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?

semi_simple_swimming_sketch

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)

 

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.

 

 

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

 

 

7 Ways to Enhance your Physical Health in 2015

 Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 5 – 1/14/2015

  • Add protein to your breakfast. A breakfast that’s high in carbohydrates can make you feel sluggish before lunch. Try a hard boiled or scrambled egg, high protein cereal or Greek yogurt, along with a whole-grain carb.
  • Try a new fruit or vegetable every week. Many fruits and veggies provide us with high levels of antioxidants, are high in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals our bodies need. Mixing it up by adding a new fruit or veggie every week keeps our palates from getting bored.

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  • Craving something sweet? Pass on the Snickers bar! For a low-calorie treat, try Dole Dippers, found in the frozen foods section of your supermarket – strawberry or banana pieces dipped in dark chocolate (good for our hearts!). Warning: if you don’t like dark chocolate (67% dark cocoa) you won’t like ‘em.
  • Do you drink a lot of soda? Replace one glass of soda with good old water. You may find that once you start drinking water or plain iced tea with meals, your sugar cravings may be lessened. Don’t like plain water? Add a little lemon or lime juice. Of course, if you’re eating pizza, there’s nothing else you can drink but a soda or an ice-cold beer.
  • Work at a desk all day? Research has shown that too much sitting can lead to heart disease, obesity, and other health issues. Get up at least once every hour; walk around your office building or if possible, take a brisk outdoor walk. Fresh air is energizing.
  • Are you on your feet all day at work? Do your footsies a favor and give them a good soaking while you’re enjoying a television show, reading a book, or listening to music in the evening. Not only will your feel thank you, but you’ll also be lowering your stress levels and preparing yourself for a good night’s sleep as well.
  • Do you exercise? Mix it up to keep it from getting boring and to keep your muscles guessing. For example, if you do cardio exercises, add strength training. Try a new workout, such as Zumba or a Spin class. Add yoga for increased flexibility, muscle toning, and improved posture.

 Answers to questions from Bea’s January 12th post:

Most diet experts say we should weigh ourselves once a week, since our weight tends to vary from day-to-day, and people who are attempting to lose weight may find it frustrating to see those up-and-down variances.  WebMD points out the “4 S’s” of weighing ourselves in this article.

For a different point of view, here’s what Melissa Conrad Stoppler has to say in this MedicineNet article, To Weigh or Not to Weigh 

And as for the best day of the week to weigh ourselves?  Bea recently heard the answer to this on her local news station, and the Cleveland Clinic agrees:  Wednesday is the best day of the week to step on that scale.  Read more here: The Best Day of the Week to Weigh Yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extra Holiday Poundage? Bah, Humbug!

You’ve probably heard that we Americans gain around 5 to 7 pounds around the holidays. With a pound being equal to 3,500 calories, that’s the equivalent of eating 17,500 and 24,500 extra calories between Turkey Day and Christmas! Seems hard to believe, doesn’t it? Now, I don’t know if people actually gain THAT much (more recent studies suggest that we only gain a pound or two) but if you want to avoid any extra poundage, Bea Boomer has a few suggestions:

  • Do NOT eat cookie dough while making those holiday goodies.
  • DO jog in place while watching “Christmas Vacation” or Bea’s persona favorite, “Elf.” (When Buddy is doing his dance in the mail room, why not join him in your living room?)
  • Do  avoid the four food groups favored by the North Pole elves: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.

Looking for more practical options?

  • Sign up at a fitness center. There’s a Planet Fitness on many a corner, and it’s cheap! Then actually get up off the couch, go to the gym and work out.
  • Can’t afford a gym due to crazy holiday spending? When it’s mild out, take the dog for a walk or go for a jog with a friend. Do cardio workouts in front of your television; there are plenty of fitness DVDs available at Amazon.com. Do some strength training to speed up your metabolism.
  • Fill your fridge with healthy fruits and veggies, cut up and ready to eat.  Add more fiber to your diet by eating whole wheat cereals or oatmeal.  Switch from white bread to whole wheat. Ditto with pastas.
  • Drink lots of good old water to stay hydrated and ward off hunger pangs. Cold water may boost our metabolism.
  • Avoid drinking your calories: limit your intake of alcoholic drinks, eggnog and soda.
  • Finally, don’t go to a holiday party hungry. Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch to avoid eating too many of those yummy goodies at the Christmas buffet.

Here’s the bottom line: If you want to avoid looking like Santa Claus, you’ve got to take action! In fact, the Big Guy himself just may want to think about trying some of these tips. Those Christmas cookies he munches on all night are probably a nightmare for those reindeer, on that trip back to the North Pole!

 

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Stay Fit This Winter!

I don’t know about you, but when winter starts sneaking up on me, and the sky starts darkening just about the time I’m leaving work, well,
I just want to go home, get my pj’s on and cozy up underneath a blanket.  In other words, hibernating like a big old bear sounds pretty good to old Bea!  And that cold, cold winter wind makes me want to gather up comfort foods and fill my belly with ‘em.

 

Wake up, sleepyhead!

