Get Off the Floor! Your Life May Depend On It.

Say, for whatever reason, you find yourself on the floor, maybe you’re working, maybe you tripped and fell, maybe you are playing with your kids (or grandkids). How difficult is it to get back up to a standing position? The level of difficulty of sitting up from the floor and standing has actually been shown in research to be a good predictor of all-cause mortality. This doesn’t mean that you’re going to die from a fall (although you are more likely to take a fall), but it means that you’re probably lacking in mobility, strength, and balance, which probably also means that you don’t move enough, which means you’re unlikely to get any cardiovascular conditioning, which makes you more susceptible to disease, aannd that means that you are more likely to die prematurely.Untitled design (17)Remember that movement plays into our health in so many ways. When moving is challenging for us, we tend to move less, and then it gets even more challenging, and then we move even less, and then…. You see the spiral.

Back to getting up off the floor. This requires flexibility, stability, strength, and balance. If you are already challenged getting up from, and down to the floor, stay tuned. Next week I’ll show you an exercise progression that can help make the process easier. If it’s not so challenging, keep on doing it. It’s when we stop doing activities that they become harder for us.

Exercises You Shouldn’t Do After 50

Lately, I’ve seen a number of articles that claim that there are exercises that you should not do after 40, 50, or 60. (i.e. This article on cheatsheet) I want to jump on that bandwagon (and kick everyone off)! There are NO exercises that are off-limits because of your age!

Untitled design (6)What is important to note is that with each passing year that you do nothing physical, you lose more ground on what you are capable of doing. Yet, even with the decreased abilities of a sedentary life, there are still no exercises that you should not do because of your age. What you do have to do is change how you start to do that exercise.

Options are a wonderful thing! There are a billion variations of exercises that can be done and you need to simply select the option that is closest to your current physical condition. Say you want to do back squats with weights (which I think is a great exercise), but you haven’t done them in decades, if ever. You can start with bodyweight squats. Do a number that is comfortable on day 1 and see how you feel the next day. If all’s well, move on to the next progression. Maybe that is more repetitions. Maybe it’s doing them deeper. Maybe you work on perfecting the form. Bit by bit, as you perform them better, you can add weight. What if you can’t hold on to a bar behind your head because of limited shoulder mobility? While you work on regaining that mobility, you could hold dumbbells at your sides, or in front of your body under your chin (a la goblet squats). As you regain the mobility in your shoulders, you could eventually start to put a bar on your back across the back of your shoulders (not on your neck). Et voila! You’re doing back squats with weight. To be clear, I’m not saying do back squats. I’m saying that you could safely get to a point where you could do them if you wanted to. Nothing is off-limits because of your age. You can build to being able to do almost anything if you so desire. It’s all about choosing the right progression to get you there safely and effectively.

Now, I know that you may not be aware of all of those possibilities and progressions to get you from point A to point Z (your end game). This is where getting together with a certified personal trainer might be your best bet. Look for one in your area or shoot me a message if you would like my help.

 

Good luck.

 

Run a Simulation for Success

I’m currently reading Mind Hacking by Sir John Hargrave. In essence, the book is about how to change behaviors. One of the concepts that he discusses is the idea of running simulations of your future plans. Now, in the past, I’ve read research that’s shown that those who have a clear plan for the future have a better chance of attaining it than those who do not. Additionally, those that write those plans down have a better chance of attaining them than those that just keep them in their head. Now, Hargrave has cited research that shows that individuals that run simulations as to how they are going to achieve their goals, are the most successful.296D0E66-F203-4F6C-A115-4A84FF7EC0BDSo, what does it mean to run simulations? Imagine mapping out how you intend on reaching your goals from beginning to end. Now, you write out everything you can think of that could throw a monkey-wrench into your plan. A simulation is the addition of those stumbling blocks AND the solutions to deal with them and still keep you on course to attain your goals.

Start simulations with things that have happened in the past, so you know they could happen again in the future. Let’s say you plan out what days and times you are going to head to the gym to work out. Ask yourself what would happen if a deadline for a project is coming up and you’re going to have to stay late to work on it. This is going to knock out the evenings that you were planning to go to the gym. You have, however, thought this possibility through. You have a contingency plan. You get up an hour earlier in the morning and fit your workouts in before work. (as an example) The important idea is to not be reactionary. Don’t wait until something happens and then try to figure it out.

