Still stiff and sore

Sore four days after the workout!

Renegade row - one of the killer moves in Saturday's workoutYou all know I work out four or five times a week. And I don’t baby myself. I try to do a challenging workout and push myself every time. Saturday I did a workout that I’ve done numerous times in the past. It’s not an easy workout, but I usually don’t have to modify it (much…). But my lower body is still stiff and sore four days after the workout!

Every time I sit down or stand up. Every step I take. I’m sore. (Sounds like a song, right? But it’s not…)

I’m no stranger to muscle soreness

Since I’ve been exercising for many, many years, muscle stiffness is nothing new to me. But it doesn’t usually last this long!

So, how do we recover from having sore muscles from exercising?

On the mend?

In a nutshell, do more! Keep on exercising. Keep moving. Hydrate! Yes! When we’re sore after a workout, it’s important to keep moving. The recovery, while not fast enough, is much faster than if you baby yourself and be sedentary. The more you move, the faster you’ll feel normal. I’m hoping. At work, I try not to sit more than 20 minutes at a time anyway, but this week I’m up every 10 minutes and walking around. It’s easier to get up the next time if there’s less time between! I still feel like I’m waddling (inner thigh soreness), but it’s getting better.

And yesterday I walk / ran – almost my normal workout for a Monday. It hurt, but I did it.

Hydrate!

And hydrate! Drink more water. It’s possible that I neglected this step on Saturday, the day of my workout, because I was busy the rest of the day. Drink water during your workout, after your workout, the rest of the day of your workout – and every day after that! It’s good for your overall health, as well as helping your muscles heal!

Are you stuck in a rut in your exercise routine?

Our routines can get us stuck in a rut

Mix up your workouts so you don't get stuck in a rutWe humans love our routines and habits. And I always stress that routines are important in our goal setting. But our habits in our fitness regimen can be a bad thing. Don’t get stuck in a rut!

The danger of over-exercise

If we do too much of an exercise that works certain muscles, we run the risk of over-exercise and damaging those muscles. In strength workouts, all the experts agree that it’s important to rest the muscles we work for at least 24 hours before working them again. It goes against logic, but resting a muscle group is important for strengthening it! If you like to use weights every day, then work different muscle groups on sequential days.

And if we do the same exercises every time, we’ll hit a plateau and won’t be able to move beyond it. Let’s say you run on the treadmill (my personal nemesis) every day at the same speed for the same length of time. Pretty soon you won’t be able to run faster or farther. You’ll be stuck at 20 minutes and 4 miles an hour (as an example).

Mix up your exercise routine!

On the other hand, if you use an interval setting with hills, valleys, slower speeds and faster speeds on the treadmill, you’ll be able to run farther and faster.

Don’t forget that it’s also important to combine cardio and strength work in your exercise. A day of yoga or pilates is also a good idea for mixing things up. As humans, we get bored easily, so mixing up your workouts keeps you out of that rut and interested. Or as interested as you can be in an exercise program.

So, yes – be sure to schedule your workouts every day at the same time, but mix up your workouts!

 

Yet another study supports what we know …

Another study that supports what we already know: that those who exercise  are in better health than those who don’t.

Cycling and exercise for health

82-year-old Norman Lazarus, a professor emeritus at London’s Kings College, requested that a study be performed on the health of older active cyclists. King’s College and the University of Birmingham took him up on it. Researchers compared 125 amateur cyclists, ages 55 through 79, with a group of people ages 57 through 80 and with a younger group ages 20 through 36. All of the noncycling group were healthy but did not exercise regularly.

Lazarus had noted that he and his riding group were not experiencing many of the frailties, such as joint problems or chronic illness, that affect so many other people as they age. His group had been avid cyclists for most of their lives.

Less evidence of aging in cyclers

The researchers found that those who exercised – in this case cycled – regularly did not show evidence of the outward signs of aging.

