Fitness Fan Forever

Did my love for physical fitness begin in elementary school, when PE class consisted of doing toe touches and push-ups to the “Chicken Fat” song?  And, of course, climbing up that scratchy rope that was attached to the gym’s ceiling (what the heck was that all about??) 

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Nah.  

How about in middle school, when we were introduced to swim class, rubber swim caps that left dents in our foreheads and stretched out swimsuits that had been worn by God knows how many others?

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Nah. 

Could I have fallen in love with physical fitness in High School, where I was always one of the last ones chosen for floor hockey games, and actually fractured my thumb after hitting a wall during relay races? 

And again, Nah.

No, I became a fitness fanatic at the age of 19, when I decided my knees were too chubby. For some reason, (too many French fries?) my clothing size had increased to double digits. I took drastic action:

  • I would walk for miles or ride my bike for hours. (A bit extreme, right? Hey, I was young).
  • I would attempt a hundred sit-ups a day (not known as crunches back then).
  • I (foolishly) over exercised, believing that if some exercise was good for you, excessive workouts would be even better. 

Then came the eighties, with its high impact aerobics and Richard Simmons dancing and sweating (not attractive, Richard) to the oldies. And of course, Jane Fonda, looking good in her tights and leotards, cheerfully leading us flabby people in those complicated steps and grapevines (bulimic, but who knew?). Unfortunately, my left foot never figured out what my right foot was doing. Bummer.

Somewhere along the way, I learned to love to sweat. I also figured out that I didn’t have to overdo it and exercise every stinkin’ day to get its benefits. 

Exercise is a great way to laugh in the face of aging. I love it because it makes me feel like I can kick ass, even at age 58.  I hope to be able to exercise until just before I kick the bucket. 

Benefits of Exercise:

Studies Show Exercise Can Improve Your Sex Life

The Hidden Benefits of Exercise

Resistance Training Health Benefits

It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor. (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

 

7 Mini Health Habits

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 44 – 4/13/15 

Woman lying in bed sleeping

Get a good sleep to enhance your memory banks and other brain functions.

Woman relaxing on a sofa

Want to enhance your sleep? Turn off the television or computer before bedtime and relax with soothing music or meditation CDs. 

Eat a handful of almonds a day to help reduce your cholesterol.  

Senior Woman With Adult Daughter Relaxing On Sofa At Home

A laugh a day keeps the doctor away. Well, maybe not, but laughter is a great prescription for emotional and physical health.  

Wear sunscreen to avoid looking like an alligator purse as you age and to protect yourself from skin cancer.

Senior Woman Power Walking In The Park

Find time to take a daily walk. Too cold or rainy or hot to walk outside? Try a fitness walk in front of your television.  Brisk walking for 30 minutes a day is good for your heart, and can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 

Drink green tea for a great anti-oxidant boost. This beverage helps protect our cardiovascular and immune systems. Green tea may even help protect us against several types of cancers. 

How about you, readers?  What actions do you take to enhance your health and wellness? 

7 Mini Heart Healthy Eating Swaps

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 42 – 4/8/15

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  • Enjoying a bowl of tomato soup?  Add black beans for added fiber.
  • For a tasty salad, skip the iceberg lettuce and use a colorful blend of greens – add chickpeas and a variety of veggies.  You can also use the chickpeas to make hummus.  Enjoy it with baby carrots, cucumber slices, celery, zucchini sticks, red or   orange peppers . . . 
  • Love crusty bread? Instead of buttering it, blend olive oil with dried Italian seasoning and minced garlic (or garlic powder) and dip your bread in this mixture. 
  • For a heart-healthy breakfast, try regular or steel-cut oatmeal instead of the instant options.  Add blueberries (or other types of berries), walnuts or almonds, apples with  a tablespoonful of honey. Top with soymilk.  
  • When eating out, choose broiled salmon, lake trout, or whitefish instead of a steak.  The omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish can help us reduce heart attacks and other heart conditions. 
  • For a quick snack, choose a handful of almonds to help lower your cholesterol levels.  
  • To healthify your tacos, skip the ground beef.  Try a soft taco made with whole grain tortillas, ground turkey, brown rice, and seasoned black beans.  Top with avocado slices.

