Is effortless movement a goal for you? Do remember fondly when you were able to go from here to there without even thinking about it? Do you want to get back down on the floor and play with your dog or the grandkids?
What’s holding you back? Are your joints bothering you? Your back hurting? Knees? If a doctor hasn’t told you to limit your movement, then chances are you should start moving!
It used to be that when you hurt your back, bed rest was prescribed. Now the medical community is in favor or movement!
And the last thing I wanted to do when my knees hurt was get up and walk.
And when my back and hips were in spasms, I could barely get out of a chair without a heating pad.
But I hung onto a table and stood up, holding that heating pad on my back, and took a couple of steps. Then I put the heating pad down and took a couple more steps. Hunched over, leaning onto my thighs at first. And then I sat down again on that heating pad. But an hour later I made myself do it again. And then next day the pain wasn’t quite as bad. So I moved some more. And the day after that I could go a little further. And a couple days later I didn’t need the heating pad.
You get the idea. That old adage, “use it or lose it” applies! The more you move, the easier it is to move.
I’ve told you that I started running on the treadmill a couple days a week to increase my speed and endurance for agility competition? I still hate it, but I’m getting better at it. And I am getting a little faster. And my knees don’t hurt.
I also learned to strengthen my core and improve my balance to strengthen my back. And I haven’t had spasm (knock on wood!) in a couple of years. If you’d like to improve your balance and strength, a great first step is doing the Week of Balance. Click on the box to the right for your free, downloadable .pdf for your copy.
I’ve talked quite a bit about the fact that I exercise at home. No commute time. No one cares how my hair looks. No makeup. A tatty t-shirt and shorts. And the dogs help.
I live in a tiny little house in a Chicago suburb. Where do I exercise in my tiny house? In the basement. It is finished, and that’s a plus. It’s not mandatory – you can work out anywhere, but finished walls are nice. But my little exercise space doesn’t even have a full ceiling – we had to take out some tiles when work was being done. No overhead lighting – a lamp suffices.
We did put in some kids’ play mats on the floor, and that’s helped my bad knees immeasurably! The exercise space is about 10 feet square. It could even be a little smaller.
That’s really all you need to workout – a free space, good floor and enough light that you don’t feel like you’re in a cave. All the rest is luxury. What is essential, though, are good shoes for working out. Using shoes that don’t support your feet properly can be uncomfortable, make your feet tired, or worse, cause an injury.
I like to work out using DVDs, so I have a TV and DVD player in my space. I’ve mentioned that I lost a lot of weight and gained a lot of strength with 21 Day Fix Extreme. Equipment needed for that is a set of light and medium or heavy free weights and a resistance band. Cheap enough, and easy to come by. PiYo (Pilates / Yoga plus movement to music – another exercise program I use) really only uses a yoga mat. Some of the workouts use free weights, but they’re not strictly necessary.
And when I’m done, I just go upstairs, strip off my exercise clothes and hop in my own shower. And that’s the best!
I saw that headline and sat back. Yeah, I guess that’s me! Aging muscles… Sounds kind of rude. Accurate but rude!
As we get older, it’s true, cells deteriorate. So what can we do to slow that progression down or even stop it?
Use it or lose it!
There are lots of studies out there that prove this. I’m not going to bore you with statistics. But, you know – if your knees get stiff you’ve got to get up and walk around. If you’ve pulled something in your back, you know your doctor told you not to rest – get up and move! It’s harder to lose weight too as we age. Yes, eating less is imperative, but so is movement!
As I’m writing this I feel myself slumping. I wrote about this last week – every few minutes I have to think about sitting up straight and pulling in my stomach. Once an hour it’s helpful to get up, walk around, drink some water. It’s good to get your body moving and it’s good to hydrate!
And, if you really want to help your muscles and your mind – because lots of studies have also shown that exercise helps keep your brain young – do a focused period of exercise. Intense exercise is better than leisurely, but any exercise is better than nothing!
An exercise program that you like – or at least find interesting – is better than one you don’t like. You’ll stick with it and get better results from the program. My running is the exception – I run a couple of times a week on the treadmill to improve my speed and endurance for dog agility. I still hate it. But I do it because I know it does help. And I’m starting to get better at it. I do enjoy the audio books I listen to while I run, and that certainly helps keep me motivated to run.
