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Last Updated on August 21, 2017

Age Shouldn’t be Your Restriction When It Comes To Exercising

Age Shouldn’t be Your Restriction When It Comes To Exercising

What do athletes train for? Athletes train for the event that they are competing in. The field however stretches far from the courts and crowds.

You don’t need to complete a podium finish to be an athlete

There are 1/4th of Americans aged 65+ that fall down each year.  Every 11 seconds, another adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.  Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.  Chronic diseases account for 75% of the money our nation spends on health care, yet only 1% of health dollars are spent on public efforts to improve overall health[1].

Forget the assumption that at fill-in-the-blank-age our bodies will fall apart and we will become weak.  Empower yourself to maintain or improve your health through exercise.

You may not be donning some state-of-the-art gear, have sponsors or compete for a podium finish.  Your sport is life and this event has no off seasons.  In life, we literally move to do what we need to do.  Especially to keep our independence as we get older it is key to be able to move well for our quality of life.

The events include the squat, deadlift, pulling objects, pushing things, rotating and lunging. Then think about what you like to do – play with the kids or grandkids, golf, vacation, gardening, triathlons, and the list goes on!  In this metaphor is a nugget of truth- “training for life does not stop at a prescribed age.” What happens if we decide to throw in the towel and stop training for life?

You should not stop exercising regardless of your age.  Disregard assumptions about physical potential as you age because you decide what your potential is.  The point is to hone in on the important fact that exercise is much more than “getting in shape”.  Your type of exercise may change as you age, but don’t stop training for life.

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Things could be so different when you choose to empower yourself

Imagine you are planning a trip to visit New Zealand after an old friend from college shares her sons story of the amazing landscapes there.  You not only enlist your partner in crime, but also the invitation is extended to your kids and grandkids.  They all accept the challenge.  Plans are made, everyone is excited.  This will be a splurge but a worthwhile one.  You all arrive in New Zealand.  The next day everyone is up early and ready to log some miles.

Scenario A

You want to participate in the story telling during the walk but you are too focused on trying to navigate uneven terrain.  In the back of your head you knew that your balance was not what it used to be but just decided to push through it.  It is also quickly apparent that it is difficult for you to mount any areas where you have to step up.  Only an hour in the hike and the group is slowing to your pace and you hear a family member say “see I told you this was not a good idea, she is too old for this trip, especially with her arthritis”.

Scenario B.

You are not only able to navigate the terrain during the trip, but you are making it look easy.  Because you knew the trip was coming up you started to work with a fitness professional to improve your balance and strength among other things.  Your knee pain became more manageable because of your sessions and with the help of walking sticks you are able to relieve the pressure on your knees.  Pictures are taken, stories are told and memories are made.

What are you going to do when you get to that point that you are able to experience that joy of enjoying that trip.. vs the frustration of not being able to complete it?

What are you going to do with your life so you make sure you experience your wants and likes?

I am training with a 78 year young client right now for her vacation in Columbia.  Ruth wants to be able to enjoy her trip without being distracted by things like her balance and strength.  Since working with me she has made strides in her balance and agility.  Of great importance she has been aware of how our sessions have improved her everyday life.  She has also purchased and is using walking sticks during her walks to ease the pressure on her arthritic knee.  Otherwise known as Nordic walking, it has been shown in studies the cardiovascular benefits from it.

    Train for life so you stay in the green and keep your functional capacity and have a good quality of life where you can do what you want to do.  Inactivity will lead to a quick decline to a place where inability to do everyday activities is life changing.

    This is how you can get started

    The first step is to talk to your doctor to get cleared for exercise and also make sure that you are on top of any chronic conditions that you have.  Also, get your eyes checked.  Then explore all of the options for you.  Some love the big gym environment, others prefer small studios.  Some individuals prefer personal trainers, others prefer the community aspect of a group class.  Depending on the time of the year and where you live you may have some outdoor options.

    You may encounter individuals that disregard you because of your age, make assumptions or don’t know how to work with an older population.  Disregard them and move on to those that show you the respect of challenging you just enough and don’t treat you like you are fragile.