Bea would love to hear about your own heart-healthy food swap ideas.  Drop me a line!

For further reading:

Heart Disease and Young Women

Quick heart-healthy meal recipes

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009-2015

3 Health Sites for Women Only

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 41 – 4/6/15

The Center for Young Women’s Health – According to its About page, the Center’s objective is to provide teen girls and young women with well-researched health information relating to both physical/emotional development and diseases/conditions. This site is also a non-commercial site; a partnership among three medical divisions of the Boston Children’s Hospital.  There are resources for both health care professionals and parents.  An example of an article from the site’s emotional health category: Anxiety

Medline Plus – Women’s Health – a website from the National Institutes of Health, produced by the National Library of Medicine.  This site provides trusted information specific to women’s unique health concerns. The site is uncluttered and easy to maneuver; it’s also updated on a regular basis.  You can sign up for women’s health updates.  An example of what you’ll find here: Osteoporosis, the Bone ThiefThe site also provides a variety of videos and fun tools, which can be found here. 

 Society for Women’s Health Research – Founded in 1990, by a group of health professionals, the site is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary of research and advocacy for women’s unique health diseases and concerns.  Resources include women’s health topics from A – Z, clinical trials, public education, and videos. There is a link describing SWHR’s advocacy issues, and how women can take action for themselves. Example of what can be found at the site: (under the Public Education link) Research on breast cancer recurrence. SWHR can be found on Facebook and Twitter.  

Grandmother with adult daughter and grandchild in park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Ways to Add Fun to your Walk

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 40– 4/3/15

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Bea’s Buzz for Friday:

  • Walk with a like-minded friend, or better yet, join a walking club (no clubs in your area?  Start one up!)
  • Walk your dog.  Don’t have a dog buddy?  Volunteer to walk a dog at your local animal shelter
  • Find a walking trail at your local park or county park.  
  • Invest in an Ipod and download some fitness music or your favorite rock and roll tunes – you may want to start dancing your way down the sidewalk!
  • Walk at your local mall and do some window shopping at the same time.

Does anyone have any other ideas about adding fun to a walk?  

 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009-2015

 

Got 10 Minutes or More? Take a (brisk) Walk for your Good Health

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 38– 3/30/15

 

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Did you know that April , 2015 is the 9th annual National Walking Day? This awareness day is an initiative from the American Heart Association

Walking is a great exercise to start in the springtime. The air is fresh and clean, tulips and daffodils peek out from neighborhood lawns, dog and Canadian geese poop are no longer hidden by the snow. . . (Yikes!  Sorry, that’s one of the not so nice things about walking in the early spring – just watch where yer walkin’) 

According to physician Joan Dorn, who’s the Chief of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) physical activity and health branch, walking is one of the best ways to add physical activity to your life. * And Bea thinks so too!  

What can walking do for you?  Take a look at these benefits:

  • Brisk walking (3-4 miles per hour) for an hour every day can cut a high-risk adult’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 60%.
  • Brisk walking can improve your heart health.  Walking 30 – 60 minutes a day, for five days a week, can cut your risk of heart disease by 40%.** It can also help protect you from high blood pressure and strokes. 
  • Walking can boost mood, decrease disability rates for seniors, reduce high blood pressure, relieve osteoporosis and arthritis and back pain.
  • Walking regularly can help protect your brain, staving off memory loss.
  • Walking helps you keep fit and burn fat – but remember to challenge yourself; the same routine day in and day out will eventually cause weight loss to plateau. You need to increase intensity and shake up your routine. 