For maximum chances of success, have clear, specific goals in mind. Write them down. Write down how you intend on reaching them. Think of possible obstacles. Run simulations. Come up with contingencies and continue your progress in spite of those things that pop up to challenge you. You will even feel more confident in your ability to reach your goals.

Good luck!

 

What If Your Doctor is Wrong?

There are great doctors and there are awful doctors. There are doctors in-between. Just like any other profession. Of course, there are doctors that are great in some areas and lousy in other areas. The problem is knowing which your doctor is.

Just the other day, a client in her mid-sixties came to me after injuring her wrist. She said that when she went to her doctor, the doctor told her to stop lifting weights, which, for her wrist at the time, would not have been unreasonable. However, the doctor then followed up with, “Why would a woman your age want to lift weights anyway?” I was taken back that this opinion still exists in the medical community. My client said that she wasn’t going to be swayed by her doctor and that she knows the importance of strength training as we get older. (Phew!)

scrubs

A scene from “Scrubs”

Now, even the best doctors can’t stay current on all areas of human health. As a fitness professional, I know that there is new research every day and that it takes work on my part to stay up with the most current information. Because there can be new studies that could potentially disprove what I “know”, I understand that I can be proven wrong and am happy to change my position if enough evidence supports it. Good doctors will do the same.

So, my suggestion to you when you believe your doctor is mistaken, is to find the research to back up what you believe is correct. Present that information to your doctor ask to discuss it with him or her. If they are not willing to discuss it, maybe you should look for a doctor who will. There is a caveat to this though, don’t just take what you find on Facebook or what Dr. Oz says to be as good as scientifically supported information. Use credible sources. Here’s a pretty good list of sources for accurate health and medical information. RefSeek’s guide to the 25 best online resources for medical reference Remember, doctors are not infallible. Don’t fear questioning them. Be your own advocate.

*By the way, here’s some research on strength training as we get older: “Current research has demonstrated that strength-training exercises have the ability to combat weakness and frailty and their debilitating consequences. Done regularly (e.g., 2 to 3 days per week), these exercises build muscle strength and muscle mass and preserve bone density, independence, and vitality with age. In addition, strength training also has the ability to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and the signs and symptoms of numerous chronic diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes, while also improving sleep and reducing depression. – The benefits of strength training for older adults.  Am J Prev Med. 2003 Oct;25 (3 Suppl 2):141-9. Seguin R1, Nelson ME.

 

Let That Be a Lesson to You!

Does trying new things scare you? Did you ever think to yourself, “I’m too old to start this.” or, “I’ll make a fool out of myself”? You’re not alone. Everyone (well, most everyone) has things that make them feel that way. This is unfortunate for a couple of reasons.

men's Fitness after 50

My next venture, Men’s Fitness After 50 podcast

First, we miss out on a lot of things that could enrich our lives. This could be starting an exercise program, taking dance lessons, cooking lessons, learning a language, or starting a business.

Second, those things that challenge us, the very things that we’re afraid of feeling stupid doing, are among the best things we can do to keep our brains functioning at their best. The cognitive work required to learn new skills is one of the 5 pillars of brain fitness (exercise, nutrition, stress reduction, socialization, and… cognitive challenge).

Personally, I’ll jump into many things without worrying about how I look, however, when it comes to my profession, my reputation, I honestly get a little apprehensive (scared.. ok, I said it.). In example, I’ve wanted to try podcasting for the better part of a year and have been to afraid that I would make a fool of myself. Well, we all need to get over it and just do it (not to get too Nike on you). The benefits for us, better health, greater skills, better quality of life,  far outweigh the perceived risks.

So, whatever you have wanted to do and have just been afraid to start… jump in, the water is fine. (oh… and I’ll start podcasting on Monday). Let me know what you’d like to try , but are afraid to, in the comments.

