling body fat by making better meal choices and eliminating things like sodas and sweets for a “cleaner” diet.

So, along with that comes the bathroom scale which has become very high-tech compared to the “springs and dials” scales that those of us over 50 grew up with. Today’s scales have digital displays down to the tenth of a pound and many will calculate your body fat percentage – something many of us would rather not know at 5 AM!

But the scales are only the tip of the iceberg – technology has marched forward with gadgets to wear which, with certain assumptions, will pretty accurately estimate your calories burned, steps taken, etc. The real deal is a place where you can enter your calories burned and calories consumed in the same place, and then auto-calculate your net calories for the day.  And we have a great one right here, our Personal 50plusPlusFit Online Trainer.

My personal journey includes a time when I was temporarily disabled but, ate like I wasn’t. The result?    It doesn’t take a genius to suspect that I gained weight – and boy did I! But, after I was “mobile” again, I started tracking my caloric intake and used an electronic gadget to measure calories burned, steps taken, etc. and was able to strip off the excess weight in about 3 months. But remember, I WORK at a gym – if I can’t get in a workout (or two) every day, shame on me! Others who don’t work in a gym might take a little longer to achieve the success I did.

Our Personal Trainer is indeed a great online food diary, but really so much more. You can pick a specific diet or just track what you eat ,monitor calories in vs. calories burned so that you have a clear idea of why that darn scale isn’t moving or worse, moving in the wrong direction. Remember, you have to burn 500 calories per day more than you consume, every day for a week to lose one pound (3,500 calories = 1 pound of fat). This is why tracking your food intake and activity is so important! 

And to burn those calories the Personal Trainer also has hundreds of exercise videos and dozens of workouts to help you lose weight and gain muscle! And by the way, these workouts were designed by your 50 plus personal trainers, Jeannie and me.

Lastly, the Personal Trainer does more than track your calories and exercise routines – there is also a tool called the Wellness Indicator Index (WIX) which is a tool that many corporations use to assess their employees’ risk for certain health conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes, etc. It’s a great way to keep on top of your overall health and progress.

Now is the time for us over 50 to get tracking so that we know where our calories come from and go to, and how we burned them off. So why not join this healthy trend and be truly 50plusPlusFit!

*To read the entire study:  PEW Research Center

Cycling Specific Exercises

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!

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 Exercises for Elderly Fitness OverviewWant to pick up the golf clubs again, brush up on the tennis game or improve on some other activity?

by Ron the Trainer
Ah, hitting the open road on a bicycle – what a thrill and joy this can be – if you’re prepared. For us over 50, we can enjoy the thrill of the open road and be 50plusPlusFit all the while.

That preparation doesn’t only include checking the bike, tires, insuring you have enough water and a snack but also, do you have enough “you” to get out to your destination and back?”

You see, hitting the miles on a bicycle is a very different activity compared to the average American lifestyle. You didn’t ride back and forth to work on a bike (less than 3% of Americans do).  And, most Americans do not get in the correct amount of resistance and cardiovascular exercise in a given month. The exercise industry experts recommend 30-60 minutes of cardiovascular activity four to six times per week. These same experts recommend resistance training three to four times per week.

So, that means that you’ve been training something almost daily – right? If not, the bike ride might turn out to be more of a torture than a joy. So, let’s prepare and train to the desired activity and lets use a specific exercise program and keep a weight training log.

Cardio: Ride a stationary bike for 30-60 minutes at least every other day – at a pace of 100 pedal strokes per minute. Most exercise bikes now have intelligent dashboards that will give you that information. And, most bikes will have a resistance adjustment that you should feel that you are having to work against the bike. You should never ride without resistance from the bike.

Take an indoor cycling “Spinning” class. The instructor will lead you through some aggressive drills; hills, flats, sprints, etc. which will help to condition you to the open road.

Finally, there’s resistance training. I know right now you’re thinking stronger legs and, you’re right. But, that’s not all. You have to develop strong shoulders, arms, back and chest to maintain position on the bike.

For the strong legs, we need to train the muscles which will “drive” the pedals. Therefore, squats and lunges are the trainer’s choices.

Upper body strength is essential to a controlled ride and includes shoulders, biceps, chest and back.

Don’t forget your core – after a few minutes on uneven surfaces, you experience lower back pain – so lets’ get the abs and lower back stronger!

So, as they say, it’s just like riding a bike – you never forget. But, training for your strongest and most enjoyable ride should be the first priority in your quality of lifestyle. Then, when you’re prepared, ride strong because you are 50plusPlusFit!

A Peek At Tai Chi

tai chi for seniorsby Rod Morin
Tai Chi is a living art form performed by millions of people world-wide everyday, and it is becoming increasingly popular with those of us over 50. The reasons why one learns and practices Tai Chi are as varied as the number of people who participate. Today I’d like to share with you one particular reason or “why” one might undertake such a journey.

Today’s science has raised many more questions than it has answered. In fact the laws of science are dwarfed by the number of theories that abound. All of this theoretical practice or “mental gymnastics” necessarily drive one away from experiential reality. Your thoughts are not reality. Your reality is based on your experience.

Tai Chi is meditation in motion. Tai Chi is finding stillness in motion. This apparent paradox is central to Taiji philosophy. I will attempt to explain.

The world is seemingly made up millions of things and these things are made up of a gazillions more particles, yet today’s science succinctly states that 99.999999999% of all matter is empty space. Related to the concept of matter is the concept of space and time. All time seems to be is the rate of change of matter within the confines of space.

Still with me? So what does any of this have to do with Tai Chi?

Taiji philosophy explains all of the above and in fact it does so quite concisely. Thus the truly committed tai chi player strives to find the truth of his existence through the manifestation of the tai chi art form.

To accomplish this grasping of universal truth one MUST drop the reality of the world and dive deeply into the Self. One way to accomplish this is to perform the “ritual” of the tai chi form without the activation or use of the thinking mind. When this can be accomplished, one has a vastly different experience that is not based on physical reality but is experiential none the less.

This type of deep practice is rare within today’s YMCA type teachings but it is within the grasp of anyone who actually wishes to seek the true benefits gained through the living art of tai chi practice.

For more information on Tai Chi contact Rod at  BarrieTai Chi.

Seniors Mind and Body Exercises

Pilates

Pilates for senior fitnessPilates - what is it and what does it do? And is it a good form of exercise for over 50?

Tai Chi

Tai Chi for elderly fitnessA form of slow, flowing movements which provide stretching, strengthening and yes, even a good sweat.

Yoga

Yoga for over 50 fitnessYoga will keep you trim, fit and give you exceptional functionality, core strength and balance. Yoga means "union."

Mind & Body Overview

Mind & Body Exercise for seniors OverviewYour workout routine should incorporate some form of mind-body exercise. Why, you ask?

by Ron the Trainer
Yes It Is Good for Your Mind Too!

Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates are perfect exercises for the those over 50 and especially senior enthusiast. The benefits of these forms of exercise include core strength, balance and strength training - all of which are essential forms of functional fitness – the ability to conduct your life independently. For seniors in their 70s, 80s and beyond balance and core strength are often major concerns, but can normally be easily corrected.

Yoga consists of poses that you hold for 20 seconds to 3 minutes, depending upon your ability and the style of yoga you practice. Holding the poses helps you focus on specific muscles that were intended for the pose.

Pilates movements are slow, rhythmatic movements which often combine several planes of motion in a single exercise, and those movements may be repeated several times before moving onto the next exercise. Once again, you are moving slowly so that you can focus on the correct muscle groups and recruit core muscles.

Tai Chi is an ancient form of exercise that is mostly performed in a standing position. The basic stance for Tai Chi is the “horse” position, feet under the hips, knees bent, hips flat and level. From there, rhythmatic arm and foot/leg movements dictate the workout. Slow, repetitive movements will leave you feeling like you’ve put in a great workout!

So, regardless of which form of mind & body exercise you choose today, put down your sticky mat and have a great experience – and functional future!  Try them all and enjoy!

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!

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!

On The Road to The Tennessee Senior Olympics

In a previous fit happens post we turned to Senior Olympics hopeful John LaMacchia for a good dose of inspiration. You can catch up here. Well John is back to provide more insight into his 50 plus journey… and more inspiration.

By the time you read this story, I will have finished my Tennessee State Championship Senior Olympics 5K Cycling Time Trial in Franklin, TN. The final decision to compete in this race came about a year ago, after spending three years working out on my own just to stay in shape. I am a 55 year old guy, considered a “senior” by some, and I love to bicycle.senior olympian john lamacchia

What you do not know from the first installment story, is that I had been training aggressively up until January 1, 2013. On that day, I was doing yard work, and felt a pain in my lower back. Not thinking much about it, I continued working, cutting and loading wood into my vehicle for our wood-burning stove. However, twenty-four hours later, I was in terrible pain. The short story is that I had ruptured my L4 disc. The disc material was pressing on a set of nerves that extended down my left leg. Terrible pain. I spent the next month on the strongest painkillers and muscle relaxers available. By the time I had my back surgery on February 8th, I had taken the medications for a whole month. My surgeon told me to see him one month later on March 22. On that day, he cleared me for physical activity. With a vengeance, I attacked my bicycle riding to get back into shape, as I knew I would attend the Senior Olympics in June. Complete with an extensive back exercise routine, I literally pounded my body back into shape, keeping extremely diligent by about my workout and eating plan by using an online fitness tracking program.

As I type this story, I am five days away from this difficult race and I am ready!

My race is for three goals:

  1. For the satisfaction of competing in the Senior Olympics,
  2. To raise donations for a local charity for the homeless and
  3. To encourage YOU to not give up in your desire for better health.

Some of you have had unfortunate health situations that have been beyond your control. That is tough for you and can be very discouraging. You may not even be able to consider the Senior Olympics. That’s okay! What CAN you do? Can you walk? Can you swim? Can you exercise in a unique way that only you can do? 50plusPlusFit and I are for you! We want to encourage you to try and not give up. For example you might want to try this site's Online Personal Trainer that has plenty of exercise videos and workouts to help you lose weight and gain muscle.

I have three sons who soon will be married, and have children of their own. When I think of that, and I think about my wife, and all those whom I love dearly, staying in shape for them is a big motivator. We are called to be good stewards of our bodies. Let’s you and I keep working to that goal! I will leave you with this quote from the Lord of the Rings movie.

 “It is not the amount of time given to you that is important. What IS important is what you do with the time you’ve been given.” …Gandalf

Thank you for taking an interest in my cycling story. If you want to see the result of my race, you can find me on Facebook – John V LaMacchia

Photo courtesy of professional photographer Emilee Stanley.

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!

Age Related Muscle Loss? No - Use it or Lose It!

By: Dr. Peggy Malone

I have patients in my office every day over 50 with various aches and pains who look at me and say things like “I guess I’m just getting old Doc”. In every case, I look at them and say quite seriously…“Age only matters with wine and cheese” and then I smile. I’m exaggerating a bit for effect, but a recent study shows that I may be on to something, especially when it comes to age related muscle loss.

The official term for age related muscle loss is ‘sarcopenia’.  This loss of muscle with aging is a big factor that contributes to complications that many people face as they get older. Muscle loss can cause a host of problems as you age from osteoporosis to problems with managing blood sugar. It also contributes to the loss of mobility and strength to do everyday tasks and enjoy physical activities.

Some of the causes of age related muscle loss are:

  • a decrease in growth hormone and testosterone
  • an increase in the stress hormone cortisol
  • poor diet and nutrition, and
  • lack of exercise!

Until now, it has been pretty much universally accepted that the majority of people will find that they start to lose muscle mass and strength around the age of 40 and the loss will continue each year as they get older. There are numerous studies in the literature that back this theory up, but the majority of these studies used sedentary subjects to draw the broad conclusion that it’s all down hill after 40. But an exciting new study offers convincing evidence that it really doesn’t have to be that way!

Dr. Vonda Wright, an orthopedic surgeon at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine in Pittsburgh, submitted the results of a study that showed that this decline in muscle after age 40 has more to do with lack of use than just getting older. The study used masters athletes between the ages of 40 and 81 who trained 4-5 times per week for swimming, cycling or running (or some combination) races.

Dr. Wright and her team performed various fitness and strength tests on the subjects and took MRI scans of the upper leg to measure muscle and fat content. The study showed that neither leg muscle size nor strength declined significantly with age among the subjects!

This is so exciting and it suggests that regular training prevented the muscle-wasting effects of aging. The MRI scans published in the study showed the quadriceps in a 40-year-old triathlete compared with a 70-year-old triathlete. They were virtually the same!

In contrast, the quadriceps of a 74-year-old sedentary man were shriveled and enveloped in fat. So it really does come down to ‘Use It or Lose It’!

This may seem like common sense but, the majority of North Americans still don’t even meet the minimum requirements for physical activity, let alone do enough exercise to prevent age related muscle loss. Oh and by the way….remember when I listed a decrease in growth hormone and testosterone as a reason why people lose muscle as they age…..well guess what increases production of these hormones?...  EXERCISE.

I also mentioned that an increase in the stress hormone cortisol will contribute to age related muscle loss.  Well guess what will help to control stress and cortisol levels?...EXERCISE.

Dr. Wright hopes that the results of her study will get people thinking about how their current physical activity choices will affect their future health and wellness. “We control 70 per cent of how we age,” she says. “The other 30 per cent is genetic, and we can blame our mothers for that. But 70 per cent is in our hands.”

The one piece of information that is important to note here though is that you cannot rely on a single form of exercise to preserve muscle function throughout the body. For example, running will keep your legs strong but you may lose muscle in your arms as you age, so it’s important to choose a mix of exercises for the whole body that also target cardiorespiratory fitness and bone health. For an excellent variety of exercises and workout routines to lose weight and gain muscle try this site's Online Personal Trainer. It comes loaded with exercise video demonstrations, a workout log, and everything is designed by 50 plus personal trainers

I don’t know about you, but when I heard this information, I felt like I needed to drop everything and go workout! You really do have much more control over how you age and how your body functions and feels as you get older. 

So the next time a patient in my office assumes that their aches and pains are inevitable and that it’s a down hill slide after age forty, I will tell them: Age only matters with wine and cheese….and Use it or Lose it!

If you don’t have your next workout scheduled, now is the perfect time to put it into your calendar.  Start with a 10 minute walk if that’s all that your schedule or your body will allow. Get Moving! Your body will thank you and you will age that much more gracefully and healthy! You can do it. 

For more information on healthy living contact Dr. Peggy Malone.

Fitness at Home

by Ron the Trainer -
Not everyone, over 50 or not, is comfortable with working out in a gym (sharing equipment with others, straining in front of others, etc.) and therefore, many people choose to workout at home, maybe even setting up a home gym. Also, you might not live within a comfortable, convenient drive of a gym so, a home gym might be a more desirable alternative. And a home workout is a great way to reach your 50 plus fitness goals, like to lose weight and gain muscle or increase stamina. And now days with online fitness training available, you've even got help from the pros just like at the gym.

Most popular home equipment includes treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical trainers and multi-station weight machines that you may have seen advertised on TV. Whatever you choose to place in your home, the device should be simple to use. If it’s complicated or takes a lot of time to set up, you will probably not use it on a long term basis. It should operate smoothly, and feel solid for a better workout experience. That is, the equipment should deliver a good solid feel so that the workout will be safe and effective. It’s not likely that you’ll use a flimsy, clunky device on a long term basis.

Whatever you buy should be built by a well-known manufacturer. Do some research before you buy. Look up different devices and get ratings from others who’ve bought – do they like it, would they recommend it to you?

Find several stores that offer the equipment and ask if you can give it a “test drive.” You may find a workout equipment specialty retailer who’s willing to give you 20 minutes on a treadmill whereas the local department store at the mall may not be willing to allow it. You should not be bashful about asking to try it out before you buy it and if they don’t allow it, walk away. This is a device you’ll hopefully be spending a lot of time with. You need to feel good about it and how it works.

woman over 50 exercising on stationary bike at homeOnce you’ve bought your equipment and have it at home, place it where you will use it – the den or a spare bedroom. Add a diversion such as a TV/DVD. But, don't put the equipment in a non climate-controlled space such as a garage. You’ll not enjoy the experience and probably won’t use it often enough to justify the purchase; therefore you won’t promote your fitness, and desired lifestyle changes.

Schedule a time with your new equipment. If it's 5AM or 5PM, make a date so that you feel compelled to use it.

No Equipment? No Problem! Start with a good pair of cross-training shoes and some comfortable-fitting clothes. Go for a REALLY brisk walk in your neighborhood, along a lakeshore, in the park, somewhere that you’ll enjoy. Find neighbors or friends to act as “workout buddies” and to help you pass the time, and keep you accountable for regularly scheduled walks. Remember to walk at a pace that increases your heart rate and maybe, you're not able to easily converse with your workout buddies.

At home, do some pushups – up to 4 sets of 20 each will complete your day. Abdominal crunches in front of a TV (or during commercials instead of heading for the kitchen!) would be a great place to add some working out.

Work your muscles, burn calories and increase your heart rate – get hand weights, resistance tubing and exercise balls sold at all sporting good and discount chains. See our diagrams for weight bearing exercises.

And even though you don't belong to a fitness club, you can still get the expertise of a personal trainer and dietician, just try our Online Personal Trainer. Its loaded with features like online fitness tracking, work out plans for losing weight, an online weight tracker, diets and more. Plus many of the workouts can be done outdoors as well.

Outside Exercising

  • Swimming – considered by many as the “perfect” exercise.
  • Walking/Jogging/Running – taken at your own pace, this can be extremely beneficial, especially for those of us 50plus.
  • Cycling – a great option that can become more aggressive over time as you get stronger without additional expenditure. This assumes you have a bike – as you improve, you don’t have to buy anything else – just keep riding your bike a little faster!
  • Rowing a boat – what a perfect workout environment – out on the water!

Whatever fits your environment, your tastes and your lifestyle – just go for it! And, reach for that healthier 50plusPlusFit lifestyle!

Weight Training for Women Over 50

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Women in the weight room at the gym - what's next, women voting? Seriously, women, especially those over 50, are in a prime position to make some very healthy gains by performing weight bearing exercises. Read on and see what we mean.

Bob’s Experience:   

O.K., first things first, I am not a woman. But, I hope you knew that already. However, friends of the female variety ask my about lifting weights as a form of strength training over 50, or they avoid the subject altogether, simply just dismissing it as something that they shouldn’t try because they’re not a guy. Well, I have to tell you that I’ve know several women who have used weights for strength training and they look terrific and tell me that they feel terrific too.

So, why the doubt or reluctance on the part of some women? Well, just beginning strength training with weights can be a bit intimidating to the newbie, especially for a woman or anyone over 50. With the ladies though the primary concern I always hear is that they don’t want to get big muscles or lose their feminine curves, etc.

Again I’ll say that the women I’ve known and seen training with weights look great, or at least are making great improvements in how they look and feel. And if they had curves to begin with, they didn’t just go away, and in fact some curves were enhanced, or they got curvier! Curvier is a word, right?

Oh sure, I suppose a woman could get really, really big muscles and get “hard” if she worked out 24/7, but I’ve never seen it, not beyond a professional bodybuilder anyway.

I’m sure there are probably different ways for women to use weighs for strength training versus their male buddies, or maybe not. And maybe there are beginner steps that women should follow, but I’m not the guy to guide you there, other than to say that if you’ve not weight trained before, woman or man, start slowly and get some good advice from a good trainer. And speaking of good trainers, here’s the best. Ron?

Ron’s Expertise:

The myths are exploding and the gender walls are coming down. Back when I first became a trainer, the gym I worked at had a “ladies workout room” with admittedly weight machines slightly smaller to fit the female better, but really – a special workout room?

O.K., I may have forgotten to mention that at that time, many gyms resembled a single’s bar – without the alcohol. The one I worked at was truly an “S&M” club – or “stand and model.” So, for the comfort of the women members, they had their own corner of the world where they could avoid being watched or hit on. I get that but, in the process, they were underserved by the equipment available to them.

Any trainer worth the air they breathe believes in the power of free-weight over machines. If your form and technique are proper, your workout with free-weights is superior to anything else you can do. That’s why we’ve included so many free-weight exercises in our Online Personal Trainer. But the OPT also has workouts using bands and body weight workouts, as well as many other workouts to lose weight and gain muscle.

Oh, by the way, a woman’s body will NOT morph into something unfeminine with regular weight-bearing activity. Instead, proper exercise will enhance and shape the body in very flattering ways. If you see a woman who’s working out and lost her feminine appearance, you can be certain that there is an external factor such as eating disorders, use of stimulants or muscle-building substances.  

Flash back to about 15 years ago – a totally new concept in group exercise surfaced – the group free-weight class. The concept was centered around an adjustable barbell, crazy amounts of repetitions, driving music and, because it was a group exercise, the assumption was that the female attendance would be huge. That assumption is correct – even to this day the ratio in most gyms is about 8 women to one man in these classes. These classes can be very challenging as the participant loads his/her own bar.

There are trademarked classes and classes designed by the individual instructors. They are plentiful and, they service a lot of women. The women who do come are hooked and arrange their schedules so they don’t miss a class.

O.K., that’s a home-run for group exercise but, what about those women who don’t want a group setting and – why should a woman lift weights in the first place? Why? Why not! Everyone can benefit from weight-bearing exercises.  

The benefits are huge; reshaping your arms, shoulders, legs generally tops the list with most women. But, health concerns are addressed as well. Osteoporosis – the weakening of the bones is effectively addressed with weight-bearing exercise, along with a calcium supplement and avoiding smoking.

Additional benefits include adding endurance to any activity. How heavy is your youngest child or grandchild who occasionally wants you to carry her to bed or play with you? How about being strong enough to move stuff around in and outside the house without waiting for help?

Starting off, you should be certain you know what you're doing - as with any physical movement, if you do it wrong, you could injure yourself. So, find out how to lift weights correctly, start off easy with light weights and concentrate on form.

As you feel stronger and more confident, you can add weight to each exercise and more reps/sets. But, above all else, listen to your body. When you have the feeling that you need to stop or slow down, that's the time to do precisely that.

So, with all the very compelling reasons for women to push the muscle-heads out of the way and claim their own spot in the weight room, there's no time like now! Weight-bearing exercise – it’s not just for guys anymore. Ladies, pick up weights, get into a great lifting routine for all the benefits mentioned because you're 50plusPlusFit!

Finding Time for Fitness

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Finding the time to  work on our 50 plus fitness is a constant problem. This not only applies to working out, but also planning and recording calories consumed, whether in weight loss mode or just weight maintenance. Most of us have a busy schedule mostly taken up by work, family and other obligations. So what do we do? Many of us have heard in our corporate lives, “Plan your work and work your plan, and hope to score about 90%.”

Bob’s Experience:

One of the most challenging things we face in pursuing our 50+ fitness is simply finding the time to get some exercise. I know this has always been a challenge for me, because well, “life gets in the way”. But I’ve tried to keep my workouts on schedule as much as humanly possible, and I’ve practiced a few things to help me do just that. So here are a few tips that have helped me get my workouts in about 90% of the time. And given the importance of consistency to your exercise routine, this advice could be some of the most important I can share; maybe they’ll work for you too.

  • Plan your workout routine on a weekly basis - you really should be doing this anyway, just so you have a plan to follow and to have a basis from which to measure progress.
  • Plan out your next week – plan it out by day. I do this on Sunday every week, even noting when I might have to adjust because of the day job schedule I have facing me.
  • Make an appointment on your calendar – just like any other meeting or social event, schedule your workout. In some calendar programs you can set up recurring cardio sessions, for example.
  • Get ready the night before - your gear and clothes should be in your gym bag when you get going in the morning, ‘cause trying to get it all together during the a.m. rush will just add more challenge to the challenge.
  • Be ready for “plan B” - have an idea of how you can adjust your schedule on the fly when interruptions jar your day. For example, be aware of the fact that a client might want to go for drinks after a late afternoon meeting, or that you just might be asked to work overtime. Anticipating these could allow you to adjust to a morning workout that day.
  • “Get back on the horse” – if you do fall off your routine for whatever reason, get right back up, dust off and climb back in the saddle. Don’t beat yourself up for missing a workout session, just commit to getting back on schedule.
  • Keep track of what you've planned and what you've accomplished. That will help you plan your next day or week. An easy way to do that is with our our our Online Personal Trainer. Its loaded with features including a printable workout log to plan, record and track your progress, plus a workout calendar for planning ahead.

These steps have helped me, like I said about 90% of the time. So maybe they’ll help you. So let’s see what the pro has to offer from his personal and personal trainer client experiences. Ron?

Ron’s Expertise:

I often tell my clients to “make a date” with themselves. Whether it’s 5AM, 5PM, lunch or midnight, treat the “date” you have with yourself for working out with great jealousness. It’s your time – don’t let anything get in your way. That being said, things do happen. There are work and family obligations that cannot be ignored. But, if you find a time that you can pretty well expect to be your time alone, make it stick.

My personal workout time is in my work calendar – I will not take on an appointment for anything else during those times. And, of course, it helps that I’m scheduled to lead a group exercise class at many of those times – other people are depending on me to show up and lead them through yet another unique workout.

Bob is right about missing and not feeling bad. If you fall off your routine, dust yourself off and take the first step by getting back on your routine as soon as possible. Don’t forget how good you feel after a serious workout - tired, but relaxed.Maybe you’re hungry but feel like you have energy to do it again.

Plus, remember why you workout. Everyone has a goal when working out – maybe it’s weight loss, maybe it’s stress relief or, maybe it’s something else. Whatever the reason, get back and renew your focus on your goals.

So, be good to yourself, make the date today – and be 50plusPlusFit!

See Your Success

Success visualization for senior fitnessby Arnie Fonseca
“Winners, I am convinced, imagine their dreams first. They want it with all their heart and expect it to come true. There is, I believe, no other way to live.” — Joe Montana

How many of us wonder how certain athletes, entertainers, or business people seem to have a flair for success.  I promise you it just doesn’t happen.  Their secret is something that is practiced by successful individuals at every level of their success journey.  It begins in their mind.  Whatever we think about most, even when over 50, we tend to move towards.



In the 1980’s I first discovered the technique of visualization.  As an athlete I attempted to use visualization techniques that I had started learning to improve my competitive power lifting.  My coach at the time was a former world champion, John Kanter.   His personal technique was simple.  See yourself complete the lift then go out and complete the lift.  The problem for me was that it just didn’t work that way.  I spoke with many psychologists who had other ideas on how to expand on what I was being taught.  This is when I first learned about guided imagery.  It involved literally going through a mental rehearsal of my event.  But what was added was the emotional component.  Now I began to feel the emotion of the result that I desired.   Now this was starting to make an impact on my performance.  So as I began to feel my emotions, the image of the outcome I desired became more of a certainty.  This made all the difference in my performances.

Visualization and Aging

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the “elderly” which I now refer to as Beyond Boomers looked at life more pragmatically.  It was what it was.  They really didn’t have tools to get them to the next level of their life.  They believed in just dealing with what ever hand they were dealt.  You had to search for the individuals who were willing to do whatever it took to defy the aging process.  The problem was that this core group many times made it difficult for others to be involved.  What I mean is that, those who had severe physical or motivational challenges found it very difficult to associate with this very active group of the “elderly”.  What I began to do was develop simple techniques that anyone could use to improve the quality of their lives, both physically and psychologically.  From a physical standpoint I created simple easy exercises that anyone could do.  Next I was able to help individuals through guided imagery believe that they could improve themselves physically.

Power of the Mind

By getting individuals involved in simple exercise I was able to teach them that the mind could not distinguish between what was considered real life and what image they could create.  We talked about how good it felt to see themselves doing the exercise but even better we talked about how doing the exercises would allow them to do things they no longer thought they could do.  We learned that what was was.  What is is.  What was, will be again.  I knew if I could influence them that events in life are many times circular and if they could vividly see themselves doing those things again, that their body will actually physically respond as if they were doing the activity.  The goal eventually was to create certainty in their mind that they could perform the desired activity.

Visualization Research

Denis Waitley showed in the 1980’s and 1990’s using what he called “ Visual Motor Rehearsal” with Olympic Athletes that when the athletes competed only in their mind their body showed the same nervous response that occurred in the actual event.  They also showed that more important than the images were the feelings or emotions that came from those images.

Other researchers; such as Lynne Evans; Rebecca Haus and Richard Mullen showed that injured athletes and cancer patients demonstrated using visualization techniques:

  • Improved rate of healing
  • Increased ability to deal with the injury or disease
  • Increased motivation to begin doing more on their own
  • Improved feeling of well being
  • Improved quality of life
  • Decreased length of hospital stays
  • Decreased use of pain medication

Visualization and Reversing Aging

My goal for those in the 50+ and Beyond Boomer groups is to influence them to vividly see themselves reversing the affects of aging.  If they can see themselves healthy and active, then learn to attach a strong emotional component, they can change their lives.  There is another great analogy that relates to this that all of us have experienced. Remember the last time you read a book or saw a movie where you became so involved in what the character was doing that you became emotionally tied to the action.  Your body responded the same as the character. Maybe your heart rate went up and you started sweating.  Let me remind you that you were only sitting down.  Your mind is an amazing tool. I believe that this one aspect of training has had the biggest affect on my work with the 50+ and Beyond Boomers.  I have witnessed individuals get back into golf, begin to drive again, become more social and of course improve physically.  This was all possible because they learned how to mentally rehearse these things before they happened.  It is common to hear successful individuals state “Thoughts become Things”.  It was my job to convince them to find the right thoughts.

Visualization and Fitness

So for those of us over 50, and for our Beyond Boomer loved ones, visualization can be a powerful component of being 50+ and fit. As Joe Montana says, “There is no other way to Live.” Visualization can be greatly enhanced by real visual support such as the workout videos to lose weight and other exercise video instructions found in this site's Online Personal Trainer. Viewing the videos will help you see yourself performing the very same moves, and they are demonstrated by 50 plus personal trainers.

For more helpful information on visualization and fitness email Arnie  or visit  visit his website

Cardio Workouts at Home

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
It’s a key component of fitness – cardiovascular (cardio) workouts. But, many of us over 50 find it tedious, boring or just go about cardio mindlessly. And, if you need to get your cardio in at home, you may be frustrated with your options. It doesn’t have to be a negative aspect of working out – read on for some advice and tips from 50plusPlusFit.

Bob’s Experience:

Some of us have a need to get part of our exercise in at home, and probably the easiest and most affordable method of home exercise will be cardiovascular. There are a lot of ways to do this and one of the easiest and cheapest methods is just to walk or run in your neighborhood. However, depending upon where you live, there may be little appeal to outdoor exercise because of weather (e.g., too hot, humid, too cold, too much snow, etc.)

For indoor cardio there are many options from exercise DVDs to exotic equipment. I have 2 personal preferences, a treadmill and a rower, both of which I believe are excellent choices for people over 50. I happen to own both, the rower purchased used, and I like them both for different reasons. The treadmill allows me to walk (or run, but did I mention that I hate running?) at various inclines, depending on my objective. And as a bonus I can multi-task by catching up on the news or sports at the same time.  In fact, if I walk at only about 3 mph I can even read a magazine.

A few years back during the football season I decided to try to burn off some body fat. I switched from eating cheese and pretzels and drinking beer while watching an entire game from the couch (yes, I was somewhat of a couch potato at times) to watching at least one half of the game while on the treadmill.

I spent about two hours on the treadmill walking about 3.3 mph at different inclines, and I still got to enjoy some good games. Along the way, I lost 12 pounds during the football season and reduced my body fat composition by 3%. Oh, by the way, during the second half of the game I did have a couple brews with little gouda and Snyder's fat free pretzels – just  not as many as I'd normally have. What a combo: treadmill, cheese, pretzels and beer. For me it was a great program! I enjoyed both halves of the game and l met my fitness goals as well!

The rower I like for a totally different reason; I get more of a total body workout while getting some cardio. We’ll speak more specifically to the benefits of the rower in another of our Fitness articles. But there are many forms of cardio equipment to use and our Online Personal Trainer has several cardio workout videos to lose weight and build your cardiovascular system.

Now I’ll turn it over to Ron the Trainer to give you a broader and more expert perspective of cardio at home. Ron?

Ron’s Expertise:

You know, everybody needs to find a “hook” – that is, something that will work for them, especially when you plan to get your cardio workout in at home – it’s so easy to walk past the equipment or sit down to take care of something else in your life.

When doing cardio training, you have to invest at least 30-60 minutes, at target heart rate, four to six times per week to be truly effective. So, you’ll be tying up 100-400+ minutes per week – a big investment for some of us! So, make it convenient and make it something you’ll enjoy – a brisk, long walk in the neighborhood or at the park, watching the news while on your favorite treadmill or elliptical trainer or, as Bob recommended, a bout with the rower.

I will go onto say that if you can read or carry on a detailed conversation, you might want to kick up the pace a little – get the maximum calorie and fat burn for the time you invest in your cardio. For someone over 50, your heart rate should be between 110-130 beats per minute for the most effective cardio workout.

Or, you might choose to take up outdoor cycling – a very popular activity. And many of us over 50 still like stationary bikes in front of a TV so, if that will truly work for you – that could be your “hook.”

But remember to vary your cardio occasionally – do something different to keep your body guessing what you’ll be asking from it next. Varying your cardio might consist of one day a great workout on a treadmill, the next a really brisk walk in the neighborhood. Follow that up with a dance-format with your Wii or a kickboxing DVD in your living room.

With a varied program, you’ll see better results! Keep your workouts rich and meaningful and keep working out to improve your 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!

Your Fitness Motivation

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Keeping your workouts on track and on schedule is tough - we know!   Here are some tips on breaking the cycle and developing good 50plusPlusFit workout habits ... read on!

Bob’s Experience:

Motivation is central to getting many things done or, expressed at a higher level, accomplished. This is no truer than in the context of our fitness and diet. Quite often my friends and acquaintances actually marvel at the fact that I actually prefer getting my workout in as the sun rises, 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. Many folks feel that it’s tough enough to push themselves to workout, much less at a really early hour. For me it works, for some it won’t. But whatever works, works.

Finding your motivator can be simple or maybe more complex. It seems like the nearly universal fitness motivator is simply to lose weight, and that’s o.k., it is the correct motivation for a great many. For others it may be to lose body fat even if not overweight. Or maybe you want to tone up and reshape the ol’ bod, and that’s a great motivation as well. Or you might be training for an event like a marathon or a cycling tour, a swim meet, or your child’s wedding. But these are all motivators at the most basic level because they really are goals aren’t they? And yes, a single goal or target can indeed motivate. So if you need a motivational goal, pick one and get on your way.

But what about the more complex motivators, those that keep you motivated, up and on track every day? What kind of motivators can really help you? When I jump out of bed at the crack of dawn (o.k. maybe “jump” is a stretch most days) I don’t think about my personal goal, which currently is to reduce body fat. The fact is I don’t think of much of anything at that hour really. But on those mornings when I feel like I really don’t want to “jump” outa bed, I do draw upon some of my personal motivators.

One of my motivators is my Online Personal Trainer. I track my workouts every day that I workout, and if I don’t keep on schedule, I really don’t feel good about myself, in that I let myself down. My other motivator that gets me out of bed is that I give myself a break by breaking up my workout into two parts, by doing part that morning and catching up with the rest as I can at some time later in the day. These work for me.

I know people that use all kinds of different things, angles or tricks if you will, to keep their motivation at a high level. All kinds can work, and Ron has seen it all through his personal training clients, so why don’t I turn it over to the expert.

Ron’s Expertise:

Bob, you’re right on point. The single toughest thing about fitness is getting started and staying on your routine. Motivation of the human is very complex indeed. It’s just like getting in your car and driving away without a destination in mind – fitness matters are no different. As Bob said, whether your motivation is weight loss, general “getting into shape” or working toward an event, a goal is absolutely essential. Without a goal, how will you know if you accomplished it? I’ll offer some ideas that can help us all stay focused.

Goals need to be for the right reason and, where fitness matters, we see an advanced number of neuroses such as obsessive-compulsive behavior, bulimia and anorexia. So, the point I’m trying to make here is that the goals must be reasonable and not counter-productive or downright unhealthy. This is where a fitness professional must be very aware of the client’s goals and underlying motivation.