The male cyclists in the study had to be able to ride 62 miles in 6½ hours, and females had to be able to ride 37 miles in 5½ hours, according to the study, published in the journal Aging Cell. I’m not a cyclist but seems like a fairly intense regimen.

Less loss of strength

In a series of lab tests, researchers found cyclists did not lose muscle mass and strength like the noncyclists did. The cyclists also stopped the clock on increased body fat and cholesterol, and the men’s testosterone levels remained high.

Improved immune systems

One of the most surprising findings was that the cyclists’ immune systems were equivalent to those of healthy young people in the study, as measured by the presence of immune cells, known as T-cells. The cells are produced by the thymus gland and typically start to decrease as the thymus begins to shrink after age 20. Depleted immune systems are one of the greatest barriers to health in the elderly.

Intense exercise is the key

We know from other studies that cycling is not the important part of this – the intense exercise is.

The CDC recommends that adults get 150 minutes a week of moderately intense exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.

The moral

The moral here – do something! It’s better than nothing. And even if you can’t do even moderately intense exercise now, you soon will be! So get moving!

A first look at guilt

Guilt and exercise / or not exercising

I’ve been thinking about guilt lately, specifically how it relates to exercise.

Are you torn between your guilt about exercising and not exercising. Spending time working out or with family? Do feel like your brain is on the treadmill even when you’re not?

Have you felt guilty about not exercising?

Or guilty about exercising when you could be doing something for your family?

I’m here to tell you to get over it!

If you’re doing something productive –

If you feel guilty about not exercising – are you doing something else that’s worthwhile? Are you working? Earning a living? Helping your family with something? If you’re engaged in an activity that’s productive, then you can work out another time. Schedule it! Put it in your calendar! (One that you actually refer to on a regular basis.)

If you’re not doing something else worthwhile, then you should feel guilty, so get up and move!

Seriously, though, you’re probably spending more time and energy feeling guilty than you would if you’d stick in a DVD and did a workout. You’ll feel terrific afterward – virtuous and healthy!

Are you exercising when you should be doing something else?

Are there really important things that you should be doing when you’re working out? Or are they just things to get to … some time?

If they’re the really important things, go do that and, again, schedule a workout.

Now, only you can determine if those things you’re thinking about are “really important things” that should be done now, or if they can wait.

The key, it seems, is to prioritize tasks. And then use your calendar so you’re sure not to forget the specific tasks that you need to get done.

But don’t leave out exercise!

If you’re feeling guilty about spending time on yourself when you could be doing other things for family, friends, or work, then don’t.

By spending a little time (as little as 30 minutes a day 4-5 times a week) on yourself exercising, you’ll be gaining a healthier you. A you that will be around longer for your family. A you that can spend the quality time with your family that they deserve. And a you that will be more productive at work.

So stop feeling guilty. Write down and prioritize the things you need to do.

In a funk?

You may have sensed from my last post that I’m in a funk. I’m feeling my age. I had to really push myself yesterday to do my workout, and the day before that wasn’t great either.

Some days are like that. Some weeks are like that. The cycles we go through in our lives leave an impression. The seasons affect us. The weather affects us.

It had been cool and rainy here for days, which certainly did not help things. Joints were stiff and creaky. People were in bad moods.

When I’m in a bad mood, I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to associate with anyone. I don’t want to talk to anyone. Those days I wish I could put myself in a bubble with a “Do Not Disturb!” sign on me.

Of course, that’s not possible.

So what I’ve learned to do is paste a smile on my face during working hours and try to be as helpful as humanly possible to the people I meet. And hope that the smiles I receive in return will make an impression on my brain and stick there!

It’s really hard to keep that up indefinitely, though. On days like that, it’s all I can do to be nice to the dogs!

And working out yesterday was not fun. I did not want to do it, but I made myself. I wanted to quit after every exercise for the first half of the workout. By the second half, I conned myself into finishing – “You’re more than halfway done. You can do this!” And I did. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t fun, but it was done!