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    Do exercises that can benefit your daily activities 

    These exercises below should be part of your regime: squat, deadlift, pulling, pushing, lunging and rotating.  Remember, get cleared for exercise with your doctor and follow any instructions that they may have.  Also feel free reach out to professionals to give you some hands on instructions.

    Chair Squats

    A good way to improve your squats is to do chair squats. Sit on the edge of a chair without rollers. Have your feet firmly planted so you can stand up. Try crossing your arms across your chest so you don’t rock. Keep a good tall posture. When you do rise push off on your heels. Stand up tall. When you return to the chair don’t just fall down. Return to the chair slowly.

    Deadlift

    Even if you are not familiar with this name, you do this movement in everyday life. Think about how many times you pick something up off the floor. Many times you are executing a deadlift. There are many useful videos about proper form. Click here to read an article and see the videos. It may be useful to practice this without a weight and have a fitness professional watch your form if you can. This exercise is different than a squat.

    Pulling

    Resistance bands are great tools for everyone. There are resistance bands with handles already attached and of ranging weights just like dumbbells. You can execute rows if you attach them to a sturdy pole or enlist a partner to hold the other end.

    Pushing

    Being able to push is important when getting up off the floor, moving furniture or other objects. Wall pushups can be a great way to not only build your arm strength but it can be a good core workout. Start completely vertical and be able to place your palms against the wall at the same time. Try a few pushups against the wall. Focus on bringing your chest to the wall, not your head. Then increase the angle by taking a step back and trying it again. Now your feet are further back than your hands. Make sure you keep that standing plank & keep your body straight like a board. Soon you will find a comfortable but challening angle that you can start to practice your pushups.

    Lunging

    You want to be able to step in a direction and pick something up. When you do this you are performing a lunge. Strengthen your legs and improve your balance. Start off stepping at a comfortable length forward and pushing back with that front foot. Try stepping to the side and then pushing back. If you are working on improving your balance have a wall at your back for support. Soon step at different angles – just like we do in our everyday life. Think of your path of lunges like the hands of a clock and hit all of them. Holding a moderate weight in your hands can also be a good idea after you have mastered it and your balance is improved.

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    Rotating

    A good way to incorporate rotation in your training is adding a rotation to your lunge. Lunge to the side and then slowly turn in the direction that you lunged. Make sure that you keep tall and don’t lean over. A good way to keep your core engaged is to cross your arms and have your elbows up like a genie. Also if you have a medicine ball or dumbbell you can hold this after you have mastered it and your balance has improved.

    Some mental notes to help you maintain this habit

    Get friends and have fun

    If there is an activity that you enjoy like lawn bowling, dancing or tennis, join a team.  Often as we get older we don’t take time to play and move.  Mix in some activity that is outside the box of “working out”.  There are also many social and emotional benefits of being part of an active community.  Or if you prefer to do something around the house start gardening, that can be a great way to get outside and move!

    Create milestones to see the difference

    Is there something that you have always wanted to do? Train for that vacation, trip or experience you want to enjoy.  You will see how your improvement benefits your everyday life activities too.

    The saying rings true – move it or lose it.  If you don’t train for things like balance or strength chances are those abilities will erode.  You can maintain or regain it, don’t think that you can’t! Instead of dragging your feet to exercise to “get in shape” change your mindset to exercise so you can do what you want to do in life!

    Reference

    [1]National Council Of Aging: Fall Prevention Fact

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    Damien Joyner

    Fitness Professional for the diverse 40+ Population!

    How to Set a Fitness Goal That Will Last? If You Take Care Of Your Need, Age Wouldn’t Be A Problem To Your Fitness Routine Age Shouldn’t be Your Restriction When It Comes To Exercising

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    12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

    12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

    Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

    But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

    I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

    Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

    1. Nuts

    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

    Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

    Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

    Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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    2. Blueberries

    Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

    When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

    3. Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

    4. Broccoli

    While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

    Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

    Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

    5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

    Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

    The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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    Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

    6. Soy

    Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

    Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

    Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

    7. Dark chocolate

    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

    Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

    15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

    8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

    Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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    B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

    Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

    Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

    To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

    9. Foods Rich in Zinc

    Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

    Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

    Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

    10. Gingko biloba

    This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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    It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

    However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

    11. Green and black tea

    Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

    Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

    Find out more about green tea here:

    11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

    12. Sage and Rosemary

    Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

    Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

    When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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