So, while everybody’s motivation to workout may be different, the best thing to do is to get started now. Over-analyzing the motivation factor should not stand in the way of beginning a solid workout routine. Once you have set goals, you can design a routine that is ideal for your specific goals. So, let’s break this down to a list-at-a-glance:

  • Set attainable goals: set goals that are measurable (15 pounds lost), time-specific (within 6 weeks) and  is attainable. Attainable means it’s physically possible to make it happen (e.g., 5’ 11” woman will probably never be able to wear a size “0” dress).
  • Allow yourself to be human: Set your goals, strive to complete your workouts regularly but, if you backslide, don’t be discouraged – dust yourself off and get back on track.
  • Focus on your fitness journey – not others: Your fitness journey will probably not be the same as someone else’s. For example, if your goal is weight loss, you may see someone else lose weight faster or slower than you. Don’t let that work toward or against you – stay focused on you.
  • Set up and activate a support group: Once you decide to begin a workout routine, tell everyone around you. They will keep you focused. And, if you can find a workout buddy – that’s a bonus! A workout buddy will be waiting for you at the gym and won’t let you blow off your workout.
  • Find something you enjoy: If you find a specific exercise that you like it will make it easier and more fun to stay on your routine. So, if watching a movie while spending time on your treadmill works, great! Look around for classes that fit your schedule and goals. Often, people in group exercise classes get to know each other and are an additional support element.  
  • Mix it up: For mental interest, you need a variety of workouts. And, for your body to respond more efficiently to workouts, you need to change your workouts frequently. Check out our Fitness Tracker for lots of exercise ideas.
  • It’s a matter of convenience: If it’s not convenient for you, it won’t happen. So, if there is a fitness center near your home or place of work – great. If not, consider setting up a home workout area and follow exercise DVDs or place a TV in front of your cardio equipment – in a climate-controlled room – not your garage or patio.
  • Don’t look back: Yesterday is the past – once you begin your routine you’ve become a different person. Focus on today and tomorrow – that will help you stay on track.
  • Track your workouts, food and your progress. Try our easy to follow Online Personal Trainer which is loaded with exercises and workout programs for weight loss and muscle gain, exercise and workout videos, and you can record your progress with its online diet and fitness tracking
  • Reward yourself: Achieved a goal? Great! Go out and treat yourself with a new item of clothing or something else tangible – and enjoy. Tangible doesn’t mean splurge on food though – you don’t want to destroy your progress!

Whatever your primary fitness motivation is, you have help at your fingertips to begin your exercise journey and stay on track. Active, healthy lifestyle today means an active and healthier you for years and years to come. Why not get started or back on track today for a 50plusPlusFit you!

Eat Only When You’re Hungry

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Eat only when you are hungry sounds simple, right? If it is simple, why are so many of us - especially us over 50, struggling with our weight. It isn't simple though ... and Bob and Ron are chiming in on the topic. Let's keep reading to see what they have to say.

Bob’s Experience:

Chow time! When is that? Boy, for me in the past it was just about any time there was food around. I did have a major weight problem as a kid and carried some bad habits into adulthood. You see, I started out growing up the son of a Bavarian baker. And like all good Germans, my father also taught us his genuine love of food in general. We ate at the appointed times for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but then there were always bakery sweets around for “nibbling” too.

I still do love good food, but I’m happy to report though that now that I’m 50 plus, I have things in better control. Yes, I’m still working at being 50plusPlusFit.

While my issue started in childhood, I don’t think there is any particular time that people pick up bad eating habits - it varies with everyone. The question is, how do you correct those bad eating habits? Well for my part, it was getting good advice from a good source - a personal trainer. I wanted to get in better shape and the personal trainer gave me some pretty basic diet advice. He suggested a calorie range, types of food to eat, how many times to eat per day and most importantly he told me to keep a record of what I ate, how much and what the total calories were. By doing this over a few weeks I really got into the habit of eating better all around. Several years later I continue to follow these better habits, not that I don’t “fall off the wagon” on occasion. I do however get right back on.

But that’s just my story, and everyone has their own, so why don’t we do what I did a few years back and turn to a personal trainer. Here’s Ron.

Ron’s Expertise:

Sounds really simple but, many people eat because it’s “time” for lunch, etc., or they eat as a social event. Others may binge with emotional eating (happy or sad), and a real problem for many – nighttime eating.

If we over-eat by eating when we aren’t necessarily hungry, the mechanism inside our bodies that triggers hunger will essentially be “reset” causing the person to not have a good sense of what hunger is. Additionally, over-eating by eating at times other than when you’re hungry means that you’re taking in calories you don’t need – and potentially gaining weight.

The American Heart Association suggests controlling your eating habits by not keeping snack foods at home and substituting unhealthy foods with better choices to help control eating and your weight. The AHA also suggests replacing the eating with a physical activity such as taking a walk, playing with pets, gardening or housework.

Getting control of yourself is the hardest part – getting in touch with what hunger really is and what triggers your non-hunger eating. Take time each day to write down:

  • What you ate
  • How much
  • When you ate

to determine if you really are over-eating when not hungry. It’s a safe bet that we all eat at times other than when truly hungry. Try to analyze why and think twice about your eating habits. You can easily track and analyze what you eat in our Online Personal Trainer. It's a food and exercise tracker with several weight reducing diets; you can search the online food library, see the food’s calories, etc. and track what you eat for each meal. Then it calculates how you’ve done.

It’s easy for others to say “just don’t eat” but we need to eat to survive. It’s just how much, what to eat and when. This will be ongoing focus to maintain until you change your habits. Research shows eating habit changes occur with focus and attention in about 3 weeks. Your experience may be longer or shorter.

Now, however, is the time to adjust your eating habits and prepare for the rest of your 50plusPlusFit® healthy life.

Smoking Cigars and Muscles Like Arnold?

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Looking good at your workout - like the Terminator ... with a smoking habit. For those of us over 50, we have lived a rollercoaster life from our teens until now with ever-changing advice and opinions regarding tobacco use. Let's read on to explore this topic.

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 Governor 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 Gov. 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. 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” but instead, I has empathy for those who still do smoke as I realize it’s so very difficult to quit.  

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 to a public building.

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. 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.

Others (particularly 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?

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 their presence – second hand smoke lingers on your clothes and in your hair for hours after your last cigarette (or cigar). 

Convinced? Great! Start by visiting the American Cancer Society. There is some great information here to get started. There are also 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 being 50plusPlusFit!

Prescription Fitness

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Yet other reasons for us over 50 to workout - to prevent health issues, have good physical check-ups, reduce or eliminate medications and for a brighter future! 

Bob’s Experience

I was in the doctor’s office recently for a physical and I’m happy to report that everything checked out O.K. In fact she told me that from her perspective I was in “great shape,” particularly at the age of 63. That was music to my ears, but I asked her what she meant by “great shape,” and I was somewhat surprised by her answer, pleasantly surprised.

As it t turns out my doctor is over 50 and she too exercises regularly with workouts that include both strength and cardio exercises. So her explanation to my question actually sounded in part somewhat familiar. She not only remarked on my measured vital signs and my blood work from my previous physical, but recognized my performance on the stress test and my muscle tone. You know for part of your physical you’re fairly naked so there’s not a lot to hide.

I was mostly surprised by her comment about muscle tone though. Now she wasn’t really remarking about my physical looks, but about the benefits of having a good amount of muscle fiber. As she went on to explain (and you can read this in our Strength Training articles) retaining or increasing muscle mass over 50 is important to be able to live a productive lifestyle. Of course we all know that muscle allows you to move, right? But if it also replaces the amount of body fat you carry, all the better.

By the way, she did also remark that one of the reasons that she could take notice of my muscle tone was because of the relatively low amount of fat covering those muscles, a double benefit she said because muscle burns many more calories than does fat.

As I was leaving her office her prescription to me: “keep working out.” It turns out that my doc hits the gym regularly too.

And, by the way, while my gym membership does cost a few bucks per month, my prescription medication bills are ZERO! And I don't believe any of their other prescriptions include the elusive “magic pill” anyway (there really is no magic pill anyway). I hope we begin to see more doctors begin prescribing exercise.

Ron’s Expertise

That’s a great testimony to what we’re all about here at 50plusPlusFit – getting and staying healthy today so that later on, we can lead an independent lifestyle. And, an independent lifestyle means you can get up out of your chair with minimal effort, walk, shop, garden, play golf as well as tend to your personal grooming, etc. I remarked in a recent weekly article about visiting an assisted living facility and was shocked at the de-conditioned people rolling around on walkers and in wheelchairs. I didn’t have an opportunity to talk with many of them but, I am sure that if they had led active lives in their 50s, their 70s and 80s would have been very different.

That aside, so often we see new members in the club that were sent by their doctors basically to workout or die! At that point, where someone is more than 40% body fat, AND de-conditioned, it’s an almost unsurpassable uphill battle to achieve a desired fitness level. It would have been so much easier to stop the deterioration before it got to the point we usually see these people. Oh, and the retention rate (if they stay and workout or quit) for these people is much lower than the person who joined the club as a more fit individual.

If you’re reading this far, then you are aware and are concerned with your future – that’s great! Some sobering facts to keep us lifting and sweating: studies show that we gradually lose the ability to generate new muscle protein after the age of 20. Between the ages of 20 and 80, we can lose 30-50% of our muscle mass – when living in a sedentary lifestyle.

That’s a huge argument to get up and move – cardiovascular exercise to keep your heart healthy, weight training to keep as much muscle mass as possible. And, while we’re at it, maintain a healthy meal plan to ward off excess fat. Body fat contributes to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even some forms of cancer. You can find a great number of helpful tools with both exercise and diet in our Online Personal Trainer, a food and exercise tracker that has weight reducing diets, exercise workout videos to lose weight and workout programs for weight loss and muscle gain.

Finally, while being healthy can reduce the number of prescriptions one must take, the average overweight, sedentary older adult can total up to 8-12 different medications per day as different heart conditions, blood pressure increases and diabetes develops. Those medications are not just because the doctor suggests them either – those medications are literally keeping these individuals alive – in spite of their deteriorating lifestyle.

O.K., enough negative – let’s get moving today! If you’re already moving, that’s great – keep up the good work. Now is the time to sharpen your focus on a 50plusPlusFit future!

Understanding Strength vs. Power

senior working out for strengthby Kay Van Norman
When you’re over 50 should you train for strength or power. How ‘bout both? Regular physical activity improves health and fitness, but for significant gains in strength and power, exercise must be done against resistance.  Resistance work can be performed on resistance training machines (i.e. iron weight stacks, hydraulic, magnetic, pneumatic), with equipment such as resistance bands, medicine balls, in the water, and by using body weight as the resistance (as in push-ups). 

Resistance training includes training for strength, defined as the amount of force a muscle can generate; and training for power, defined as the ability for muscles to generate force quickly. Both strength and power impacts how easily a person can lift, carry, push, pull, get up and down, walk and climb stairs.  They also help prevent muscle and joint injury, impact balance, and are essential for an active lifestyle.

Power is the ability to generate force quickly (strength x speed), and research shows it’s even more closely related to physical function and many aspects of sports performance than strength alone. To understand the role speed of movement plays in function, try this: First rise from a chair like you normally would, then sit back down.  Now rise from a chair to a slow count of six. Which one is easier?  The same applies to many functional tasks, and speed of movement is crucial to everything from quickly “catching” your balance to prevent a fall, to springing after a line drive in tennis. 

Research shows that muscle power is lost at a much faster rate (3.5% per year after about age 30) than strength alone (1-1 ½%/year).  But the good news is that, like muscle strength, muscle power can be increased with resistance training  (Hazell T, et al, 2007; Miszko TA, et al, 2003; deVos NJ, et al, 2005). But to train power you have to be able to train with speed. Unfortunately, the most common type of resistance training equipment (iron weight stack) poses a challenge for power training.  The protocol of a 3 second lift (to control momentum of the weight stack) effectively negates the speed component necessary to train power. So you have to understand the difference between resistance training that improves strength alone, and resistance training that improves strength and power. And you can a variety of workout routines for both strength and power on this site's Online Personal Trainer, along with online fitness tracking and other fitness and diet tools.

Standard strength training protocols:
Perform 2 sets of strength training exercises 2-3 non-consecutive days per week at about 80% of your “one repetition maximum” (a weight you can lift correctly 8 times).With iron weight stack equipment, control the momentum of the weight stack by using 3 seconds for each repetition.

Power training protocols are very similar to strength training with the biggest differences being speed of movement and level of resistance.  Gains in strength are very comparable between strength or power training protocols, with the added benefit of power.

Speed of Movement – power training requires high velocity or rapid movement, which means contracting the muscle as fast as possible. For example; to perform a biceps curl instead of a taking 3 seconds to move the weight, perform an arm curl by bending the elbow as quickly as possible against resistance, then take 2-3 seconds to return to the beginning position.  NOTE-don’t use iron weight stack equipment for speed training.

Intensity - research is still being conducted on the optimal intensity for power training.  50-70% seems to be the standard range being tested.  60% of 1RM is the intensity I currently use to train power, or a weight I can lift 14-16 times in good form.  Take the time to read Hazell’s (2007) review of research on the topic, and keep abreast of new research through the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity.

If you have a choice of resistance training machines, opt for equipment that safely facilitates speed of movement such as pneumatic (air), hydraulic (liquid), and magnetic. I favor pneumatic (air) resistance machines because hydraulic and magnetic equipment can train speed, but they require concentric contractions through the entire exercise, pneumatic equipment doesn’t.  For example; when you perform an arm curl against resistance the biceps will contract and shorten (concentric) to bend the elbow, then as you return to the beginning position the biceps will contract “eccentrically” as they lengthen against gravity.  Otherwise your elbow would just fall open quickly with nothing to stop it! With hydraulic or magnetic equipment you must contract the biceps to bend the elbow and then contract the triceps to straighten the elbow as the resistance remains constant during both phases (i.e. you must push against resistance and then pull against resistance to return to beginning position).  This eliminates training of the eccentric or muscle lengthening contraction which has been proven important to things like lowering down onto a chair and other functional tasks.

Training power can also be done with medicine balls, resistance bands, water exercise, and body weight. The key is the ability to accelerate the contraction, or move quickly. Next month I will outline specific exercises you can do without equipment to train speed of movement.  

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

Senior Olympian John LaMacchia

If you're over 50 (and the best folks are) and you need inspiration to be 50plusPlusFit, here's a story for you. John LaMacchia is a cyclist that has logged a lot of miles over a lot of years. John began early in life, so he's been ahead of the game for a while. But the notion of ever giving in to the aging process never crossed his mind. In fact now John is challenging himself by setting his sites on a new milestone, the National Senior Games. Most of us know these games as the "Senior Olympics," however we have to respect the Olympic trademark here. But trademark law isn't the story here anyhow, a dedicated 50+ cyclist and his journey is the story.

So this week we turn Fit Happensover to John. Read the first installment of his journey and be inspired.

John LaMacchiaJohn's Journey

“I’ve always loved to ride my bicycle. I grew up in Northern Ohio where the roads were flat with 90-degree turns. I can’t remember one time getting lost riding my 3-speed Schwinn around my hometown on those hot, humid summer days. I think I was around 14 years old when my parents gave me a choice: ‘You can keep your horse or we can buy you a new bicycle.’ Hmmm.  I loved my horse, “Sonny” … but, having a newfound freedom on a bicycle, I opted for the latter. On Christmas Day, my father carried into the house a brand new bicycle. I was elated and inspired.

Over the past 41 years, I’ve ridden thousands of miles -- riding across the United States (3400 miles), riding with my wife, and pulling my young sons in our bike trailer. My bicycle has added many gifts and blessings to my life, such as passing my love of cycling on to my youngest son Michael.

Most recently, I’ve discovered the Senior Olympics. “Senior Olympics,” I thought, “isn’t that for real old people who can barely move and can earn, at best, snickers at their pathetic attempts to look athletic?”  In my pride, I thought so, until I began to investigate.

The Tennessee State Championship 5K Cycling Time Trial is being held on June 22 of this year. There will be three age categories. In 2012, the winning time in my age group was 7:45. Of all three categories, the fastest time was 6:53 -- an average speed of 27 mph! (In comparison, a professional bicycle racer averages 31 mph.) Slow seniors? Hardly.

I’ve signed up for this event. Why? At 55 years old, I could crash and be injured. I could have a heart attack. Skeptics may say, “You’re too old. Shouldn’t you just attempt more passive activities?” or “Aren’t you just experiencing a mid-life crisis?”  My answer?  A resounding NO!

I ride because I CAN. I ride thinking of all those who can’t, and so I ride for them. I ride for my mother, who passed away at age 52 from a heart attack. I ride for my brother Chris, whose body was devastated by spinal meningitis, who passed away at age 16, who never once rode a bike. I ride for my future grandchildren, and I eagerly anticipate pulling them in that bike trailer…

I also ride to inspire YOU to get out there and cycle, swim, run, or move in any way you can...for a brighter future, better health, and more joy-filled days.

With the help of several sponsors, including Bearden Bike and Trail, I’m going to Franklin, TN on June 22nd to win a gold medal. Not silver or bronze. Why settle for anything less? Gold is gold. If I medal on that day, I will qualify to go to the Senior Olympic National Championships in the summer of 2014. Why? Because I can, it’s fun, and the challenge is there before me.

Pick your challenge, and meet it with courage. Meet it with strength. It’s better to look back on life when you’re 100 years old and say: “I can’t believe I did that!” than to say, “I wish I had done that.”

You can do it, so start today!

John is 55 years old and lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, with his wife Ann. John and Ann met as freshmen at The Ohio State University in 1977 and have been married for 31 years. They have three sons, ages 20-27. An avid cyclist for 41 years, John continues an active cycling lifestyle that includes Greenway riding with his family and friends and some road racing.

Photos by Suzanne McNeil, Knoxville, TN.

Falling Off Your Workout Routine - And Getting Back On It!

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
It happens to all of us from time to time. Even for those of us over 50, we can lose focus and fall off our exercise routine. But, it's not the end of the world and, it's easy to restore your routine - it starts with today. Just forget that you missed for awhile and get back to it. Read on for help getting back to your workouts!

Bob’s Experience:

Let me start out by saying that I am not perfect. Shocking, no? I admit it; I have fallen off of my 50Plus fitness routine. But I don’t think that makes me any less 50plusPlusFit, not at all. It just means I’m human.

I don’t like falling off of my routine. Doing so obviously makes me feel bad. I feel bad about the fact that I “failed” myself; I didn’t deliver what I committed to myself. Add to that the fact that by falling off the routine I’ve compromised my progress in advancing my fitness level. Then also, I feel sluggish, I don’t sleep as well, I’m grumpy, I’m just a mess!

But all is not lost. I just have to get back on the routine, and the first thing I do is forgive myself for being human. I practice what a good buddy of mine once suggested, I don’t look back, I look forward. I know that I’m just a weak human being, so I accept it, get over it, get back on the routine.

There are some things I do to try to keep my fitness focused and on the routine plan though. For example, I schedule my workouts on our Online Personal Trainer; it not only has great workout programs for weight loss and muscle gain, but a scheduling calendar as well!. Yep, I make an exercise appointment with myself, and it helps, believe me. I have one of the email calendar systems that allow me to schedule a recurring appointment, so I do that. And then if I need to change the time one day due to work or whatever, I simply reschedule that one day. I used to do the same thing when I used a paper day-planner system as well and it really helps.

Now despite the appointment with myself, there are those times when I’m a no-show. It happens. You just gotta pick yourself up and tell yourself that the next workout will get you back in the groove, back on a routine track and back to the quality of lifestyle that you want.

Ron’s Expertise:

I hear this all of the time – people start out with the best intentions and then, life gets in the way. There’s a big project with a short deadline at work. Or, there’s a sick child at home. Or, I tore into a weekend remodeling project that turned for the worse – and I have to complete it because I now have no functional (bathroom/kitchen/whatever).

It happens – but once you realize your best-laid plans have gone sour, get back to your workout routine or, if your “normal” times aren’t going to work for you, consider changing when you workout. I have clients who find early mornings work best for them. They get out of bed, come in, work out and conduct the rest of their day without the “I need to get a workout in” concern hanging over their head.

I also have clients who are not "morning people” and feel that they need to get their workout in at the end of the day – some even after the evening meal and getting the kids into bed.

But, you have to make an appointment with yourself – put your workouts in your calendar and don’t let yourself reschedule them. After all, if you don’t workout, you may not be able to do the other things on your calendar. It’s that important!

So, find what will logically work for you and stay focused on your workouts, stay dedicated to yourself and get back on the road to being 50plusPlusFit!

Am I Really a Senior?

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Age is a perceived notion at best. An 18-year old may think that someone over 50 is ready for the rocking chair or worse. But, as we find ourselves over 50, we still see the same person in the mirror we always have. Does that person move about freely, without pain or fear of losing balance? Here's our take on the term "senior."

Bob’s Experience

Well, so now someone has labeled me a “senior.” How about that! I’ve never referred to myself that way before and really never even thought of myself that way. But I recently had occasion to shop online for hotel rooms and low and behold I found out that I’m a senior, or at least two major hotel chains think I am, and eligible for a rate discount. What struck me most about this was how each of them designated or defined a senior guest; one offered senior discounts for those 55 and over, while the other reached down to the age 50! 50? Are you kidding me? I think of my friends’ parents as seniors.

This finding actually made me feel pretty good, since I’m 63 and never knew I was a senior. I suppose those two hotels would consider me ancient! If someone wants to label me senior, have at it. I don’t care for three significant reasons:

  1. The opinions of hotel chains, etc. don’t carry much weight with me,
  2. I’ll label myself, thank you very much, and
  3. I don’t feel like a senior, either mentally or physically, I feel 50plusPlusFit!

Now, all that being said, we are about to address exercise for seniors on our site, encouraging people regardless of their advanced years to get fit. After all, even our parents and senior friends can get fit and continue to improve their level of fitness. They truly can improve their physical (and related mental) wellbeing at any age.

But back to my issue of being labeled senior, I just don’t feel “senior.” And there can be, a difference between your chronological age and your physiological age. Just look at some 40 year olds walking around today who physiologically look (and often act) older or more senior than many of us 50 plus do. I’m more fit looking, more agile and more energetic than many, if not most of many 40 year olds. I bet Ron the Trainer can attest to that based on his experience in personal training people of all ages.

I believe strongly that part of this age thing, being a senior or not, being “old” versus “older” is driven by your attitude. If you’ve got the right attitude and pay attention to your body by always working at increasing your level of fitness, you’ll be so much more than senior or even older, you’ll be 50plusPlusFit!

Oh, BTW, you might be wondering if I took advantage of the hotel senior discount. Well my mind is as fit as my body, so you bet I did!

Ron’s Experience

Bob, you sound really annoyed about this discovery,or at least by being labeled senior!! Just remember, age is truly a number! Recently a 102 year-old woman was featured on the national news who still works out every day at the gym. I’m sure the network found that to be amazing but, in my gym there are several 90+ members who arrive every day for a workout and they walk in and out of the club more vertical and fit that many people I see outside of the gym who are half their ages.

The reality is, we have to work out every day in order to retain an independent lifestyle. I was reminded of this recently when I visited a “retirement center.” Every single resident there had some form of mobility problem and many were using walkers due to inability to move or, lack of balance and fear of falling. And, these were the “good” ones. Let’s be reminded of the people in their 70s and beyond who are wheel-chair bound or worse, bed-ridden.

So, back on a more positive note, a good routine of cardio and resistance workouts 4-6 days per week is the best way I know to remain able to walk, move about and function freely well into our “golden years” and it starts today, before trouble starts to set in. A great place to start is with our Online Personal Trainer where you’ll find hundreds of exercises, dozens complete workout program for weight loss and muscle gain, and online fitness tracking to journal your diet and workout progress.   

So, let’s not worry about labels but instead, get busy insuring the quality of our lives will be awesome now, and when WE think we’re seniors! Get busy working with us and you’ll be 50plusPlusFit!

Benefits Gained by the Committed Tai Chi Player

tai chi benefits for fitness over 50by Rod Morin
It is said that Tai Chi (Taiji) is the Mother of the ten thousand things. In today’s hectic lifestyle the “ten thousand things” could be seen as stressors and the wise woman will at some point understand that one doesn’t have to submit to these outside pressures. The question then becomes; how do we accomplish this difficult task?

Tai Chi for those who are unfamiliar with this internal art is much more than a slow dance like movement that people over 50 enjoy. Tai Chi or more accurately stated Taijiquan, is a philosophy and a lifestyle. The Taiji symbol that everyone is familiar with is a two dimensional representation of a philosophy which states that everything is interconnected, without beginning or end, and that harmony and balance is imperative for an individual. This harmony and balance has to be achieved on fives different planes to be complete. These planes are the physical, emotional, mental, energetic and spiritual dimensions of our lives. Only through the incorporation of the Tai Chi principles will the player be able to achieve this universal harmony.

Most people begin Tai Chi for the often cited health benefits of enhanced physical balance, leg strength, flexibility, oxygenation of the blood, enhanced lung capacity, detoxification and stress reduction gained through this gentle form of exercise. For these benefits alone Tai Chi is worth exploring yet there is more, much more to be gained if the player truly seeks what Tai Chi has to offer.

Imagine being able to neutralize the energy in even the most traumatic situations and remain calm and grounded. Imagine being able to be open minded enough to see and appreciate dozens of possibilities when most people would just see tragedy and loss. Imagine reconnecting to your innermost self and being able to take advantage of the wisdom of Source. These are the benefits gained by the committed Tai Chi player.

I find it ironic and somewhat amusing that it is the 50+ generation that usually seeks the benefits of Tai Chi because, the lessons we learn could and certainly should be utilized by the younger generation. But it is obvious that slow is definitely not the language of today’s youth now is it?

So we resign ourselves to our differences and the wise Tai Chi player sits back, centered and balanced, watching as the world spins faster and faster, content in the understanding and implementation of self-mastery, the ultimate goal of the Tai Chi player.

For more information on Tai Chi contact Rod at  BarrieTai Chi.

Row Your Way to a Fitter You

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Seems as though we're always looking for something new and different - especially when it comes to cardio. The same cardio can get boring and our bodies don't respond as well to the workout. A departure from our normal 50plusPlusFit procedures, this week is pretty much Bob's testimony to his favorite machine. Even so, for those of us over 50, here's a idea to freshen up your workout. Read on and enjoy! 

Bob’s Experience

Some have asked me what one piece of exercise equipment I would buy if I could only have one. Most of these questions are posed by friends looking to exercise at home for their cardio health. And I’ve been giving them the same answer for about twenty years. There are a lot of options out there, but for my money, I'd go with a rowing machine. I love the rowing machine! Whenever I'm at the gym or find one while traveling, I always jump on the rower. And back when I had a home gym, it was my go-to piece of cardio equipment then too. Here's why…

First you can get a great cardio workout on the rowing machine, as good if not better than any other form. Pulling that handle and doing so at a good clip can really work up a good sweat and get the heart pumping. But the other really big benefit I find is the tremendous amount of resistance work I get that strengthens and tones the muscles of several body parts. The rower works arms, biceps and triceps, plus forearms, shoulders, back, legs and even butt. For my money, the rower is a total body workout that I can also do while watching the news with a set of headphones on (the rower does make a little noise). It's great for me.

That being said, it may not be to your liking. So my advice is to try out a variety of equipment before buying. Hopefully you can try at a club over time rather than just in a store for a few minutes. You may find that your favorite piece of workout equipment is a great pair of running shoes or a workout ball (lots can be done with very little equipment – more on that in another article!). The most important consideration is that you like the workout well enough to commit to doing it as a regular part of your life's schedule. Remember, idle fitness equipment does you no good. And, it gets you no closer to an active 50plusPlusFit lifestyle!

And by the way, if you already subscribe to our Online Personal Trainer, the exercises database has a terrific video on maintaining proper form while rowing, thus maximizing your benefit and minimizing any risk of injury.

Ron’s Expertise

A rowing machine may be a great idea and truly, the whole body is working. As with any cardio equipment, the workout can become tedious, like Bob mentioned watching the news while rowing , as a distraction might be necessary for some. And with any exercise, people with existing conditions such as knee or back problems may have to use extra care when on the rower. Form and technique tips for everyone includes:

  • shoulders down,
  • back flat vs. rounded,
  • hold abdominals strong

to avoid injury or develop discomfort.

If I were buying one item for home, it would be difficult for me to choose. I do like all-in-one resistance devices that can isolate work on specific body parts with minimal changes in seat, cable and other parts. I also like elliptical articulating arms that work your upper body while giving you a cardio workout. Treadmills are always a popular choice at home. But, whatever you choose, make sure you will use it – some industry estimates speak to the fact that over 70% of home workout equipment ends up collecting dust or becomes a clothing rack – and never used at home for it’s designed purpose. I am also guilty of this – having had several in-home workout devices that went unused. I will drive to a gym and workout but, to use something at home – well, not so much!

My best advice is if you are planning to buy something to use at home, take your time shopping – don’t make a quick decision. Go to a store that specializes in workout equipment. A department store at the mall that has treadmills next to power tools won’t have the people on hand with the expertise to help you with a buying decision. And, while there, ask to try out the equipment – spend 20 minutes on the treadmill, elliptical or whatever item you’re considering. See if you like the way it feels. It’s a pretty big investment so, make sure you like it well enough to use it. So let’s get ready to move to a new level of fitness for a 50plusPlusFit lifestyle!

Fitness for The Great Indoors

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
As the weather turns harsh in many parts of the country, people begin looking for indoor workouts - even those of us over 50. There are many options and this article outlines many. Read on for some tips on working out indoors.

Bob’s Experience:

I love being outdoors for a workout and many of my friends do too. 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 or that spinning class. 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. And I think our buddy Ron has some very interesting options to recommend.

Ron’s Expertise: 

One of the hottest cardio options around 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 …

Striptease – no I’m not kidding! There are now group exercise classes set to sexy music and you are encouraged to bring in a boa or other "discard-able" clothing article for use  as a prop during the class. And, yes – it IS serious exercise! But no, you don’t have to "take it all off!"

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 50plusPlusFit!

Exercise Tips For 50+

By Ron the Trainer
Working out can be hard enough but, add in a health condition and it might feel like you’re dragging around a boat anchor! In the industry, it’s referred to as working with specialized populations – but chronic back pain or some other health concern makes us feeling far from “special!”

So, what do we do? Please DON’T do what 90% of people with chronic conditions do … sit and stop moving! Doctors and the fitness industry agree that exercise can help to control pain from arthritis to fibromyalgia to chronic back pain. Read up on some exercise tips for 50+ that will keep you moving & the pain under control.

Let's start with arthritis.  You have to move the joints so that you keep them from, well freezing up, so to speak. Arthritic joints that aren’t moving will deteriorate to a point where they won’t move – at least not fully and certainly, not without considerable discomfort. But, moderate activity every day will lessen the discomfort and keep the joint moving freely.

With fibromyalgia, the movements in the affected areas need to be conducted at a slow pace and with little or no additional weight (e.g., hand weights). With this condition, strenuous activity will cause the discomfort to be worse but, once again, moderate activity will keep you moving.

Back pain can be kept to a minimum by stretching, and movement. You will want to concentrate on core strengthening while avoiding loading the spine with additional weight such as squats with a barbell on your shoulders. Stretching daily or more often can help keep pain at a minimum.

If these conditions describe you, please remember that exercises in the gym (or your home workout room) are not the only places to obtain gains. For more exercise tips for 50+, check out the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer. Your everyday activities performed correctly will help you combat pain. Gardening is a great place to focus on moving! But, moving properly and maintaining good posture are the key.

For example, if you are weeding a flower bed, don’t stand there and bend over – you are asking your back to support you in an unnatural position. And, your back will be sore or painful. Instead, find a short stool or something that you can sit on (I like an upside down 5 gallon bucket). This will take the stress away from your spine and you will be able to work longer and without as much pain.

Arthritic knees? You will want to do non weight-bearing cardio such as on a recumbent bike – which is also best for chronic back issues. Weight-bearing activities, especially on an un-even surface or with directional changes can really make your knees flair up with pain. Squats with a fitness ball between you and the wall are great – if you pay attention to speed and don’t ask your knees to flex past 90 degrees.

So, for those of us who have “special issues” there’s help! Please don’t stop moving – you will want to be free and independent for your whole life. Lack of exercise is the prime reason you see people unable to walk and care for their daily needs. Now more than ever it’s time to get up and get out of there so you can move freely. After all, you’re 50plusPlusFit!

Extreme Workouts – Pros vs. Cons

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
There's working out hard, working out tough and now, extreme workouts! It seems like every year there's always some twist on working out. But, if you're over 50 should you be stepping up to the "new" workout level? We do indeed have something to say about extreme workouts - read on!

Bob’s Experience:

I keep seeing ads for exercise programs, videos and even classes where I workout that call for some really extreme efforts. I mean some of these routines drive the person doing the exercises to what I consider to be extremes. Some are incredibly long periods of time, while others are some really crazy moves.

Now I consider myself in pretty good shape, but I don’t consider myself an Olympic or pro athlete either. In fact I wonder if even the pros would subject themselves to some of these extreme workouts? I bet not. In fact, in the past year I’ve read of NFL players adding yoga to their training routines. And I think most of us would consider yoga to be a very affective, non-extreme form of exercise, but yet NFL players have added yoga to their considerable time spent in the weight room. But I’ve not heard of the NFL trainers adding P90X to their athletes’ regimens, nope!

Now I have to admit that I’ve not really tried any of the available extreme routines, but like I said I’m pretty darn fit from just sticking with some basic strength training and a variety of “normal” cardio exercises. So while I have been bashing these extreme routines as well, extreme, let’s ask Ron. Maybe I’m seeing it all wrong. 

Ron’s Expertise:

It’s tough to deny the results people get from participating in extreme workouts such as P90X, Insanity and other hard-core routines. If you increase your exercise level, number of days per week and control your calorie intake, there’s no question that you’ll see results. But, at what price?

You see, in most of these routines, some of the exercises are pretty grueling, and considered dangerous even if executed properly, especially for those of us over 50. Some of the routines put our knees, lower back, shoulders – just about every part of the body in a position to be injured.

In many routines, plyometrics have become very popular. A popular plyometrics move involves quick jumps onto boxes or platforms that are higher than the knees – sometimes waist-high. It’s impressive to see someone do this – but what if they miss (and I see that at least once a week or so at my gym!). Plus, landing with all of your weight on the balls of your feet and knees bent becomes a prescription for an injury or knee replacement. Besides, what practical use is this unless you’re the stunt double for the Six Million Dollar Man?

Other aspects of extreme workouts include very long sets of intense cardio that will definitely help you shed fat but, as you fatigue your form/technique suffers and you open yourself up to an injury. Examples of this are 5 minutes of mountain climbers or relay drills. As a trainer to the masses, I am comfortable with 30-60 second sets of cardio drills for those without an existing issue such as lower back trouble, but longer sets just don’t make sense.

There are exceptions to every rule, such as my 73 year-old client who participates annually in our local MS150, 150-mile bike ride, short marathons and other extreme sports. Conversely, my 48 year-old client who participated in Mudder Runs and triathlons recently injured a thigh muscle and now the most extreme thing he can do is to walk in the pool to aid in rehabilitation.

Additionally, I am here to testify that the fitness industry constantly discovers that some exercises are not good for us or,  are “contraindicated.” An example is the lat pull-down. A decade ago, it was common to recommend a set of lat pull-downs in front and behind the head. We now know that this exercise behind the head is a prescription for a rotator cuff tear. I am concerned that many of these extreme workouts may end up going down as contraindicated as well. And, for those of us over 50, we might already have some long-standing joint or muscle issue that doesn’t need help being a debilitating problem.

So instead of trying extreme workouts, my recommendation is to take the high road by stepping up your number of workout days, and exercises per day instead of high intensity and insanity. A perfect place to get started is our Online Personal Trainer. There you’ll find hundreds of tried and true exercises along with calories burned and a way to track your workouts and progress. There are workout programs for weight loss and muscle gain. And even if you’re an experienced exerciser, check out the Personal Trainer for something fresh and different to add to your workout routine and track your progress. Either way, step up your workouts safely and you’ll be 50plusPlusFit!

Should you Exercise with Arthritis?

by Alice Burron
We all have physical limitations to deal with, but no matter if your limitation is in the joints or another body system, exercise can be of benefit - and exercising with arthritis is no exception. Whether you are a senior or just over 50, there is some type of exercise you can do for your overall health and fitness, plus it can help you manage your arthritis as well.