And afterward I took a long warm shower with “Citrus Fresh” essential oil dropped onto the baking soda disc, which was delightful. And I felt better when it was done – quite virtuous!

It’s nice and bright and warm today, so hopefully that will put a more positive spin on things.

Let me know how you combat your blue funk days!

Feeling my age…

Every once in a while my body reminds me that I’m over 60. (Yikes! How did that happen?! Anyone else feel that way?)

This morning I woke up stiff. My back hurt, my knees hurt, I did something to my hamstring, my ankle hurts, my hands hurt.

I guess the combination of standing around all weekend on concrete at an agility trial and a plyometric workout yesterday was too much for the old bod.

I not only enjoy running my dog in agility, I also enjoy watching others compete. I can see how people handle especially tricky parts of the course to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. While the agility course itself was on turf, spectators watched from the concrete floor. And I’m so short that sitting down means that I can’t see… And I certainly wasn’t going to skip or change yesterday’s workout because I was on my feet all weekend. All the jumping in that plyometric workout helps keep me agile.

But I knew that if I cater to my aches and pains, I’d just be complaining all day and moving would be even more difficult. So, I got up, stretched, and went through my normal morning routine. It may have been a tad bit slower than normal, but things needed to get done.

I’m more careful today to get up and walk around more often so my hips and knees don’t stiffen up even more. And I am trying to drink more water to stay hydrated. This also helps keep everything moving.

It’s also important that I not skip today’s workout. I have an upper body workout planned, focusing on the arms, chest, back and core. Yes, the lower body is also involved (no sitting!), but the focus will be on the upper body. It’s imperative to keep moving. Why?

Dog obedience class is tonight!

Bored with your workout?

Are you bored with doing the same kind of workout day after day? You know that I’m not a fan of working out. I do it because I want to do other active things. And the workouts that I do are short, so I’m not getting bored during the workout. I switch off between a couple of workout programs. 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme are incredibly effective. And PiYo is great for getting strong and lean. But that still doesn’t mean that I don’t get tired of doing the same programs.

So I switch it up. Every couple of months I’ll do a week of yoga. I love yoga – nothing gives me the sense of peace and calm as a good yoga practice. Or leaves me feeling at one with my body. Or I’ll do a week of Pilates. I don’t love it as much as yoga, but it still gives me that strengthening and stretching I need. Or I’ll do a couple of days in a week on the treadmill. I really hate running (more than other workouts!), but I enjoy competing with my dog in agility. He’s a fast little dog, so I need more speed and endurance.

And then after I have my switch-off days, I’ll go back to my old standards and enjoy them more. I’ll do the plyometric workout in the 21 Day Fix Extreme program and realize again that jumping the right way is really not bad for my knees. Or I’ll do the “Drench” workout in PiYo and remember that I really do love the flow sequence.

So, when you start to dread your workouts (even more than usual), switch it up for a week. Do a different program for a while. You’ll engage your brain, which is always good. And you’ll also be cross-training, confusing your muscles, which makes your workouts more effective.

Hate to exercise?

Having fun during 21 Day FixDo you hate to exercise? I’m not a fan either, but I do it because I like to do other stuff, as you know. But if that isn’t enough of a motivation, and you know that you need to exercise, start small.

Just walk for 15 minutes. Or 5 minutes. If it’s a nice day, just tell yourself that you’re going outside and breathe for a few minutes. Pretty soon you’ll be taking a few steps and you’re around the block.

Starting small leads to big things! Tell yourself you’ll do 15 jumping jacks, and pretty soon it’s 30 because 15 is easy.

Tell yourself you’ll jump for 2 minutes. Just up and down – maybe not even leaving the ground. And pretty soon it’s 5 minutes. Full squats and everything.

Tell yourself you’re just taking the dog for a walk. You’re snapping on his leash and pretty soon you’re both walking for 20 minutes. It’s good for both of you! (Just don’t forget pick-up material!)