Weird to think that I’m 62. And a half. I don’t feel much different than I did when I was 40. Or 30. But maybe I just got used to it?
Anyway, this is my 62. I do stuff I like to do – in between the stuff I have to do. I read stuff I want to read. I fall asleep in front of the TV in the evening. I cook stuff I like to eat. And I eat stuff I like. Most of it’s healthy. I have a cocktail in the evening (sometimes). I train my dogs and compete with them in performance events.
I write. I listen to music. Sometimes when a song I like is playing, I’ll get up from my desk and dance to it. (Probably not well, but it makes me happy.)
I like to travel and see the sights on foot. Not from a tour bus.
I work out so that I can do all the stuff I mentioned above. I don’t work out for the love of working out. I don’t. I don’t run on the treadmill because I like to run. In fact, I hate it. But I like doing the stuff that I like doing so much that I’ll work out and run on the treadmill to keep doing it. And I’ll watch what I eat too.
And I practice my balance. As we age, our balance diminishes unless we actively do something to strengthen it. There are statistics I could quote about this, and I have in the past. Almost every day we hear on the news that a public figure has fallen. There are so many more that we don’t hear about. I don’t want to be another statistic. I don’t want my friends to be statistics either, so I make them join me in my Balance Facebook group. They’ve joined the group. I can’t make them do the exercises, but my hope is that they get a little scared by all the statistics and try them.
My goal is to inspire others to join the Balance for Fitness, Balance for Life movement. Especially now, in the winter, when it can be so dangerous outside on the ice and snow. If you’re reading this, thank you! Click through to the Facebook group and join me. Don’t be a statistic.
Fitness means something different to everyone, I think. It could be that what I think of as being “fit” looks like a total slug to someone else, or a workout maniac to a different person.
I think that being fit means being able to do the things you want to do. I want to run around and play in the backyard with my dogs, so if I’m able to do that, I’m fit. Step it up a notch – I want to compete with my dog in agility, so I run on the treadmill a couple of times a week in addition to other workouts. If I can do that, I’ll consider myself fit.
And when I’m working at the shop, I need to be able to demonstrate products to customers, and that means being on my feet. And when we get in a new product, I need to be able to work with our dogs who model them – and sometimes that means getting down on the ground to keep a puppy’s attention! (Like baby Booker, in his very first modelling gig!)
I want to travel and be able to see the sights on foot. That’s a different level of fitness than seeing the sights from a tour bus. But, some level of fitness is still required to be able to fly to that destination and get on the tour bus. I want to take long hikes and really see the countryside in places I visit. That requires, again, a stepped-up level of fitness. Perhaps one day I’ll visit my cousin in Scotland. And another cousin in New Zealand!
And I want to be able to eat delicious destination foods wherever I travel. If I’m hiking, I figure I can afford the calories!
But, mostly, I just want to be able to be comfortable. I want to not be in pain, and I know that I need to be active for my knees and hips to not hurt. I need to be at a healthy weight, too, for my joints to be healthy. And I want to do the things that I want to do, without even having to think about whether or not I can do them!
What does fitness mean to you?
Most people I know don’t like to work out. I have to talk myself into it almost every day. But these tricks can help you every day make exercise a habit. You may not look forward to it, but you’ll be working out every day.
- Cool workout clothes. They always say that if you look good, you feel good. And having at least one great-looking workout outfit will make you feel spectacular. Every time you get a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, you’ll say, “Darn, I look good!” You’ll look forward to putting on your spiffy workout clothes and doing your workout.
- Look beyond the workout. You’ll feel wonderful when you finish your workout. You may not want to start your workout because you know it’ll be hard, so look ahead a half hour. Yes, your hair may be a mess when you’re done, and you may stink to high heaven. But you’ll feel amazing! Your cheeks will be flushed, your eyes will be bright and you’ll feel like you can take on a whole football team and win!
- Your cool workout clothes and your sneakers will be staring you in the face. And you don’t want your free weights to get lonely, do you? And if you work out at home like I do, you only have to push “play” to start. No commute time or anything. And you’ll be done and feel amazing (see #2. above) in no time.