There are two types of arthritis which can alter a workout approach accordingly; osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). With either arthritis, check with your physician before you begin a new exercise program. RA can flare up, making it very difficult and painful, at times, to be active. Limit your activities during flare-ups to feel-good fitness, such as water aerobics (in a warmer pool, if possible), gentle stretching and yoga (you may want to do it after a hot shower), and riding a recumbent bike (to limit joint impact). This low-impact, gentle type of exercise will increase blood flow to your muscles and joints, and afterwards help your joints stay mobile and loose.

OA usually affects single particular joints, not all joints in the body. Exercise has been proven to help those with OA by, again, increasing joint mobility, and adding muscle strength to support joints. Strength training and cardiovascular training are recommended, but with mindful awareness around the limited joints. It depends on the location of your OA as to what cardiovascular activities work best for you.

If you're just beginning an exercise routine try different types of exercise cautiously and conservatively. Give your joints time to adjust and adapt, and be mindful of the difference between pain and discomfort; do not exercise if there is pain, but mild discomfort is a sign that you are accomplishing work that can benefit muscles and joints. You are ultimately most knowledgeable about your body, however, so use your best judgment.

An ideal exercise routine for maximum benefit includes 5-7 days of cardiovascular exercise, and 3 days of strength training. If the thought of strength training intimidates you, or you don't have access to a gym, try using exercise bands. If you're still unsure about what exercises to do, find a qualified personal trainer in your area to visit with and they'll be a great resource for you. Or try this site's Online Personal Trainer, which has a selection of beginner workout programs including bands, bodyweight and light weights

Don't let physical limitations get in your way - there's always some exercise type that you can do to feel better and take control!

For additional insights into all forms of 50+ exercise, contact Alice at 2BFit and Soapstone Fitness

Ladies, Chop Your Muffin Top

50 plus woman joggingby Alice Burron
It’s a sneaky little problem…when we get over 50 our middle can start to expand, and fat seems to magically appear at the waistline.  Ironically, the current fashion trend is the low-rise pant, which allows that middle to hang over the edge - as if you planned to show it off.  If you’re not satisfied with the status of this muffin top look, follow this strategy to attack the fat, and subsequently get lean enough to stop being concerned about it.

First, however, let’s talk about why the excess weight around the middle is there to begin with.  Carrying weight around the mid-section is due to several factors: bearing children (stretching and weakening the abdominal muscles and skin), a slower metabolism (that naturally occurs with age and contributes to weight gain), less activity associated with age, and hormonal changes which can concentrate abdominal fat deposition in particular.

To get a handle on the situation (not a “love-handle”, mind you) implement this plan of attack for the muffin top:

1.  Do consistent cardio. Increase cardiovascular exercise to 5-7 days a week, from 45 minutes to an hour.  Walking at a fast pace, jogging, biking, and cardio classes are examples of cardio exercises. This may seem like a lot, but the goal is to burn calories while also keeping your cardiovascular system strong.  Keep in mind that often the belly-fat seems like the last to go – that’s because, in many of us, there’s more fat to lose in that area.

2.  Strength train 2-3 times a week.  Toning all of your muscles will make them more metabolically active, and thus burn more calories, that will benefit overall body weight-loss and maintenance.  But of course you’ll want to include your abdominal muscles, which involves the upper, lower and side abdominals. For upper abdominal exercises, try some crunches on the ball.  For lower abdominal exercises, perform flutter kicks while lying on the ground, and then bring knees to chest, then straighten legs out to one inch off the ground). For oblique exercises (your side abdominal muscles), side bends, side crunches, and side planks work that area really well.  I’d like to take the opportunity to make this point: there is no such thing as “spot reduction”.  For overall well-being and muscle balance, work all body parts. For guidance, this site's Online Personal Trainer offers lots of tools for both cardio and strength training, including workout programs for weight loss and building muscle.

3.  Dance.  Zumba, belly dancing, and other forms of dancing involve the entire hip/abdominal area for awesome toning results, and increased spinal flexibility and overall coordination and are a great calorie-burning workout.  And you have a good time, too.

4.  Keep your weight in check.  If you stay at a healthy weight, your belly fat will be less noticeable.  Weight loss and maintenance must include both activity and healthful eating.  You can do this simply by keeping portion sizes moderate and eating natural foods - including lots of fruits and vegetables, and limiting sugar and white starches. Research has also shown that excess alcohol can contribute to belly fat.  Drink in moderation.

5.  Wear the right pant size and style. Realistically, some of us will still have to deal with the muffin top despite all of our best efforts.  To appear lean and fit make sure your pant waist extends above your belly button, and that the pant size is big enough to keep from squeezing fat over the top.  Spandex material included in the overall pant fabric can also offer a girdle-type benefit, as would wearing a tummy-taming support hose or panty underneath your pants (for the ladies, of course).  In the meanwhile, keep up the cardio and keep down the calories and you will eventually prevail.

For additional insights into all forms of 50+ exercise, contact Alice at Soapstone Fitness or 2BFIT.

Complete Your 50+ Fitness

By Bob the Trainer –

over 50 woman on weight machineIf you’re getting some exercise in, are you fit? What does it mean to be fit? Or completely fit? Too many think being “fit” means being thin, but that’s hardly the complete story. Particularly when over 50, being completely fit is even more important, and will become increasingly important as we move on to the next decades.

Have you noticed some older folk around you? Are they lacking good balance and too weak to get out of the easy chair easily? Most likely the answer is yes. To avoid that for yourself you should follow a complete fitness plan. Here are my four pillars of complete 50plusPlusFit fitness -

1 - Cardiovascular Fitness

This is the most commonly practiced form of exercise, mostly because the medical community has at least advised that we take care of our hearts and lungs. Cardiovascular fitness is your body's ability to pump oxygen to your body through your blood while exercising. Whether running, jogging, cycling or just walking or doing yard work, your body needs continued efficient oxygen flow to keep you going.

If you’re new to a planned exercise regimen, just start off walking and work your way up slowly to more challenging exercise. Add additional time and intensity slowly and steadily. And mix it up to keep it interesting, trying a cardio class or a rower or swimming, etc. instead of your regular bike or treadmill.

2 - Muscular Fitness

Strength training is the most foreign to the most people, especially those 50+, who may not have seen the inside of gym or fitness center in quite a while. But strength training is extremely important to those 50 plus. We need to include regular strength, or resistance training in our regimen to assure that we can get out of that easy chair in twenty years.

We need strength to move ourselves and things, and we need muscle endurance to move for extended periods of time. Now you don’t have to lift weights like an Olympian or bodybuilder either, but you do need to challenge your muscles. But if you’re just starting out, just grab some light dumbbells or resistance tubes. There are several such workouts in our Online Personal Trainer, which includes a calorie counter and diet plans too!

And here’s a bonus – with strength training you’ll not only regain strength, you’ll also add lean muscle to your frame. Lean muscle burns many more calories than does extra body fat, thus helping you to lose weight if necessary and maintain a healthy weight more easily.

3 – Flexibility Fitness

Flexibility (or lack thereof) is not necessarily foreign to most people, it’s just the most overlooked or ignored aspect of fitness. Without flexibility, your muscles and joints will get stiff and movement will be slower and restricted. By adding some flexibility training, like stretching, you will make sure that your body can move through its full range of motion. This in turn will assure that you maximize your strength workouts and cardio exercise, and do so more efficiently, more completely, and with less soreness afterwards. Stretching should be done before and after you exercise. Plan on stretching by making stretching part of your exercise schedule.

4 - Body Fat Fitness

We’ve all read or heard about this one in recent years - carrying extra body fat is unhealthy. Extra pounds of body fat particularly around your middle, contributes to many maladies including heart attack. And again, if you’re over fifty and been inactive, you likely have some you could lose. To be body fat fit women should have a body fat composition lower than 24 percent, while men should be lower than 17 percent. Use cardio exercise to burn more fat calories and use strength training to super charge that loss by adding lean calorie-burning lean muscle.

Follow these four fitness pillars to complete your 50+ fitness. You’ll be 50plusPlusFit in no time.

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

A Fitter Brain with Citicoline?

By Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RDN, FAND -

brain imageMy husband is concerned about his brain. He exercises, is lean, and eats right, but increasingly he says he has a hard time remembering the right word or clearly articulating his thoughts. So, when I attended a lecture by Drs. Deborah Yurgelun-Todd and Perry Renshaw from The Brain Institute of the University of Utah on the brain health benefits of the dietary supplement, CognizinÒ citicoline, I was intrigued. (The session was sponsored by Kyowa Hakko, USA (http://kyowa-usa.com/), a global manufacturer of compounds used in dietary supplements and CognizinÒ brand citicoline).

After the conference I did some research by starting with Natural Medicines and then doing a literature search through Pub Med (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed) to learn more about citicoline. I also contacted Dr. Yurgelun-Todd about her research on citicoline, as she has been studying it for over a decade. I found that citicoline was originally used as a treatment for individuals who had a stroke.  It is estimated that 2 million brain cells die every minute after a stroke so early treatment is essential to preserve the brain and maintain normal function. In a recent review of citicoline used in stroke patients, it was found that citicoline was safe to use and had beneficial effects on recovery, especially in older patients (>70 yrs) who had no other treatments. One study found that when citicoline was given to stroke patients within 3 hours, they were more likely to have complete recovery compared to those who got a placebo. Not all studies find such great results, but overall the evidence of a positive improvement in brain function after a stroke is well founded.

Food is not a good source of citicoline; only a small amount is found in organ meats. When citicoline is taken orally (in a pill) it is broken down into a B-vitamin, choline, and cytidine which is further metabolized into a compound called uridine. Both choline and uridine can cross the blood brain barrier and once in the brain, they can be converted back to citicoline, sometimes referred to as CDP-choline. Within the brain citicoline has several actions. First, it helps stimulate the production of cell membranes. Second, citicoline increases the production of the neurotransmitters which have been shown to increase attention, focus and memory.

Research on citicoline for other disorders where cognitive abilities are affected is scant, but promising. Researchers can’t yet say that citicoline will improve memory or cognition in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, Bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease or traumatic brain injury, but stay tuned as more research is conducted in these areas.

I asked Dr. Yurgelun-Todd what she would say about healthy 50+ adults taking citicoline and she said that there is some good evidence to support the use of the supplement on improved focus and sustained attention. Her studies have used doses ranging from 250-4000 mg/day but she says a dose of 250-500 mg/day is effective and well-tolerated.

What about my husband? He has been taking citicoline for a couple of months (250 mg twice a day) and notices an improvement in word finding and clarity in conversations. He said he sometimes had to “think in pictures” when telling a story, but now he thinks he has better mental clarity. Of course, this is anecdotal. As for his memory, well, he still leaves the house without his wallet and phone and can’t find the milk in the refrigerator, but he feels it has helped him and that is a good thing.

Fitness and Chronic Disease

Bob the TrainerBy Bob the Trainer -

We’ve written many times about the benefits of being fit, more energy, better body composition, being stronger, being more agile, etc.  And we have also pointed out how being fit or improving your fitness level by even small steps at a time can help you lower cholesterol, lower high blood pressure, help control diabetes and other maladies that are particularly prevalent for those of us over 50, and even more so for seniors. But what about lingering chronic diseases, can a fitness regimen even be tolerated? The answer is yes, and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise or hold you back, though they may be well intentioned, turned to those who know.

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the premier organization that certifies personal trainers and other exercise specialists, almost no one with any chronic condition is totally restricted from exercise. Yes, there are definitely some special considerations to be taken in to account when exercising with various chronic conditions, but your doctor can guide you there. Then with a release and input from your physician, a highly trained personal trainer  will set you up with an exercise routine that will improve your quality of lifestyle, for any conditions. By the way, great and helpful exercise routines can also be set up by instructors of yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates. Here is a recent story of inspiration of how yoga has helped a brave man with cerebral palsy, by way of US News.

Regular exercise will actually help you live with these conditions, and most importantly can help minimize or reverse some of a particular conditions’ symptoms. Chronic conditions that well regular exercise can help you with include:

  • woman and man over 50 walkingObesity
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Lung Disease
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease

Also, the 50plusPlusFit Personal Trainer has diet and fitness plans that can help, including a specific Diabetes Diet. Plus it had the WIX Health Risk Assessment that allows you to track your health screening and doctor visit measures. You might want to try the 30 day free trial.

So if you (or a friend or loved one) live with one of these chronic health conditions, definitely check with your doctor, get a release and turn to regular exercise to help with these conditions and improve overall health. Remember, you can do this… you can be 50plus-plusfit!

New Year’s Resolutions Success - 3 Simple Steps

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Here is the MOST common fitness goal of all time – New Year’s Resolutions, especially for losing weight and especially those of us over 50. Let’s see what they have to say about all of the fuss!

Bob’s Experience

Well now those New Year’s resolutions are staring us in the mirror! Uh, oh! I’ve certainly made (and broken) my share of fitness resolutions over the years. Indeed in the not too distant past I’d set ‘em and I’d break ‘em  year after year, generally so because I simply set myself up for failure – I set really unrealistic goals and I didn’t have a really good plan, or if I did I didn’t really stick to it.

Seems in the years that I failed my fitness resolution I tried too hard to make up for all my indulgent sins of overboard holiday merriment with a really strict, crash diet following the turn of the year. And how really dumb was that? Going from the holiday’s feeding frenzy to the post-holiday famine.

Then while I knew I would near starve myself, on the other end of the spectrum I planned to workout every day of the week, hitting the gym at 5 of 5:30 a.m. every single day… just like basic training! Of course I’d forgotten or ignored the fact that I needed to get plenty of nourishment (not starvation) for those tough workouts, so the workouts weren’t so productive and I soon got sloppy, followed by failing to meet my goals.

But I got smarter about it as I learned more about my body, my health and fitness needs, and how to approach those needs, which calls for a more year-round balanced approach. Nonetheless, I know that many of you will start the year off with a well meaning New Year’s resolution and I also know that you can be successful with your resolution and there’s no better person to help you than Ron

Here’s to your Happiest and Healthiest New Year yet! Ron?

Ron’s Expertise

Thanks Bob – hope the Holidays were great for you – and the New Year is healthy and prosperous for everyone who ventures into 50plusPlusFit!

Suffice to say that we in the fitness industry see the “resolutioneers” come into the gyms after January 1 each year like a tidal wave! OMG! They are crazy with pent up anxiety about how badly de-conditioned or overweight they have become and are on a crash-course to change the world.

While I applaud the “resolutioneers” intentions, they are, as Bob said, setting themselves up for failure. It’s truly unbelievable how these gym-newbies come in and attack their workouts. An accurate prediction is that they will be sitting at home instead of coming back to the gym by the first of February – March 1 at the latest. And this is truly sad.

But, every year a few of the newbies figure it out and they stick it out. Some even stay with it long enough to see some exciting results! What’s the difference between the quitters and those who stick it out? Simply three steps – read on.

First, those who come in with realistic goals tend to not get as discouraged. For example, I had a discussion with a female client wanting to lose 10 pounds by the end of January. Ten pounds in one month – definitely doable! Remember, with enhanced focus on calorie control and stepping up the workouts, you can drop a pound or two per week – even more with an aggressive plan. But, ten pounds coming out of the Holiday Season is probably very possible.

Second, you need to have a plan. Don’t come into the gym or start working out at home without knowing what you’ll be doing, and when. The most successful exercisers have a plan for each day of the week , e.g., cardio on Monday, lifting on Tuesday, cardio on Wednesday, etc. And, when it comes to lifting, have a plan for that too. My favorite lifting plan incorporates all the major muscle groups each time you workout. You didn’t leave any body parts at home, so work ‘em out while you’re there!

Third, have a smart meal plan in place. No success will come without a good calorie balanced meal plan and the willpower to stay with it. Just because you had a great workout is no reason to “treat” yourself. You are trying to lose weight, not maintain. So, the treats must wait until you’ve seen progress! 

There are many tools available to help you:

  1. plan
  2. track and
  3. measure

both your exercise and diet and stick to it for a successful result! A really terrific tool is our Online Personal Trainer. It’s loaded features like workout programs for weight loss, flexible diet options and online fitness tracking.

But regardless of your tools of choice, pay attention to your goals – make them realistic. Make sure you make plans for a structured workout routine and smart meal planning. Remember, if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail! Keep close attention to what you’ve planned and stick with it. You’ll emerge a brand-new you! Get determined to be your 50plusPlusFit best!

Soreness: Normal Part of Fitness

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
What went wrong? I worked out hard but now I hurt all over! Muscle soreness often comes with working out. The degree of soreness has everything to do with what you do and, what you do about it. Please read on for more on soreness.

Bob’s Experience:

I am sore! In fact I am quite sore, but just in certain places, certain muscles. You could say that I have a pain in the … not really!

Soreness is something to expect when you workout, be it strength training like lifting weights or using resistance bands, or if you’re getting in some cardio exercise. It will appear from time to time because of different reasons, like using muscles you haven’t used in a while, trying a new exercise or re-starting your exercise routine after a bit of a hiatus.

In my current case my back is a more than a little sore. You see I’m a displaced northerner living in Houston, but now visiting family in Canada. Can you guess what made me sore? Snow… and the shoveling that accompanies this winter wonderland. Yep, I shoveled snow yesterday for the first time in some years, and while I exercise my lower back regularly, the constant bending over and shoveling from my dominant side (I’m a righty) made its impression.

In some ways, workout soreness is really no different, and I’ve experienced it off and on during my past years of being 50plusPlusFit.  It is part of the deal. But one thing to remember, it’s a “bad news, good news” situation. Bad news – you ache some. Good news – you ache some because you’re challenging your muscles and making them stronger. And there is even more good news; the soreness passes in a fairly short period of time. In fact, usually in a couple of days, and in the case of exercise soreness, after you work the same muscles next time, the soreness will generally “work its way out” and those muscles will actually feel better after the repeat workout.

Now there are degrees of soreness - you can overdo it! I did it one time with calf raises when I was younger and far less wise. I walked funny for a couple of days and it did indeed hurt. You can also exercise with sloppy form and risk injury. Beyond avoiding injury with good form, there are different things you can do to minimize the soreness or at least make the sore muscles feel a little better. And finally, you need to know how to recognize soreness versus an injury. I’ve been through all that, and have my own remedies, etc., but I’d rather have our expert Ron help you there.

Ron’s Expertise:

During a normal workout, muscle fibers deep inside the muscles actually tear. During recovery, the muscles are healing – much like a cut on your skin. If the cut is deep enough, there may be a scar. When the muscles are torn deeply enough, they will get bigger during recovery – sort of like a scar. This tear/repair process is what causes muscles to become bigger and stronger. More fibers are created during recovery which leads to more strength and more mass.

I often tell clients that there’s a “good” sore and a “bad” sore. The difference is very distinct yet, to the novice exercise enthusiast, the line can be fuzzy.

The “good” soreness comes immediately after a set – biceps burn after a set of curls, pecs throb after a set of push-ups. That seems clear enough. And, that kind of soreness is almost always a good thing – something that is actually desirable. But, if it goes beyond a mild burning or throbbing and doesn’t go away after 30-60 seconds, that leads us into a “bad” soreness. 

The “bad” soreness is often an indication that either something was wrong before the workout and the exercise aggravated that problem or, bad form/technique during the exercise caused an injury. In either case, it’s absolutely essential that we allow time for rest and recovery. Pushing through that sort of soreness may make the situation worse, cause the sufferer to avoid daily activities and may even cause permanent damage to the area.

One prime example is lower-back pain. Statistically, we are all very likely to suffer this condition at some time in our adult lives – over 80% of all adults are expected to have significant lower-back pain at some point. If not addressed, this pain can become chronic and lead to other problems.

So, how does this relate to muscle soreness and working out? Actually, many common exercises can have a negative effect on the lower back including bench presses, many forms of cardio (running, elliptical, rowing machines, treadmills), and even ab crunches. Almost every physical activity will involve recruiting strength from the lower back as it is the “foundation” of our bodies.

Another category of muscle soreness is referred to as “DOMS” or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness” which very commonly occurs 48 hours after the workout – especially if you exercise a new muscle group, choose a new exercise or increase intensity of the exercise. DOMS is a common condition and does not indicate that poor form or technique were used, but instead shows that you have, in some way, used the sore muscle in a different way and basically “awakened” the muscle.  

Trainers agree that to minimize DOMS, one should consume 8-12 ounces of water for every 30 minutes of exercise and consume healthy protein (3-6 ounces) within 30-60 minutes after the workout. The water helps to flush out lactic acids and the protein speeds muscle repair. Also, don't forget the importance of stretching before you workout. Stretching will help elongate and loosen tight muscles, thus minimizing the risk of strain and injury. On our Online Personal Trainer you will find several demonstration videos for stretching as well as hundreds of exercise and workout videos demonstrating proper form.

So, the characteristics of “good” soreness are that they happen immediately, and are short-lived. The “bad” soreness is more intense and doesn’t go away after a brief recovery period. DOMS is not necessarily pleasurable at the time you’re feeling it but means you’re “moving up” in your workouts, and so you should feel good about developing it occasionally. The best advice is to manage soreness up to the point of pain. A “good” sore tells you that you are working on a better You – and you’re 50plusPlusFit!

If You Mind, It Will Matter

senior mind healthby Lisa B. Minn

Being 50+ and Fit often requires mental fortitude as well as strong muscles and bones.  Last year I went to a fascinating course for Health Care Providers called, The Immune System: The Mind-Body Connection. There were many research studies presented at this course but one in particular got to the heart of the whole course and is a powerful example of why our minds make such a difference in the health of our bodies.



A study done in 2003 (Mendes et. al.) compared two groups of women, one control group and one ‘stigmatized’ group who had make-up applied applied to create the appearance of a large birthmark on their faces. But this group was really just tricked into thinking they had a cosmetically- applied birthmark. The makeup was actually transparent but the subjects saw a digitized photo that was altered to make them look like they did, in fact, have the birthmark. They were then asked to perform stressful tasks such as speaking in front of other people.



The results indicated that the group that believed they had the birthmark demonstrated more signs of embarrassment and shame, and they perceived more negative behavior directed toward them. They also had more pathological autonomic nervous system (ANS) reactivity than the control group. Other studies have revealed that this ANS reactivity is associated with impaired immunity. This is just one study among many that demonstrates how perceived stress, whether real or not, can have negative affects on our health. 



This study reminds me of a quote attributed to Mark Twain. He was asked how he felt about aging and his supposed response was, "Aging is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." I'm sure there is more physiological truth to this than he could have ever known. If those research subjects didn't mind being 'stigmatized' by marks on their faces, their hearts wouldn't have raced, their palms would not have been sweaty and their immune systems would not have been taxed. 



Stress management, having a positive mental attitude, having good coping skills are all essential elements to wellbeing. A life lived without regular exercise, meditation and/or prayer, a loving family, good friends and lots of laughs will be filled with unnecessary stress that can literally make us sick. I know most everyone reading this already makes fitness a priority but what other ways do you deal with stress in your life? Is your workout ever the cause stress? Do you ever have the perception that your run wasn’t fast enough or your dawn jog isn't quite good enough? How do you get back to a positive and confident state of mind?

 You might seek the help of a personal trainer or try this site's Online Personal Trainer. These aids might provide just the support you need.

Stay happy, stay healthy!

For more expert fitness advice on yoga and fitness in general, visit Lisa at her websites thepragmaticyogi.com or lisabminn.com.

Does Cardio Exercise Have to Be So Boring?

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
How can something that is so good for you, especially those of us over 50, be so brutally boring? Cardio can be just that for some people. But there are ways to deal with and even overcome the tedious nature of getting your cardio in. Read on for more ...

Bob’s Experience:

Oh Yaaaaaaawn! Boy can cardio exercise get boring or what?  The constant pounding of the feet on the road, or the bike wheel going round and round and round; does it never end? Or change? And since I’ve been over 50, while I do believe that I’m actually more patient,  I also want a lot out of life and boredom isn’t part of that goal.

Cardio boring? Well for some folks, yes, while for others, no. Everyone is different, with different needs and expectations. Take the avid runner or cyclist for example; many of them cover mile after mile after mile without ever getting bored or losing motivation. They even really enjoying their trek. But then many practice these two as a sport as well as a form of exercise, so their reasons and challenges are different and with different motivations. You’ve heard of the “runner’s high” for example? They actually enjoy all those miles… and great for them!

I do however have friends who get so bored with cardio that they even give up on exercise. Not a good thing if you want to be 50plusPlusFit. Hopefully we all know by now that we need a combination of both cardio and strength training, and there are folks who get bored with strength training as well; but that topic is for another day.

As for myself, my cardio exercise is pretty limited, by design. I’ve found a couple of options that seem to get it done for me, rowing on a stationary rower, and intervals or walking on a treadmill (when I walk I catch up on the news or sports). So no, I don’t limit myself to just one thing, but I don’t have a smorgasbord of options either. I try to do both the rower and the treadmill a few times each week without any set mix of the two; I just do what I feel like on that day. And I don’t get bored either. Now however, on a weekend day when the weather is great I’ll take a nice, long bike ride, but mostly I can stick to my rower and treadmill.

I could mix it up more, but I personally don’t feel the need. I’ve tried the elliptical, but I guess I left my rhythm on the dance floor. So I stick with what works for me. Some people do need to mix it up more though, and for them there is actually a smorgasbord of choices, like all types of classes for example. But since I haven’t tried all the available options… I give you Ron the Trainer.

Ron’s Expertise:

Variety is truly the spice of life – especially with cardio and especially when you’re 50 plus.  At my gym, there are 88 pieces of assorted cardio equipment including treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bikes, stair mills, stairmasters and rowers. Boring? You bet! That’s why every one of those 88 cardio machines face 10 big-screen TVs. And if you're new to some of these options, our Online Personal Trainer has instructional videos for all of these so you can find your best work out plan to lose weight, boost your cardio capacity and stamina, not be too bored and track your progress.

Point is, I recognize that cardio can be boring – I could only mentally stay on the stairmaster for 25 minutes yesterday – then I went for a run because the weather was so nice. Something similar to an MP3 player is plugged into almost everyone’s ears on the cardio equipment – people are desperate to get their workout in, but not while dying of boredom.

The best suggestion I can make is to find cardio that either:

  • Soothes your mind like a run or bike ride or
  • Is challenging enough that you have to concentrate to keep going

Some people like to be challenged, others want to lose themselves in their workout and forget about everything else for a few minutes. Either way, we all need to find the “hook” that keeps us going for 30 minutes or more each time we get in a cardio workout – up to 6 days per week.

Also, our bodies become accustomed to our workouts very quickly so, it’s important to vary your workouts between different types of equipment, outdoor activities and yes, even group fitness classes such as indoor cycling (it’s not as crazy as it looks!) or maybe Zumba which is so free-style that even “I left my rhythm on the dance floor” Bob could get a great workout in. It’s fun, you’re surrounded by other people and the hour is over before you know it.

Any way you look at it, we need cardio workouts for heart strength and endurance – especially now that we’re over 50. Let’s shake it up and find creative ways to keep from being bored and yes, even looking forward to the next time you get back to your cardio workout. Cardio and you – a great combination because you’re 50plusPlusFit!

Getting Started - Fitness for the Newbie

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
OK, you're 50 years or more and have a desire to start up an exercise program. Congratulations! You're joining an elite group of individuals who really care about their current fitness and their future. But, where to begin?

Bob’s Experience:

Not unlike many plans, tasks or to-dos in life, getting started on a 50 plus fitness routine can be somewhat of a challenge, particularly for those who have been absent from the running track, bike trail or gym for a while or even forever. There are two hurdles to overcome and fortunately, neither is insurmountable. Just like starting a weight loss diet plan (which we all have done) starting an overall fitness plan takes 1) the commitment to start and, 2) the knowledge of what to do to be successful.

Of the two, the commitment to start is probably the toughest for most people. It can be daunting because you know it takes effort and we humans seem to be naturally lazy. But it gets down to how badly you want to be 50plusPlusFit. I’ve been through this personally starting as an obese teenager and lost over 70 pounds.  Then again I experienced this when I decided in my 40s that the 50s were coming and I wanted to once and for all get really fit, something I had never achieved - even after dropping all that weight as a kid.

Here’s what has helped me. I set a few goals, some short-term and some long-term. I'll start with the long term - here’s the trick, at least for me. Even as a kid, I never set a goal that I wanted to lose 70 pounds, and I believe that can be so de-motivating because it sounds so difficult, doesn’t it?

Instead, my goal was to be able to do things that other teenagers were able to do, like play sports, go swimming without feeling different or being able to just run around with the friends and ride my bike without tiring out. So my advice is, don’t set pound loss goals or very specific fitness goals. Instead set lifestyle goals. The weight loss and the improved fitness are really just means to an end. After all, 50plusPlusFit is all about fitness for our quality of lifestyle.

As for the short-term goals, my advice is simple, take baby steps, set small and attainable fitness goals, record your results and celebrate your accomplishment. And by the way,  I started my 50 plus fitness journey with the help of a personal trainer. As they say “knowledge is power,” so I wanted to empower myself. And speaking of knowledge, let’s turn to Ron the Trainer.

Ron’s Expertise:

Bob, you’re on the right track here. Getting started in any worthwhile endeavor has several psychological and physiological levels that we, imperfect mortals, must somehow pull together!

Whew, that sounds like the cards are stacked against us – and in some ways, they are. You see, if in the case of starting out on an exercise program, you need:

  •     a plan,
  •     a goal,
  •     an aggressive yet attainable timeframe to make this happen
  •     strong conviction
  •     personal accountability
  •     and what my dad called “stick-to-ativeness”

We see the internal personal struggle every single week in the gym. Monday mornings (and evenings) the gym is so crowded with members who have a renewed conviction to their exercise goals. You can almost bet they woke up and said, “O.K., it’s Monday – I’m getting back in the gym!”

And, that’s great – I always applaud members, past clients and whomever else I come into contact with for making that important first step – walking into the gym. The “other shoe” typically drops pretty fast, however. On Tuesday, there aren’t quite as many people in the gym, Wednesday is, well, hump day – let’s go out and celebrate with co-workers and skip the gym tonight. Thursday is the “new Friday” since you can’t get into favorite restaurants on Friday so, no workout Thursday. Then by Friday, you can hear the crickets in the gym – deserted. Saturdays and Sundays you see “weekend warriors” who just can’t make it in any other time of the week. And, so it goes every single week with the typical person’s conviction to their workout routine. Of course, with such infrequency, there are no goals being met.

That’s where outside accountability often makes the difference between the above scenario and actually seeing success and goal attainment. The accountability comes from (can we have a drum roll please?) a personal trainer! On the surface, a great trainer will come up with new, fresh and safe workouts for each session while addressing any chronic issues and monitor form and technique for safety. Plus, the trainer will take measurements often, counsel the client on nutrition, etc. But, there’s more to this …

For some trainers’ clients, they work with a trainer to learn how to workout correctly and without injury. Then, once they feel like they have a good understanding of exercise technique and good form, they will go out on their own. And, that’s great as long as their internal accountability remains strong.

For other clients, they admittedly wouldn’t get out of bed or darken the doorway of the gym after work if their trainer wasn’t there waiting on them. It’s an appointment with someone in their calendar, the appointment that they are somehow unable to make with themselves. Long-term clients of this kind are probably 60% of a trainer’s business.

Somewhere in the middle are clients who work a couple of times per month with their trainer to get a new routine and check in on measurements. These clients often find they need this level of frequency due to job-related travel or other personal restrictions.

Of course, a one-on-one personal trainer is not right for everyone, because of schedule or cost, etc. But we do have a great alternative to the one-on-one trainer –  our 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer. Check it out for exercise videos, workout programs to lose weight and gain muscle, meal plans and ways to track calories in and calories burned with online fitness tracking. It will guide you, motivate you and keep you on track.

So, get started now! The sooner you get started, the faster you’ll reach goals, feel stronger, better and be happier about you! Set goals with timeframes keep your conviction strong, be accountable to someone (yourself, spouse, trainer, workout buddy, someone!) and stick to your plans. This is first day of the rest of your 50plusPlusFit quality of lifestyle!

50 Plus Most Obese

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
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. Please read on...

Bob’s Experience

O.K., here’s a statistic that you won’t like. 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.

As I said, I was absolutely shocked. Currently 35.7% of the adult U.S. population as a whole is clinically obese, so that means our demographic tips the scales (pun intended) the wrong way. Again, I was shocked, and I guess I was so because I simply assumed a few things that logically (at least to me) would suggest that we led better diet and exercise lives than younger generations. For example I felt that:

  1. We had less junk food available to consume when we were younger,
  2. There were fewer fast food joints for us  to frequent, and
  3. While we had TV to compete with our physical activity levels, we didn’t have computers and the web back when adding to the tendency to sit on our butts!

So what the heck happened? As many of you know, I once was in fact clinically obese, but as I like to say, I was obese before obesity became “fashionable” or sadly, an epidemic. I was obese as a child, lost over 70 pounds at age 14 and have kept all but a few swing pounds off ever since. I’m 5’10” tall and weigh in at about 165 lbs., so I can thank my lucky stars that I’m not included in the scary statistic noted above.

But is it my lucky stars that I need to thank, or should I thank myself and a knowledgeable personal trainer who got me started some years back? I realized in my late forties that, while I had lost a great deal of weight as an adolescent, I still was not in great or even decent shape. I couldn’t run too far and I was kinda soft, carrying too much lingering body fat despite my lighter weight. Then I got a trainer and learned a great deal; how to eat right and how to workout for both my cardiovascular health and my muscular tone and strength. My adult life actually followed a healthy lifestyle. But I would guess that a great many of us simply got too busy with work and family to pay attention to their diet, and likely got increasingly sedentary as well.

Now as I said before, I dropped my weight and left my obese world behind at a much younger age, so I really haven’t experienced a significant weight issue or anything close to obesity as an adult. And the challenges have to be different for an adult than those of an adolescent.  I bet Ron has some theories about why the 50 plus crowd is in the middle of the obesity issue, and maybe he has some suggestions on how to get us out of it too.

Ron’s Expertise

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.

First of all as Bob mentioned, in our earlier lives we became consumed with career and family responsibilities and otherwise brushing our own needs aside. So, for many who are now 50 plus, we never did take time from our busy lives to workout on a regular basis – if ever. And the concept of hiring a personal trainer did not hit the mainstream until only about 10 years ago. So, there was no physical exertion or motivation.

And of course we do stare at screens much more than ever – computer screens, TV screens, smartphone screens – you name it. When you’re staring at a screen, chances are you aren’t burning many calories. Now that we’re 50 plus, many people aren’t interested in starting to exercise now – they think it’s “too late.” But of course, it’s not.

Then there’s diet. I will disagree with Bob mentioning fast food not being available to us. The first McDonald’s opened in my hometown in 1959 – and I begged my mother to take me there on a regular basis. We had access to many drive-in “restaurants” that served burgers, fries, onion rings and milkshakes. Then there were other gastronomic disasters such as broasted chicken which was basically deep-fried chicken, chicken fried steak, fried chicken and the list goes on. I grew up in the Midwest where it was common to have a steak for dinner (or lunch) several times a week. So, for many of us over 50, we have had a lifetime of foods that we now know weren’t the best choices.

Additionally 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.

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, 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 50plusPlusFit!

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.

Fitness for the Holidays

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Well, the holidays are upon us and while it’s challenging enough to chase your 50 plus fitness during the year, it can be a bear over the holidays. Parties, endless buffets, drinks, cookies and cakes surround us and temp us.

Plus before we even get to all the munchies, the stress associated with getting everything in order for a great Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza can lead to an eating frenzy. Oh and then add our schedules, which get crazier than ever and can lead to skipping our workouts. But not if you’re 50plusPlusFit, right? Right!!!