It’s finally starting to feel like spring here, and the garden needs work. Tell yourself that you’re going outside for 5 minutes to pull weeds. Pretty soon you’ll find that you’ve been outside working for a half hour. A few weeds turns into raking and cutting back, and who knows what else!

Just don’t overdo it! If you haven’t exercised in a while, and those 5 minutes of walking feels too easy, just do 6 and see how you feel the next day. The goal is consistency – if you’re too sore to get up the next day, you’re not going to exercise and then you’ll forget all about it for the future. And that’s bad.

So it’s okay to start really small and build up. 5 minutes today, 10 minutes tomorrow. Then maybe add in a little jog for a few seconds and see how you go from there. Remember, there’s no deadline!

Better than a crunch

Whatever my workout of the day is, I always make sure that it includes abdominal work. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. I want to minimize my middle! If there’s one thing I really dislike, it’s my midriff hanging over my waistband. To me, it’s sloppy. And, to me, it’s uncomfortable.
  2. More importantly, I want my core to be as strong as possible to support my back. Back pain is debilitating, and I don’t want to experience it again! Having back pain makes everything harder. Even work done while sitting is harder! Sitting is painful, and while lying down might be easy, you’ve got to get up sometime!

So, I always incorporate ab work into my workouts. If it’s not part of a video I’m doing, I’ll do some on my own.

Crunches are effective, done the right way, but they can be tedious. And form must be spot-on! So I try to look for variations in ab exercises.

The plank is a great all-around exercise. It targets the core, the arms, and the legs. And there are a zillion variations that you can do.

I also try to practice my balance every day. (Have you gotten my free download yet? A Week of Balance! – get yours up and to the right!)

So, here’s a plank variation combining abs and balance. Just lift your opposite arm and leg and hold. Make sure your stomach is in, your back is flat, your hand is directly under your shoulder and you have equal weight on your hand and foot.

If that’s hard, start on your knees.  You can also start by just lifting your leg or your arm, not both. As before, make sure your stomach is in, your back is flat and your hand directly under your shoulder. (And, of course, it always helps when your dog helps! That’s Booker’s rear end in the photo.)

 

More reasons to exercise!

I hate working out. I do not like to exercise. You know that – I’ve told you often enough. But I like to do active things. I like to eat. So I exercise. And here are some more reasons why we need to exercise:

Exercise reduces bad moods and depression. That “exercise high” is not a myth! Regular exercise helps the brain produce a protein that seems to fortify parts of the hippocampus susceptible to depression, neuroscience has revealed. And Swedish researchers have found that exercise helps to keep your brain safe from harmful substances (one is called kynurenine) that build up during stress. Exercise produce changes in skeletal muscle that can purge the blood of kynurenine before it has a chance to cause the brain inflammation that is linked to depression. Some doctors have even begun prescribing exercise to their patients!

Exercise also helps your muscle memory stick! Try that new skill then do some aerobic exercise for 15 minutes right afterward. A test at the University of Copenhagen showed that people who exercised right after practicing a new skill did better the following week than those who did not exercise. That same brain protein (brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF) improves muscle memory as well!

Aerobic exercise also increases memory power! A six-month study at the University of British Columbia showed that older women who power-walked twice a week for 40-minutes each had better recall than those who just lifted weights or did not exercise. The power walking raised the study subjects’ heart rates to 70 – 80% of their target heart rates.

Still not convinced? Exercise can also reverse the mental decline – the effect of a long-term fatty diet. Now this shouldn’t be a license to go crazy and eat spaghetti and pizza like crazy, but there is hope! At least in rats – a University of Minnesota study found that when rats on the equivalent of a burger-stuffed-pizza diet exercised daily, their mental deterioration reversed itself after four months. At four months, these fat-fed mice who ran had better memory function than non-exercisers on a low-fat diet. And if you like the occasional adult beverage, exercise can help you there too! A new study published in Alcoholism showed that drinkers who worked out had far more white matter than their sedentary peers.

So, I guess I’ll be working out regularly for the foreseeable future. How about you?