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)

 

Advice from the Blue Zones: Avoid the Sitting Disease

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Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 65– 6/8/15

Yes, I know I’ve talked about the sitting disease before, but it bears repeating! 

In Sardinia, Italy, walking is a regular part of people’s lives.  In Okinawa, most people are not only avid walkers, but gardeners as well.  In the Nicoya Peninsula, people take pleasure in physical labor throughout their lives.  In the Greek Island of Ikaria, even the elderly walk, bicycle, or work daily in their gardens.  These are some of the “blue zones” of the world, where people regularly live to be 100+, as well as avoiding age-related illnesses and dementia.  These people are natural movers.  Their living environment encourages this regular physical activity.

What a stark contrast to our sedentary lifestyles in most of the United States!  The “sitting disease” is alive and well here; too much sitting causes obesity, along with higher risks for heart attacks, diabetes and other chronic illnesses, (all of which can lead to an earlier death).

Additionally, according to research discussed in this article from Medical News Today, exercise alone may not be able to counteract the effects of the sitting disease.  Along with a regular exercise routine, we also need to get up off our butts, stand up and walk around periodically. All it takes is from one to three minutes of standing up and moving around every 30 minutes.  Check out this Harvard Health article to find out more about the sitting disease, along with related posts about exercise and fitness.  

Take a stand against the sitting disease at the Just Stand website! 

4 Ways to Combat Sitting Disease 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2015

Secrets of Centenarians

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 52  

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5/1/15 Bea’s Buzz for Friday

Want to live to be 100?  You may want to take some advice from the centenarians who were polled (along with 65-year-old baby boomers) who were polled last year in UnitedHealth Group’s 9th annual 100@100 SurveyThe survey examined their health “secrets,” along with their attitudes about aging and their lifestyles. 

Not surprisingly, both the 65-year-old group and the 100 year olds feel younger than their chronological age.  While this fact may surprise younger people (you know, the ones who think 30 is like, beyond ancient), it’s certainly not news to Bea, who is a couple years this side of 60 and feels about 35! 

The “secrets” that the centenarians and baby boomers revealed aren’t too surprising, either. According to those polled:  

  • A positive attitude, and an ability to laugh at life, are key factors to good health in old age. (This has been proven again and again in scientific research – see below for additional reading)
  • Taking a pro-active approach to health by getting annual physicals, along with annual eye exams is another key to maintaining health and wellness. 
  • Finally:  Exercise, exercise, exercise! Good for both brain and body.  Both the 65-year-old group and the centenarians got regular exercise – which included strength training, walking, biking, even running. 

Then again, longevity could just be a matter of plain old luck.

Take a look at this year’s 100@100 survey, which polled centenarians and 10 year olds! 

Bea says:  Add Years to your Life, and Life to your Years

For further reading:http://beaboomerswellness.com/?p=98

Older People Become What They Think 

Attitudes about Aging Affect Longevity, Study Says

Sources:

Advisor/Source newspaper, (May 25, 2014). Centenarians reveal their secrets to a long, happy life. 

UnitedHealthcare website 

 

 

 

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? 

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.

 

 

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.

How to Avoid the “Sitting Disease”

Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 11– 1/28/15

Ever hear about the sitting disease? Sitting to long on our “assets” is dangerous for our health. Researchers have found that those of us who sit for 6 hours or longer each day have a much higher risk of obesity, heart diseases and type 2 diabetes.

The remedy for this sitting epidemic? Get up off of that couch, click off the television, and take a walk, a run, or sign up for an fun fitness class; pick up some weights and build up those muscles. Get your kids and hubby off the couch, too. The options for family fitness are endless: fun runs/walks in your community, playing an outdoor game with your kids, roller blading at a local park, going for a swim in your local community center, ice skating, and so much more. . .

Family sitting on bikes on path smiling This family can’t wait until spring!

You can read more about how to cure the sitting diseases in this article.

Other cool family exercise ideas:

Exercise before Eating keeps families fit for the holidays

Promoting Active Families

 

 

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