But I’m too tired to exercise

Have you said that you’re too tired to exercise recently? No surprise there. In this “post-pandemic” time we have more going on than ever. We’re racing here, there, and everywhere. Errands taking us in different directions trying to find things like contact lens solution (yes, it happened to me) or traveling an extra mile for cheaper gas (yes, that too). And worry about the world, the weather, and the economy is depriving us of sleep. It’s no wonder we’re too tired to move. Even though we know that exercise is important to our healthy aging – our brains, muscles, heart, bones, and general well-being. It’s tough to get up the energy to get off the couch.

Exercise gives us energy

Too tired to exercise? If you expend a little energy, you'll get even more.
Too tired to exercise? If you expend a little energy, you’ll get even more.

The thing is, though, if we expend a little energy on exercise, we’ll get even more back. I know – it seems counter-intuitive, but it’s true. When we exercise, we breathe more, and take in more oxygen. That oxygen helps the mitochondria in your cells create fuel for you to use and that means energy that you can expend. The experts at Harvard Medical School also say that exercising helps your body use energy more efficiently! Another benefit of exercise, according to Harvard Medical School, is that it helps us sleep better.

Motivation to exercise

But knowing that exercise will give me energy is not enough to get me off the couch. All I want to do right now is fall asleep on that couch. How to get that motivation to exercise? Guilt is one factor. When you know that you’ll feel better and have more energy after you work out, and then you don’t … you’ll feel guilty for not having exercised. And you’ll feel guilty about those extra calories at dinner. And about falling asleep (again) on the couch.

Promise yourself a little (teeny, tiny) reward for getting off the couch and changing into your workout clothes. 5 almonds! Or a half square of dark chocolate. Or half an apple with a teaspoon of peanut butter. Your little reward could also be listening to your favorite song. Or reading a chapter after you exercise. 

So take a deep breath and stand up. Change your mindset and your clothes. You can do this. Then push “Play.” Or whatever your device does. After your workout and shower, you’ll probably feel amazing!

Queen Elizabeth’s habits for healthy aging

Queen Elizabeth practiced many habits for healthy aging during her long life.

The world has been mourning the loss of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, but also celebrating her healthy long life. The Queen was in the spotlight for most of her 96 years, and was working until almost the end. How did she do it? Did she just have good genes? Or did she practice habits for healthy aging?

The answer to the question is probably a mixture of both good genes and good habits! The Queen’s mother lived to be 101 years old, but Queen Elizabeth did have great habits for healthy aging!

Habits for healthy aging from an expert

Dr. Kevin Koo, family medicine physician at Advocate Medical group, says, “As someone who cares for many people in their 80s, 90s and even 100’s, the patients who are the healthiest are those who are on top of their health and well-being. They go to doctors’ appointments. These patients socialize often.” They read, travel, volunteer and exercise.

Eat right

First off – Dr. Koo says to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Queen Elizabeth typically ate small meals throughout the day, and her meals included grilled lean meats and lots of vegetables. But she also indulged occasionally in dark chocolate and biscuits. There’s nothing off-limits in a healthy diet. As I always say, “Everything in moderation!” And Dr. Koo agrees: “balance and not overindulging in anything are important when it comes to your diet.”

Social interaction

The queen met with lots of people on a daily basis. For the rest of us, feeling connected to others is important for our physical and mental well-being – from increased brain function to decreased depression. The pandemic isolated many people, and we’re only now realizing how detrimental that isolation has been – especially to seniors, many of whom were unable to interact with others. 


We know the Queen walked the castle grounds and she walked her dogs. In her early years, Queen Elizabeth also enjoyed swimming.

Spend time outside

Fresh air and sunshine can boost not only your spirits but your health as well. We may not have castle grounds to wander, but we can walk through our neighborhoods and get the benefits.

Pray or meditate

Prayer or meditation can reduce stress and improve your outlook. Meditation was one way I mentioned that naturally fights depression. And Queen Elizabeth frequently mentioned prayer in her televised comments. 

Engage in your passion projects

Whether it’s volunteering for a charity or engaging in a hobby, this is another way to find a productive outlet and have more social interaction. 

Never too late

Dr. Koo reminds us that there’s no time limit on healthy aging. It’s never too late to start eating right, start an exercise program, or start volunteering for a worthy cause.

6 Ways to fight depression naturally

Mental illness is no joke. It affects many people every year. There’s no age limit, and it affects people of every ethnic group and wage bracket. If you’ve tried everything but nothing seems to work, it could be time to seek professional help. But if you’re feeling down and are starting to think that maybe you should address the issue, there are ways to fight depression naturally without drugs or a psychiatrist. Here are 6 of them:

Exercise is one way to fight depression naturally.
Exercise fights depression naturally.
  1. Exercise to ease the jitters of anxiety. There are lots of other benefits of exercising too: https://fitness-over-50.com/2015/09/why-exercise/ Remember that the “runner’s high” is not just from running. Whenever you exercise, your brain produces those valuable endorphins. Not only that, but studies also suggest that exercise promotes the production of dopamine, which plays a role in how we feel pleasure.
  2. Start a new hobby or spend time with a favorite one for distraction. No negative thoughts when you’re painting your next masterpiece. Or when you’re trying to fit together a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
  3. Take 15 minutes a day just for you. Take a walk and enjoy nature. Or dive into a novel – you can’t worry about the world when you’re deep into fighting the Civil War with the hero in the historical novel you’re reading.
  4. Listen to your favorite tune. That’s sure to brighten your day. In fact, there are scientific studies that prove it: https://fitness-over-50.com/2022/05/set-your-happiness-to-music/
  5. Spend time with friends and family. Take your mind off of the world and put it into helping your network. Your friends and family are your support, and you are theirs. https://fitness-over-50.com/2021/06/you-are-not-alone-on-your-fitness-journey/
  6. Meditate – it really does reduce stress and will minimize negative thoughts. Meditation is not just for yogis or sitting in the lotus position. And meditation does not have to take long. A short guided meditation (https://fitness-over-50.com/try-a-guided-meditation-for-calm/) also will work to clear your mind and lead you to more productive thinking. Meditation also assists in maintaining your positivity.