The Problems With Physical Therapy

Before my physical therapist friends jump all over this, let me say that what I find problematic with physical therapy, is the limited coverage (number of visits allowed by insurance) and the patient’s understanding of their role in their physical well-being once they are released from therapy and are on their own.

physical therapy2Problem #1: Let’s assume you get injured on the job. Your primary care physician refers you to a physical therapist for treatment. The therapist takes you through various rehabilitation modalities that will most likely included some exercises that you will perform. Insurance only pays for “X” number of visits and then you’ll need to continue on your own. More often than not, you do not follow through with your therapy exercises. Without that follow through, the your physical level will begin to decrease from the point when you left physical therapy. This deconditioning sets you up to get injured again.

Problem #2: You, after completing your allotted physical therapy, continue to do your therapy exercises as prescribed, same weights, same repetitions, same number of days per week. I know, that doesn’t sound like a problem, but it is. If you do the same thing over and over again, you get really good at it. It gets easy, and… if it gets easy, you’re no longer challenging yourself. Without the challenge, your conditioning level starts to decrease. Now, it won’t drop as low as if you weren’t doing the exercises, but it will drop below the level that was when it was challenging.

The goal of reconditioning after surgery or injury, should be to get back to where to where you were prior to the event, AND THEN to continue training/conditioning so that you are more capable, more “injury resistant”, and better prepared to do any of the activities that you want. This is true at any age, but even more important as you get older. You can accomplish this by working with your physical therapist until released, then take your exercise prescription to a certified personal trainer that has post-rehab experience. Have the trainer show you how to translate the physical therapy exercises to your gym/health club. Then, come back to the trainer periodically to get an updated program, so you can continue to get stronger, healthier, and ready to tackle the rest of your life. After all, we don’t want to just survive as we get older. We want to thrive!

Try This!!! It Worked For Me!?

What is probably the worst reasons to try something is because someone says, “It worked for me!” This is true with diets, exercise, supplements, or following some “guru”.

One story from my college days (yes, many, MANY years ago) is a perfect example of this. I was working in the university weight room and saw a huge bodybuilder doing concentration curls (one arm curls in which you’re seated with your elbow resting on the inside of your thigh). He had giant biceps. While curling with one arm, he held a metal pipe in the other and was hitting his biceps with it. I had to go ask what that was all about. He said that by hitting his muscle with the pipe, he was breaking down the muscle faster to build it up bigger…and who was going to argue with him, it must work, right. Whoa… big time wrong! That’s not how muscle breakdown and building works. “Well, (naysayers will say) if it didn’t work, why was he so big? Huuhh?” Well, let’s think of all the other things he could be doing. His diet was probably supplying the right amount nutrients. He was working out hard, even without the pipe. He probably had some genetic advantage, aaand… at that time, it was likely that he was taking anabolic steroids. Still, he said it was the pipe and people would surely believe him.

shake-weight-for-men-in-pakistan-Telebrand.pk_Any exercise program will give results to someone who hasn’t been exercising. It doesn’t mean it is the safest, most effective exercise program. It is just that now you’re following a program and doing some kind of exercise.

Almost all diets will give weight loss results short-term. Whether they are cutting out food groups (paleo, ketogenic, vegan) or managing when you eat (intermittent fasting) or has you track your points (weight watchers), they all will manipulate you into eating fewer calories. Fewer calories = weight loss (at least short term). (Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD, has a great post here.)

All that said, I do hope that all of our clients are saying, “Try Jiva Fitness! It worked for me!” What’s the difference? Do your research. If it’s an exercise program or a diet/eating plan, what is it based on? Is there scientific evidence to back it up. Who are the people that created it? Are they qualified professionals? Don’t go blindly into things that are in the popular news. After all, even the Shake Weight was popular for a short time.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

A friend of mine just had a heart attack. It was mild and he’s going to be ok, although it could have been much worse. For the better part of a year we’ve had the ongoing discussion about how he was going to start working out and eating more healthfully. Work and family always demanded too much of him and he could never seem to find time to start a program.

heart-attack

This is such a common situation. I hear it all of the time. But here’s the thing, if you put it off too long and something happens, how much good will you be to your work or your family?

You will hear me say a thousand times that it’s never too late to start. Of course, that’s if you are still around to start. Please think about this. Yes, it is a scare tactic, but more than that, it’s a reality check. Life can be short and we want to have the longest, best quality life we can. Can you afford to put getting healthy off?