Bob’s Experience

Hey folks, I love my holiday cheer, and at 50-plus I’m not about to abstain, but I don’t want my fitness level to go backwards either. I’m certain Ron has some great ideas to keep us all on point, but here are some tidbits (non-caloric) that might help us get through the holidays and start off the New Year in great shape:

  • For your snack meals during the day try to stick with more pears and seasonal fruits like clementines. But also since it’s the holidays, have maybe just one of those cookies that seem to be everywhere.
  • When shopping, park a little further from the mall and get some more walking in.
  • Take stairs to different floors of the mall instead of the escalator or elevator.
  • Try to drink lots of water and eat a small, balanced meal before your party so you do not eat so much at the party.
  • Install your own holiday lights and decorations on the outside of the house; the climbing up and down ladders alone will burn plenty of extra calories.
  • Stand further away from the table at the holiday party (so you don’t hover and graze like I do).
  • Hook up with family and friends and walk one mile or two to sing Christmas carols and other Holiday songs in a hospital or nursing home.
  • Dust off your skates and take a twirl on the ice to test your balance and burn some extra calories.
  • Try snacking on small portions of heart-healthy nuts and give some as gifts too. Chestnuts roasting anyone?
  • If you live in a snowy area give the gift of creating a snowman for an elderly neighbor - you might end up huffing and puffing for some cardio training.
  • And while you’re at it, shovel that elderly neighbor’s walk and driveway; now we’re really burning calories.
  • Host a holiday party with a fitness theme or at a gym or rec center, and play some games like playing S-A-N-T-A instead of h-o-r-s-e in basketball. I went to one of these last year and it was a blast. Celebrated the Holidays while working up a sweat was a blast! 
  • And on the big day allow yourself to eat, drink and be merry; after all, we can afford to celebrate a little, ‘cause we are 50plusPlusFit!

Now maybe Ron has some tips for staying on your workout routine. Ron?

Ron’s Expertise

Wow Bob – you didn’t leave me with much to say on this topic! Those are all good tips. But, of course, I would miss the mark if I didn’t remind everyone to stay focused and continue with their workout routines, or maybe add a little extra since we all seem to allow ourselves more calories during the 5 or 6 weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. During December, we usually see a big drop in attendance at the gym, only to be followed with over-zealous attendance during January (do I see guilt in their eyes?). Stay ahead of that darned holiday weight-gain with Bob’s tips and do keep up with your normal workouts. Keep at it, and our Online Personal Trainer can be your secret weapon, or conscience! It's been proven that online fitness tracking does really help you meet your goals, and you need that more than ever during the holidays.

But, remember, you’ll be living with everything you put in your mouth for weeks to come! Fix a small “polite plate” at a party, walk away from the table, and don’t look back! Those great snacks and treats will call you by name if you make eye contact. A “polite plate” tells the host/hostess you appreciate their efforts and will taste what they have to offer. But, you’re also telling yourself that you won’t be feeling guilty when you step on the scale tomorrow. It’s your waistline and it’s a terrible thing to waste! Finally, remember, “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels!”

This time comes but once a year so enjoy all the merriment; enjoy your families and friends, and Happy Holidays from all of us at 50plusPlusFit!

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

50plus Fitness For The Holidays

The holidays are upon us and while it’s enough of a challenge to chase your 50plus fitness during the year; it can be much harder during the holidays. Parties, gatherings, dinners endless buffets, drinks and Christmas cookies surround and temp us. Plus before we even get to some of the munchies merriment, the stress associated with getting everything in order for a great Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza can lead to an eating frenzy. Then on top of all that, our crazy schedule can lead to skipping our workouts. But, that’s not a problem because you’re 50plusPlusFit, right? Right!

Here are some tidbits (non-caloric) to help us get through the holidays:

  • For your snack meals during the day try to stick with more pears and other seasonal fruits like clementines. Try having maybe just one of the cookies that seem to be everywhere.
  • Park a little further from the mall and get some more walking in while you shop.
  • Take stairs to different floors of the mall instead of the escalator or elevator.
  • Try to drink lots of water and eat a small, balanced meal before your party so you are less tempted to eat so much at the party.
  • Install your own holiday lights and decorations on the outside of the house. The climbing up and down ladders alone will burn some extra calories.
  • Stand further away from the table at the holiday party (so you don’t hover and graze like I do).
  • Hook up with family and friends and walk one mile or two to sing Christmas songs in a hospital or nursing home.
  • Dust off your skates and take a twirl on the ice to test your balance and burn some extra calories.
  • Try snacking on small portions of heart-healthy nuts and give some as gifts too. Chestnuts roasting anyone?
  • If you live in a snowy area give the gift of creating a snowman or clearing the sidewalk for an elderly neighbor - you might end up huffing and puffing for some cardio training.
  • Host a holiday party with a fitness theme or at a gym or rec center for some contests or games like playing SANTA instead of horse in basketball. I went to one of these last year and it was great fun.
  • And on THE BIG DAY, allow yourself to eat, drink and be merry; after all, this is what we work toward – a life fit enough to ward off one-day’s excesses!

But, of course, I would miss the mark if I didn’t remind everyone to stay focused and continue with their workout routines, or maybe add a little EXTRA workout since we all seem to allow ourselves more calories during the 5 or 6 weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. During December, we usually see a big drop in attendance at the gym, only to be followed with over-zealous attendance during January (do I see guilt in their eyes?). Stay ahead of that darned holiday weight-gain with these tips and your normal workouts.

But, remember, you’ll be living with everything you put in your mouth for weeks to come! Fix a small “polite plate” at a party, then walk away from the table, and don’t look back! Those great snacks and treats will call you by name if you make eye contact. A “polite plate” tells the host/hostess you appreciate their efforts and will taste what they have to offer. But, you’re also telling yourself that you won’t be feeling guilty when you step on the scales tomorrow. It’s your waistline and it’s a terrible thing to waste! Finally, remember, “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels!”

Happy Holidays from all of us at 50plusPlusFit! Enjoy your families and friends while you embrace your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle.

And Now for the Big Push!

By Ron the Trainer -
Holidays are over … does your waistline show damage from the festivities? Well, join the club – there are a lot of people in that position and it happens every year! But, don’t despair – help is on the way. Remember, warmer weather (where you lose the big, bulky clothes) is only a couple of months away!

Now is the time to take charge. Make sure there are no more holiday goodies lurking in your pantry or refrigerator. A moment on the lips, and eternity on the hips! I know your mama told you not to waste food but, in this case, it’s better to dispose of those leftovers.

Go out and shop for healthier foods. You know, vegetables, fruit and lean cuts of meats. Lose the cream cheeses, the drippy sauces and all that other stuff you know will pack on the pounds. And, get ready for Super Bowl (February 1st) with healthier options for the snacks! A great place to start with recipes is the Online Personal Trainer.

Get creative with viewing ideas – instead of sitting around on your newly acquired padding, stand up, walk around and maybe jog in place every time there’s a score. I have a big-screen TV outdoors with ample room to walk around and limited seating.

Between now and the Super Bowl, set a goal to walk, jog or run at least 3 times per week for an hour. Get in some healthy lifting as well to shape and sculpt your arms, shoulders, chest, back and abdominals. Make it a goal to do something good for your body every day!

In February, many parts of the country will have the big freeze going. Do your own shoveling, shovel a neighbor’s walk who’s unable, build a snowman! Again, do something good for yourself for an hour each day!

For those who live in the south, February is a time to start cutting back plants and preparing the landscaping for the spring. Don’t hire it, do it! Spend a couple of hours a day pruning back and cutting out last year’s growth. Stay active – don’t just write the check to have the work done for you!

None of this comes without the underlying warning to work to your potential and, within doctor’s orders if you have physical limitations. Follow your doctor’s orders.

Here's the point - stay active and clean up your meals! We tend to indulge during the holidays - and let's face it, raw veggies don't take the place of holiday cookies! But, that time for indulgence is over - let's all get on track and, get to be in an even better place than we were before the holidays. Make 2015 the year that you become the best you can be! And you're 50plusPlsuFit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications has led more than 8,500 personal training sessions and 20,000 group exercise classes. Ron is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

 

Benefits Of Free Weights For Over 50's

By Bob the Trainer -

man over 50 lifting weightsMany folks over 50 have either been away from the gym for a while, maybe since high school. And when they do go back, it can be somewhat intimidating, particularly in the strength training arena, and particularly in the free weight room. Well you shouldn’t be so hesitant about free weights because they have great benefit over all those strength machines.

One benefit of free weights for over 50's is that using them will actually help you to restore or increase your strength faster than using the machines will. And there is a very fundamental reason for that. For example, let’s look at a basic exercise everybody does at one time or another, the chest press.

If Using a Chest Press Machine

Here you’ll sit down in seat and adjust the weight of your chest press to the desired weight and push. The handles of the machine just go straight forward as you push to extend your arms. You bring the handles back to the starting position, and you push again. After your target number of repetitions and sets, your chest will get a pretty good workout, as will your triceps, and to a lesser extent your shoulders. Not a bad workout really, but is it the best workout?

If Doing a Barbell Bench Press

Here you lie back on the bench, grip the bar, and lift the bar from its resting position to hold it over your chest. Your shoulder and chest muscles are already engaged to keep the bar stable as your arms work with your core to keep the bar perfectly straight. Now, you lower it toward your chest, stopping the weight where your arms are at a 90 degree angle. Then you push the bar back up, and you have to use your arm and core muscles again so that the bar stays level and centered over your chest. You complete your planned reps and sets, and this time you also get a good workout, but with a bonus.

What's the bonus?

The bonus comes in the different between the muscles that are used:

  • With the chest press machine you work out the chest muscles, the arms, and the shoulders, whereas
  • With the barbell you work out the chest muscles, the arms, the shoulders, the back, and the core.

You see the chest press machine really isolates the movement to the degree that your core muscles, including back, really aren’t called into service. Whereas with the bar bench press you simply can't isolate the exercise enough; your entire upper body is required to keep the weight balanced, level, and in position, so the free weight bar actually increases the number of muscles used to do the exercise. Not only are your chest and triceps muscles strengthened, all of those secondary muscles used to hold the weight in place will become stronger too.    

Machines can be good, but you’ll only challenge the targeted prime mover muscles, the chest and triceps in the above example. But with free weights, all of the secondary muscles around the prime mover are also challenged.  Two caveats:

  • Machines that use cables do not restrict the range of motion and can be just as beneficial as the free weight.
  • If you are just starting out, please do start with machines like the chest press until you and your muscles are comfortable with the move. Then give free weights a try.

Now if you really want to engage more muscles and build strength even faster, try doing your chest presses on a bench or stability ball with dumbbells. Now you’re talkin’ 50plusPlusFit!

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

Best Cardio Machine For Over 50

By Bob the Trainer -

men and women over 50 on cardio machinesAs someone over 50 you need regular cardio exercise, along with strength training of course.  To do so you can simply go for a brisk walk, but that wouldn’t stress your heart and lungs quite enough to improve or maintain your cardio health, unless you’re walking very steep hills.  Or you can jog or run or ride a bike at a good clip outside.  But when the weather outside doesn’t cooperate, indoor machines are great options.

Exercise machines are perfect for getting your cardiovascular exercise in indoors, quickly and effectively.  There are many machines from which to choose and decide on the best cardio machine for over 50's. They can all give you a good workout, but let’s review some of the more common ones to help you choose.

Treadmills
Everyone walks, so the treadmill seems to be the most commonly used piece of cardio equipment. It is indeed probably the easiest to master.  I call it the most “passive” cardio machine, because your exercise is not self-propelled; the machine does it for you.  All you have to do is set the speed and move your feet… or fall on your face!

But don’t go for a leisurely walk. You should try some of the many programs that are on all good treadmills, programs for cardio health, fat burning, athletic training, etc.  Or simply test yourself by kicking up the speed and incline to get a more intensive workout.  Remember though, the tread can be a little difficult for those with joint or back issues.

Ellipticals
The elliptical machine is much easier on your joints and back than the treadmill, though here to, you don’t want to take it too easy.  Ellipticals come with and without upper body movement, so the choice is yours; those with arm movement are also called “cross-trainers.” The upper body arms will provide some mild toning for your upper body, but really your core will benefit more if you can walk without holding onto anything, and you’ll burn more calories to boot. Make sure to keep your heart rate up by walking faster and increasing the tension. And on those models that adjust the incline, you’ll burn more calories and work different muscles like the glutes and hamstrings with more intensity.

Stationary Bikes – 3 Types
“It’s just like riding a bike,” except you don’t go anywhere.  Bikes are always a good alternative if you have no serious knee issues, but are kinder to the knees than either the treadmill or elliptical.  And if you have a low back issue, try the recumbent bike.  Granted, all things being equal, the upright bike will burn slightly more calories than the recumbent.  But really, just peddle faster and increase the resistance; you can work up a sweat with just enough effort.  Lastly, try the spin bike for even more cardio challenge and fat burn.  Pedal standing up to really burn fat.

Rowing Machines
This option is my absolute favorite cardio machine for over 50's; the rower does it all for me personally.  Done correctly, not only will you get a terrific cardio workout, but you’ll get a total body toning as well!  On the rower you will work your legs, butt, upper and lower back, total core, shoulders and arms.  And you can work your biceps by switching to an underarm grip.  However, if you have a lower back issue, the rower is probably not for you.

There are other less commonly used options that you may also want to try, like the stair climbers and steppers, lateral movement machines and a variety of exotic cardio trainers. 

So which machine is best for you? The one you enjoy doing, or the two or three machines you like.  In fact, it is best to mix up your cardio exercise type.  Just remember to keep the intensity up and try different programs to keep your workout fresh and to see results.  Then after you’re done… off to your strength training!  You will be 50plusPlusFit!

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

Exercise Classes – Not for Me!

By Ron the Trainer -
I talk to so many people who, in spite of the boredom that they are experiencing from their current exercise routine, would never step foot in an exercise class. I’m here to tell you that a class might be just the thing you need to shake things up and make working out more interesting. Let’s look at the facts.

There are many reasons the average person won’t go into an exercise class. Intimidation is on the top of the list. People often feel intimidated by the instructor and the people in the class that seem so much in synch. After all, exercise classes are set to music – and people often feel they aren’t musically inclined.

Myth buster – you too will find that by the end of the warm-up (typically the first 4-6 minutes of class) you too will be “on the beat” and keeping up with the rest of the people in the room.

Second, people often don’t want to go into a class where the others are using more weight than they are, going faster than they are, etc. But, the reality is, everyone had to start somewhere and when starting out, they used less weight or went slower than they are today.

The formats of the classes can be confusing to some – especially when they have tricky names. But, if you see a class on the schedule and don’t know what it’s all about, ask someone in the gym or better yet, walk into the room a few minutes early and ask the instructor. He/she will be able to describe what the class will be doing, what equipment you’ll need to set up for yourself and how you will be using the equipment.

Sometimes, people worry about keeping up with the rest of the class especially in a format like indoor cycling. Once again, everybody started somewhere and even the “best” in the class were where you are today – beginning and learning!

Now for the upside of exercise classes: they are typically one hour in length, are set to music and time will pass so quickly that you’ll probably wonder where the time went and find yourself wishing for more! Most exercise class formats are designed to give you a variety of exercises on all of your muscle groups or, give you a great cardio workout. Either way, the design of a class is often all you need to become more fit – or stay fit.

You can find classes at virtually every gym that exists, both single-location private gyms and national chain gyms. You will also find a very robust class schedule at most YMCAs and you can even find exercise classes at community centers – and those might be free!

Class format range from cardio classes such as indoor cycling and Zumba (very free-flow Latin influenced dance) to strength training classes, boot camp, pilates and yoga, even some classes just for stretching (essential for us over 50!) or tai chi which is done almost entirely from a standing position. There are classes for everyone out there – yes, even you! For ideas of what you might see in a class, check out the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer for yoga/pilates poses and free weight exercises you would find in a strength training class.

Exercise classes are good for men too! In fact, some of the formats often attract equal numbers of men and women! Boot camp, strength training and cycling classes are among those that are popular with men. But, I wouldn’t blow off yoga and pilates – men might discover their lack of flexibility and become hooked on mind/body exercises that yoga and pilates offer. 

So, go and try a class to shake up your routine! Remember, you can start slowly and even leave before the hour is up if you feel that you can’t continue. And, you can borrow what you learn in a class and use it during your own workouts – between classes. Get started today for variety, and a more fit you – you’re 50plusPlusFit.

Ron the trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has led more than 8,500 personal training sessions and 12,000 group exercise classes. Ron is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

Fat or Fit?

By Ron the Trainer-
Many people accept that most of us will gain inches around the chest and waist as a part of the aging process. Yet, we often see people over 50 who are very trim and the rest of us say that those people just have good genes. Well, the real truth may lie somewhere in the middle. Let’s look into over 50 fat!

First, let’s be clear on which fat we are dealing with – there are two kinds. The first type of fat is subcutaneous or, the fat that resides in the layers of the skin. This is commonly the hardest type of fat to lose and even after the individual is very fit and active, the skin might not want to shed this fat.

Subcutaneous fat is that which you can feel when you pinch the skin, especially at the waist. And, while this fat is the hardest to lose, health-wise it is more desirable because it cushions the muscles and organs while not resting on the heart and lungs.

Then, there’s visceral fat – the fat that makes people look round and often feels very firm. In fact, lots of people confuse visceral fat with a "solid" person which is the furthest thing from the truth. Visceral fat lies inside the body under skin and surrounds the organs. The position of visceral fat makes it much more dangerous for the individual from a health perspective because it surrounds the heart and lungs. This makes those organs work harder to function.

The good news is that visceral fat is the first to go with attention to diet and exercise. Even moderate amounts of cardio can make an impact in the amount of visceral fat in a person’s body. In a recent client’s experience, he came to me at 225 pounds. We adjusted his calorie intake and because he had been sedentary for several years, I started him off at 30 minutes on a stationary bike, three times a week.

In the first two weeks, the client lost 5 pounds – and it was all visceral fat. I compared beginning measurements to measurements 2 weeks later and determined the skin-folds (subcutaneous) were the same. Remember, a weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week is ideal. So, while the client’s ultimate goal is 180, he was well on his way at 2 weeks!

So, good genes or bad, weight (fat) control over 50 is attainable. We begin with concentration on calorie intake – calorie control accounts for 70% of weight loss success! Then of course, we have to get moving and there’s nothing like a great mix of cardio and strength training to burn fat and reshape the body!

Most experts agree that moderate cardio 2-3 times per week at 30-60 minutes each time is ideal for weight loss and control. Each cardio session should occur about 48 hours apart to allow for maximum benefit from each session and adequate recovery.

Strength training sessions should include all the major muscle groups – shoulders, back, chest and legs for a total-body workout. Two or three strength training sessions per week is best. And, adequate rest and recovery between workouts will help avoid soreness and injuries. Check out the Online Personal Trainer for some great exercises!

Let’s not accept weight gain as a fact of aging! There are so many reasons to avoid excessive weight, some of which are risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and even some forms of cancer! Get up and start moving today to burn calories and get fit. Focus on calorie control – and make the calories you consume “good” calories! Eat fresh vegetables, fruit and lean cuts of meat that are prepared in a healthy way. Avoid diet drinks and sugar substitutes as they may actually trigger fat production! There are some great recipes waiting for you at the Online Personal Trainer!

Fat or fit – it sounds like a choice but it really shouldn’t be! A healthy lifestyle featuring cardio and strength training along with healthy eating can:

  • give you an attractive appearance
  • help avoid serious diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers
  • keep you active and able to move freely for a higher quality of life

and that makes you 50plusPlusFit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has delivered nearly 9,000 personal training sessions, over 12,000 group exercise classes and is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

Fit it In!

Here we are in the midst of the holiday season and we are all busy with shopping, cooking, entertaining and attending gatherings. So, when is a great time to workout? That would be now! Here are some tips to help you stay ahead of the extra calories and emerge on New Year’s better than in past years.

Get creative with workout times. Many people always go for a workout after work. But, with parties starting right after work or dinner parties hosted by the boss means that an evening workout may not be possible. So, try fitting in workout at lunch or in the morning before work.

Keep workout clothes with you in the car. You might find a moment when you have 30 or 60 minutes to spare but, you don’t have time to run home for your workout clothes. Keeping them with you can help you fit in a workout session that may not have otherwise been possible.

Keep it fresh to keep it interesting. Try different things, take a class in something you’ve never tried. This will help keep you from becoming bored and ready to blow off a workout. One word of caution, this might not be the best time to try some extreme fitness routine such as CrossFit or Krav Maga if you don’t already have some experience with it. Save the soreness or twisted ankle for another time of year when your schedule isn’t so busy!

Get it done at home with a no-equipment or body weight exercise routine. Don’t know one? Not to worry, check the Online Personal Trainer for tips on routines that don’t require a gym membership!

Schedule the workout into your calendar. Make it an appointment that is non-negotiable and honor the appointment. Do it – you will feel better afterward!

Don’t forget to check the schedule at the gym – even the ones open around the clock will close for a few hours during the holidays. Don’t miss a workout because you didn’t know the gym was going to close early on December 24th!

So, there it is, short and sweet -  keep your workouts going even if you are a little busier than normal. You’ll feel better and be a healthier you to start off 2015. And, you’ll be a happier 50plusPlusFit’er!

If You're Just Starting to Exercise

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
There's a song "Breaking up is hard to do..." but, starting to workout can be a very daunting proposition for many people, especially some of us over 50. But, there is hope and it's possible to to start up now and get healthy! Read on for more on beginning a workout program.

Bob’s Experience

I have some friends who haven’t seen the inside of a gym or fitness club in decades. Actually some for so many decades that I don’t even think gyms were yet called fitness centers or fitness clubs when they last exercised. But now, finally they realize that they have to get some real exercise if they want to live a good, full life as they get to be 50 and beyond.

And for some of them this is a daunting, if not somewhat intimidating task. They don’t know where to begin, so they ask me. They know that I’ve been practicing this 50plusPlusFit thing for a while, actually about 14 years now, so I’m their go-to-guy, even for my female friends.

I just tell them to do three things:

  1. Start out slowly; this is not a race. Though some think this is a “race against time,” I tell them that it is just amazing how their bodies will respond positively to getting some regular exercise, and that they’ll not only feel better, they’ll feel younger too, aka turning back the clock so to speak.
  2. Clean up the diet. Hey they’ve all earned a good piece of red meat like a steak, just don’t eat it every day, and balance it out a bit with other nutritious foods that are part of a balanced diet. Oh and they’ve earned that evening cocktail too, if they like to so imbibe. We are adults here after all, and if they don’t already know, they’ll find out that over-indulging in the grape, the suds or the booze is not good for your newly found fitness motivation.
  3. Lastly, I tell them to get some expert advice. I did when I started to exercise on a regular, routine basis. I had no clue what I was doing or needed to do, so I signed up with a personal trainer. Information is power they say, and the guy knew his stuff, even some about diet. Learning what to do and how to do it helped get me on the right track to improving my health, my appearance and my self-esteem. Now it does take some scheduling and it can get a little pricey, but if you can fit it into your hectic life and you can afford it, why not?

Back in the day, we didn’t have much online info - heck, we didn’t have much online period. But fortunately, over the past decade the information world has developed, and there’s lots of info available, like on our 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer. We have it loaded with exercise routines to lose weight and gain muscle, from beginner to advanced, plus diets and tracking (or journaling) too.

But like I said, relying on a personal trainer who knows his stuff is paramount, so why don’t we take advantage of the sage advice of our own live personal trainer, Ron.

Ron’s Expertise:

I applaud anyone who decides to begin an exercise program – the decision is a huge first step. Now, let’s not step into something unpleasant – like exercising hard and either not seeing results or worse, sustaining an injury!

Like Bob said, stepping into a gym for the first time in years or maybe ever is very intimidating for most people. There’s a sea of steel and all those people running around who look like they know what they’re doing. This moment is the turning point – do you engage yourself and find your way around or just do a 180 and leave. And sadly, there are many who have taken the second option.

But, as you join a gym the membership guy (or gal) should have given you a brief tour and explained what the amenities are and where they are located. You should have been given an opportunity to schedule several sessions with a trainer and, a group class schedule should have been made available to you. So, entering the club for the first time really should not be like jumping into the sea – you should have some resources to help you understand how to use equipment and what to do with the equipment to reach your goals.

You should be very careful to start out slowly, listening to your body. When you feel like you’ve had enough, it’s time to call it a day. Just because you are on a treadmill and the person next to you has already done an hour to your 20 minutes, that doesn’t mean you have to match or surpass them. This isn’t a competition with anyone but Father Time and Mother Nature. You’re there to get/stay healthy and reverse the affects of time, not run a race with guy on the next treadmill.

Set a schedule and stick to it. Be very jealous about your workout schedule and don’t let other “obligations” get in the way. Your first obligation is to your health.

Get professional advice on nutrition – there are so many different opinions as to what you should eat – from fat-free to carb-free and so many more “diet” plans. You need real, sensible advice on meal planning. For example, our Online Personal Trainer has great menu options.

 Now, I ask you to reconsider imbibing if you are serious about losing weight or getting healthy. First of all, there are so many empty, hidden calories in an alcoholic beverage and, when you have been drinking you lose the ability to feel full, so you continue to eat even though you’re not hungry. And, alcoholic drinks alter your glucose levels causing your body to process calories inefficiently. The result is weight gain (especially the stomach) and greater risk of developing diabetes.

All that said, the American Heart Association has found that there is a positive aspect to 1-2 drinks per day for men, 1 drink a day for women. It seems that the cardiovascular system may benefit from light drinking. So, if you can limit yourself, and your weight is under control, then you might be able to enjoy an occasional adult beverage. 

Finally, get help designing your workout from a trainer, take group classes or try our Online Personal Trainer which has hundreds of exercises and workouts with videos to get you going in the right direction. Wherever you receive help, guidance and encouragement, just keep moving forward in your 50plusPlusFit journey!

Is A Personal Trainer For You... Over 50?

By Bob the Trainer -

over 50 man with personal trainerSo after several years of being sedentary, you're going to do something about your fitness. Good! And now you're wondering if a certified personal trainer is for you. Well, you're over 50 and unaccustomed to exercise, so the short answer is yes indeed for several reasons.

For starters, a personal trainer can provide you much more than simply knowledge, she can also provide motivation and accountability. That was particularly important to me when I first worked with a personal trainer at age 48. I hadn't exercised regularly for years and having someone to "report to" was a critical component for me.

I had a nice on site fitness center at work, but my employer wouldn't allow outsiders in, so I actually met with my trainer only every four weeks at my house. He would review my workout log, assess my progress, give me feedback, encouragement and adjust my routine.  He also gave me a quick demonstration of the strength training moves and designed my workout. 

And it did work.  In nine months I'd lost only 10 pounds, but reduced my body fat by a full 8% and had to have a tailor resize my suits!

Actually, because of the inconvenience of my employer’s gym, my trainer was the first virtual trainer way back before the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer. We had no idea what was to come with today’s online options.

So let's summarize what a personal trainer can do for you -

1. Transformational Body Changes

Even if you exercise regularly, a personal trainer will round out your fitness routine for optimal health, and appearance too. For example our trainer programs will help improve posture, tighten, tone, and make you look pounds thinner without even losing a pound! And ladies, don’t worry about bulking up - a good trainer will bring you the benefits of strength training without the big muscles.

2. Flexibility and Balance

Personal trainers can improve both your flexibility and balance, which we all need to be aware of over 50. Good balance and flexibility will be of increasing benefit as we notch off another year.

3. "No Pain, No Gain?”

A good trainer practices safety first. Many trainers even work with your doctor or physical therapist if need be.  They encourage proper warm-up before your routine and a brief cool-down afterwards. And of course, making sure that you are performing moves with correct form is paramount to making progress and avoiding injury... No Pain with Gain!

4. Functional Training

Some trainers specialize in functional training, which helps you, well, function better. Your training can be tailored to improve performance in your occupation, your favorite sport or just everyday life. For example, our Online Personal Trainer has routines specifically designed to help the golfer, tennis player, runner or cyclist. And for those among us who are a bit more senior and are having issues functioning in everyday life, your trainer can design a workout to help you there too.

Bottom line, if you need knowledge, guidance, motivation, a second conscience, a counselor or any/all of the above, a personal trainer is for you! Especially if you want to be 50plusPlusFit!

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

Maintaining Fitness Motivation

over 50 fitness motivationby Ron the Trainer
Keeping your workouts on track and on schedule is tough - we know! Here are some tips on breaking the cycle if missed workouts and developing good 50plusPlusFit workout habits ... read on!

Motivation is central to getting many things done or, expressed at a higher level, accomplished. This is no truer than in the context of our fitness and diet. Quite often my friends and acquaintances marvel at the fact that I actually prefer getting my workout in as the sun rises, 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. Many folks feel that it’s tough enough to push themselves to workout, much less at a really early hour. For me it works, for some it won’t. But whatever works, we should capitalize on it - and succeed!

Finding your motivator can be simple or maybe more complex. It seems like the nearly universal fitness motivator is simply to lose weight, and that’s o.k., and it is the correct motivation for a great many. For others it may be to lose body fat even if not overweight. Or, maybe you want to tone up and reshape the ol’ bod - and that’s a great motivation as well. You might be training for an event like a marathon or a cycling tour, a swim meet, or your child’s wedding. These are all motivators at the most basic level because they really are goals aren’t they? And yes, a single goal or target can indeed motivate. So, if you need a motivational goal, pick one and get on your way.

But what about the more complex motivators, those that keep you motivated, up and on track every day? What kind of motivators can really help you? When I jump out of bed at the crack of dawn (o.k. maybe “jump” is a stretch most days) I don’t think about my personal goal, which currently is to reduce body fat. The fact is I don’t think of much of anything at that hour really. But, on those mornings when I feel like I really don’t want to “jump” out of bed, I do draw upon some of my personal motivators.

One of my motivators is my Online Personal Trainer. I track my workouts every day that I workout, and if I don’t stay on schedule, I really don’t feel good about myself - I've let myself down. My other motivator that gets me out of bed is that I give myself a break by breaking up my workout into two parts, by doing part that morning and catching up with the rest as I can at some time later in the day. These work for me.

I know people that use all kinds of different things, angles or tricks if you will, to keep their motivation at a high level. All kinds can work, and I have seen it all through my personal training clients.

The single toughest thing about fitness is getting started and staying on your routine. Motivation of the human is very complex indeed. It’s just like getting in your car and driving away without a destination in mind – fitness matters are no different. Whether your motivation is weight loss, general “getting into shape” or working toward an event, a goal is absolutely essential. Without a goal, how will you know if you accomplished it? I’ll offer some ideas that can help us all stay focused.

Goals need to be for the right reason and, where fitness matters, the fitness industry often sees an advanced number of neuroses such as obsessive-compulsive behavior, bulimia and anorexia. So, the point I’m trying to make here is that the goals must be reasonable and not counter-productive or downright unhealthy. This is where a fitness professional must be very aware of the client’s goals and underlying motivation.

So, while everybody’s motivation to workout may be different, the best thing to do is to get started now. Over-analyzing the motivation factor should not stand in the way of beginning a solid workout routine. Once you have set goals, you can design a routine that is ideal for your specific goals. So, let’s break this down to a list-at-a-glance:

  • Set attainable goals: set goals that are measurable (15 pounds lost), time-specific (within 6 weeks) and  is attainable. Attainable means it’s physically possible to make it happen (e.g., 5’ 11” woman will probably never be able to wear a size “0” dress).
  • Allow yourself to be human: Set your goals, strive to complete your workouts regularly but, if you backslide, don’t be discouraged – dust yourself off and get back on track.
  • Focus on your fitness journey – not others: Your fitness journey will probably not be the same as someone else’s. For example, if your goal is weight loss, you may see someone else lose weight faster or slower than you. Don’t let that work toward or against you – stay focused on you.
  • Set up and activate a support group: Once you decide to begin a workout routine, tell everyone around you. They will keep you focused. And, if you can find a workout buddy – that’s a bonus! A workout buddy will be waiting for you at the gym and won’t let you blow off your workout.
  • Find something you enjoy: If you find a specific exercise that you like it will make it easier and more fun to stay on your routine. So, if watching a movie while spending time on your treadmill works, great! Look around for classes that fit your schedule and goals. Often, people in group exercise classes get to know each other and are an additional support element.  
  • Mix it up: For mental interest, you need a variety of workouts. For your body to respond more efficiently to workouts, you need to change your workouts frequently. Check out our Fitness Tracker for lots of exercise ideas.
  • It’s a matter of convenience: If it’s not convenient for you, it won’t happen. So, if there is a fitness center near your home or place of work – great. If not, consider setting up a home workout area and follow exercise DVDs or place a TV in front of your cardio equipment – in a climate-controlled room – not your garage or patio.
  • Don’t look back: Yesterday is the past – once you begin your routine you’ve become a different person. Focus on today and tomorrow – that will help you stay on track.
  • Track your workouts, food and your progress. Try our easy to follow Online Personal Trainer which is loaded with exercises and workout programs for weight loss and muscle gain, exercise and workout videos, and you can record your progress with its online diet and fitness tracking
  • Reward yourself: Achieved a goal? Great! Go out and treat yourself with a new item of clothing or something else tangible – and enjoy. Tangible doesn’t mean splurge on food though – you don’t want to destroy your progress!

Whatever your primary fitness motivation is, you have help at your fingertips to begin your exercise journey and stay on track. Active, healthy lifestyle today means an active and healthier you for years and years to come. Why not get started or back on track today for a 50plusPlusFit you!

Mind and Body for Your 50plusPlusFit - ness

Mid and Body Fitness over 50By Ron the Trainer -
Being truly fit after 50, your workout routine should incorporate some form of mind-body exercises such as yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi. Why, you ask? There are several reasons – but they are a great option for promoting your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle. While very different, yoga and Pilates are both a “mind & body” exercise practice. In fact, to the untrained eye, they can look very much the same.

There are many unique studies in yoga. Over the thousands of years, the practice has simultaneously gone slightly but distinctively in several different directions. One form of yoga, Bikram or “hot yoga” is conducted in a very warm (105 degrees) room – offering additional “lengthening” and stretching benefits. It’s commonly accepted that a warm muscle will stretch or move, farther or longer, than a cold muscle.

What is common in all is that each pose, depending on the yoga method or study, is held for 30 seconds to several minutes. Holding a muscle in a fixed position is considered an isometric exercise which is very effective in stretching and strengthening muscles. In addition, most yoga poses require extensive use of the core. A strong core helps in many ways including addressing lower back issues and balance.

Pilates was developed in the early 1900’s in New York City by Joseph Pilates. His focus was on the core – before the term “core” became a common fitness industry term. Mr. Pilates developed about 80 exercises which address multiple muscle groups simultaneously and almost all of them address core strength. Pilates movements are typically held only a few seconds; some utilize slow, fluid movements.

Tai Chi is an ancient form of exercise that is mostly performed in a standing position. The basic stance for Tai Chi is the “horse” position, feet under the hips, knees bent, hips flat and level. From there, rhythmic arm and foot/leg movements dictate the workout. Slow, repetitive movements will leave you feeling like you’ve put in a great workout!

Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates each can be done in the privacy of your home with instruction materials such as the videos found in our Online Personal Trainer. Group classes can also be found both at most gyms and, at private studios specifically for these types of classes. Costs vary greatly – and if budget is a consideration, very good quality classes can be found at your local gym – typically at no additional charge over and above your monthly membership dues. Some community centers also offer classes.

Mind and Body workouts are often used by many athletes (amateur and professional) as a form of cross-training. Athletes and body builders often have very tight or sore muscles. The lengthening and stretching performed in mind and body workouts will help to alleviate these and other problems. So, if it works for them, imagine what benefits the over 50 or even senior can receive from yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates! For the quality of your lifestyle, hit the floor and get started today to promote balance, flexibility - you're 50plusPlusFit.

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has delivered over 8,500 personal training hours and is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.com.

New Workout Routines To Avoid Burnout

It’s summer and we’re involved in vacations, outdoor activities and lots of us are missing workouts and in general, losing focus. More food due to being in resort settings or just cooking out on the grille and fewer workouts spells a recipe for disaster! But, what can we do?

Now is the time to adjust your day and place your workouts as “appointments” in your calendar. In other words, schedule your workouts like you would schedule any other activity in your day. If it’s 5AM or 5PM, put it in your calendar so that you have a reminder, then make sure you don’t blow it off.

Next, pack your gym bag before you go to bed. Then, make sure it gets out the door with you. One of the hardest things to do is to come home, change and then try to leave again. Get to the gym  before you come home! 

Adjust your workout & try new workout routines – do something different to regain interest and shake up your body. I have just started swimming again. And, because I’m not a great swimmer, it’s a killer workout! That is happening for me at lunch time. Once I’m done with my laps, I can have a smart lunch and feel great about myself.