Walking is also one of the easiest exercise programs to start.  Why?  Well, walking is inexpensive; all you need is a good pair of walking shoes.  It doesn’t cause grief to your knees or feet.  In good weather, you can walk outside and get fresh air and sunshine at the same time.  When it’s raining or snowing, try power walking DVDs (Leslie Sansone, a popular fitness expert, has a wide variety of DVDs, check her out on Amazon.)

Move it or lose it, that’s my theory.  We have two legs and one posterior.  If we were meant to sit all the time, we’d have two butts and one leg! Now how weird would that be?

What if you can’t walk? Chair Exercises and Limited Mobility Fitness 

Sources:

*USA Weekend, Sep 21-23, 2012. The Power of Walking (Kelly Bothum)

 **Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  Walking is Good for your Heart.

 

 

How to Fight Belly Fat

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 27 – 3/4/15

Want to fight that muffin top?  While some excess weight around the abdoment may not be dangerous, visceral (or deep) fat surrounds our internal organs and causes a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes.  Other dangers of visceral fat include heart disease and stroke.  

And here’s a surprising fact from WebMD:  even thin people can have deep fat deposits, particularly if they don’t get enough exercise.*

How to fight back:

  • Eat high fiber foodsNatural sources of fiber include:  apples with the skin, pears with the skin, black beans (and of course, other varieties as well), popcorn, barley, whole wheat bread, etc.  (Just be sure to add fiber to your diet gradually and drink plenty of water to go with it).  
  • Avoid processed and “white foods,” along with bad fats.  
  • Get that cardio exercise – Start a moderate aerobic workout plan, such as 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 or more days each week.  If you’re already active, or want faster results, jog or do other types of vigorous exercises.  
  • Strength train – Experts point out that aerobic exercise is not enough to fight belly fat.   Strength training helps build muscle, and that can boost your metabolism and help you burn off more fat.  
  • Find ways to get a good night’s sleep – Lack of sleep has been linked to abdominal fat gain
  • Finally, learn to manage stress. Studies have shown that uncontrolled stress can also lead to additional belly fat, along with 
  • Studies have shown that high levels of uncontrolled stress can also lead to more belly fat as well as a higher risk of metabolic syndrome.

This slideshow from Everyday Health talks about ways that menopausal women can fight belly fat.

For Further Reading: 

Is there “One Trick” to Losing Belly Fat? (Sorry, but the answer is “No”)

The Truth about Belly Fat

How and Why To Lose Belly Fat

Source:

* Collins, S. The Truth About Belly Fat. WebMD. Reviewed March 20, 2014

Long Term Benefits of Aerobic Exercise

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 14 – 2/4/15

In Bea’s previous post, she talked about the short term benefits of aerobic exercise.

The long term benefits of this form of exercise are just as important, and affect our longevity in several ways.

  • Aerobic exercise, along with other fitness options, are a boon for our brain health.  Who in the heck wants their brain cells to rust as they age?  Bea sure doesn’t.  A recent study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience documented the effects of exercise on memory and other cognitive functions.  This is only one study, of course; but there are plenty more out there in Googleland that provide additional evidence of the power of aerobic activity on our brains.  
  • Aerobic exercise helps us fight off age-related disease and conditions that make aging not-so-fun! There’s a great deal of scientific evidence linking aerobic exericise to the prevention of heart diseases, certain cancers, Type II diabetes, and stroke. 
  • Aerobic exercise can helps us increase our endurance, flexibility and balance, all of which help fight off frailty as we age.  