“Maybe it is true, that people only care when it’s too late.” – Anon

Do You Have a Dad Bod?

First time I heard the phrase, “dad bod”, I was a little confused. First, I didn’t really know what that meant, me being a dad and all. Second, evidently, many men sporting the dad bod were satisfied with the way they looked. Third, there was a significant number of women that were saying that they preferred a man with a dad bod.

21up-dadbods-superJumboSo, what is a dad bod? In a recent article from the New York Times, Losing the Fight Against ‘Dad Bod’, it is quantified as being 5 – 15 pounds over what might be considered ideal. It’s rounder and maybe includes a slight beer belly. OK, so, in the scheme of things, when roughly 70% of the US population is classified as overweight and 36% considered obese, 5 – 15 pounds doesn’t seem so bad.

I haven’t seen any documented rationale explaining why men might be satisfied with a dad bod, but, taking a guess, I’d say it’s because it’s not so hard to maintain and allows them to enjoy more food and drink than their ripped body toting counterparts.

The-Workout-Cure-for-Dad-Bod

And, yes, women do seem to like the look. This has been surveyed and the overall response as to why they like it, seems to be that men are “less neurotic” about their looks which means more relaxed eating habits and not spending endless hours at the gym. This leaves more time to be spent nurturing the kids, doing things around the house, and taking care of the wives.

Should you be sporting a dad bod? Well, it’s unlikely that 5 – 15 pounds over ideal body weight is going to present a health issue (but, that’s a decision for your doctor to make), so it really comes down to your own perception of how you look. If you are happy with the way you look, rock on. If not, then you need to take the dietary and exercise steps to get leaner.

Big final note: just because you are fine with your dad bod, doesn’t mean you can ignore exercise or diet completely. You still need to eat reasonably healthy and at least get a minimum of exercise to maintain your strength, stamina, and mobility in order to be able to do the physical things that we want as we get older.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Is Retirement a Good Thing?

People my age (I’ll turn sixty in December), plus or minus a few years, are either retiring or thinking about retiring. Isn’t that everyone’s goal, to retire, to not have to work anymore, to sleep in, and only do what you want to do? But, is retirement good for us? There have been studies through the years that have shown how people’s health, physically and mentally, decline once they retire. Retirement is also listed 10th on the list of life’s 43 most stressful events. In fact, the reason I started to write this post was because I believed that retirement was typically an unhealthy thing to do. In researching the topic, however, I found some surprising data.

hardretirement-3-30.jpg

In order to understand this better, let’s discus some of the changes you may experience when you retire.

  • Your sense of purpose may change. If you have had a career in some field that inspired you, that loss can leave you unmotivated and depressed.
  • Your schedule changes. The time structure and hours you have kept disappear. Suddenly, you may find yourself sleeping late (not always a bad thing) and without a set schedule, you may find yourself not getting around to doing any of the things that you thought you would.
  • Your secondary social environment is gone. For many of us, a huge part of the social interactions that we have during the day are with co-workers, clients, and/or customers. Many retirees experience loneliness
  • Your physical life may change. While many people may have sitting jobs, there are also a lot of people that are physically active in their jobs. Construction workers to mail carriers will see a loss in the “mandatory” movement that their jobs required. Without regular physical activity, our health and ability to do daily tasks can be compromised.

Well those are some of the changes and some of the negative consequences that can occur when you retire, but… new research has been showing people are getting more out of retirement than they used to. It appears that the keys to their happier, healthier retirement are:

  • Finding a part-time job doing something you love (either for pay or volunteering) to give you a sense of purpose. This can also help you build new social connections, possibly teach you new skills, and give you a schedule that can get you up and out of your house.
  • Getting or keeping physically active. It’s so important for your health and physical independence to exercise, and now you have the time. Gyms, studios, or health clubs also offer another social environment.
  • Continuing to learn. Whether it’s learning a language, arts, or even going back to college, cognitive challenges help maintain brain health.

how-to-make-healthy-retirement-choices_0-660x400

So, if you are looking forward to retirement or are already there, these are the types of activities to incorporate into your vision of retirement to make the most of your health, fitness, and happiness. Live long. Live healthy. Live happy.