Truth is, though, I know I can’t let the siren call of hibernation woo me.  I don’t want to wake up from a long winter’s nap, only to find I’ve somehow gained five (or more) pounds and that I have a serious lack of motivation to rev up my exercise habits for spring.

If you have the same concerns I do, here are some options to keep you motivated to maintain your fitness levels this winter, and avoid that
holiday weight gain, compliments of the American Council of Exercise (ACE) website.

A few ideas I would add to ACE’s list:

  • On those days when it’s not too bitterly cold, take a brisk walk outside.  If you have a dog, bring him or her along for some company. Or if you can drag your spouse or significant other off the couch, drag him or her along!
  • Ask for a Nintendo Wii with a Wii Fit package for Christmas!  It’ll help you work off those holiday treats.
  • Are you a senior?  Find out if your community has a SeniorCenter – the one in my city offers a walking track and a variety of group activities,
    such as pickle ball, which is extremely popular.

For Further Reading:

  1. Exercise and Cold Weather: Tips to Stay Safe Outdoors
  2. 7 Benefits of Exercising Outside this Winter

 

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Bea’s 3 Favorite Strength Training DVDs

 

 

 

Bea loves strength training and finds it does great things for both her body and mind.  Heck, what’s not to love about an exercise that strengthens your bones, builds muscle and ramps up your metabolism?

Here are a few of her current favorite DVDs:

  • Star Trainers –  5 fitness experts, 5 twenty minute weight workouts.  The routines are easy to follow. The workouts may be short, but they definitely make you sweat.

 

  • Denise Austin 3-Week Boot Camp – 2 twenty minute workouts and a bonus 6 minute “ab fat blaster.” After all these years, Denise’s voice still annoys Bea. But once she learned the routine, she just muted the audio!

 

  •  Chris Freytag’s Walk and Sculpt – a combination of cardio and strength training. Bea enjoys interval training and Chris makes her work! Ahh, but it feels so good when it’s over.  (This routine is from her Walking Cardio Shape Up Max DVD)

 

All three of these DVDs are available at Amazon.

Hey readers!  Bea’s always on the lookout for new strength training DVDs.  Got any suggestions?

 

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More Outdoor Fitness Fun

Bicycling is just one exercise option for the great outdoors.

Walking is another good choice, especially if you have a park with walking trails in your community.  I enjoy walking because I know it’s good for my bones, as well as my heart health.  If you want to “step up” your walking workout, try walking poles, as described at the Mayo Clinic website.   They’re great for giving your upper body a workout.

If you’re brave, you may want to try roller blading, but believe me, you’ll want to wear protective gear, including a helmet. Take it from me, falling while on roller blades is not a pleasant experience. (Maybe I should have learned to stop first!)
Does your family go camping?  Hiking trails are a good way to get your fitness in when you’re vacationing, and you can get your kids or grandkids involved, too.  Hiking is great for body and mind.  Playing Frisbee, badminton, or other outdoor games is good for the whole family.  Or try canoeing, which is good for your upper body and core.

Other ideas include:

  • Jogging or running on an outdoor track
  • Swimming at your community’s pool
  • Tennis
  • Golf (Walk the course!)

For Further Reading:

  1. Health Benefits to Exercising Outdoors
  2. Exercising Outdoors Makes You Happier
  3. Don’t Become A Victim Exercising Outdoors

Bea’s Five Favorite Walking DVDs

 

Walking has always been one of Bea’s favorite ways to exercise.  Walking is great because it’s easy to do, there’s no equipment needed, and you can do it indoors or outside.  Walking provides many health benefits, also.

Are you a beginner?  Ready to get off the couch and start walking? 

  • Try Leslie Sansone’s Start Walking series; 1, 2 and 3 mile walks.  Leslie developed this series for the American Heart Association’s Start Walking program.

For more challenge, and if you’re not afraid to do some jogging, try:

  • Leslie’s The Big Burn, 2 Miles of Intervals. This DVD starts with brisk walk, then adds short intervals of jogging (which you can modify, if you choose) to “boost” your workout.

If you love working with weights, you’ll love these next two walking DVD options.  Chris Freytag combines walking with sculpting exercises:  

  • Chris Freytag’s Walking Cardio Shape-Up
  • Chris Freytag’s Walk and Sculpt

You can buy these DVDs as a set at the Exercise TV store.  These DVDs really get Bea’s  heart pumping and the strength training bonus is a great way to build muscle.

Bea’s latest favorite is one she recently checked out from her local library. This is a great way to “test out” exercise DVDs before buying them.  

  • Biggest Loser Power Walk, which includes four 1 mile walking workouts.  Do one mile at a time or as many as you have the energy to do!  Mile 2 calls for light weights, and mile 4 uses a medicine ball, but this equipment is optional. 

What Bea really likes about the Biggest Loser DVD is that for two of the walks, the leaders are two of the actual biggest losers, Tara Costa and Sione Fa.  And of course, it’s motivating to see real people doing the exercises! 

What are your favorite exercise DVDs?  Bea’s always looking for more exercise options.