- Set tiny, achievable goals each day. If your workout has a set of 10 pushups and you’ve been doing them on your knees, do one full pushup. Or if you’ve been using 3 pound weights for curls, try a set with your 5-pounders. Or try jogging for a half-minute when you’ve been marching. Pretty soon you’ll be doing the full workout, and you’ll have to buy heavier weights!
I work out in the late afternoon. Many advocate an early-morning workout since distractions may be fewer, but late afternoon works for me. And it turns out that I may have inadvertently stumbled onto the most effective workout time!
- Better sleep when working out later. Studies have shown that those who lift weights later have better sleep than those who exercise earlier.
- Those who work out later have more muscle growth and better endurance.
- A study in Journal of Strength Conditioning Research found that those who exercise later lowered their blood pressure by 15% more than those who work out earlier.
- A study from The New England University of Birmingham found that those who work out in the evening can go 20 percent longer and at a higher intensity. So, more calories burned!
- Your body will be ready to work out later in the day! Studies have found that cortisol levels (which inhibit muscle growth) are higher in the morning, but testosterone levels (which boost muscle growth) are higher in the evening.
So, I’ve been on the right track all along.
But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t work out if the best time for you is the morning. Any workout is better than none!
Some days you just don’t feel it. Me too. You don’t feel like getting sweaty. You’re tired. Your legs are tired. You’d rather be reading. You’d rather be listening to music. You’d rather be playing with your dog. (I know, I advocate playing with your dog over almost anything else, but …) But working out is something I have to do at least 5 days a week. What tricks do I use?
First, if I’m feeling especially frumpy I put on my good workout clothes. Silly, right? Good workout clothes? Isn’t that a contradiction? Nope. If I feel like I look good doing those lunges, it makes it better. So, put on those leggings! Put on that body-hugging top that makes the most of what you’ve got! You’ll feel great, and more likely to do the workout. And if you look like that inspiring trainer you saw on Facebook, you may just get a better workout!
Next, promise yourself 8 minutes. Just start. 8 minutes is nothing! Then it’s 10 minutes, 15, 25 and then you’re done! It just takes 30 minutes a day. That’s it!
And if you don’t work out for yourself, do it for those around you! Yes, when you’re done, you’ll feel great. You’ll feel virtuous! But you’ll also be more patient. You’ll be nicer to those around you. You’ll have more time for the family. Work out for everyone else as well as yourself!
(That’s me feeling all virtuous!)
We all want to get old, but we want the best quality of life as we age. We want to be able to do what we did when we were young (or as close to that as possible). What’s the secret?
Retired occupational therapist Barbara Knickerbocker Beskind suggests that good posture and a brisk 30-minute walk every day are the keys to aging well. In her article, “The Surprising Secret to Aging Well” in The Next Avenue, Beskind suggests that good posture and that walk from early childhood on will build bones and keep us young. It will build bone density and balance reflexes that will cut down on debilitating falls and injuries in later years.
Beskind states that walking has enormous benefits — emotionally and even creatively. This is in addition to the well-known benefits to the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems. A sturdy gait pattern with alternating arm/leg movement helps maintain balance reflexes and strength in lateral hip muscles. And going for a walk frees the mind for creative pursuits.
So you don’t have to go crazy – just a brisk walk (with your head held high and your arms swinging in opposition to your gait) will help you achieve the golden years of your dreams!
Did you know that breathing correctly helps you feel less tired? Yup, it’s one factor that internist Dr. Holly Phillips identifies that proper breathing is one way to feel more energized in her book, The Exhaustion Breakthrough.
At least once an hour everyone should make the effort to breathe correctly, that is, consciously and deeply, from the diaphragm and not from the chest. Inhale fully and exhale fully. You’ll stand straighter, with no slumped shoulders.
Check in with your body once an hour while you’re at it. To start, set an alarm – your phone has one built in. From the top of your head, down through your jaw, your shoulders and chest, your back and hips, your legs and your feet. Stop clenching your teeth and locking your jaw. Align everything. Put your feet flat on the floor. Check for any areas of tension or discomfort. And fix it! Poor posture makes you look tired and feel tired! Stand up and walk around. Then, when you sit back down, you’ll be more energized.
Take 10 deep breaths when you sit down. Full, slow, diaphragmatic deep breaths. You’ll be straighter and maybe even taller! Now reset your alarm and get back to work.