We all feel “down” on occasion. It’s natural. And, unfortunately as we age it becomes more common. So, as part of your healthy aging, the next time you feel blue try the exercise route first to help your mindset. It’s a quick fix, and one that usually works for me.

Don’t use visualization to achieve your dreams

You may have seen “experts” talk about using visualization to achieve your dreams. Just picture yourself living your best life on that tropical island and it will happen. Nope. Not even close. Or visualize yourself running a marathon. Not going to work. Don’t use visualization to achieve your dreams. It doesn’t work that way. Wishing it doesn’t make it come true. 

Visualization is all-or-nothing

Dr. Irena O’Brien, a cognitive neuroscientist, explains why: “Visualizing a successful outcome encourages us to think in all-or-nothing terms. This is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. Thinking about goals in their entirety can inspire fear and overwhelm that can halt our progress.”

Visualizing success is as real as actually achieving that success to your brain, and it reduces your energy to continue working toward your goal. That’s because your brain believes that you’ve already achieved your goal. Studies have measured this drop in energy using systolic blood pressure. So, when you’re visualizing completing the marathon, your brain believes that you’ve actually accomplished it.

No easy way

Fran on treadmill. Visualizing the steps to get to the big goal.
Visualizing the steps to reach the big goal.

Visualizing standing on the podium at the finish line of that marathon makes us believe that there’s an easy way to get where we want to go. That we don’t have to do the hard work that will ensure that conclusion.

And we know that’s not true. We have to do the work. How am I going to run 26 miles if I get out of breath by the end of my block?

So how do we get there?

Dr. O’Brien agrees with the strategy I outlined: If you have a big goal in mind, break it up and figure a way to get those smaller chunks done. Using our marathon example, we can establish a plan to be sure we’re ready for that race. If the big race is six months away, we can schedule our training week-by week and day-by-day to give us plenty of time. Of course if you’re serious about your marathon running, you’ll want to check with a trainer specializing in long-distances for that plan. 

For our marathon example, we can schedule a one mile run twice the first week, and strength training a couple of other days during the week, and build up from there. If you use a treadmill for most of your training, be sure to include real road work for some. The conditions are different, and you’ll want to get used to running with wind and weather.

Visualize the steps

Instead of visualizing your successful outcome, visualize the steps. Visualize yourself running, and passing the one-mile mark and still feeling strong. This will work because you’ve outlined those smaller steps that are manageable and perfectly achievable.

And, finally – just start. Don’t spend too much time crafting the steps you need to take to achieve your ultimate goal. Dr. O’Brien says that “mindset is built through action.” Once you get going, you’ll see that your first step is achievable, and so will the next and the next. Use this technique to achieve all your goals – fitness, as well as others.

Remember – don’t use visualization to achieve your dreams. Your dreams will come with those smaller steps.

Manage stress to boost your immunity

A big part of healthy aging has to be managing stress. As we get older, our immune system doesn’t work as well as it used to. Along with our senses of balance, hearing and eyesight. It turns out that stress plays a big part in compromising our immunity. We don’t need added pressures on our immune system, so it’s even more important to manage our stress as we get older. And it stands to reason that if we can manage our stress, we boost our immunity.

Stress affects immune system aging

Recently, a large study researched how stress affects the premature aging of the immune system. Almost 6 thousand people age 50 and up were surveyed about stress in their lives – the questions involved family, job, finances and social discrimination issues. Scientists also measure their T-cell levels. T-cells, or lymphocytes, protect against bacteria, viruses, cancer and other harmful cells that promote age-related harmful conditions (like osteoporosis, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease).

“The researchers concluded that chronic stress, stressful life events and higher lifetime exposure to social stressors may contribute to accelerating immune aging.” 

Molly Ireland, nurse practitioner at Aurora Health Center, says that while everyone experiences stress, the ways that we manage it can reduce its negative effects. I identified ways to reduce stress some time ago, and some are recapped here.

Manage stress to boost your immunity

So, how can we manage stress to boost our immunity?

Exercise plays a big part in how I manage stress.
You know how I manage stress – exercise plays a big part.

First off – make sure you prioritize you. Eat well and get plenty of sleep. And when you “eat well,” make sure you get plenty of vegetables and fruit, cut down on processed carbohydrates and sugars, and eat as much protein as you need. Eat more fiber and less fat, according to Ireland.

If your doctor wants you to lose weight, take this recommendation to heart. Being at a healthy weight will boost your immune system too. 

Exercise. Yes. Your doctor thinks it’s a great idea, too. Here’s how to start: https://fitness-over-50.com/2021/07/how-do-you-start-to-exercise/

Take time for you. Pursue hobbies you love. Sometimes, just being alone can help you manage your stress. But see friends and family too, because social interaction is important.

Break goals down into smaller, more manageable chunks so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

Get help when you need it.