I have a friend who’s 5’ 2” but he comes into the gym and shoots hoops – at lunch time when the basketball court isn’t crowded. He says it helps to clear his mind from all that is going on in his work day. If this guy can shoot hoops, so can you!

You can always adapt a new workout routines to avoid burnout – maybe take a strength training class where you will be challenged but always be working at your own pace. If that doesn’t interest you, try a spinning class – again you’ll be challenged but they can’t make you work any harder than you can!

Maybe get some professional help – no, not that … hire a trainer for a few sessions. Every trainer has their own slant on a workout and direction with a fresh perspective might be the jump-start you need to get going again. You may find you like having someone design and direct your workouts. Most gyms will offer an introductory package of training for 3 or 5 sessions at a special price. This could be a great investment.

Burnout is a real condition but, you can control and combat it! Find something new or different for your workout to stimulate your mind and body. And, be sure to treat your workout “appointment” as the most important “to-do” in your day – you will feel great and be back on track without feeling guilt or losing all the fitness progress you’ve made so far this year. Keep working out – you’re 50plusPlusFit!

Recruit Cheerleaders for Your Over 50 Fitness Goals

By Ron the Trainer -

When you are with family or friends do you feel like you have to give in to meal items that you would not have chosen if you were alone? Do you find yourself defending your fitness goals to friends or family? Being over 50 has it’s challenges and can be an up-hill battle. It’s time to turn your fitness foes into cheerleaders!

Potential cheerleaders in your life can include:

  • Co-Workers
  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Other Family Members
  • Friends
  • People You’ve Met at the Gym

So, how do you start? It’s simple – every time you have a few moments, explain to everyone you know what your fitness goals are (which should include measurable results like 20 pounds lost in 6 months) and why these goals are important to you. Then ask them to be supportive of your goals – let’s face it, there could be worse things to obsess over! Tell them that you need their kind words, their encouragement and even to be a watchdog for you. Tell them that you are recruiting their help in reaching those goals. Let them know that blowing off a workout for margaritas is not acceptable!

Maybe you have an elevated A1C which means that without lifestyle changes, diabetes is a possibility. Maybe you have a reunion or wedding to attend and you want to look your best. Whatever your goals and reasons are, be sure people around you are on board with you and are cheering you on!

Imagine going to lunch with co-workers and be encouraged (O.K., badgered) into getting the grilled chicken instead of a burger! Imagine your spouse telling you it’s time to go to the gym and wouldn’t it be nice if he/she went with you! Don’t forget to check out the Online Personal Trainer for exercises, meal plans and a place to track your progress!

Getting encouragement from those around you is helpful in staying focused and making the best choices. We have all had days when we were less than enthusiastic about going for a workout. But, with people around you asking about your workouts, or even going along with you, the trip can seem less of an effort. Even if your spouse goes to the gym with you while you get in a resistance workout and he/she is walking the treadmill, that’s unspoken, positive encouragement.

I wrote before about finding a workout buddy – and that’s great for about 3 hours per week. But, there are 168 hours in a week, you need people around you at other times to encourage you to stay active like when it’s time to take the dog for a brisk walk instead of turning him loose in the backyard. You need encouragement at mealtime to make healthy choices and for portion control.

It is sometimes very hard to stay focused on a fitness goal especially when faced with choices that may not help you meet your goals. But, if you get everyone around on board and on your side, you can stay more focused and have a healthier life. So, it’s time to recruit today – you’re 50plusPlusFit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has trained over 8,500 sessions and led more than 12,000 group exercise classes. Ron is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit

Results or Excuses?

Results or ExcusesBy Ron the Trainer -
This time, my message is direct and to the point. There are only two minds of thought when it comes to regular exercise. You either do it or, you don’t. And, along the way, there are a million excuses (you may call them reasons) why you didn’t exercise.

My heart warms when I see the “regulars” at the gym coming in for their workouts – some using a walker, others using a cane. There are the moms that come in daily to attend classes such as my strength training class or step aerobics and even boot camp which are all held in the morning after the kids are in school. No excuses – they just do it!

Let’s face it, everybody is busy or could find things to do with their time other than head for the gym. On my day off, I have lots of things to do. But, I schedule a time to go in for a workout and that time is not negotiable. There will be other things that will try to jeopardize my ability to go workout but, those other things will have to wait an hour or so.

That’s the key – treat your workout like any other appointment on your calendar and don’t agree to skip it or schedule over it. Your workouts are that important! If you don’t think working out is important, go to any assisted living facility and see the people who can’t walk or do ordinary tasks for themselves. Then, ask them how active they were in their younger years. It’s a safe bet that they didn’t workout or exercise regularly and that’s why they can’t do for themselves now.

Results are well within reach, but you have to work towards those results regularly. While I mentioned that I see many of the people at the gym every single day, an effective workout schedule might only need 3 or 4 visits per week. Make it efficient – cardio and resistance training on the same visit so that you can skip a day between workouts. Other schedules might include cardio on 4 days, resistance training on 3 days which would make for a 7-day schedule.

Results come from many directions. Let’s say you’re trying to lose or control body weight, which is probably the most common workout goal. Cardio and resistance workouts will both help you get to where you want to be. But, you also need to control what you eat – and results come from keen focus and a plan while failure comes from excuses and lack of attention to the goal.

The topic of our daily tips is often about food, food choices, eating healthy, etc.  In reality, diet contributes to weight control every bit as much as your workouts – you can’t reach your goals without a focus on both. You can workout 3 hours and day, 7 days a week but if you don’t eat properly, you’ll not have control of your body fat. But, if you do eat properly and exercise regularly, you can see real results.

So, today is the day you can start something very good for yourself. Today you can take the opportunity to enter your workout schedule in your calendar. Today you can organize your kitchen and eliminate things that don’t need to be there. Today you write down your meal plans that you can follow. Today you get on track and tell yourself “no more excuses!”

Don’t know where to begin? Check out the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer exercises and great food choices. There’s lots of great help waiting for you. Find support in your family or friends and tell them what your plans are. They can also be your conscience in the event you start to lose focus on your goals. Take one of the most important first steps by getting your plans together and developing a strong focus on your goals. Results are within your reach – and you’ll be 50plusPlusFit.

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has delivered over 8,500 personal training hours and 20,000 group exercise classes and is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

Soreness - a Normal Part of Fitness

Muscle SorenessBob’s Experience:

I am sore! In fact I am quite sore, but just in certain places, certain muscles. You could say that I have a pain in the … not really!

Soreness is something to expect when you workout, be it strength training like lifting weights or using resistance bands, or if you’re getting in some cardio exercise. It will appear from time to time because of different reasons, like using muscles you haven’t used in a while, trying a new exercise or re-starting your exercise routine after a bit of a hiatus.

In my current case my back is a more than a little sore. You see I’m a displaced northerner living in Houston, but now visiting family in Canada. Can you guess what made me sore? Snow… and the shoveling that accompanies this winter wonderland. Yep, I shoveled snow yesterday for the first time in some years, and while I exercise my lower back regularly, the constant bending over and shoveling from my dominant side (I’m a righty) made its impression.

In some ways, workout soreness is really no different, and I’ve experienced it off and on during my past years of being 50plusPlusFit.  It is part of the deal. But one thing to remember, it’s a “bad news, good news” situation. Bad news – you ache some. Good news – you ache some because you’re challenging your muscles and making them stronger. And there is even more good news; the soreness passes in a fairly short period of time. In fact, usually in a couple of days, and in the case of exercise soreness, after you work the same muscles next time, the soreness will generally “work its way out” and those muscles will actually feel better after the repeat workout.

Now there are degrees of soreness - you can overdo it! I did it one time with calf raises when I was younger and far less wise. I walked funny for a couple of days and it did indeed hurt. You can also exercise with sloppy form and risk injury. Beyond avoiding injury with good form, there are different things you can do to minimize the soreness or at least make the sore muscles feel a little better. And finally, you need to know how to recognize soreness versus an injury. I’ve been through all that, and have my own remedies, etc., but I’d rather have our expert Ron help you there.

Ron’s Expertise:

During a normal workout, muscle fibers deep inside the muscles actually tear. During recovery, the muscles are healing – much like a cut on your skin. If the cut is deep enough, there may be a scar. When the muscles are torn deeply enough, they will get bigger during recovery – sort of like a scar. This tear/repair process is what causes muscles to become bigger and stronger. More fibers are created during recovery which leads to more strength and more mass.

I often tell clients that there’s a “good” sore and a “bad” sore. The difference is very distinct yet, to the novice exercise enthusiast, the line can be fuzzy.

The “good” soreness comes immediately after a set – biceps burn after a set of curls, pecs throb after a set of push-ups. That seems clear enough. And, that kind of soreness is almost always a good thing – something that is actually desirable. But, if it goes beyond a mild burning or throbbing and doesn’t go away after 30-60 seconds, that leads us into a “bad” soreness. 

The “bad” soreness is often an indication that either something was wrong before the workout and the exercise aggravated that problem or, bad form/technique during the exercise caused an injury. In either case, it’s absolutely essential that we allow time for rest and recovery. Pushing through that sort of soreness may make the situation worse, cause the sufferer to avoid daily activities and may even cause permanent damage to the area.

One prime example is lower-back pain. Statistically, we are all very likely to suffer this condition at some time in our adult lives – over 80% of all adults are expected to have significant lower-back pain at some point. If not addressed, this pain can become chronic and lead to other problems.

So, how does this relate to muscle soreness and working out? Actually, many common exercises can have a negative effect on the lower back including bench presses, many forms of cardio (running, elliptical, rowing machines, treadmills), and even ab crunches. Almost every physical activity will involve recruiting strength from the lower back as it is the “foundation” of our bodies.

Another category of muscle soreness is referred to as “DOMS” or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness” which very commonly occurs 48 hours after the workout – especially if you exercise a new muscle group, choose a new exercise or increase intensity of the exercise. DOMS is a common condition and does not indicate that poor form or technique were used, but instead shows that you have, in some way, used the sore muscle in a different way and basically “awakened” the muscle.  

Trainers agree that to minimize DOMS, one should consume 8-12 ounces of water for every 30 minutes of exercise and consume healthy protein (3-6 ounces) within 30-60 minutes after the workout. The water helps to flush out lactic acids and the protein speeds muscle repair.

So, the characteristics of “good” soreness are that they happen immediately, and are short-lived. The “bad” soreness is more intense and doesn’t go away after a brief recovery period. DOMS is not necessarily pleasurable at the time you’re feeling it but means you’re “moving up” in your workouts, and so you should feel good about developing it occasionally. The best advice is to manage soreness up to the point of pain. A “good” sore tells you that you are working on a better You – and you’re 50plusPlusFit!

 

Stand Up and Lose Weight Over 50

By Bob the Trainer -

over 50 men and women on treadmillsWhether you are over 50 and working every day, retired or semi-retired, we all seem to spend a great deal of time sitting on our duffs!  We mostly don’t walk anywhere, we drive, sitting. Nowadays we spend countless hours on our computers (as I hope you’re doing now) and of course we do that while sitting. And then of course there is our TV watching habit.

The drawback to all this time on our derrieres is that we are not burning very many calories, nor using our muscles to keep them toned.  Maybe we have slender, toned fingers from working the remote (haven’t had to get up and walk to change the channel in years), or typing on our computer, but the rest of our body is suffering. Even sitting on our butts doesn’t burn butt fat!

So let’s stand up and be counted counting... calories.  Our 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer can help there, but read on.

Across the pond, the University of Chester conducted a study to determine just how many more calories we could burn standing versus sitting, and the results are pretty eye popping! Now granted this was a small study, only 10 participants who were instructed to stand for at least three hours per day and wear a device that measured their movements as well as glucose and heart-rate readers. Bingo… an extra 50 calories burned per hour!

Simply from standing, the increased heart rate burned approximately 50 more calories per hour over sitting. Yeah, 50 calories may not seem like a lot, but think of the cumulative calorie burn over time; if done for three hours per day like the study participants, that would translate to 1,000+ extra calories a week burned. Since you need to burn an extra 3,500 calories to lose one pound in a week, you’re a third of the way there just by standing. Add that to your workout plans to lose weight.

And weight loss is just one of the potential health benefits realized by standing. Those in the study also controlled their blood sugar more efficiently during days standing, which researchers predict would reduce the risk of both diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Unlike formal exercise, which you need to carve time out for, there is really no excuse for not standing during our day. Just get up! Try doing so while talking on the phone, in meetings or when “relaxing” watching TV.

And have you seen those treadmill desks? Really, these are desks specifically built to wrap around a treadmill. Wow, killing two birds with one stone, work and a workout at the same time! If you’re not self-employed, suggest that your employer create some similar work stations at which you and fellow employees can alternate use.

Finally, if you use a treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike or rower for some cardio exercise, try getting in your workout in front of a TV. You’re gonna watch it anyway, and you’ll be surprised at how the exercise time flies! Some fitness clubs even have such equipment with personal TVs built right in. I lost a good deal of weight this way a couple of times, but that’s for another article.

Try standing up and counting those calories. You’ll be 50plusPlusFit in no time!

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

Step Up Your Workouts

By Ron the Trainer-
Now is the time for all of us to bump up our workouts – one more day per week, one additional change in your daily habits, etc. We’ve all had time to re-energize after the holidays but, is what we’re doing really enough? Is what we’re doing all we can be doing? Here are some examples of stepping it up.

If you’re like most people, you make time for about 2 or 3 workouts per week. That’s good but, are you seeing results? Is this really all the time you can devote to a better you? Try adding one more day per week for working out. Track your progress i.e., weight loss, endurance, lifting ability, etc. to see what you’re gaining with that extra workout – you might be very surprised! Take a free session with a trainer or a group exercise class to shake up your routine and add some fresh exercises. And, don’t forget to check out the Online Personal Trainer for exercises that maybe you’re not using today!

Make that extra workout something different such as an indoor cycling class or time on the rowing machine. If those are your go-to exercises, then spark it up with some extra lifting – maybe fewer reps at a bit more weight. Try to find something different to really shake things up and gain some great results.

Every day make those changes in your daily routines that will add up to additional calories burned and, a stronger, better you. Those changes might be:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator for one or two floors
  • Park at the far end of the parking lot and walk past where you’d normally park
  • Stand around a high-top table to eat – this will make you burn calories by standing and you won’t linger around the table
  • When watching TV, get up and do squats and lunges on the commercials instead of heading for the kitchen for a snack
  • Take walks after dinner to burn calories and help with digestion

All of these tips can add up to several hundred calories burned over the course of a day. Remember, one pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories so, several hundred calories per day could mean losing an extra pound per week!  

If weight loss isn’t your main goal, then getting stronger might be. These tips will help you with endurance and the ability to lift weight more easily. We’re not promising you’ll be a world-class weightlifter but, being able to do things easier in your everyday life could be very rewarding!

And, don’t forget flexibility – a major problem for people over 50. Flexibility, or the lack of, can contribute to lower back pain, and other unlikely ailments. If you don’t know stretches, check out the Online Personal Trainer. For hands-on, you can find yoga and pilates classes to give you some poses and exercises to strengthen and lengthen muscles – the best of all worlds!

So, now is the time to get up and add something to your daily and weekly routines to make sure you are ready for warm weather which is only 30-60 days off, depending upon where you live. So, in 30 days will you be ready for gardening and the swimming pool? Step up your workouts and you will be 50plusPlusFit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has completed nearly 9,000 training sessions as well as over 12,000 group exercise classes and is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

Summer Vacation Workouts

By Ron the Trainer –

The open road calls – and you’re on the way to a great vacation spot which can be different for almost everyone. But, how can you stay on your workout routine with all of the traveling and site-seeing? As the old saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” So, if you’re willing, we’ll suggest some ways to squeeze in some summer vacation workouts.

When traveling by car, try to stop about every 2 hours or less, get out and stretch and walk around a little. A ten-minute stop every 2 hours will not make a significant difference in the time you’re traveling. Make sure to stretch from head to toe – neck, shoulders, back, chest, lower back and legs. Then take a brisk walk around the parking lot or wherever you’ve stopped.

When traveling by air, walk the concourse while waiting to board your flight. You can stay close enough to hear the announcements but keep moving – and make it a brisk walk! Once on the plane, do some simple stretches like pointing your toes, lifting your knees  and rotating in your seat – as room allows.

Every morning you can wake up to squats and push-ups using no equipment at all. See the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer for lots of exercises using no equipment or common household items such as a detergent bottle. Summer vacation workouts don't need to be difficult.  Chances are, you'll find items around to assist with your exercises.

Throughout the day, don’t miss an opportunity to stay active – park and walk whenever possible. Schedule site-seeing activities such as hiking, walking tours, etc. so that you keep moving. An active vacation will help your waistline and be much more interesting!

But, wait – there’s more! When traveling, be sure to watch the calorie intake! There are lots of hidden calories in restaurant food and often too much salt and fat. Most American restaurants will have nutrition information available upon request – many publish in on their menus. And, of course, you can check out the internet for the restaurant’s online menu or generic nutrition information from the Online Personal Trainer.

Vacation means getting away from work, seeing new things, being in a different climate and relaxing. But, we can’t relax our focus on keeping fit. Stay on point with physical activity and watch what you eat. You’ll return much happier than if you gained a lot of weight and lost your level of fitness. Remember to take care of your body because you’re 50plusPlusFit!

Ron the Trainer is a multi-certified personal trainer with more than 8,500 sessions serviced and is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

 

Take A Fit Vacation

By Jeannie the Trainer -

over 50 woman and man jogging on beachThis time of year many of us find ourselves gearing up for that big summer vacation. Being over 50, we’ve hopefully taken a few good ones, whether a trip to some beach front locale, a camping excursion or just a long weekend. However, when we have gone on vacation, far too often we’ve vacationed from our diet and exercise regimen as well! You can still take a vacation to relax, if that’s your primary objective, but still get in some good exercise and enjoy some healthy meals. Let's review how you can take a fit vaction, and enjoy your time away at the same time.

Enjoy All The Local Fair, In Moderation

One of the pleasures of our vacations is often getting to try some new foods and local favorites. But that doesn’t mean you have to blow your diet.  All over the country and around the world, people like to eat, and they’ve developed some very enticing delicacies that we just have to try.  That’s o.k... just remember that even when on vacation eating in moderation will keep you on point. Plus, by avoiding overeating and/or eating junk food, you’ll retain the energy to be more active and enjoy yourself. And while you’re sipping on that drink with the umbrella stir, you’ll want to moderate your alcohol intake as well. It's perfectly fine to have a few adult beverages; you’re over 50 for Pete’s sake and have earned it.  Just don’t belly up for hours every night or your belly will not remain as flat. And remember, you can still record your eats and drinks from anywhere in the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer, even on your phone app.

Adapt To Your New Environs

Take full advantage of the surroundings you're in and use them to get active. How often can you take a run on the beach in St. Croix, or have the time to skip the cab and walk the streets of Chicago? Most popular vacation spots have some sports attractions that you’d be nuts to ignore. Who wouldn't want to walk nine holes at a legendary golf course, or learn to scuba dive or surf? And if your vacation is in the winter, skiing can be a great cardio and toning exercise, as can snowboarding, ice skating or even bobsledding!

Relax, But Be Active

If you’re on a family vacation you may find it difficult to get in your normal 45 minute run, yoga class, or weight lifting time, but that doesn't mean you have to limit your time to just lounging on the beach all day. Or you may find yourself in a location without all the exercise equipment you normally use anyway.  Therefore, whether with your family or not, get up, get out and seek out activities that are both fun and truly “active.” Walking or jogging the beach, hiking and nature walks, cycling around the area, canoeing or whatever. Fun activities can be a terrific way to get the exercise that you would normally get from your daily workout session. And of course by doing these with the family or friends, everyone will have a good time (and be fitter for it).

Simply use your imagination, look for activities that you’ll enjoy, with family, with friends or on that private getaway. And remember that moderation at the buffet will not only keep your diet in check, but you won’t feel bloated and thus be more up to all those fun activities. Have fun and have a great  fit vacation. After all, you are 50plusPlusFit!

Jeannie Hughes is a multi-certified trainer and Pilates expert. For expert Pilates, Post-Rehab, Personal Training and General Fitness in Houston contact Jeannie at www.YesFitnessTraining.com

The New Year's Plan

By Ron the Trainer

Those New Year’s resolutions are fast approaching! Uh, oh! I’m certain that we’ve all made (and broken) many fitness resolutions over the years. And, year after year, they have generally been broken because we’re set up for failure – by setting unrealistic goals and without having a really good plan, or something we didn’t really stick to it.

We start with the best of intentions, nearly starving, and on the other end of the spectrum planning to workout every day of the week, hitting the gym at 5 of 5:30 a.m. every single day… just like basic training! Of course we ignore the fact that we need to get plenty of nourishment (not starvation) for those tough workouts, and as the workouts get tough, we soon become sloppy, and failed our goals.

Suffice to say that we in the fitness industry see the “resolutioneers” come into the gyms after January 1 each year like a tidal wave! OMG! They are crazy with pent up anxiety about how badly de-conditioned or overweight they have become and are on a crash-course to change their world.

While I applaud the “resolutioneers” intentions, they are setting themselves up for failure. It’s truly unbelievable how these gym-newbies and gym-comebacks come in and attack their workouts. An accurate prediction is that they will be sitting at home and feeling like a failure by the first of February – March 1 at the latest. And this is truly sad.

But, every year a few of the resolutioneers figure it out and they stick with it. Some even stay with it long enough to see some exciting results! What’s the difference between the quitters and those who stick it out? Simply three steps – read on.

First, those who come in with realistic goals tend to not get as discouraged. For example, I had a discussion with a female client wanting to lose 10 pounds by the end of January. Ten pounds in one month – definitely doable! Remember, with enhanced focus on calorie control and stepping up the workouts, you can drop a pound or two per week – even more with an aggressive plan. But, ten pounds coming out of the Holiday Season is probably very possible. Why? Moving from a season of excessive calorie intake featuring all those once-a-year holiday foods to reasonable meal plan coupled with regular workouts can mean big weight loss!

Second, you need to have a plan. Don’t come into the gym or start working out at home without knowing what you’ll be doing, and when. The most successful exercisers have a plan for each day of the week, e.g., cardio on Monday, lifting on Tuesday, cardio on Wednesday, etc. And, when it comes to lifting, have a plan for that too. My favorite lifting plan incorporates all the major muscle groups each time you workout. You didn’t leave any body parts at home, so work ‘em out while you’re there!

Third, have a smart meal plan in place. No success will come without a good calorie balanced meal plan and the willpower to stay with it. Just because you had a great workout is no reason to “treat” yourself. You are trying to lose weight, not maintain. So, the treats must wait until you’ve seen progress! 

There are many tools available to help you:

  1. plan
  2. track and
  3. measure

both your exercise and diet and stick to it for a successful result! A really terrific tool is our Online Personal Trainer. It’s loaded features like workout programs for weight loss, flexible diet options and online fitness tracking.

But regardless of your tools of choice, pay attention to your goals – make them realistic. Make sure you make plans for a structured workout routine and smart meal planning. Remember, if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail! Keep close attention to what you’ve planned and stick with it. You’ll emerge a brand-new you! Get determined to be your 50plusPlusFit best!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple certifications, has delivered over 8,000 training sessions as well as 20,000 group exercise sessions and is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

Use It or Lose It!

by Ron the Trainer -
I am reminded that people over 50 have extra reasons to work out. As we mature, there are often new challenges we face regarding health and fitness. And, as someone over 50, I can attest that fitness is more challenged merely by being sedentary. Therefore, we have to workout or lose the ability to move freely.

There are studies that show only 1 in 4 people over 50 exercise 3 or more times per week. If you look around, you can probably pick the ones who don’t workout in a crowd. Those are often people with a cane, a walker, those who walk with great difficulty or those who are obese.

It’s just a fact of life that if you get brisk exercise on a regular and consistent basis, you can still have a spring in your step and control your weight. So, it’s not just about appearance but also ability. Being able to walk and move about freely, to perform tasks such as yard work, house work, etc. is a main consideration when thinking about exercise. This ability decreases slowly – in fact, you may not feel it coming on for months or even years. But one day, lack of exercise will catch up with you and you’ll realize that you can’t walk around the block, run and play with your grandchildren or do simple household tasks.

So, what to do? Any trainer will tell you that you need cardiovascular exercise such as a treadmill or bike depending on your current ability. In addition, weight-bearing exercise is very important to maintain muscle mass and strength. Additionally, stretching to increase and maintain flexibility is key to being fully functional.  

If you are unaccustomed to exercise, be sure to start slowly. Listen to your body – maybe your cardio workouts will start out at 10 or 15 minutes per day. That’s OK – just make sure that over the next couple of weeks, you challenge yourself to do more. One great way to start with your strength training are exercises found in the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer. Here you will find many exercises especially for people starting their exercise program.

Look for a Silver Sneakers class in your area. The instructors use light weight and even arm chairs! This way, you are starting out slowly, with light weight and you even have others like you to offer support and encouragement.

An aqua aerobics class is another way to start out slowly and carefully. You can find classes at community centers, gyms, and even city pools. You can move to your level of comfort – and the water keeps you cool – you won’t even feel the sweat! Of course, there will be others there that can offer support.  

Speaking of a support system, find friends or recruit your spouse to workout with you. Taking a brisk walk in the neighborhood with friends is good exercise too. Just make sure you’re working hard enough that you can’t carry on conversations – quick answers are all that’s allowed!

Also, if you’re starting out and haven’t been exercising, some things from your high school gym days are now considered wrong. First of all, don’t work till you feel the burn – it SHOULDN’T hurt during or after your workout. A little muscle soreness a day or two after is acceptable but, don’t injure yourself.

On the subject of your body, please make sure to get regular check-ups with your primary care physician. Facts are that men over 50 go to the doctor an average of once every 15 months, women more often. Annual check-ups mean just that – at least every 12 months. Most doctors recommend baseline colonoscopy and mammograms beginning at age 50, sooner if there is family history of cancer. Make sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations – finding a problem and it may be easier to treat.

So, the only body you can have is the one you’re currently occupying – so take good care of it. Exercise regularly, eat healthy meals and stay on top of your health with check-ups and recommended tests. Your ability to fully function is in your hands – and it starts today. So, tie on your favorite pair of sneakers, and get out there and get in your workouts – you’ll be 50plusPlusFit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has delivered over 8,500 personal training hours and is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.com.

When the Belly Won't Go Down

By Ron the Trainer -
I recently spoke with an over-50 member in my club who is frustrated to the point of giving up on losing weight – specifically his belly. It’s true that as we age, we can development some unpleasant physical characteristics. And men often have a belly to deal with.

In the case of this member, he felt like he was doing all the right things, eating well, but saw no progress. He had even attended a seminar at the local community center with a nutritionist. His question to her was ‘why can’t I lose this?’ Unfortunately, she offered very little help.

The reality is, the nutritionist couldn’t ask the right questions in front of a group of people. The man told me about what made up his meals, which included some “health” foods I had never even heard about. Truly, what was in his diet wasn’t to blame. What wasn’t in his diet was more of an issue – protein.  I mentioned to him that, particularly at “our age” protein plays a big part in muscle retention and balanced nutrition.

But, this isn’t all about diet. The man said that he did 25 minutes of cardio 3 times per week. As it turns out, I have seen his “cardio” and I suggested that he bump it up to 35 minutes (30 minutes is the absolute minimum time for a cardio session) and that he increase the intensity. The visualization I gave him was to get on a bike and pedal like someone is chasing him. I told him to listen to music instead of watching TV on the bike and pedal to the beat of the music (let’s hope he doesn’t choose Lawrence Welk!)

Additionally, when he stopped me to talk, he was on a seated trciep push-down machine – probably the most worthless but popular piece of equipment in my gym. I recommended a workout featuring two each of shoulders, back, chest and legs with three core exercises to be done three times per week. Once again, work at each exercise as though you’re competing against someone – and you want to win!

So, I told him that although proper food (and drink) intake is responsible for 60-70% of weight loss success, you can’t do it on diet alone. Even in Weight Watchers meetings they talk about ways to be more physically active in order to succeed at weight loss goals. So, you have to move – and move like you mean it!

I want to add in that there are some medications that can cause weight gain such as some steroids like prednisone which is often prescribed for orthopedic issues like pain and swelling. Some arthritic patients will definitely have a struggle between less pain and more belly. So, if you fall into that category, your job is to work even harder doing the physical things that you can do without causing more pain and, be very careful about food and alcohol intake!

Another member recently sustained a shoulder injury and instead of working with an orthopedic and physical therapist, he decided to just take a break from working out until it got better. That “break” lasted about six months. He came back into the club this week after having routine blood work done at his primary care physician. During the break, his cholesterol and fasting glucose numbers slipped significantly enough that his doctor didn’t suggest but told him to get back to his workouts!

Consistent workouts not only control what you see, but also what you can’t see. Many people struggle with controlling serum cholesterol but, a healthy meal plan and regular, vigorous exercise can actually control it and, in some cases, reduce dependency on medications. Blood glucose (sugar) is very easily controlled by diet and exercise. So, there’s no reason for most of us to not feel successful if, deep in our hearts, we really have done everything right!  So, just when you thought it was enough, maybe you need to re-examine your eating and exercise habits, possibly getting some advice from a nutritionist or trainer and then, incorporate those new ideas into your life – you’ll be 50plusPlusFit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has delivered over 8,500 training hours and is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

Winter and Fitness

Welcome to being 50plusPlusFit! Oh, you say that you’re not 50plusPlusFit - yet? O.K., but stay with the rest of us – help is on the way. As I write this installment, it’s almost time for the Sunday football games to start – but I had a moment and an idea – and plenty of time before the first touchdown!

So, many of us have concentrated on the fitness thing all year, through the New Year’s resolutions, the big spring push so that we could fit into warm-weather clothes and be more active outdoors. We lived through a great summer (locally, ours was classified as “mild”)and here we are – approaching winter especially as some people have seen record-breaking temperatures and snows already.

So, that means that our activities will change, there will be less to do outdoors (except maybe shovel snow!) So, now it’s time to re-prioritize workout scheduling – it’s not as easy and pulling out the mower for a little exercise. It’s time to remember to schedule in a trip to the gym or an hour on the treadmill if you have one at home! Just like the rest of the year, 4-6 workouts a week with both cardio and lifting are desired to attain and maintain your best physical condition.

So, weather is not co-operating with an outdoor workout? In the Online Personal Trainer, we list many ways of getting your strength training at home – even without workout equipment. You can use everyday items such as detergent bottles for resistance workouts, do push-ups and other exercises that primarily depend upon body weight. Or, you can buy bands – and there are two distinct types: the rubber bands that provide resistance and nylon bands that depend upon your body weight. Both sets will come with instructions and are reasonably priced.

No place for cardio? Get creative! Find an indoor track or mall for power-walking. Find an indoor pool for a winter-time swim! Get busy and look for ways to say “yes” to a cardio workout – avoid the word “no” whenever possible.

Make it a date. Schedule an hour for your workouts every couple of days and keep the blood pumping so that you don’t lose muscle strength throughout the winter. Playing catch-up in the spring is hard work and it can be easily avoided by staying busy all winter.

New Year’s resolutions are find but, think back to this past new year’s. Did you make promises to yourself that you didn’t keep? I’m sure that’s true for all of us. Point is, frequent, consistent workouts are much more effective than the big push.

Today is a new day – this week is the to start being good to yourself. So, schedule and honor your commitments for workouts and a better you. And, then you will be 50plusPlusFit!

Women Over 50 Lifting Weights?!?

By Jeannie the Trainer -

over 50 women lifting weightsWhy not? And why not over 60 like me? There is absolutely no reason why women shouldn’t try weightlifting if you’re over 50, over 60 or any age. Many women, including yours truly, include weightlifting in their fitness regimen. It doesn’t have to be your entire exercise program, but it can certainly add to your health and appearance. Of course weight lifting is just one way of resistance training, there is also body weight training, suspension training and resistance tubes, for example. But weight training is one of the time-proven ways to maximize your resistance training and measure progress most easily and accurately.

We ladies always want to look better, and feel better too. Most of us want to lose weight and tone up, and weight training could be your best bet!

Accelerating Weight Loss

Weight lifting will definitely help you lose weight, and there are a few reasons why:

1. Weight lifting will boost your metabolism. In several studies, weight training has proven to extend the so-called after-burn, that period of time after your workout when your metabolism is returning to normal. Apparently your metabolism remains higher for a longer period of time following resistance training with weights, then following cardio exercise in particular.

2. Weightlifting will assure that you burn fat to lose weight. Aerobic exercise is very good for losing weight and fat burning, but eventually during cardio exercise, your body will start eating away at muscle tissue, so you won't lose as much body fat, you’ll lose muscle. To assure you burn fat, you have to mix weight lifting into your exercise program.

3. Weight lifting will burn more food calories. So much so that you will need to consume some extra calories to fuel your workout! What a nice benefit… you get to eat some additional calories because weight lifting truly requires that you fuel your body or performance really suffers and you won’t challenge your muscles. So bon appétit!  

Toning Up vs. Bulking Up

Most women fear bulking up and losing their softer side, but if lifting weights correctly, they should put those worries behind them. Unless you are interested in Olympic style weight lifting or body-building, you will get great results toning and shaping your body by lifting low and moderate weight levels of weights.

For example, 30-40 minutes of high-intensity, high-repetition, low-weight lifting or 20-30 minutes of low repetition, moderate-weight lifting will go a long way in toning your muscles and shaping your body.

Use isolation moves like curls and triceps extensions to shape your arms, chest presses and flyes to support your breasts, and then more compound exercises like squats and deadlifts to build a bit more muscle fiber. These compound lifting moves engage more muscle groups, like legs, back and core muscles with squats, and in-turn burn more calories along the way. The

50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer has many workout routines offering just this combination.

The combination of isolation and compound moves, coupled with aerobics and weight-lifting will be the perfect formula for burning fat weight, toning muscles and reshaping your body as you increase your cardio endurance. Do this and in no time at all you’ll be truly 50plusPlusFit!

Jeannie Hughes is a multi-certified trainer and Pilates expert. For expert Pilates, Post-Rehab, Personal Training and General Fitness in Houston contact Jeannie at www.YesFitnessTraining.com

Working Out Over 50 & Staying Focused

By Ron the Trainer

Here we are between Memorial Day and Labor Day, traveling and vacationing are in full swing for many of us. We are receiving guests from out-of-town and in general, our lives are very different than a couple of months ago. But for us over 50, now more than ever, we have to stay focused on our workouts and meal planning.

Vacationing? Great! Figure out how to get 12,000 footsteps of site-seeing into each day. Make healthy choices at every meal. Remember, later in the day is when most people slip and make poor food choices. Make sure your vacation plans don’t involve sitting in a car or plane for more than 3 hours or so. It’s really ideal to be moving – on your feet – for at least 4-6 hours per day. If you are putting in the steps seeing something new and wonderful, a visit to the gym is optional.

Food! In a new place where the food is different from back home makes it extremely hard to resist unhealthy choices. So, if you are visiting Texas and are being introduced to Tex-Mex, skip the chips and salsa and control the quantity of the entrée. In many cases, the burrito can be eaten by two people (or more!). If you are in the northeast and encountering fresh seafood, make sure it’s prepared properly – not fried or swimming in butter.

Plan for an active vacation such as:

  • Hiking
  • Climbing
  • Zip-lining

or anything that keeps you moving. Talk about a fun vacation – one with a lot of action will keep you wanting for more.  However, a week at the beach is a recipe for losing all control and gaining a lot of weight! So, plan lots of action in your vacation.

Not vacationing?  Great, you have an opportunity to stay with your workout routine. If you like to take a brisk walk, you may have to reschedule to earlier in the day but, keep it up! By the way, this is the time of year when a lot of gyms are less crowded so, it’s a great time to get in your gym workouts.  

Another way of staying focused is to try different workouts. Be sure to check out the Online Personal Trainer for exercises and workout plans that can help keep you interested and focused. But, you can also try a group exercise class. You can find classes that feature Zumba which is Latin-based dance. It’s very free flowing and anyone can follow the moves – even with two left feet!

Try other group exercise classes such as indoor cycling (spinning), or strength classes using barbells and hand weights. This might be a great time to try a Pilates or yoga class. And, of course, you can take the plunge into an aqua aerobics class which you can find in the neighborhood pools as well as your gym.