Wonderful winter aerobic exercise option:

 

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For further reading:

Here’s what the CDC has to say about physical activity:  Physical Activity and Health 

Short Term Aerobic Exercise Helps you Stay Mentally Sharp 

Bea’s Wellness Beat: Running 

80 Percent of American Adults don’t get Recommended Exercise 

 

Short Term Benefits of Aerobic Exercise

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 13 – 2/2/15

Short term benefits of aerobic exercise:

  • Aerobic exercise boosts our aging metabolism. Once we hit our thirties, ladies, our metabolism starts to slow down by 2 to 5 percent each decade.* This sucks, right?  It’s bad enough that a man’s metabolism is faster than ours, because they have more muscle than we do.  How to fight back?  Do aerobic exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes every stinking day.  Your metabolism will be pleased.
  • Aerobic exercise helps energize us.  Feeling sleepy after lunch?  Dozing at your desk?  Take a brisk walk for 15 minutes (outside, if possible) and you’ll perk up.  In Bea’s opinion, it’s better than a 5-hour energy drink.

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  • Aerobic exercise helps boost our mood.  Bea knows this for a fact – she’s a S.A.D. sufferer, and aerobics in front of her television truly helps her break down the blues.  Those “feel good” endorphins start their happy dance when she exercises.
  • Aerobic exercise helps us sleep better.  Those of us over the big 4-0 know that insomnia tends to creep up on us as we start going through perimenopause. Arrrghhh, those changing hormones!  Aerobic exercise is great for insomnia, as long as it’s not done too close to bedtime (our body temperature needs to cool down to a certain point to fall asleep easily)*
  • Aerobic exercise helps us fight off the flu and colds by boosting our immune system. 
  • Aerobic exercise helps ease menstrual cramps.
  • Aerobic exercise boosts our libido and sexual performance. Is your significant other tired of hearing you have a headache?  Exercise together out of bed and you may just be happier in bed.  You can read more about this lovely benefit in the article, The Top 3 Ways Exercise Boosts your Sex Drive.

 

Source:

* VanTine, Julia, & Doherty, Bridget. Growing Younger – Breakthrough Age-Defying Secrets. Rodale Press.

Why Generation X Women (and Boomers) Should Weight Train

Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 7– 1/19/15

When Bea was 47, her doctor told her she had osteopenia, a pre-cursor to osteoporosis (a not-so-fun inheritance from her mom) and put her on Actonel and calcium supplements. Being the drama queen she is, Bea kept picturing her bones getting weaker and more brittle until they dissolved into dust. The answer to her dilemma was weight training. She figured she’d give it a whirl, and see if what the experts said was true: that we can strengthen our bones by lifting weights. She added weight training to other weight-bearing exercises: brisk walking and jogging.

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Now in her late fifties, she continues this exercise routine, using weights that range from 3 to 10 pounds. She alternates the weight lifting with her favorite aerobic activities: power walking, running, or Tae Bo. Bea no longer has to take Actonel – her bone density tests have shown that her bones are back! Well, they never actually went anywhere – they’re just stronger and denser. How cool is that?

Bea has also been able to maintain a reasonable weight for her age and height; she weighs around 130 and has a 21.6 BMI. Not bad for someone who’ll be 58 years old this year.

What are some of the other ways that our bodies benefit from strength training? 

  • Strength training adds to our muscle mass, which in turn enhances our metabolism.
  • Strength training can help burn fat – studies have shown that training with weights can be great for reducing stomach fat.
  • Strength training makes us stronger, more flexible, and increases our sense of balance.
  • Strength training reduces arthritis and back pain.
  • Strength training helps control blood sugar in people with Type II diabetes.
  • Strength training can help us sleep better.
  • Strength training, along with other kinds of exercise, boosts self-confidence!
  • Strength training can boost our brain function. A recent study at Georgia Tech University found that lifting weights can boost our memory. You can read more about that benefit here.

Keep in mind that you should check with your primary care doctor if you decide to undertake a strength training program. He or she may advise you to limit yourself to certain types of exercise programs, depending on your current physical condition.

For further reading:

You may want to read this article from The Women’s Heart Foundation which talks about techniques and provides a “how-to” for several weight training exercises.

Risks for osteoporosis

What is osteopenia

Ladies, Don’t be Afraid of Weight Training