Hosting out-of-town guests? Make arrangements with your gym to bring your guests in with you! Make the announcement that “we are going to the gym at XX time.” Then, make the appointment – even if the guests don’t end up following you. Remember, you don’t want to lose your gains and gain weight from your losses because of a bunch of broken gym appointments! I would hope your guests would be excited to join you, or flattered that you care enough to set them up at your gym. But, at the very least, let’s hope they encourage you to meet your workout date. It's important to keep in mind that working out over 50 is important year-round and your fitness routine shouldn't take a vacation!

Summer is here – a time that most people enjoy the most. We here at 50plusPlusFit encourage you to get out and have an active, fun season. It gets easy to hide in the air conditioning and do little but, finding ways to keep active will pay off nicely at the end of the season when you are at your best. Fitness doesn’t just happen – we have to work towards being our most fit and you’re worth it because you ARE 50plusPlusFit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple Fitness certifications, has delivered over 8,500 workouts and is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

Workout To Relieve Stress

By Ron the Trainer -
Welcome to modern America where sources of stress are everywhere. At work there is pressure to perform better. Getting places for most of us is stressful with heavy traffic and the rising costs of driving a vehicle can be very stressful. Even when at home, we can be faced with stressful situations. Where is your safe haven from stress? The Gym!

I have had a considerable amount of stress in the last week and to combat it and feel better I grab my mp3 player, strap on my favorite cross-trainers and hit the workout floor! There’s no better feeling than powering through a set of push-ups or 30 minutes on a spin bike while working through those stresses! It’s as though you have super powers and directing them to your workout makes you feel so strong!

Of course, I work at a gym so, if I feel stress my escape is literally at my fingertips. What if you get really anxious in the middle of your workday? Go take a 10-minute walk, step into a vacant conference room and knock out 30 push-ups or climb the stairs for 4 or 5 flights (I said “climb” as in Up, not go down!) Don’t poo poo this idea – I know wherever you work you can disappear for 10 minutes without repercussion. Yes, I have had a corporate job in the ivory tower, so I know this can be done.

Be sure to keep your gym bag packed and in your car so that you can go for a workout at lunch or on the way home from work to make sure you’re controlling your stress. Get exercise in regularly to consistently feel calm. There’s nothing better to smooth out your day than a good workout. So, if you’re getting two or three workouts in per week now, try to add two more – and yes, daily workouts are O.K. In fact, we here at 50plusPlusFit recently featured an article about two-a-day workouts which have been proven to be very effective for some fitness goals such as muscle growth and endurance.

Recently, I read a report from research that shows a vigorous workout within two hours of bedtime was proven to be very effective in bringing on a very deep sleep cycle within the first four hours of sleep. Other benefits of this sleep cycle are repairing muscles, and even some hormonal recovery. Remember, after age 40, the level of our hormones starts to decline. That is partially attributed to lack of sleep and yes, you guessed it – stress. 

To keep it fresh, challenging and interesting, try different things. I did a kickboxing class last week for the first time in about 10 years and it was great fun (did I mention I’ve just turned 61?) I regularly teach indoor cycling (aka spinning), boot camp and strength training classes along with aqua aerobics. Not up for a class? Check out the 50plusPlusFit Personal Trainer for videos featuring many exercises and ho-to narrative. Variety is important to control your stress as well. Even workouts can become tedious if it’s always the same things.  

So many benefits come from controlling stress and in some cases, it can even be life-saving! Stress can bring on heart attack, make changes in our bodies so that we don’t absorb nutrients as well and stress can even cause weight gain as a defense mechanism. Now is the time to make a pact with yourself and decide to control the stress in your life. And, there’s no better way to control stress than to combat it with a great workout! Take out your calendar and plot out each workout today – put them in your schedule and treat your workouts as appointments! Hit the workout floor with a renewed commitment to yourself and your health – after all, you’re 50plusPlusFit!

Ron the Trainer holds multiple fitness certifications, has delivered over 8,500 training sessions and is a co-founder of 50plusPlusFit.

Exercising With A Cold

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Working out with a cold or skipping your workout because of a cold, which is worse? Am I just being silly or blowing off my exercise needlessly? Depends really ... read on to nail down when to workout and when to rest.

Bob’s Experience:

Gesundheit! I just happen to have a few sniffles this morning so it reminded me that cold and flu season is approaching, or has arrived for some 50plusPlusFit folks up north. I hate to get colds. Colds not only make you feel less than ideal, but they are just a nuisance, with all those tissues, cold remedies, the dehydration, etc.

But the really big nuisance is that a cold can get in the way of my workout fitness plans. Workouts can be compromised or even missed if the cold is a bad one. But I do attempt to stay on schedule as much as I can muster. Remember that old saying “starve a cold, feed a fever”, or was it the other way around? I’ve heard neither is the right thing to do for either ailment. However, in my experience, even when I’ve had a cold, I’ve felt better when I’ve gotten in at least some exercise. I do adjust to how I feel and a lot depends on if I’m on some kind of medication, particularly meds that might add to dehydration like antihistamines.

Like I said, so much depends on how I feel. So I do what all of us should do all the time anyway, I “listen” to my body. If the cold is too severe, I totally skip a workout, which is better than risking a further setback. But if I don’t feel too bad, I’ll try to get something in, and that something more often than not is strength training with lighter weights - lighter because I don’t think this is the time to go for a big challenge or big progress. And I can make those weight changes in my online fitness tracking. But I generally don’t try cardio exercise when I might have trouble breathing or when I have a runny nose, just seems too challenging when I’m not at my peak.

The truth of the matter is, while I think this has worked for me, maybe I’m fooling myself. Maybe Ron the Trainer thinks I’m risking something. Ron?

Ron’s Expertise:

Right on track Bob. The industry experts agree that if you’re feeling reasonably able to get in a workout, then do so – but not an intense workout. If, however, you really don’t feel good enough to work out, you should listen to your body. (Of course if you’re just blowing off your workout, then let your conscience be your guide!)

If you are having a serious upper respiratory condition, you can actually do yourself more harm than good as the condition could worsen and move the congestion to your lungs – that’s called pneumonia! So, if it’s a mild cold, get your blood moving a little to enhance recovery. If it’s pretty severe, lay low until you improve. 

Oh yeah, if you’re thinking about going to a public gym, do everyone a few favors:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Dispose of used tissues properly – don’t tuck them in a corner of the bench or weight equipment – yuck!
  • If you need to cough or sneeze, place your face on the inside of your elbow to contain germs and minimize spreading germs to equipment.Taking a little extra care can keep you on your fitness track.

So, listen to your body and keep moving for your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle.

NEAT-ly Burn Calories Beyond Exercising

senior standing to burn caloriesby Alice Burron
If you’ve been diligent about your exercise routine and are following a healthy diet plan, but want to accelerate your weight loss  – let me introduce to you a concept which will then become your new friend that will allow you to burn some extra calories – even when you’re sitting. And it’s perfect for those of us over 50.

NEAT, or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, is the addition of all of the calories you burn during smaller movements, but does not include calories burned during actual exercise. For example, it takes more calories to sit than lie down, and the NEAT calories are higher when sitting than lying down. It takes more calories to stand than sit, and the NEAT calories you burn are higher when standing. Moving in addition to standing will increase NEAT calories even more.

The overall calories you burn every day depends on the way you choose to spend your time; lying, sitting, standing, and exercising.  If you play your cards right (while standing!), you can burn from 200 to 400 calories more a day if you make an effort to exist throughout the day in the highest calorie-burning ways. And you won’t even know you did it because the effort is subtle, not like true exercise, but an excellent compliment to the workout programs for weight loss found in this site's Online Personal Trainer.

Here are ways to increase your NEAT calorie burn throughout the day:

Sit on a fitness ball as often as possible.  According to a 2008 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, sitting on a fitness ball (also called an exercise ball) burns about 6 percent more calories than working on a normal office chair.  That can add up to 200 calories a day, if you’re sitting on a fitness ball all day.  Beyond that, sitting on a ball is a great way to strengthen your spine and abdominal muscles because it does not allow you to slump and relax postural muscles.  Start slowly – just a few minutes a day to begin with.  Work your way up to sitting on the ball whenever you have the opportunity.

Sit actively.  Sitting doesn’t mean you have to stay motionless.  Next time you sit, try these activities: tap your foot up and down, raise your heels up and down, move your ankle in circles, and pull in your toes and stretch them out again.  Straighten your leg and hold it for as long as you can, then, with leg still straight, add small pulses of up and down movements.  If you add up to 20 minutes of this type of activity every day, you can burn 100 calories more than just sitting.

Consider standing.  Standing is comparable in calorie burn to sitting on the fitness ball (up to 200 calories a day), so if you’re able to work or visit on the phone while standing and in place of sitting, it will burn additional calories and give your body some postural variety which may prevent soreness.  If you are able to, do low-key movements such as pacing, high-stepping and performing small knee bends to burn even more calories.

Stretch often. If you’re sitting, stretch your arms overhead as often as possible. If you get caught up on the computer and have a tendency to forget, set a timer to stretch 3-5 minutes every hour.  Most computers have this feature, but if not, there are free timers online (www.free-countdown-timer.com/countdownclock.html). Reach overhead, grab your hands together, and reach for the sky. Bend to the right and left and reach the straight arms behind you.  Release and take arms, palms back, straight to the sides and gently pull arms back. Move your arms in little circles in both directions.  With arms still straight out to sides, bend the torso slightly to the right and reach with the right-hand fingertips to the right as far as you can, then switch sides and do the same with the left.  Invent your own stretches.   Stretch 5 times a day for 3-5 minutes and burn 100 calories.

The advantages of active existence are great for everyone; even if you do workout every day, these NEAT tips can keep your body supple and loose, and burn even more calories.  The Archives of Internal Medicine found that these movements, beyond the 30 minutes of traditional exercise recommended, might matter even more for your overall health than 30-minute workouts alone.

For additional insights into all forms of 50 plus exercise, contact Alice.

Cardio and Strength Training on The Same Day

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Is this a Good Idea?
The idea of getting in a daily workout is a very good one but, cardio workout and strength training on the same day? You may be surprised by what we have to say on this ...

Bob’s Experience:

There is I believe a lot of confusion “out there” about the timing of one’s cardiovascular exercise versus their strength or resistance training. Some people suggest that you should get your heart rate up in your zone every day of the week, others limit it to 3-4 days per week. And then you add the now common recommendation that everyone, and those over 50 in particular, should get some amount of resistance exercise to retain, regain or add muscle fiber. Then things really begin to get confusing. How many days should one exercise for strength?

Well in my years of following somewhat of an exercise regimen, I have pretty much mixed it up in different ways. Sometimes I have dedicated certain days to just cardio exercise, leaving strength training to other days of the week. Sometimes I’ve gotten both forms of exercise on the same day. One thing I know for certain is that we need both forms of exercise. I am a particular fan of strength training, so I might give a bias to that form of exercise. But we need both, and we need strength training because as we get to be 50 Plus, we will lose muscle fiber and tone at an increasing rate; I believe the experts refer to it as muscle atrophy, the loss of muscle.

In the past I’ve also read some of the fitness and male body building magazines, and the latter sometimes suggests that you should only do strength training while you’re trying to build muscle. On the other hand in certain sports circles, strength training, particularly lifting weights was avoided in the past because coaches didn’t want their athletes becoming “bulked-up” and lose flexibility.

And lastly, you have the medical community, who for years only emphasized your cardiovascular health. Thank heaven, now even your doctor is beginning to promote strength training to retain muscle as we age, along with cardio. The good doc realizes that we need to be strong to be active over 50 and beyond into our senior years.

So let’s at least say that we agree that a mix of both cardio and strength training exercise is the optimum plan. But should we do them on the same day or different days? And is there an optimum mix through the week? I’ve done it differently at different times throughout the years, mostly driven by where I thought I needed help, build strength, lose weight or just drop body fat. Is there a best way now that I’m 50 Plus?

Jump in here Ron because, even with my years of exercise experience, I’m still confused.

Ron’s Expertise:                                                                    

Wow Bob you hit on all of the topics but I will attempt to link them together and make some sense of it all. If you listen to everything that we’re bombarded with, you will hear multiple opinions. I believe my dad said that opinions are like noses, everybody has a different one – and they smell. Well enough of that …

The current take on frequency of exercise by the fitness industry is:

  • Cardio – 4-6 days per week, 30-60 minutes each day
  • Strength Training – 3-4 days per week, 2 exercises minimum for each of the major muscle groups (shoulders, back, chest, legs, core)

That boils it down to something even I can understand. Now to address when …

Cardio and strength training can be done on the same day and many people prefer to do both each time they visit the gym. Now comes the question of which comes first, cardio or strength. Honestly, there are many, many studies that have been published on the topic and they all boil down to “try cardio first, strength last and strength first, cardio last to see which you like best.”  Really – the studies are all conclusive but contradict each other. I believe that the order of the exercises is just as much psychological and physiological … and personally, I hate to do cardio last.

Bob mentioned the perfect combination of cardio and strength training to reduce body fat. There is a current philosophy that two-a-day workouts burn body fat better and faster than anything. Two-a-day workouts means that you will get your cardio at one time of the day and then get your strength training at another time. For example, many of my clients get up early in the morning and get their cardio done before they go to work. Then, after work, they get their strength training done. The combinations are flexible but remember that the “after-burn” from either type of workout is 4-8 hours so, you’ll want to leave that much time between workouts if done in the same day. But, you can always do both on the same visit and have one "after-burn."

For those of us over 50, strength training is a MUST! If I didn’t make that clear enough, if you’re over 50 you have to strength train to halt and/or reverse the effects of osteoporosis and muscle loss from aging. I will take exception to Bob calling it “atrophy.” Atrophy is muscle loss from inactivity – the muscle loss we suffer after 30 is due to physiological changes in the body, even if we're active.

Facts are, at age 50, we could have lost as much as 30% of our muscle mass that we had at age 25. So, being over 50 and being inactive creates a double-jeopardy situation for muscle loss. That’s why weight/resistance/strength training is vital to keeping those of us over 50 able to perform daily activities.

Flexibility is always a fitness factor to keep on the radar. Just because we do/don’t train with weights, we can and do still lose flexibility. So, stretching and my favorite, mind/body exercises will aid to improving flexibility. Tai-chi is my favorite mind/body exercise because you’re moving, sweating and stretching mostly in a standing position, all at the same time.  

So, sit down with a blank monthly calendar and plot out your workouts. Decide for yourself based on your work and life schedules what will actually work for you without getting in the way or worse, you skip your workouts to attend meetings or other important events in your life. And by the way, the workouts calendar in the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer is a great tool for managing your online fitness tracking.

Once you have the calendar complete, post it and live by it. Never feel guilty about using the time for your workouts vs. something else that you see is an important use of your time. Your workouts are an important investment in your health and well-being for today and in your future. And, as we’ve stated over and over, your workouts today will pay off nicely 20-30 years from now when you’re able to maintain an independent lifestyle.

Make it to your workouts regularly and with dedication to maintain and flourish in your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle!

How Does Your Heart Rate?

By Jeannie the Trainer -

Check your heart rate zone!  Really, a great many people do not know their maximum heart rate or even their resting (normal) heart-rate.  And knowing your heart rate is important, and maybe a bit more for those of us over 50, as our heart rate changes as we age. And there are plenty of exercises nd workout women over 50 in aerobics classroutines for various levels of fitness in the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer.

Taking your resting heart rate is pretty simple; just lightly press your index, second and third fingers on the opposite wrist, palm side, below the base of the thumb. You may have to move your fingers around a bit until you feel the blood pulsing below your fingers. Then with a watch or clock with a second hand or counter, count your pulse beats for 10 seconds; then multiply that number by six. Voila… your resting heart rate.

Now you should also know your maximum heart rate. This is even easier, simply subtract your age from 220. For example, a max for a 55 year old is 220 – 55 = 165. You never really want to push yourself so hard that you reach this “overload” level, but from here we can set target rates for different goals, conditioning, weight loss, etc. These are commonly referred to as heart rate zones.

But before we do, remember that the more intense that you train, the bigger the risk of injury. If you are just starting out make sure you are doctor-approved for the training level you desired.

Now back to our zones. Typically we fitness professionals suggest four zones depending on the goal, and here they are -

1. The Healthy Living Zone

This is on the low end of intensity for the target heart-rate zones. This promotes heart health and will set the stage for higher levels of heart-rate training. This basic heart-rate training will help you to maintain healthy levels of bodily processes as well. This would be anywhere from 45% to 60% of your maximal rate. So if your max is the 165 as calculated above, your target zone here would be between 74 – 99.

2. The Fat Burn or Weight Loss Zone

Here we go… burn that fat and drop those pounds! Target from 60% - 75% percent of your maximal heart rate to increase your cardiovascular training and burn fat calories. As you get better, you should focus on training extended periods of time in this zone to maximize calorie burning.

3.  The Aerobic Zone

Step it up people!  This zone is optimal for training for aerobic endurance. This is where you are reaching 75 to 85 percent of your max rate. You will definitely boost your endurance as well as strengthen your heart muscle. This is ideal for endurance, race and athletic competition training. Hey, some of us still run marathons, and you can too!

4. VO2 Max Zone

Here you are reaching 85 to 100 percent of maximal heart rate training and taking in the maximum oxygen. This is definitely reserved for our highly conditioned 50+ buddies who are experienced and possibly training for their next great sports adventure like that 150 mile bike trek, or next marathon or triathlon, or those that just have a goal to be in their top athletic form. But here's a tip for those who are in great shape, even though you’re in great shape already, training at this rate should be in short durations to prevent injury. In fact, if you intend to train to maximize your oxygen intake abilities for peak training, find professional supervision.

Regardless of your goals, know your heart rate numbers, pick your zone, and you'll be 50plusPlusFit!

Jeannie Hughes is a multi-certified trainer and Pilates expert. For expert Pilates, Post-Rehab, Personal Training and General Fitness in Houston contact Jeannie at www.YesFitnessTraining.com

 

Reach Your Over 50 Fitness Goals - Recruit Cheerleaders!

By Ron the Trainer -

When you are with family or friends do you feel like you have to give in to meal items that you would not have chosen if you were alone? Do you find yourself defending your fitness goals to friends or family? Being over 50 has it’s challenges without waging an up-hill battle. It’s time to turn your fitness foes into cheerleaders!

Potential cheerleaders in your life can include:

  • Co-Workers
  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Other Family Members
  • Friends
  • People You’ve Met at the Gym

Everyone concentrating on their over 50 fitness goals have their own reasons for losing or maintaining weight, working on strength training or flexibility, etc. But, those around you who are an important part of your life need to understand your goals and the reasons behind them.

Maybe you have an elevated A1C which means diabetes is a possibility – without lifestyle changes. Maybe you have a reunion or wedding to attend and you want to look your best. Whatever your goals and reasons are, be sure people around you are on board with you and are cheering you on!

Imagine going to lunch with co-workers and be encouraged (O.K., badgered) into getting the grilled chicken instead of a burger! Imagine your spouse telling you it’s time to go to the gym and wouldn’t it be nice if he/she went with you! Don’t forget to check out the Online Personal Trainer for exercises, meal plans and a place to track your progress!

Getting encouragement from those around you is helpful in staying focused and making the best choices. We have all had days when we were less than enthusiastic about going for a workout. But, with people around you asking about your workouts, or even going along with you, the trip can seem less of an effort.

So, how do you start with your over 50 fitness goals? It’s simple – every time you have a few moments, explain to everyone you know what your goals are (which should include measurable results like 20 pounds lost in 6 months) and why these goals are important to you. Then ask them to be supportive of your goals – let’s face it, there could be worse things to obsess over! Tell them that you need their kind words, their encouragement and even to be a watchdog for you.

So, even if your spouse goes to the gym with you while you get in a resistance workout and he/she is walking the treadmill, that’s unspoken, positive encouragement.

I wrote a few weeks ago about finding a workout buddy – and that’s great for about 3 hours per week. But, there are 168 hours in a week, you need people around you at other times like when it’s time to take the dog for a brisk walk instead of turning him loose in the backyard. You need encouragement at mealtime to make healthy choices and for portion control.

It is sometimes very hard to stay focused on a fitness goal especially when faced with choices that may not help you meet your goals. But, if you get everyone around on board and on your side, you can stay more focused and have a healthier life. So, it’s time to recruit today – you’re 50plusPlusFit!

The Real Fountain of Youth

Fountain of Youthby Terri Fox

Where is the Fountain of Youth?  We’ve all heard about it.  Explorers have searched for it for centuries.  Ponce de Leon “discovered” it in what is now Florida. Herodotus mentions a special place in Ethiopia.  Hollywood created films about it: in 1985’s Cocoon, aliens stored their eggs in a pool later discovered by a group of senior citizens, who, when they went swimming in it, reversed their aging process.  2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean, 2002’s Tuck Everlasting, and many more films have touted the joys of the enigmatic fountain.  The quest to retain our youth is far from new; pharmaceutical companies profit in the billions each year from man’s endless quest to recapture youth.  But in the end, there is no such place, or pill, or shot that will reverse the body’s natural aging process.  That doesn’t mean we can’t slow it down, however!

So if aging can’t be reversed, then our mission MUST be to slow it down!  Your “fountain of youth” resides within you.  It has always been there.  Only you can discover it and gain vitality from it.  You’ve had it all along, but it wasn’t until you hit age 50 that it became vital.  So how do you tap in to the spring of vitality and youth?  How do you find the energy and zest for life with each new day?

You’ve known the answer all along: you get out of life what you put into it.  If you want energy, you must expend energy.  You must feed the muscles and organs the nutrient-dense food they require.  You must drink water and you must maintain your flexibility to aid in balance.  It doesn’t matter if you are new to fitness or a fitness veteran; action is required.  There is a process to follow, no matter where you fall on the fitness scale, in order to reach optimum health.

Step One: Move!  Once the doctor has cleared you for physical activity, move!  Join a class or gym that offers special classes for people age 50 and over, even seniors.  Find someone who specializes in working with the 50 plus group who can safely raise the heart rate, such as a trainer who knows how to modify exercises to meet everyone’s needs. Or in place of a one-on-one personal trainer try this site's Online Personal Trainer, its loaded with workout videos to lose weight and gain muscle, designed by their 50 plus trainers. Either way, the goal is to simply start and get better each day.

Step Two: Practice Good Form.  Anything worth doing is worth doing right.  Putting weights on bad form leads to injury.  Weights are a necessary component for building muscle mass and strengthening bones.

Step Three: Improve Flexibility.  This is another component necessary to keep the body mobile and safe from falls.  Tai Chi, Yoga, and stretching are excellent forms of flexibility.  These exercises lengthen the tendons and ligaments and keep them supple, while keeping joint structure secure.  When joints become stiff, balance is compromised.

Step Four: Understand Nutrition.  This is the final component.  It’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle.  Every day muscles and bones must be fed the proper nutrients in order to stay healthy.  You wouldn’t put sugar in your car’s gas tank and expect it to work.  Yet, continuously, throughout our lives, the food that we ingest contains sugar, as well as high fructose corn syrup, sodium, preservatives and massive amounts of fillers, all of which have effects detrimental to muscle and bone health.

Change is not expected to occur in just a week or a month.  Just take baby steps daily.

For further information, contact Terri

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!

Weight Lifting Over 50

By Bob the Trainer -

man over 50 lifting weightsIf you are new to the world of lifting weights, it is a great way to lose weight and gain muscle.  But you need to know how to lift correctly, particularly over 50. There are some risks you need to be aware of. This is critically important to prevent injury, but also important to assure you get the most benefit from your hard work.

Here are some very simple rules to you get started…

1. Never Start Cold

Always take the time to stretch and warm up your muscles, always.  You can do some light aerobic exercise to get your body ready for your workout: jog, cycle, or whatever for 5 to 10 minutes.  This will warm your muscles and ready for the stress ahead.  But even before your light aerobics, STRETCH!  Stretching is too often overlooked, but it goes miles for maximizing your lifting benefits and avoiding injury.

2. Breathe

Don't make the common mistake of holding your breath when you lift weights.  Consciously breathe in before your first movement of each set and when relaxing the muscle, or when in the “negative” movement of a rep.  Breathe out when exerting force, or executing the “positive” pushing or pulling movement. This practice will oxygenate your muscles and help prevent injuries.

3. Respect Your Joints

Never fully extend your elbows, knees or shoulders; this is known as “locking out” and is the fast lane to injury.  When you lock your joints, it places unnecessary strain on you ligaments and tendons, and those injuries hurt my friends.  Also, only lift a weight that you can comfortably lift to failure for the workout’s required sets and reps.

4. Watch Your Back

During weight lifting, you are putting pressure and strain on your back to some degree, even when not specifically working the back.  There is nothing that will derail your exercise routine more than a back injury, so make sure that the exercises you do are done with proper posture and form.  Get help from a personal trainer or look at the exercise demonstration videos in the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer.

5. Work Efficiently

Depending on your goals, your type of weight lifting or resistance exercise can vary.  Barbells are great for working the primary mover muscles. On the other hand, the greater instability of dumbbells will engage more of your secondary muscle fibers, and this will add greatly to overall muscle development and added stability and balance.  But if you are totally new to resistance training, try “lifting” on weight machines to start out.  Machines will provide the greatest stability, safety and thus naturally avoid injury.  After a while your muscles will be less challenged by machines, and that’s the time to move up to free weight.

6. Be Intense

Always do the most exercise with the most intensity you're capable of.  This is no time to socialize at the club.  Train to failure, to the point where you cannot do another repetition.  This is true for all movements and for each set.  That way you’ll derive the most benefit, gain (regain) muscle, and burn the most calories without spending hours at the gym.

You want to make progress and see physical results, and if you lift weights properly, you indeed will. In fact, you'll notice some amazing changes in your body over the first month or two. Then continue on by staying the course.  You’ll definitely keep moving forward and be closer to being 50plusPlusFit!

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

Multitasking Workout Anyone?

50 plus multitask workoutby James Crow
So what's with multitasking that gets everyone in a muddle? We've all heard it before – women are better multi-taskers than men. It's a conversation stopper for many, but the press love to bring up any slight difference in the sexes, and we all love a good argument. Whatever your opinion, here are a few home truths...

Q: How good are men versus women at driving and using a mobile phone?

A: No difference, we're all the same... BAD! Everyone performed worse is a study of 200 participants in a high-fidelity driving simulator. In fact less than 3% of the people showed no reduction in skill. So what are the chances you're in that 3%? Not much!

There are several studies in place. Some show women are better at multitasking, but others show it's the men who come out top. Apparently it depends on the task. And many studies show there's absolutely no difference at all.

We all like to think we're good at doing several things at once. But before you start texting on the treadmill, lets decide if it's a good idea.

Multitasking good or multitasking bad?

And what's this got to do with your workout? Well, multitasking is generally a bad idea. If you're looking to get the most from your efforts, bouncing along on a treadmill reading a newspaper and watching the news is no way to pay attention to your form.

Two simple equations:

  1. Good form = a good workout.
  2. Bad form = a bad workout, time away from exercising, an inevitable decline in strength and agility, and inevitable injury, particularly over 50 or a senior.

What's the takeaway learning from this?

We all benefit from paying ATTENTION to what we're doing and how we're doing it as we workout...

If we're lifting weights, do we need to grit our teeth to build your biceps? Is it worth tightening our necks and pulling our heads down into our shoulders to build those triceps?

If we're running, check if we're collapsing into the hips. Are your feet landing well? Is your back nice and upright? Or are you managing your breathing? Is your run full of worry about the past and future, and all those little problems, or are you enjoying the smoothness of your movement, the rhythm of your stride, the ebb and flow of your breathing?

Being in the moment as you workout gives you oodles of opportunity to improve your form. Exercising shouldn't be a punishment you take, whilst trying to take your mind off it. Even if you're somewhat tired on a given day, paying attention to how you move is really important. Those last few reps or minutes are the ones that make the difference, so give them the full attention they deserve. Sitting on a bike or treadmill and losing yourself in the TV or newspaper is doing a disservice to your efforts! For example all of the workout routines in this site's videos and Online Personal Trainer require that you pay attention to your form and movement, or you simply won't get the maximum benefit. It doesn't matter if its kettlebell training or cardio.

Now try this:

Next time you're going to the gym or starting a working, stop for a moment. See if you can bring your attention to your whole body, all of it at once. This can be difficult for some people. Try letting your self-awareness be open, don't narrow down to one part of the body or another. See if you can be 'embodied' before your start. Now, gently ease into the exercise but don't lose that awareness. Paying attention to yourself like this is a priceless way to improve your form – and it won't cost you a dime!

Got any questions? For expert Alexander Technique advice, check out James’ website.

Being Lazy and Fit Over 50

By Bob the Trainer -

over 50 man working outBeing fit over 50 is not always easy. Let’s face it, there are days when you just don’t want to hop on that elliptical, take that aerobics class or hit the weights.  It happens.  You could say that you find excuses not to exercise.  But can we give in to the temptation to skip the workout and just sit on our duffs? Sure.  

One of the recommendations to losing weight and getting fit is to set short term goals, like pounds lost, or time on the rower or weight lifted in a week or a month.  With short term goals we can see progress in little steps and celebrate hitting that target.  But while short term gains will boost our spirit and resolve, falling short of the goal because we skipped the gym a couple of days can be equally disappointing.  So it is very important to recognize the different roles of short term goals and long term goals.

Yes missing a short term goal is disappointing, and yes we may have been our worst enemy by giving in to our natural weaknesses.  But we shouldn’t wallow in self blame.  That in itself can lead to very counterproductive behavior, like binge eating that big ol’ pizza!  No this is the time to recognize that you’re human and are ultimately aiming for a bigger goal.  You didn’t get out of shape in one week or one month and you won’t get fit overnight either.

If you’re tempted to skip the gym one day, do it.  You’re over 50 and you’ve earned it!  In the long run, this is better than resisting that little temptation and feeling compelled by some evil force.  But as you skip the gym and just relax with a good book or movie, think about your longer term goal and commit that this slight deviation from the plan is just that, a slight deviation.  Then resolve to get back on track tomorrow, full blast.

If it helps, think of your lazy indulgence as a reward for all the good work and progress you’ve made to date.  Be realistic though, and while you tell yourself its okay if you miss a short term target because you laid back a bit, also remind yourself of your long term goal and what it will take to get there.  All those short term goals are really what add up to reaching the big goal at the end of your fitness journey.  So you can’t indulge your temptations too often.

Also, you do need to give yourself rest days anyway. You shouldn’t work the same muscles every day, especially when strength training.  You need “off days” from working out, so think of the days you fall off schedule as an impromptu “off day.” Then just get back on track tomorrow working toward that bigger goal.

Lastly, remember that just because you’re skipping the gym, don't use that as an excuse to break with your nutrition or diet plan. One indulgence at a time is o.k., two, well not such a good idea.  

Bottom line, recognize that you’re not perfect, give in once in a while, celebrate reaching short term goals as you do, but keep your eye on the long term goal. Be good to yourself, be focused on the end result, lose the weight and gain the muscle… and be 50plusPlusFit!

How To Recharge Your Workout

By Bob the Trainer -

people over 50 exercisingJust when you thought you were making great progress, losing some pounds, gaining some muscle or going the distance in that aerobics class without a breather, you find you’ve hit a wall. Hey, you might be over 50, but even 30 year olds hit a wall once in a while. So how do you break through and resume getting the most out of your workouts? Let’s start with a plan.

Ya Gotta Have A Plan

You can’t just embark on your exercise routine with the goal of losing weight or getting in shape. That is way too broad and general. You need specific goals or targets. Do you know how many pounds you want to lose, how strong you want to get or how far you want to cycle or row? And do you know it by milestones, by day, week or month? You need to set up your exercise routine with your personal goals, and set short interval targets that are attainable. Then you can celebrate hitting each milestone.

Mix It Up

Doing the same workout or exercises every day, or even every other day will bore you to tears. You’ll also stall your results, because your body is smart and will adapt, yielding greatly reduced or no results within a few months. Mixing up your workout will keep your muscles working, growing and getting stronger. This is known as the "muscle confusion" principle. And this rule holds true not just for strength/resistance training, but for your cardio exercise and workouts as well. Switch to a different aerobics class, try Zumba or dancing or even one of those pretty intense cross-fit classes. After all you’re only over 50! Mixing it up will keep both your body and mind energized.

Don’t Dilly Dally

The gym can be a bit social, but don’t let the socializing get in the way of your workout. And don't spend more time at the gym than you need to. Just like sleep experts tell you to use the bedroom only for sleep and… well, you know, fitness experts want you to use the fitness center for fitness. It is your place to exercise.

Have Some Fun

What's your favorite form of exercise? Were you once a terror on the dance floor? Well maybe it’s time to try dancing again. Or were you a standout at shooting hoops? Barring any physical limitations, join a league or join a pick-up game at the club. Sure we all need to do some strength training, but these other options can make getting fit more fun.

Rest for The Weary

Push yourself to work out seven days a week is absolutely wrong if you want to succeed. You’ll end up breaking down if you don't let your body rest, and then you’ll regress rather than progress. Make sure that the 4-6 days of exercise you do are serious workout days, then give yourself recovery day(s) during the week.

This is particularly true for strength training; your muscles need recovery time, so never work the same muscle group two days in a row, work them every 48-72 hours. And you can get cardio burnout as well, and not feel so energized without proper rest. So rest already! But on your total “off days” you don’t have to sit on the couch either. Take a hike or go for a leisurely, fun bike ride.

The Next Goal

So let’s say that you've reached your fitness goal. Great! Congratulations! Now set the next goal and chase that, whether it is to lose more weight and gain muscle, cut some body fat, bike further, row longer, run faster or whatever… set the new goal and do it. Even if you only want to maintain your new found level of fitness and health, make that your new goal and do it. Because once you become truly 50plusPlusFit, you’ll want to stay 50plusPlusFit!

Women Over 50 Lifting Weights?

By Jeannie the Trainer -

woman over 50 lifting weightsOf course! Many women, if not most women, over 50 wonder about lifting weights as part of their exercise regimen. Many are concerned or at least very confused about the benefits and how weight lifting will affect their bodies. I dare say that their two greatest concerns are: 1) will I really regain muscle and tone, and 2) will I bulk up like a guy or female bodybuilder? Well, as they say, yes and no.

First off, weight lifting does not necessarily have to be weight lifting. It can be any form of resistance training or weight bearing exercise done correctly. This can include resistance bands, resistance tubes, TRX training or old fashioned body weight exercises like pushups and knee bends. But ladies, you needn’t be afraid of lifting traditional weights or using weight machines. You will not “bulk up!” Not if you avoid a body builder’s regimen, diet and singular lifestyle focus. Women just naturally aren’t made to bulk up; not enough testosterone.

Four Key Benefits

  1. Regain Muscle - The primary benefit to women over 50 is that these exercises will not only maintain your all-important muscle mass, it can actually re-gain or restore your lost muscle. You see, after long periods of being sedentary your muscles get smaller and weaker, or atrophy. And we over 50 all need strong muscles to maintain good balance and flexibility as we age. So weight bearing exercise is key ladies. And BTW, this is equally critical for your guy friends out there!
  1. Tone Up – You can definitely improve your looks through muscle toning. Those flabby arms won’t be quite so flabby once the triceps muscle is tightened and grows in size a bit. And of course you can tone your thighs, both inner and outer, tone your legs and butt, and other muscle groups, even your neck to some degree.  
  1. Lose weight - If you need to be or want to be in a work out program for weight loss, weight lifting is absolutely something you should do. Because, while you’re building, strengthening and toning your muscles, weight bearing exercise, and the resultant muscle growth, will –
  • Boost your metabolism because muscles are what allow you to do regular daily activities,
  • Burn calories for fuel, as muscles work to contract to move,
  • Burn more body fat as fuel than body fat ever will, even while sitting down, and
  • Help you keep the weight off after you reach your weight goal!
  1. Bone Strength – Weight bearing exercise is often called strength training for a reason, it builds strength… in your bones as well. So if you already have, or fear the onset of osteoporosis, lift some weights or pull and push some resistance bands. To paraphrase that old bones song, “the muscle is connected to the tendon and the tendon is connected to the bone.” In clinical research studies it has been proven that weight bearing exercise causes stress to the muscle, tendon and bone, in turn causing each to get stronger.

So ladies, we’ve given you four great reasons to include resistance or strength training in your exercise plan. You can try all forms, from bands to free weights, and mix it up if you like. But any one form will give you the results you seek if you stick with it. And really, don’t avoid free weights; many believe free weight training to deliver the very best results. Either way, include strength training in your exercise ladies and be truly 50plusPlusFit!

For expert Pilates, Post-Rehab, Personal Training and General Fitness in Houston contact Jeannie at Yes Fitness Training.

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.

Your Personal Fitness Solution

By Bob the Trainer -

woman and man over 50 running outdoorsYou want to lose weight or not, but at least you want to be more fit. You’re over 50 and it’s been a while since you saw the inside of a gym or really looked at what you’ve been eating regularly. For most people over 50 in this situation, the fitness part is the most confounding. What to do? Just go to the gym, right? But then you face all those machines and that foreign looking equipment.

Don’t Be Intimidated

A modern fitness center is filled with many fitness options. Treadmills, ellipticals, rowers, bikes, spin bikes, TRX equipment, free weights, and strength machines of all types are generally available. And it can be overwhelming and down right intimidating to the newbie or to someone who has been away for years.

Then add to the above equipment all the available classes; yoga, Pilates, Zumba, Jazzercise, spin class, aqua-aerobics, etc., etc. Whoa!  And then, should you choose a beginner’s class or an intermediate, or just what?

Start By Just Being You              

You are, well… you. Everyone is different, and you need to find something specifically for you. What others do really doesn’t matter, friends or family, it doesn’t matter.  Here’s why - 1) you are not the other guy or gal, and 2) given number 1, you need to find something that you like, even enjoy, so that you’ll stick with it. Just because a friend likes spinning or Pilates or weight training, doesn’t mean that it’s right for you.

I for example, hate running with a capital H! So if you hate running, don't run. Running is a great, calorie burning form of exercise, but if it makes you dread exercising, you won’t do it and your fitness journey will be short-lived. You won’t reach your goal. So explore. I happen to like treadmill intervals and the rower for my cardio and free weights for my strength training. Not for you? O.K., then for yourself, set out to find forms of exercise you actually feel good about doing, and then…

Do It

Now some of you will gravitate toward yoga or Pilates classes, or running in the nearby park. Others of you will try weight training with free weights or machines or resistance bands, while others prefer spending 45 minutes or an hour on the elliptical or recumbent bike. And then some might try aerobics DVDs in the comfort of their own home. It really doesn’t matter; no form of fitness is better or more effective than the others. But there is a perfect combination to lose weight and gain muscle, it is 1) any combination of strength and cardio exercise, and 2) the combination that works best specifically for you!

Don't Quit, Explore

As you explore the many options, and you should explore many, and before you find your perfect matches, you may feel discouraged. Don’t! Keep exploring and I guarantee that you’ll find the right mix. You may even end up doing a couple of things for three or four months and then feel you need a change. And that’s o.k., in fact it is recommended. We’re not robots physically or mentally; our minds and definitely our bodies need change. You’ll be fitter for it.

Love It

Bottom line, as mentioned at the outset, you need to find some things, forms of exercise that you love to do. Or, at the very least, find some exercises and routines that you enjoy, look forward to and feel are getting you closer to your goal. Find something that challenges you too, and gives you that euphoric feeling of accomplishment every time you finish a workout. That way you’ll be sure to stick with it until and beyond reaching your goals. Then you’ll be on your way to being truly 50plusPlusFit!

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.

What’s All This About Our Core?

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
What is it that everyone is talking about? Our core? We're over 50 and for decades, if we've been exercising at all we've been focusing on the body parts our gender norms or stereotypes have told us to pay attention to; big chest and "guns" for the guys and flat tummy and firm butt for the gals. But what's all this core stuff?

Bob’s Experience:

There is a lot of talk about core strength and core training these days. Maybe that increased noise level is driven by the fact that the number of people 50 plus is increasing - and at a significant rate. After all, I suppose the core, back and abdominals, etc. play an important role in keeping us upright as we become more senior. Right?

I remember as a young boy my father always telling me to lift with my legs to protect my back. I don’t know if everyone grew up hearing this, but it seems that if there is one thing about my muscular-skeletal being that my father drilled into me, it was take care of your back. And I have to admit, my father never seemed to complain of back issues, and he stood and walked pretty darn straight his entire life. As a result, I always took care with my back, and I have exercised my back for some years now, in particular my lower back. Oh, and I do only lift heavy items with my legs.

Of course there are other muscles involved in your core beyond your back, like your abdominals or abs. Now this is a subject everybody is interested in, because who doesn’t want to reduce the tummy, shrink the beer belly, retract the front porch or pull in the overhang? All of us, of course have those goals. But most of us want to do this for appearance-sake more than anything else, and that’s not a bad motivation. It was certainly my initial motivation some years ago as I knocked off some pounds and wanted to look better. But that was before I really understood the importance of strong abs to your overall 50 plus fitness. The abs are just as important as the back when it comes to keeping you upright and allowing us to enjoy a real quality of lifestyle as you become more senior.

With a strong back and strong abs, you can think of the core as a girdle or brace that’s built in; no special add-ons, apparatus or clothing required.

But what about all those other little muscles around our middle, the obliques for example? Are they important? What do we do about them? We do have core exercises in our 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer library, along with workout routines that include the core, always. But let’s do what we’re supposed to do, Ask Ron the Trainer.

Ron’s Expertise:

Bob, you are so right. Core strength has been in the limelight a lot in the last decade or so. And, I would bet that there’s no coincidence that it became important as the masses of baby-boomers started aging – and hurting.

You see, the core, as Bob described it, encompasses the mid-section of the torso – the abdominals, lower back and yes, the intercostals (aka oblique) muscles. They all work together and actually, the abdominal and lower back muscles are considered to be “opposing muscle groups” which means, that if you move in one direction, one set are responsible for the movement, and if you move in the opposite direction, the other muscle group takes over. That being said, we know that it’s important to correctly exercise both muscle groups so that they are equally strong.

Too many times, I see people doing all they can for their ab strength (especially guys working toward a 6-pack!). However, after about a zillion crunches, they will get up and walk off – completely ignoring their lower backs and intercostals. Over time, this does a couple of things: First, the abs that they worked so hard get stronger and shorter – but not more defined! Secondly, with very strong abs and lower back muscles that were ignored, the person starts walking around in a forward-leaning position – e.g., back posture. With that type of posture, lower back pain is eminent because the lower back muscles are weak from lack of exercise.

So, in a two-fold approach, the person who thought they were doing all they should for their core actually wrecked their core and ended up in pain – possibly chronic pain. This could have been avoided with proper workout design.

Now, there is one worse scenario – the person who does nothing. We as trainers often start with people who heard their doctor say “go workout or die!” This person is often very de-conditioned, and because they haven’t worked out, they are clueless as to where to begin. This person usually has chronic back pain due to lack of muscle strength and excess belly fat. According to the American Red Cross, every 10 pounds of excess fat in the belly causes 100 pounds of stress on the lower back and spine.

Now, for the WHY … with a strong core, you are more functional and pain free. If you don’t get anything else from all of this information, please understand that we all need to fight to stay functional and pain-free for a great future. So, I ask, “why NOT” work your core for your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle!

Avoiding the Big Fall

senior man doing strength trainingby Arnie Fonseca, Jr.

Since you are over 50, you might be a senior already or possibly have a senior parent. If so, you know that taking a fall can be a serious matter for our more senior folks. A broken bone or hip can have debilitating consequences. Here are a few really simple things to do to avoid or at least minimize the risk of experiencing a bad fall.

You Must Get Stronger!

All of us need to get stronger.  Not because you want to compete in a strength contest, but because we want to better compete in life!  For many who are considered senior, usually over the age of 75, which I call “Beyond Boomers”, many of life’s simple tasks can actually be too difficult because the person doesn’t have the strength to do the task.  Falls become more prevalent because everything at this point becomes a strength event! 

Your balance is directly related to your level of strength. Getting stronger demands that you do strength exercises at least twice per week for the rest of your life. There is a great library of strength exercises, and workout routines for senior fitness and weight loss in the

50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer. I also would recommend getting your hormones evaluated.  Extensive research is now becoming available showing the amazing effects of proper hormone therapy including improved bone density, increases in strength fitness, endurance, along with balance and an improved overall feeling of well being.

It’s a Balancing Act

Improve your balance!  Most would think this is what avoiding falls is all about, and they would be mostly right.  But seriously, there are simple things that can be done to improve balance, in addition to getting stronger.  Try walking on different surfaces, even and uneven. This would include those located both outside and inside. Also, get out in the community. Go shopping, visit friends and just be more social by going out to special events and gatherings.  All of these will have a dramatic effect on improving your balance, both from a psychological (your confidence) and physiological (your actual balance) stand point.  So keep moving and living an active life!

Move Faster!

The idea of getting faster as we age is very important to avoiding falls.  It has to do with your ability to react quicker.  As we get older it’s not so much that we trip more than those who are much younger, the problem is that we don’t have the same reaction time as we once did, and so we fall.  Our neuro-receptors found in muscles and joints respond to various sensations that we experience physically.  If over time we don’t challenge or train them, they slow down, thus they don’t work as well as they should. 

This can be easily changed by doing activity to challenge our neuro-muscular system to work faster.  One of the best ways is strength training to target specific muscle fiber.  Lifting weights or doing other activity that challenges our fast twitch muscle will retrain your body to respond faster to a physical challenge to your body, like tripping or slipping.  Over time as you get stronger and faster instead of falling you will start catching yourself like you did when you were much younger and stronger.   Get stronger, get faster and stop falling!

Stand Up Straight!

Some of you may wonder “how can improving my posture prevent falling?”  Well, it’s a pretty simple answer.  If you are walking and leaning forward with your head down, how well do you think you could react to tripping or losing your balance? I believe that just being in the wrong position is a formula for falling. 

Also, you may have figured it out already but many times poor posture, especially in older adults is directly related to muscle strength.  I used to tell many of my younger students that if they could stay consistent with their strength fitness program that a side benefit would be that they would get taller!  I knew that as they got stronger they could better pull their shoulders back and hold their head up and efficiently extend their hips.  Combine all these and you will get taller.  But the best part of having better posture is that your risk for falling decreases significantly.

Take Control of Your Environment.

If, however, you care for a senior who just doesn’t want to follow the suggestions above, here’s an additional tip just for you. As I evaluate the physical environment of individuals I have noticed how non-functional their surroundings can be!  Many times the home is a mine field or filled with traps. 

If we continue to lose strength and thus increase our risk of falling, the home should be more accessible, especially if the individual does not put a priority on getting stronger.  Care should be taken to have a more open environment and free of clutter.  Furniture should be more accessible.  Bathrooms and kitchen areas need to be made safer, as these can be devastating place to have falls!

 Bottom line, by improving your physical environment you will reduce your fall risk. Do these things even as you work at getting and remaining stronger.

So let me repeat the ongoing thread of this article… You Must Get Stronger!

For additional insights into strength training at 50 plus and beyond, contact Arnie.

Must I Do It Every Day? (Workout, that is)

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
As with other topics in the exercise world, there seems to be confusion as to how often we need to exercise - especially for those of us over 50. And, as they say, opinions are like noses - everybody has a different one. Well, let's see what the 50plusPlusFit position is on this topic!

Bob’s Experience:

If a little is good for you, a lot must be REALLY good for you, right? Or is it too much of a good thing? I read a lot about how people who want to be healthy, and in particular those of us over 50, should do this and that. Theories abound. Some say that we need to get our heart rates up to X, or in “the zone”, etc., three days a week. Others say 3-5 days per week, while others say get 20 minutes of cardio exercise every day of your life. Must I do it every day?!? Really?!?

Then there’s the question, if not debate on strength training. Very few “experts” suggest or hardly ever address the need for strength training, and again particularly when they are talking to our audience of 50 plus. Where does strength or resistance training fit in? Or does it fit in at all? Is all this weight lifting stuff necessary to be “healthy” and if so why is it ignored by so many of these “experts?” If you’ve seen a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger recently it doesn’t look like he’s lifting much weight as he ages. And if some say you need 3-7 days of aerobic exercise, how do you fit in the strength training. Or do you need to?

I for one believe in a mix of strength and cardio, and I feel that strength training is particularly important for those of us who want to be 50+/+Fit. But every day, really? I don’t think so! Not for me, at least not a “workout” or aerobic exercise “session" every day. I just can’t do it, I can’t do it mentally, and my body simply gets tired. Maybe my body doesn’t get physically tired, but just “tired of it.”

Now I can do up to six days a week, but I also vary what I do. I’ll do strength training and get my cardio exercise in maybe by doing three days of each, then take a day off, usually Sunday. Other times I’ll do cardio two days a week and strength train for four days. It all depends what I want to do like try something different. But I always take that off day.

And here’s something about that seventh day, that day of rest. Sometimes I will take a bike ride for six or so miles or go for a long brisk walk for an hour or so. That my body and mind can handle, because it’s different and more like recreation. Well, it is recreation for me because I’m sure as heck not in a race, but I’m active, moving the body, and burning a few extra calories along the way. And by the way, the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer has a variety of workout routines with varying days required.

But sometimes on that day of rest, guess what? I sit on my butt! And I enjoy it immensely. Speaking of but, let’s see what Ron has to say on this topic. Does he advocate daily exercise or workouts? He is the expert trainer, so I wonder what he thinks of my lazy butt day.

Ron’s Expertise:

Industry experts agree that the average adult will receive maximum benefits from a cardiovascular workout of 30-60 minutes done 4-6 days per week and, a resistance workout of 30-60 minutes done 3-4 times per week.

So, for many people, they alternate between cardio one day, weight training the next. In order to get the industry recommended minimums in, they would indeed do 4 days of cardio and 3 days of weight training.

There is a long-standing theory that you need a day of rest between workouts and in theory, that is true. But consider the fact that you are doing cardio one day which uses your legs, and the next day you weight train – including squats and lunges. So, in that instance, you have used leg muscles two days in a row.

The rest-a-day theory is however true for power-lifters and body builders. These are the people who are attempting to achieve great muscular strength or growth (big muscles). Their routine involves uses so much weight that they cannot perform one exercise more than 4-6 reps or 6-12 reps respectively,and 2-4 sets. For most of us over 50, great muscular strength and huge muscles aren’t the goal and we aren’t working to that intensity in the gym so, rest between workouts is not as critical.

So, for most of us, try to get in a full cardio and weight workout at least 4 days per week – I take Sunday off but train 6 days per week. And, don’t forget to check out the Online Personal Trainer for plenty of great exercise ideas, including exercise routines to lose weight and gain muscle. Hit it (almost) every day for your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle!

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!

Six Pack of Tips for Over 50 Workouts

By Bob the Trainer -

over 50 woman exercisingSome of us over 50 have been hitting the fitness scene for some time now. However some of our brethren have not. But even if you’re a 50+ veteran of the weight room, a few tips for a better, safer and more productive workout are always a good refresher.

Let’s start with this, and use it as your workout dogma: form, form, form! Without good form you are wasting your time and risking injury. Correct form is everything. So whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, here’s our Six Pack of tips on proper form -

  1. Get to the Core of the Matter.
    Whether you’re doing an abdominal exercise or any other, engaging your abdominals and glutes is a must. You need to do this as you set up to perform any movement, and you’ll read this in the exercise instructions that are throughout the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer, including many workout videos to lose weight and build muscle.

    The core is, well just that, the core or foundation that holds it all together. Properly setting or engaging your core engages the muscles that hold your spine in place, reducing the inevitable pressures on your lower back. This action will also improve your balance for moves like lunges, burpees, squats, or even exercise where your body is relatively immobile, like say a seated preacher curl for your biceps.

  1. Stand Tall.
    It really doesn’t matter if you're standing, sitting, or kneeling, make sure that you “stand tall” or be erect. This will maximize your breathing capacity during exercise, position your spine for the movement and evenly distribute the exertion across your shoulders and back. Don’t stand tall and you may end up with a “trained bad posture” or unwanted injury.
  1. Hey Soldier, Chest Out and Shoulders Back.
    That drill sergeant wanted you to look good you thought, but he (or she) was also thinking about your back. Tucking your shoulder blades down and back helps with just about every exercise you do, but particularly great for when you’re working the back. This is great practice for all back exercises, lat pull-downs, seated rows, pull-ups, bent-over rows, inverted rows, and many other muscle group exercises like the chest press, whether on a bench or the less stable exercise ball.
  1. Keep Your Hands To Yourself
    … by keeping your elbows tucked to your sides. On many exercises like the pushup, triceps push down, triceps extension, pull-up, bench press, inverted shoulder press, inverted row, and other such moves, you need to keep those elbows close in toward your torso. Forget this simple rule and your shoulder will externally rotate too much and definitely risk injury. 
  1. Line Up Your Knee With Your Second Toe
    Shoulders and hips are ball-and-socket joints that can move in several directions, up, down, and around and round. But your knees and ankles only bend in one direction along the sagittal plane, or front to back. Thus, if your knees and ankles go to the left or right, something is amiss. This is very often determined by a personal trainer’s initial client assessment, and corrective exercises are prescribed.

    Keep your knees and ankles moving in proper form on lunges, squats, hip raises or any exercise in which your knee bends. Simply guiding your knee straight toward your second toe will keep your knees and ankles in perfect alignment, minimizing injury risk. But just as importantly, when doing those lunges or squats, don’t let you knee extend beyond your toe. Do so and another injury lurks from over-extending the knee joint.

  1. Move It!
    You've likely heard that you should perform the lowering, or eccentric, portion of an exercise at a controlled somewhat slower pace. But on the concentric or upward (pushing/pulling) portion, move it with force, much more quickly through the full range of motion. This way you’ll produce not just strength, but power as well, and that’s important, particularly to those of us over 50 who want to engage in sports like tennis, volleyball or softball, etc.

Six easy things to keep in mind to keep your form and keep you 50plusPlusFit!

Workout Burnout

By Ron the Trainer -

man working out onmachineAre you beginning to avoid working out? Or making excuses for skipping the fitness club? Are you bored or are you just too tired? And oh boy, is it because you’re over 50? Most likely not.

It could very well be that you’re just pushing yourself way to hard, and this is commonly referred to as over-training.  That could be either training with too much intensity, training too long without some kind of break, or a combination of the two. Sometimes you need to take a step back and reexamine your routine. Plus your body and your mind need a rest; it’s both physical and mental.

We all know that exercise is good for your body, but did you know that it actually damages or “tears” the muscles, not like a torn muscle, but it breaks down the muscle fiber. But then magically the muscles adapt and gets stronger as a result.  This is particularly the case from strength or resistance training like weight lifting. But even during aerobic exercise damage occurs, because when exercising with extra intensity or for a long period, the muscle produces a good deal of lactic acid and that causes your muscles to fatigue. That lactic acid clears out when you rest between exercise sessions and the muscles’ glucose and glycogen stores are replenished for future energy source.

Much research has been done on the causes, or physiological reasons for this muscle fatigue, particularly for competitive athletes. But for our purposes all you need to know is that you and your muscles need rest. In fact, if you overtrain, you will regress rather than progress, leading to a less fit state of being. Even if you’re working out to lose weight and gain muscle, you need to pace yourself.

So, how much is too much? Well that is kind of a personal thing, as everyone is different and at different levels of fitness, especially our group over 50. A lot of people who are exercising to lose some pounds or to trim body fat often exercise to excess,  maybe more than one hour a day, every day, when in reality they could see nice progress without risk of overtraining. Steady as she goes as they say.

So since we are all different, how will you know if you over do it? Well, the effects of overtraining will become obvious and quickly. For example you will be unable to exercise at your normal pace, you won’t perform as well, or feel as though you’ve done as well. And you won’t have! With strength training you might not be as strong and push as much weight or do as many reps with resistance bands. Or you’ll tire before your normal run distance. You’ll know it, and when you recognize the signs, it is time to regroup and reevaluate. Take some time off or you risk injuries, loss of appetite, unwanted weight loss or halted desired weight loss and poor sleep. You’ll also be more prone to some illness, an elevated resting heart rate and possibly hormonal changes. None of this is good, beyond the fact that your fitness plan is going in reverse.

Simply take a break for a few days. Then head back to the gym. I guarantee you that you’ll feel reenergized and have renewed motivation. Take a week off, then gradually get back to a regular routine, but start with lighter, shorter workouts and slowly work your way back.  Or try a new routine, like the many available it the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer and its fitness tracker. Then once you are back in stride, take a day or two off between workouts, or try two days on, two off, two on, etc. Some of the Personal Trainer’s workout programs are scheduled out just like that. You’ll have much more energy and will see improved performance and fitness and weight management gains.

And if you want to avoid workout burnout or overtraining in the future, as they say, listen to your body. And give it a break. You don’t have to kill yourself to be 50plusPlusFit!

Circuit Training Systems – Are They For You?

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Exercise is exercise - right? Well, when someone dreams up some gimmick to lure in people with a "slick system" you can begin to see all sorts of things show up. So let's take a look at circuit training and boot camps. Read on for some great insight and advice.

Bob’s Experience:

Several, actually many years back, in the eighties, I tried circuit training. At the time, it seemed like a good idea to get in a program that was easy to follow like marching in a straight line, on “safe” machines; it just seemed like a no-brainer. I actually joined a franchised club location that focused solely on circuit training. I believe the chain I joined has since closed, but there are newer ones around, one fairly popular one in particular is just for women. The one I joined had what appeared to be good sturdy equipment, they had professional-sounding personnel, and their instruction was certainly good enough to get me started. I liked it, for awhile.

But, shortly afterward, maybe 6 months later, I began to get really, really bored. It was the same drill every time. And, that boring repetition was what I found to be the “Achilles Heel” for me in this program. Though I could increase resistance, I didn’t feel challenged. What I came to learn later was that apparently my body wasn’t challenged either, so my fitness level didn’t significantly improve. You couldn’t change the routine because of their circuit training model; everyone had to do the same routine and at the same pace. After that experience, I looked for and moved on to more options.

However, I don’t think circuit training is totally bad or should simply be dismissed, because I do believe that someone just starting out on their first fitness routine in a while might do well to consider a circuit training routine. A “newbie” might find the right comfort level like I did, and use a circuit as their initial way to getting 50+/+Fit. And while I assure you that you’ll want to move on after awhile, if you’re new to all this fitness stuff, just jump in and get started.

Now Ron can give us his professional perspective and tell us about the relatively new form of circuit training, “boot camp.” Ron?

Ron’s Expertise:

Bob, I hear a similar story from many people. They try the “circuit gym” which typically is advertised to be customized for women, men or some other specialized population such as seniors. Often, it seems great at first, but the lack of challenge and boredom sets in pretty quickly.

You see, circuit training is a not-so-new option to achieving a more-fit lifestyle. There are two very different types of circuit training though – one in a group “boot camp” setting and the other in an organized machine/group setting. Both have benefits and drawbacks – especially for those of us 50+.

The group “boot camp” circuit exercise is typically held in a local park, or high school/college athletic field. Many boot camp group exercise classes are held in fitness centers as well. Led by someone who takes on the “drill sergeant” role, there’s usually a lot of barking and pushing. Your physical limits are tested – which, if you have no physical issues such as a bad knee or back, might be good. But, most of us have had a past of injuries that make pushing limits unwise and potentially unsafe.

For example, you may be expected to do push-ups – lots of them – maybe 50 or more – all at once. Then, without rest, you’ll be pushed into a nice, long run – NOT a jog, until you think you can’t continue. Then, there’s time for more – maybe chin-ups, depending on the plan of the day. Sound like fun? Of course not – but this type of circuit training boasts great results. And, combined with a keen eye on calories consumed, you can get results from this type of program – IF you have no physical limitations to be concerned with.

Then of course, there’s the organized gym setting. These are usually small, 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. 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 patrons through the circuit but, generally has no education regarding physical fitness such as that possessed by a certified personal trainer or group exercise instructor.

Often these gyms are designated for men only, women only or designed to cater to seniors. 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, small gender-specific gyms with a handful of equipment fashioned into a circuit were developed. And, it is indeed a less-threatening environment for the gym-timid. However, sometimes the equipment found in these clubs is not of the sturdiness and quality found in a traditional gym.

While I generally feel that any exercise is better than none at all, many times these circuit gyms lack the ability to encourage the participants to work to their potential – the workouts are rather gentle and don’t really challenge you and your body. And, this is intentional since often the de-conditioned individual doesn’t want to work hard because it “hurts.” Yet, even this individual will likely get faster, better results from a professionally-designed group exercise class or personal trainer at a “regular gym.” If you can't afford the one-on-one guidance of a personal trainer, or you'd just rather do it on your own, our Online Personal Trainer has a variety of exercise routines that include circuit style workouts for all experience levels, from beginner to more advanced. And online fitness tracking or your exercise and diet is a big part of your success.

Plus, at a “regular gym” you’ll often find a designated area with well-labeled machines set in a circuit pattern for those who don’t want to think about what to do – they can just follow the pattern. The advantage here is the equipment is well designed and built, plus you can adjust the weight and work at your own pace, while challenging yourself at your desired level. Then if you do get bored or your progress begins to slowdown, you can easily move up to more challenging routines in the same club.

 So, let the exerciser beware – boot camp can be great if you have no limitations and specialty circuit training gyms are a fair option for the exercise newbie, but most of us will probably need to meet somewhere in the middle, like at a traditional gym. Either way, we gotta do it for a healthy, productive 50plusPlusFit lifestyle!

If You're Just Starting to Exercise

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
There's a song "Breaking up is hard to do..." but, starting to workout can be a very daunting proposition for many people, especially some of us over 50. But, there is hope and it's possible to to start up now and get healthy! Read on for more on beginning a workout program.

Bob’s Experience

I have some friends who haven’t seen the inside of a gym or fitness club in decades. Actually some for so many decades that I don’t even think gyms were yet called fitness centers or fitness clubs when they last exercised. But now, finally they realize that they have to get some real exercise if they want to live a good, full life as they get to be 50 and beyond.

And for some of them this is a daunting, if not somewhat intimidating task. They don’t know where to begin, so they ask me. They know that I’ve been practicing this 50plusPlusFit thing for a while, actually about 14 years now, so I’m their go-to-guy, even for my female friends.

I just tell them to do three things:

  1. Start out slowly; this is not a race. Though some think this is a “race against time,” I tell them that it is just amazing how their bodies will respond positively to getting some regular exercise, and that they’ll not only feel better, they’ll feel younger too, aka turning back the clock so to speak.
  2. Clean up the diet. Hey they’ve all earned a good piece of red meat like a steak, just don’t eat it every day, and balance it out a bit with other nutritious foods that are part of a balanced diet. Oh and they’ve earned that evening cocktail too, if they like to so imbibe. We are adults here after all, and if they don’t already know, they’ll find out that over-indulging in the grape, the suds or the booze is not good for your newly found fitness motivation.
  3. Lastly, I tell them to get some expert advice. I did when I started to exercise on a regular, routine basis. I had no clue what I was doing or needed to do, so I signed up with a personal trainer. Information is power they say, and the guy knew his stuff, even some about diet. Learning what to do and how to do it helped get me on the right track to improving my health, my appearance and my self-esteem. Now it does take some scheduling and it can get a little pricey, but if you can fit it into your hectic life and you can afford it, why not?

Back in the day, we didn’t have much online info - heck, we didn’t have much online period. But fortunately, over the past decade the information world has developed, and there’s lots of info available, like on our 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer. We have it loaded with exercise routines to lose weight and gain muscle, from beginner to advanced, plus diets and tracking (or journaling) too.

But like I said, relying on a personal trainer who knows his stuff is paramount, so why don’t we take advantage of the sage advice of our own live personal trainer, Ron. And don’t forget you can ask him a one-on-one question on the site in Ask Ron the Trainer. Ron?

Ron’s Expertise:

I applaud anyone who decides to begin an exercise program – the decision is a huge first step. Now, let’s not step into something unpleasant – like exercising hard and either not seeing results or worse, sustaining an injury!

Like Bob said, stepping into a gym for the first time in years or maybe ever is very intimidating for most people. There’s a sea of steel and all those people running around who look like they know what they’re doing. This moment is the turning point – do you engage yourself and find your way around or just do a 180 and leave. And sadly, there are many who have taken the second option.

But, as you join a gym the membership guy (or gal) should have given you a brief tour and explained what the amenities are and where they are located. You should have been given an opportunity to schedule several sessions with a trainer and, a group class schedule should have been made available to you. So, entering the club for the first time really should not be like jumping into the sea – you should have some resources to help you understand how to use equipment and what to do with the equipment to reach your goals.

You should be very careful to start out slowly, listening to your body. When you feel like you’ve had enough, it’s time to call it a day. Just because you are on a treadmill and the person next to you has already done an hour to your 20 minutes, that doesn’t mean you have to match or surpass them. This isn’t a competition with anyone but Father Time and Mother Nature. You’re there to get/stay healthy and reverse the affects of time, not run a race with guy on the next treadmill.

Set a schedule and stick to it. Be very jealous about your workout schedule and don’t let other “obligations” get in the way. Your first obligation is to your health.

Get professional advice on nutrition – there are so many different opinions as to what you should eat – from fat-free to carb-free and so many more “diet” plans. You need real, sensible advice on meal planning. For example, our Online Personal Trainer has great menu options.

 Now, I ask you to reconsider imbibing if you are serious about losing weight or getting healthy. First of all, there are so many empty, hidden calories in an alcoholic beverage and, when you have been drinking you lose the ability to feel full, so you continue to eat even though you’re not hungry. And, alcoholic drinks alter your glucose levels causing your body to process calories inefficiently. The result is weight gain (especially the stomach) and greater risk of developing diabetes.

All that said, the American Heart Association has found that there is a positive aspect to 1-2 drinks per day for men, 1 drink a day for women. It seems that the cardiovascular system may benefit from light drinking. So, if you can limit yourself, and your weight is under control, then you might be able to enjoy an occasional adult beverage. 

Finally, get help designing your workout from a trainer, take group classes or try our Online Personal Trainer which has hundreds of exercises and workouts with videos to get you going in the right direction. Wherever you receive help, guidance and encouragement, just keep moving forward in your 50plusPlusFit journey!

Setting Realistic Goals

by Ron the Trainer and Bob  cardio class
Keep Your Fitness State of Mind by Setting Fitness Goals! Human nature being what it is, we often set great goals for finances or other worthwhile life events. But, sometimes we set our goals a little too high and then when we don't meet them, we become discouraged and feel like a failure. Or, we don't keep focused on the goals we've set and fall off-track. And, for those of us over 50, we still haven't learned our lesson and continue to struggle with goal-setting. 

Bob's Experience:

Setting goals for my fitness has always been a part of my regimen, well that is since I began a fitness regimen.  And, I dare say, it has been a part of all of our lives as well, most probably when we try to lose weight. The problem for me has generally been that my ability to stay with the program has not been consistent – it’s been a series of hits and misses. My ability to stick to my goals has varied from time to time. At times I’ve been terrific at keeping on point, a real training system, on auto pilot, making progress all along. But at other times, well let’s just say I’ve been a slacker.

So as I look back at the times I’ve stayed on point and not slacked off, it’s clear that I met my ultimate goal for that period of time. I really practiced a good, consistent 50plusPlusFit lifestyle.

But what made the difference for me? Why did I sometimes fall off point? Gee, could it be a combination of things? I think that part of it is the simple fact that life gets in the way - work, family and the general stresses of life. For me, sometimes it just seems easier to lay off, which of course is just the wrong thing to do, especially if you’re stressed. Yes, it was amazing that when I got back on the routine, my life’s stress levels dropped.

The other thing that has sometimes tripped me up in the past has been setting unrealistic goals. Everyone wants to lose that weight quickly, right?

Well, we’ve all heard time and again that is it really impossible to effectively lose weight quickly, but nonetheless we set ourselves up for disappointment and failure. And this can apply to all of our goals, not just losing weight. For example, I wanted to be able to lift my body-weight on the bench press, just to reach a commonly heard measure of strength for guys who weight train. But, with this type of goal we can also set ourselves up for failure by wanting it too fast and asking too much of ourselves.

For me, I’ve found that baby steps of progress are still getting me closer to my goal. So I set smaller increments and then I show advances I can feel good about. And, it motivates me too. I have something to celebrate!

So how do we set these goals? I like to think I’m getting better at this for myself, but for our community, let’s let the expert be the expert. Ron?

Ron's Expertise:

So true – fitness goals need to be attainable and reachable. So often I see clients who may ultimately need to lose 60-100 pounds but, I refuse to set that total goal in their workout plan. Instead, I set a goal that should be attainable in 2-3 months. That way, it doesn’t look or feel like they have a mountain to move, and the goal feels closer and possible.

When it comes to losing weight, we first discuss calories in vs. calories burned. One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. Consider that the average male should consume about 2,500 calories and the average female’s meal plan should consist of about 1,800 calories – that seems as though in order to lose weight, we have to skip eating a day or two per week but, that’s not correct. Instead, divide the 3,500 calories by 7 days in a week; the result is 500 calories. If we honestly burn 500 calories per day more than we consume, we’ll lose a pound of pure fat each week – and that will be weight that will stay off. Experts tell us that if you change your eating habits to something more healthy and calorie-conscious, after about three weeks of this new eating, you will develop new habits and not eat like you did when you gained weight.

Armed with that information, I usually ask my clients to adhere to their daily calorie intake and document it! Then, after 3-4 weeks, we re-check body weight and measurements. At that time, we renew focus on the goals and modify them if necessary.

Quick weight loss? Suffice to say, those gadgets and supplements you see on T.V. infomercials are probably going to set you up for failure. My “favorite” rip-off is the vinyl suit that was originally sold in the 1980’s to promote weight loss by causing the wearer to sweat. It’s recently resurfaced – and we’re seeing up to twenty “solar suits” a day in our gym.

O.K., let’s think about this for a moment – fat is fat, not water. Therefore, excessive sweating will NOT promote weight loss. In fact, in some climates, it can put you in danger of collapse and that’s not healthy! Also, my clients occasionally report that they have tried some new supplement found at the corner drug store – some costing nearly $100/month! The result? They usually report diarrhea and other counter-productive conditions, but no fat loss. A recommended ais in reaching you goals is by working with a personal trainer like me. But if you can't because of conflicting schedules or expense or just wanting to do it on your own, a great alternative is our Online Personal Trainer, which is packed with features like workout programs for weight loss and muscle gain, diet plans and online fitness tracking.

Other goals should be set in a similar fashion – so that there are a series of short-term goals that are more easily attainable, measurable and keeps us more motivated to stick to a plan. We should also re-examine our goals periodically to see if we need to alter them – maybe the “big picture” has changed or we’re bored and need something new.

Or, maybe you’re one of the fortunate few who don’t necessarily need weight loss – maybe your goal is better cardiovascular endurance, core strength, better golf game, etc. Good for you! But, be sure to set measurable goals with a reasonable timeline. Don’t expect to go from a golf score of 99 to a 70 in 3 weeks!

Goals in life, fitness or otherwise, are very important – otherwise we’re just doing “stuff” and not working toward an end. It would be like starting the car, and driving aimlessly. Maybe fun for a little while but, it would get boring – just like working out without a “destination.”

So, let’s carefully set our goals, and get busy working toward a really great lifestyle … toward being 50plusPlusFit!

Resistance Bands for Strength

If you don’t have access to a gym or just don’t wish to go into one, there’s a easy fitness at-home option for your over 50 strength training that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg … working with resistance bands to be 50plusPlusFit!

Resistance bands are sold at sporting goods and discount stores practically everywhere. They often come in sets (colors of the latex correlate to the amount of resistance) with a “door clip” to be used for certain exercises and routines.

Much like other resistance workouts, one pulls against the bands to exercise the muscle group(s) desired. So, for example, you can place a band under your feet, grab the handles and do bicep exercises. You can feed the band through the door clip and perform chest and back exercises. The possibilities are almost endless. You can work almost every muscle group with a resistance band and you can get a great workout to lose weight and gain muscle.

Trainers often suggest their clients to carry resistance bands along on their vacations. They are lightweight, take up little room in luggage and go through airport security with no problem. So, if you want to get a strength workout without spending a lot of money, check out resistance bands for the quality of your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle! And they're a perfect option for seniors fitness too.

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.

The Perfect Press-Up

by Robert Dyer
Many of us will do press-ups at some time in our training life. Some of us will enjoy them, some will hate them. Others will think of them as a necessary evil in the aim to improve upper body strength. In this article, Robert Dyer from "Your London Personal Trainer" explains why.

The press-up incorporates the use of many muscle groups all working in a coordinated manner to achieve the desired result. Not only are you getting a workout for your Triceps, Pecs and Shoulders, but the core muscles around your midsection are also working to stabilise the body throughout this motion.

The exercise can be performed with the minimal amount of equipment (maybe a mat if your kneeling on a hard floor), and is adjustable for beginners right up to the super fit.

The easiest version will be with the knees on the floor at a right angle to your body, and the arms slightly in front of you, a little bit wider than your shoulders. Then move your chest down towards the floor while keeping your stomach tight and your back in a neutral curve.The further you move the knees back, the harder the exercise becomes. This is until you reach the point where your knees are off the ground and you are balancing with your hands at the front and your toes at the back. This is known as the full press-up.

There are many variations on the full press-up and the degree of difficulty can be adjusted depending upon what part of the body you are targeting and the type of exercise you are trying to do. Once you are comfortable with the full press-up, here are a few ideas you can try to vary the exercise and the effect on different muscle groups:

To make all the muscles work harder, slow down the motion by going up and down in four movements. The movement would go like this, halfway down (pause) then fully down, halfway up (pause) then fully up. This method removes the natural momentum of the exercise and causes the muscles to ‘fire up’ twice in each repetition instead of once.

To increase the workload on the triceps, simply bring the hands closer together in the middle. As you become stronger,  move the hands closer and closer together until your thumbs and forefingers are touching together to make a diamond shape in the middle. The down phase of the press-up will be easier than the up phase, due to the fact that the small triceps will be working almost in isolation to raise your bodyweight.

To make the pectoral muscles work harder simply move the arms wider apart, whilst maintaing the full range of movement up and down.

If you want to get really good definition on those shoulders then this time we can spread the arms and change the angle of movement from side to side. This will develop great strength in the supporting shoulder muscles and help to protect the joint from a common injury suffered by many sports enthusiast (rotator cuff).

Once we have mastered the basic movements above, many fall into the common mistake of simply increasing the number of press-ups over a period of time. Psychologically it feels good to start off at say ten press-ups and progress to the point where we can do over a hundred in one go. However, at this point we have switched from a strength exercise to an endurance exercise. If our goal is to improve our upper body strength then its time to increase the difficulty and reduce the numbers. Of course if your goal is to lose weight and gain muscle, high repetitions are indeed called for.

In summary, whether you are a beginner or a fitness nut who has been training for years and years. The press-up has a place in everyone’s strength training regime. It is flexible, can be done almost anywhere, requires no equipment, and can work all of the major muscles in your upper body.

So if you aren’t already doing press-ups as a regular part of your strength training, then the question is WHY NOT?

For further details please visit  Your London Personal Trainer.

The Summertime Outdoor Workout - A Hot Topic

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
Is the great outdoors your playground, normally? But, now it's hot, humid and full of potentially dangerous factors. What to do? How do I get my outdoor workout in without falling victim to those factors? Read on for some very timely advice!

Bob’s Experience:

I happen to live in HOT, HUMID, HOUSTON. Did I say HOT? Did I say HUMID? Well I did say Houston after all. But those of us who choose to live here know that the other two “H” words are part of the deal. Still, I and others like to get in some or all of our exercise outdoors. For me exercising outdoors is part of my 50plusPlusFit lifestyle. But friends, it can be 99° Fahrenheit  and 99% humidity some days. You could croak out there! O.K., to my friends in Chicago and other more northern climates, I will recognize that you’ve had a bit of a heat wave this summer as well. So what do those of us who like outdoor exercise and activities do when it’s blazing hot outside?

Well we could all stay inside. We could do our walking and running on a treadmill in an air conditioned gym, for example… same thing with biking or rowing. But I don’t want to do that. Then I couldn’t enjoy the view of the Buffalo Bayou when I row, and my Chi-Town buddies couldn’t enjoy the beautiful Lakeshore view, nor could my friends in Sarasota enjoy the coastal view. From coast to coast, north to south, we all like being outdoors, and exercising outdoors. And for your online fitness tracking, all of the cardio exercises on our Online Personal Trainer can be done outdoors too.

So again, what do we do? We suck it up… but with some preparation and common sense.

As for myself, even when I workout indoors, whether cardio or strength training, I always have a water bottle nearby and drink throughout my workout. But when it’s hot and humid outside, and especially when I plan to exercise in the great outdoors, I have always kind of over-hydrated by drinking a lot more water throughout the day, every day. Then when I go for my bike ride or row, I’ll take along extra water, 2-3 or even 4 bottles.

But here’s something else that I think helps as well… a cold, cool or at least wet towel around my neck. Now I don’t know if there is any science to back this up, but the wet towel sure makes me feel cooler, or at least better. Is it Psychological? Maybe. I really don’t know. All I know is that it does make me feel better. And yes it feels better when the towel is cool, which I can accommodate along the way when I row the bayou; stopping and dipping the towel as deep as I can reach. Sure the bayou is not necessarily the cleanest of water, but then by that time, I’m not necessarily fresh and huggable either!

What to do for my bike ride or your run or walk? Well before I leave the air conditioning for my bike ride, I’ll wet down a towel with some ice cold water. Now that’s really cool! And I’ll take a few water bottles in a small backpack.

All I know is that drinking plenty of water and using the wet towel definitely keeps me going outdoors, getting a good workout, and doing it safely without issue. But maybe Ron can add some expert advice to this hot topic.

Ron’s Expertise:

OK, Bob let the cat out of the bag – we do live in Houston, Texas, and it’s brutal here about nine months out of the year. In fact, in the last month we’ve had both torrential rain and now, a 3-week dry spell – the worst of both.

So, how does this affect the active adult who wants to continue to enjoy the expanse and sights of exercising outdoors? Well, being prepared and being more cautious not to overexpose are key.

First of all, dress in light-colored clothing to reflect the sun. A black shirt will almost feel like it’s sizzling on your back out in the summer sun! Then, add sunblock to the exposed skin (don't forget the tops of your ears!) – this was a hard habit for me to learn as many of us 50+ers once “laid out” in the summer to get a tan. Of course, we now know how dangerous that is. Add a light-colored hat with a bill to reflect the sun's rays off your face and the top of your head to complete the protection ensemble.

Under normal conditions, the experts recommend drinking a quart of water for every 20 minutes of vigorous activity – such as those activities Bob mentioned. In the very warm conditions that much of the country is currently experiencing it would be wise to drink a quart of water for every 15 minutes. And don’t worry, this won’t make you urinate more – you’ll be using the water to keep your muscles and organs hydrated.

On the topic of water, during vigorous activity, drink cool water that’s close to your body temperature. If you drink very cold water (the bottle contains ice) there is a potential for your blood pressure to take a quick and serious plunge and you may feel faint, lose vision, etc. It’s a temporary condition but, definitely unnecessary! Reserve the really cold water for when you’re relaxing.

Bob mentioned a cool towel on the back of the neck. That isn’t only psychological. There is a physiological reason for the cool towel to work – especially if you’ve overdone it and need to recover. It’s not just an old-wife’s tale but is documented in first aid procedures as well.

But most importantly, it’s best to never get into that position that you’ve overdone it. Try to get your workout (run, bike, row, etc.) done early in the day or late in the afternoon. Definitely try to avoid the time of day with the highest heat which in Houston is 10AM – 5PM. And, monitor how you feel. If you don’t feel “normal” slow down or stop, take a drink of water and wait a moment to recover before you get to the “overdone” stage.

One more precaution is to use a mosquito spray. This year, in some areas of the country, the West Nile virus carried by mosquitos has reached an epidemic level. No matter where you are, little critters that bite (mosquitos, fleas, chiggers, ticks) are annoying and many carry diseases so, protect yourself by wearing a repellent.

If you enjoy the outdoors, and most of us do, you don’t have to hibernate in the air conditioned confines of your home or workout only at the gym during the summer months. To keep yourself safe however, you do have to take seasonal precautions. So, grab a water bottle, dress light and cool, slather on the sun block and repellant. Then, get out and enjoy your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle!

Calorie Burning Treadmill Tips

From fit happens

Want to drop some pounds? Fat pounds? Lots of pounds or just a few? There are many ways to accomplish this, but one of the easiest ways we’ve found is to simply walk, or not so simply walk. The treadmill is the answer for many people. In fact as a member of the 50plusPlusFit team, I’ve found this to be the go to piece of equipment for a workout plan for losing weight. And of course Bob is over 50, in fact 63… just a kid!

But we know what you’re saying; walking on the treadmill indoors is boring! Yes it can be, but not if you do two things: 1) mix it up and 2) walk to your favorite music or TV program. For example, I like baseball and football so I’ll watch about half a game while simply walking on the treadmill. I used to watch an entire game while munching on chips, pretzels, cheese and having a few cold ones. Oh I still sometimes has a couple of cold ones with the second half of the game, but then he’s just burned a lot of calories over about 90 minutes of walking.

Almost every fitness club has treadmills with TVs nearby or even on the treadmill itself, and both systems allow you to listen with a pair of inexpensive earphones. You can simply push start and go! Well it might not be that simple.

But here are some tips to get you started:

Use the Boards:
Never start the treadmill by standing on the tread; nope, start by stepping on the sideboard runners. Then as the treadmill begins slowly, step onto the tread.

Pick a Plan for You and Your Level
Depending on your fitness, aka fitness, level, try the treadmill’s programs rather than just pushing start. All treadmills have courses that you can walk; they vary the incline and sometimes the speed as well. Or if you’re disciplined enough, simply watch the timer or distance counter and change your incline or speed to your liking and tolerance. For example you can take the incline from a slight incline of 1% to 10 or 15%, depending on the treadmill, and by challenging yourself you’ll increase your cardiovascular fitness, your calorie burn and weight loss.

Measure and Track Your Plan
Keep a record of what you’re doing by using an online fitness tracking tool like the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer. This way you can really see your progress and get a more realistic calorie burn because of the weight and age data you’ve entered. Most treadmills don’t account for your age. You can even choose from three simple steps plans.

Read the Directions – If you’re new to a particular treadmill always read the directions, or you ask for help from club staff.

Don’t Hold On! – You’re cheating yourself. Don't hold on to those handrails unless you have an issue with stability. For most of us, if you feel the need to hold on, you're going too fast or are on too steep an incline… so back off! And do remember that it’s totally natural to lean forward a bit if you’re going uphill. So use your legs, not your hands. However, use your hands and arms to swing at your sides; this helps with balance and burns a few more calories.

Body Position
Walk straight, stay erect (with that slight forward lean if going uphill), with eyes forward. This is one of the strong advantages of the individual TV being on the treadmill; you’re not looking over or up to the ceiling mounted TV.

Be Intense
New to the treadmill? Then start off at a comfortable pace until you get used to the movement of the “floor” moving. After getting comfortable with the moving treadmill track, start increasing your speed or add an incline to get your heart rate into a “fat burning” zone.

Most newer treadmills have hand monitors to provide a credible estimate of your heart rate during work walk, jog or run; this is the only time that you hold on. Try to get to 60% to 90% of your Target Heart Rate. Here’s a simple formula from the National Academy of Sports Medicine:

  • 220-age x .60% (For example: 220-30 (age) = 190 x .60% = 114 beats per minute)
  • 220-age x .70% (For example: 220-30 (age) = 190 x .70% = 133 bpm)
  • 220-age x .80% (For example: 220-30 (age) = 190 x .80% = 152 bpm)
  • 220-age x .90% (For example: 220-30 (age) = 190 x .70% = 171 bpm)

So using the formula above, you probably would want to keep your Target Heart Rate between 133 to 171 bpm to burn those extra calories of fat. The more intensity, the more calories burned.

BUT, know your level of tolerance. Use the simple "Talk Test". If you can carry on a somewhat normal conversation, but are just slightly breathless, you’re at a good level. BUT if talking is too easy, pump up the intensity. Conversely, if you are breathing very hard and can’t really talk, drop back on the intensity.

Drop the Hand Weights
Yes we usually say don’t drop your weights when in the free weight area, but here we mean, don’t use hand weights as you walk. The swinging of the weights can simply just get in the way and throw your body off balance, especially if on an incline.

Pick Up the Hand Weights
What are we saying now? While the treadmill is our go-to cardio machine for burning those extra calories, don’t forget that strength or resistance training is a key component of a workout plan for losing weight. Why? Because muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue; it takes calories to contract those muscles, even when just doing day-to-day things.  

Always Cool-Down
A great thing about using one of the treadmill’s programs is that when you're finished, the tread will start to slow down and take you into a cool-down mode for 2 to 5 minutes, bringing your heart rate back to its normal level.

Always Stretch
It is always best to stretch before and after your walk, jog or run, but particularly if you jog or run. If you are walking, you could skip the before stretch by simply starting the treadmill on at a slower pace and flat level, but it is still best to stretch. And the Online Personal Trainer has a library of the appropriate stretches for your review.

After the After Stretch
Have that cold one – OPTIONAL!

Cardio or Strength Training - Which is Best Over 50?

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
With all of the fitness and workout advice coming from virtually everywhere in our world, Bob and Ron tackle a common question, "Is cardio or strength training best?" The answer might surprise you but, read on as they make sense of this situation.

Bob’s Experience:

Many people are confused or at least undecided about what mix of cardio and strength training they should practice, particularly now that they’re over 50. In my particular case I've generally leaned more toward some form of strength or resistance training – driven initially by my desire to look better.  You see, I was told at the time that strength training was THE primary form of exercise for changing the shape of your body – and it worked.

After lifting weights under the guidance of a personal trainer for 18 months, I had to have all my suits altered, taking in the pant waist and seat, taking in the coat at the waist and letting out the coat at the back seam and under the arm. I had effectively changed the shape of my body to somewhat more of the "V" admired and desired by some. And this was at the age of 49. Wow, was I proud of my accomplishment.

Yes, I also did cardio, primarily treadmill walking and rowing machine to help burn more fat and help my heart, but to change the shape of your body I'd recommend weight training.

However, beyond the esthetic side, and more importantly for us over 50, I truly believe that we really need to keep all areas of our body strong as we age. We don’t want to end up as one of those folks with a relatively strong heart and lungs who can’t get up from a chair by themselves. If you want to live a full 50plusPlusFit life, you have to keep your entire body strong, not just your legs, but all muscle groups.

But the question remains, how much of each for a good balanced workout? And is it “one size fits all?” Or does the ideal mix of the two forms of exercise depend on your individual goals and needs? I assume it’s an individual case-by-case decision, so for thing for those wise words, I have to turn to Ron.

Ron’s Expertise:

True words! In fact, some fitness experts suggest that if your goal is to add muscle mass, you might even abstain from cardio training until you are close to reaching your muscle-building goal. This is assuming that you have little or no fat to lose before adding muscle.

For most of us over 50, the multiple benefits of a good cardio routine can’t be ignored. Stamina – that is the ability to continue to do whatever you’d like without “wearing out” quickly is a key benefit to a consistent cardio workout. Additionally, cardiovascular health – or a “healthy heart” is a benefit derived from a cardio workout that is possibly the most powerful reason to hit the treadmill. And, like any form of working out – strength or cardio – the residual calorie burn for hours after finishing your workout will help burn excess calories, if weight loss is your goal.

Cardio workouts should be aggressive enough that while working out you can only speak in short sentences – this is referred to as the “talk test.” If you can carry on a lively conversation, step up your workout. If you are gasping for air, slow it down just a little.

Of course, as you add muscle mass, you’re adding to your calorie burn – even at rest. So, for most of us over 50, a good combination of both is the ideal approach. Current industry trends suggest cardiovascular training 30-60 minutes, 4-6 times per week plus a full-body resistance/strength training session 4-5 days per week.

Oh, the old "skip a day" rule doesn't apply anymore. Unless you're lifting your body weight in chest presses, leg pressing 600 pounds or something else extreme, you can workout every day. I do - and miss it seriously when I have to skip a day! You can actually schedule and track your daily and weekly exercise routine mix with our easy 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer, where you can pick from a variety of cardio and strength exercises and workout routines, including programs to lose weight and gain muscle.

So, to achieve or maintain 50 plus fitness, you will need to make cardio and strength workout goals a part of your exercise routine to keep your heart healthy, add stamina, energy and enjoy an active and able 50plusPlusFit quality of lifestyle!

Drop the Excuses… It’s Time to Get in Shape!

By Lisa Taylor

Summer is now officially over and with the fall season and all the upcoming holidays quickly approaching, we'd all like to get or stay in shape and be at our very best, both physically and mentally. The good news is that while being out of shape is often the result of years of poor nutrition and inactivity, getting your nutrition and exercise programs in order can result in significant progress in just a matter of weeks, yes, even over 50! Of course, there's some effort and sacrifice required on your part... no free rides here.

If you're feeling the effects of having just a little too much fun over the summer, but you're ready and fired up to commit yourself to your health and fitness goals, then keep these simple tips in mind:

1. Don't beat yourself up over what's past , as it's just that... the past! Maybe you ate too much yesterday, last week, and last month. Maybe you haven't been getting enough exercise. Forget about it! Today is a new day, a new chance to get yourself headed in the right direction.

2. Try something new. Go to the gym, take classes at your local schools, get outside for your exercises and to get some fresh air. Use the StairMaster rather than the treadmill or take the stairs, change your resistance routine around, try that new workout class you've been hearing so much about, learn some new exercises, eat more frequent smaller meals.  If you're tired of the same old results, or lack thereof, the only logical thing to do is to introduce some new and fresh ideas into your program. Never let staying healthy and fit become boring to you. And there are a lot of tools to help you in the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer too.

3. Do something for your health and fitness TODAY! The biggest mistake we make is putting off until tomorrow what we should--what we MUST--do today. Of course, when it comes to our fitness goals, all too often tomorrow never comes. But today is already here. Take a positive step today to get yourself back on track: exercise for 30 minutes, drink only pure water, increase your daily consumption of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, cut out those sugary snacks and empty calories and you're more than half way there.

For more information on healthy diet and fitness contact Lisa at TaylorMadeFitness.

Workout in The Garden – Injury Free

By Dr. Peggy Malone, D.C.

This past weekend, my muscles reminded me that it’s important to be careful while working in the garden. I was busy cleaning up the remains of my backyard vegetable garden, raking leaves and tidying up my yard.This is the time of the year when many gardeners are out in their gardens and yards raking leaves, pulling weeds and cleaning up to get ready for winter.  This can lead to aches and pains.

Ontario chiropractors were surveyed and 88% of them said that the number one contributor to neck and back pain is gardening especially in the spring and fall. As a result, the Ontario Chiropractic Association does a public education media campaign every year at to remind people to take care of their backs and bodies as they are out working in the yard and the garden.  It's called ‘Plant and Rake Without the Ache’.

Here are some tips to keep you safe while you are out working in your garden:

1) Warm Up and S-t-r-e-t-c-h Before You Start:

Just like when working out at the gym, gardening can be a strenuous activity and before you begin, you should take the time to warm up with a 5 to 10 minute walk (even if done in place). In addition, you should do some simple stretching. Stretches should be gentle and should not cause pain so be sure not to bounce, jerk or strain as you stretch. You can find an entire video library of important stretches, along with printable instructions in the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer. Plus you’ll find workout videos to lose weight and gain muscle as well.

I like to tell my patients to think of working in the garden like an athletic endeavor and just as I would advise any athlete to warm up before they perform their sport, I would advise any gardener to warm up before heading out to dig in the dirt. 

As I’ve mentioned before, this is especially important if we are 50 plus or older, because the connective tissues and muscles around our joints are less flexible and less pliable than when we were younger. As a result, you can’t just stand up from sitting all day and jump right into your garden work….you’ll get injured. 

2) Bend Your Knees to Lift With Ease

Always take precautions when your gardening chores require you to lift and move dirt, or mulch or heavy containers.

  • Get Close to the Load:  Before lifting something heavy, position yourself close to the object.  Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, head up, with your feet and your body pointing in the same direction.
  • Knees bent, back straight: Check the weight of what you are lifting so that it is not heavier or lighter than you thought.  If it seems too heavy, make sure to get help!  Use your strong leg and arm muscles to smoothly and slowly lift the load.
  • Keep Your Nose Between Your Toes: While carrying the load, keep it close to your body and when you move, pivot with your feet rather than twisting your body.
  • Easy Does It: When lowering the load to its intended place, bend your knees and slowly lower it down.
  • Do not lift heavy objects above your waist and if you’ve been kneeling to weed or plant or if you’ve just come outside from sitting for awhile inside, make sure that you wait for 10 or 15 minutes before you do any heavy lifting.

3) Use The Right Moves and the Right Tools

  • Alternate gardening chores from heavy to light to heavy to light.  This approach will allow your body some recovery between difficult jobs to decrease your chance of injury.
  • Change hands often or change the position of your hands to take the strain off of the hand doing the digging or planting or weeding.
  • Check your position and change it often.  Kneel for a while, then stand.  Sit on a garden stool while weeding or planting.  Also make sure to take breaks and sit and relax every once in awhile.
  • Rake right: Ease the strain on your back by putting one leg in front, the other behind and sway back and forth with your legs rather than having your back do all the work.  Switch legs and hands from time to time to allow muscles a rest.
  • Kneel to plant.  Use knee pads or a kneeling mat to reduce the strain while you plant and weed.  Keep your back straight and take breaks frequently.

4) Take a Break and Drink Some Water

We already mentioned that taking breaks every once in a while is a good idea to give your body a rest and prevent injury.  And just like when working out, it’s also a good idea to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration especially if the weather is hot.

Gardening is an excellent form of physical activity but it can lead to aches and pains and injuries if you don’t take care to protect your muscles and joints as you get outside to clean up your yards and gardens.  So start slowly, do a little bit at a time and ‘Plant and Rake Without the Ache’.

Enjoy the crisp fall air.  Happy Autumn!

 

For more information on healthy living contact Dr. Peggy Malone.

Fitness Econ 101 for Over 50

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
What's the real cost of fitness? What's the real cost of NOT working out? The real costs are more than dollars and cents. And, for those of us over 50, the time is NOW for us to workout. There are many other "costs" to consider in fitness, your health and well-being, functionality and happiness. We've expanded on several topics related to the real costs of working out or NOT working out. Care to bet which side of the topic you'll find us? Read on - there's much more to consider:

Bob's Experience:

I often hear people say that they can't improve their fitness because they can't afford to get fit - they can’t afford to spend the money on a club membership or some simple equipment for a home gym. Well ya know, we really, really can't afford NOT getting fit and staying fit. First of all, as we've already established on this website, being 50plusPlusFit requires us to get fit and stay fit.

Plus, there is a real economic argument for investing in our own fitness. For example, compare the cost of fitness versus the cost of medication. It's been proven that being fit can greatly reduce, and in some cases, eliminate the need for some medication and regular doctor visits for certain ailments. I’ve been very fortunate, because I began a regular fitness regimen some years back, I haven’t developed ailments or needed medications as I age.

Experts tell us that monthly medical costs for an average 50+ person in the U.S. can run in the hundreds of dollars for medications alone, let alone the doctor’s office visits. I know people who spend hundreds each month on medications because they suffer from high blood pressure and high cholesterol, etc., etc., But of course, they are not fit.

Now, let’s compare those costs to the cost of a health club membership - a club where we can work at improving our fitness level and avoid many common ills. For example, monthly fees at typical fitness clubs will range anywhere from $20-$100+, depending on the facility and frills - lots cheaper than the meds. Or, compare the cost of very simple equipment we can use at home like walking shoes, bands, an exercise mat, small dumbbells, etc. There is no comparison to the big dollars we could drop at the pharmacy and at the doctor’s office. It’s amazing!

And here’s one last thought to ponder. We really shouldn’t think of our fitness dollars as an expense, but as an investment in our healthy future. By investing a few dollars in our fitness, we’ll not only save big bucks on medications and doctor visits, we’ll then be able to turn around and spend those saved dollars on enjoying a great 50plusPlusFit lifestyle. Why? Because we’ll be better able to afford it - both physically and financially!

Ron's Expertise:

Very true – I speak to this every day at the gym. Being even 15% overweight which equates to 26%+ body fat for men and 32%+ for women puts one at risk for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even some forms of cancer. This isn't necessarily an age-related issue but, many people over 50 find it harder to control their body fat than those younger than 50. Blame it on lifestyle or unwillingness to give up an indulgence, many of us over 50 struggle more than our younger contemporaries.

That being said, many of my clients who began with me while taking lots of prescription medications have lost weight to a healthier body-fat percentage, and consequently, have reduced or eliminated their medications at their doctors’ directive.

One particular client comes to mind … a man in his late 50’s. He began with me at 38% body fat. After the first year, he achieved 25% body fat (just barely in the acceptable range) and has reduced his insulin intake by 75%. His goal is to eliminate insulin completely – and he’s still focused on losing weight!

Another client, female in her 60’s when she began with me (yes, I said BEGAN – in her 60’s! Proof it’s never too late!) When she began, she was taking two different blood pressure/diuretic medications, three diabetic medications and three other medications daily. Her out-of-pocket costs were over $600 AFTER Medicare and Part D coverage. She’s paying about $35 a month for her membership and about $250 per month (30 minute sessions, twice a week) to work with me, her personal trainer. She has dropped about 60 pounds and her prescription usage has dropped by over 50%. Oh yeah, she feels better, stronger, fewer aches and pains, has more energy while enjoying the new-found attraction that her new, slimmer physique claims for her!

OK, so maybe you can't afford a trainer but, check out the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer for exercises, workout routines, including workout programs for weight loss, meal planning, calorie tracking and more ... for a fraction of a hands-on trainer!

Additional negative financial considerations include doctor’s visits, hospital stays, surgeries, other treatments and lost time at work. Serious illnesses such as heart attack or cancer have been known to bankrupt families – even those fortunate enough to have good health insurance.

Another cost which cannot easily be calculated into real dollars is the time lost from your everyday life. Being “laid up” with an illness often prevents you from participating in activities that you enjoy. You find yourself captive in your own home – or worse in a hospital or other long-term health facility and cannot visit friends and family, go to a movie or your favorite restaurant. This might be the most compelling cost of all. You may be alive but not LIVING your life but instead, merely surviving - and maybe in significant pain or without the ability to care for yourself.

So, it's really time to get and stay fit. Pursuing an active 50plusPlusFit lifestyle can add up to some real cost savings, in the wallet and in life in general.

Have a Coke and A Mile!

Since we’re all over 50 we all likely remember the iconic Coca-Cola® TV ad campaign themed “Have a Coke and a Smile™.” Well forgive me for playing with their line, but I saw a new ad for Coke® this past week that took a really different direction, novel really for a soft drink. The new Coke ad actually showed the calories of a 12 ounce serving in big white letters on a bright red background. It seems that they’re pretty proud of those 140 calories! And maybe they should be.

The ad goes on to show a montage of people engaging in a variety of activity, dancing, playing various sports, running, etc. Oh and by the way, all of the people looked quite fit. So what’s the message here? Some might say that the Coca-Cola Company is trying to counterbalance all the bad press they and others in their industry have been getting for some time. Maybe. But I think there is another message here, a better message, but maybe not the one Coke intended.

The fact of the matter is, you can have a One-Hundred-and-Forty-Calorie Coke (and a smile), if you just work it off. And all you have to do is something as simple as walk. For example, according to the 50plusPlusFit Personal Trainer just 30 minutes of casual walking on a treadmill or outside on a flat surface will burn 130 calories for a 173 pound male (the author). So walk a little further to burn those extra 10 calories, or walk faster. And if you weigh a little more or less, make the adjustment (or let the Online Personal Trainer do it for you). And casual walking can be a great addition to your workout program for weight loss.

The point here is not that you should drink Coke rather than Coke Zero®, or that you should drink any Coke product or soft drink at all, but that is totally your choice. The point is that you really don’t have to give up the beverages or foods that you like and still be fit... you just have to be active and burn those extra calories.

Here’s another example from a couple of other popular beverages, this time adult beverages. A popular beer from Texas, Shiner Bock® has 142 calories (about the same as that Coke), while a Bud Light® has only 110. Hmmm, a difference of all of 32 calories…. ya’ll take the taste test and decide. If you prefer the higher calorie beer, go for it, just workout a little longer or with more intensity, or walk faster, or ride your bike farther.

Want to have that serving of juicy porterhouse steak, only 4 ounces now, versus the leaner tenderloin filet cut? Well according to the Personal Trainer a 4 ounce serving of porterhouse has 373 calories, while the tenderloin comes in at 280. Have it! And just work it off! And also, those additional fat calories won’t kill you if just eaten occasionally.

So enjoy what you like and work off what you enjoy. It is just simple math.

Exercise Routines that Are All Wet!

Bob the TrainerBy Bob the Trainer -

Looking for something different and splashingly refreshing for your exercise routine? 
Be a kid again and jump in the pool. Not to just float or play around… we’re talking about real honest exercise here that can help you lose weight and gain muscle.  And, if the outdoor pools in your neck of the woods are loaded with kiddies mostly, many fitness facilities have pools and offer organized aqua exercise programs.

These exercises can be particularly beneficial for those of us over 50 who might have some joint issues or who want a lower impact workout. However these exercise modes will also help And there are several options available, for example –

Take a Few Strokes

man over 50 swimmingWell I guess this one is the obvious one, but a great workout nonetheless.
If you know how to swim and you’ve got a decently smooth stroke, swimming laps is a terrific workout. Of course you’ll get a great cardio workout, but swimming is also excellent for building strength. The resistance of the water and just staying afloat will keep your muscles pumping. And what a great stretching your muscles will get to boot!

Water Walking

This one is a favorite for people who include walking outdoors as a normal part of their fitness regimen, and you’ll get a bonus when walking in the water. Like with swimming, the resistance against your legs and lower body will get the heart pumping and strengthen those leg and hip complex muscles. Just be sure to be in the water at least up to your waist. Want more? Just like when you walk on your favorite trail, move those arms in cadence with your gait, swinging your arms below the water line and back up again.

Want even more? Try a deeper part of the water for even more resistance. But if you’re a little uncertain, just start out gradually like you would with any other exercise you’ve never tried.

This is a low impact exercise, appropriate for all fitness levels, so it is perfect for those 50 plus folks who need to watch their joints are haven’t been active for some time. But walking is a natural movement practiced since we were toddlers, so it takes very little learning now.

Water Jogging/Running

Yep, you read correctly. For the more advanced, the avid jogger or runner, test your resolve and make some real waves. Just be respectful of the gal or guy in the next lane and don’t create a full blown wake!

Even though you’re bookin’ it faster than those who are pool walking, this is still low impact, particularly when compared to the pavement. Besides staying cooler in the heat, this will be a welcome break from the normal drill. This can also be a recuperative routine if you’re recovering from a jogging or running related injury, just take it slowly (maybe walk like above) to repair the injury, not repeat the injury.

Water Exercise Classes

We know what you’re thinking… isn’t that for old folks? senior women in water aerobics classThat depends on what you define as old… death is old. But you’re not if you keep moving, and don’t think just because you lift weights that you won’t get a good workout in a water aerobics class. And don’t worry, you won’t get bored.

Today there are all kinds of creative water workout class routines, from slow and graceful aquatic dancing to high intensity deep water aerobics. There’s even Zumba-Aqua and cycling under water (the bike, not you) classes. The possibilities are only limited by the imagination. And speaking of that…

The 50plusPlusFit Water Workout

Here’s a workout you won’t find (yet) in our dozens of Online Personal Trainer routines, but this can be a good once a week addition to mix in with one of our 2-3 day routines.

Yes your body is buoyant, but again, the water provides a good deal of resistance. So try these “body weight” exercises in a circuit fashion for a workout your muscles will remember tomorrow with just a little soreness, the “good soreness” -

  1. Warm Up as You Cool Down - Just like starting any day’s workout, warm up first. So rather than using the indoor treadmill, walk or jog in the water a bit as described above.
     
  2. Pushup Out of The Water – This is really a little more like an incline press than a pushup, but even if the angle is new to you, you’ll work the same muscles…just a little differently. Stand at the side of the pool facing the decking. Place your hands on the side of the pool at shoulder width, just like doing a regular pushup, then step pack until your body is at about a 60 degree angle. Lower your body, keeping your abs and glutes engaged, legs and back in line, then push back up to the starting position. You’ll find that extra resistance provided by the water adds challenge. Perform as many reps as you desire.
     
  3. Squat, But Not Below the Water Line - In waist deep water, with your feet shoulder-width apart, raise your arms straight forward to shoulder height to provide a bit more balance. Squat down as you normally would until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, but make sure that your mouth remains above the water line. Again here the water will add a bit more resistance to this body weight move. Perform as many reps as you desire.
     
  4. Hamstring Kicks – Hold on to the edge of the pool with your legs fully extended as if floating and simply alternately kick your legs back and forth in a scissors fashion, but focusing on the lower leg. This will work your hamstring similarly like a leg curl. Perform as many reps as you desire.
     
  5. Floaty Pushdowns – Grab a small floatation device like a kickboard or pool noodle and stand in the water at elbow depth. Grasp the kickboard on opposite sides, or the noodle at shoulder width. With both hands push the device below the water until your arms are fully extended or as deep as you can. You’ll find that “little floaty” to be quite a buoyant challenger. Perform as many reps as you desire.
     
  6. Arm Swing Curls – Stand in the water at near shoulder depth with your arms fully extended down at your sides. With your palms facing forward curl your arms as you would a dumbbell to near shoulder height. Your flat palm and the water will provide the resistance. Perform as many reps as you desire.
     
  7. Floating Leg Raises - With your back to the pool wall, lower your body in the water until your shoulders are at the water line and your toes just reach the pool floor. Extend your arms out along the wall, holding onto the wall. Keep your shoulders against the wall and your body against the wall under the water. Now lift your legs from the hips, raising them toward the surface. For more resistance keep lifting your legs until your toes peak out of the water. Your abs will, as they say, feel the burn, as you stay cool.

Give each of these exercises about 8-12 repetitions before moving on to the next exercise. Then do it again 2-3 times for a full-body circuit workout ala aqua!

Just as we’ve said in other articles, for continuous progress in your fitness routines you ned to mix it up, change things up once in a while. Water exercising just might be the change you need to re-energize your fitness. And it’s a fun way to get 50plusPlusFit!

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

Fueling Your Workout

by Ron the Trainer and Bob
To eat or not to eat, that is the 50plusPlusFit question! Fueling your workout advice and tips on just how to do that is this week’s topic of discussion. Please read on and decide!

Bob’s Experience:

A lot of folks I know, especially those just starting to pay attention to their 50 plus fitness for the first time, have asked me if I eat anything before I workout or after. Well, that all depends. I can’t say that I’m as religious about fueling the workout and post-workout body as I am about simply getting my workout in. Part of that is because I workout at different times on some days, but mostly I like to get it in early in the morning, say at 5:45. So, what am I supposed to do? Get up even an hour earlier to eat? I think eating some time before a workout is probably best, but come on, 4:45? I don’t think so.

I can tell you that if I workout later in the day I do try to remember to fuel the body about a half an hour before with a light snack, generally rich in carbohydrates. And after I workout, I usually eat something light that includes a good dose of protein, because I was once told that you need post-workout protein to help rebuild muscle fiber. In fact, at one point I was consuming a lot of protein drinks made from whey powder. I found one that was relatively easy to mix and I’d even take a serving with me to the club in a zip lock type bag. However, after awhile I gave the drink up for real food mostly because I like real food a lot more, though the drink wasn’t horrible.

I’ve also heard that you should eat something even during your workout if you go at it for longer than an hour. I haven’t done that very often, so I can’t say that I’ve made that a practice. Finally, I do drink lots of water as I workout to make sure I don’t get dehydrated; no specific amount, just what seems like plenty. Other than that, I really don’t do anything too complicated, though I know this can be confusing. And do we need even more workout fuel because we’re over 50?  Well maybe we should turn to Ron.

Ron’s Expertise:

Sage advice that I have repeated over and over: “Your body is like your car: you aren’t going to set out for a long drive without adding fuel to the tank so, why try to workout without fuel for your body?”

It doesn’t matter if it’s 5AM, 5PM, 3AM or 11PM, your body needs and deserves a quick snack prior to working out. I can tell you that the majority of the time when we have to call paramedics out to my club, the person who pas