Tag Archives: exercise

Stay Fit and Fabulous After 50

Can we talk? I am not aging well, and by well, I mean I have a hard time accepting how getting older is affecting my body. Judging by all the ads on TV for Botox, body “sculpting,” and drugs to boost bone density, I can see that am not alone in my struggle to stay fit and fabulous after 50.

I’m always on the hunt for ways to preserve my health, and that’s exactly what I found in talking with my friend Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, co-author of Food and Fitness After 50: Eat Well, Move Well, Be Well. I may not like what’s happening to me as the years pass, but I’m not going down without a fight, either. Take that, Mother Nature!

I scoured Chris’ book for tips, but I still had some questions. Here’s what Chris told me when I quizzed her.

Chris Rosenbloom and co-author Bob Murray.

Q. Maybe it’s me, but it’s tough to fight flab with age because it can seem like you’re doing a lot to control your weight with little reward. What is “weight creep,” why does it happen, and what can we do about it?

A. Weight creep is that insidious, small weight gain that doesn’t seem like a big deal. And, a pound or two at a time isn’t a big deal until 20 years later when you’re saddled with an additional 20, 30 or 40 pounds.

Nobody gains 20 pounds overnight; it’s a small, steady increase until one day it hits you that you’re much heavier than you were. I think it happens because we just don’t pay attention. We don’t monitor our weight or pay attention to how our clothes fit. We might get weighed at the doctor’s office (how many of us say, “that scale is way off?”), but rarely does a doctor say anything about weight once we step off the scale.

I also think the rise of Athleisure wear is bad news for aging women. I only wear yoga pants when I do yoga! I wear jeans when working at home, so I have some feedback from the pants that tell me how they fit. While I recommend aiming for health, and not a number on the scale, it may be helpful to weigh yourself often, and possibly daily, to get a sense of an upward trend in your body weight. Don’t worry about fluctuating a couple of pounds every day, because that’s usually just water weight.  If there is an uptick in weight overall, ask yourself what you might be doing to cause the numbers to go up. (Note: If you’ve struggled with disordered eating in the past, it may not be a good idea to weigh yourself daily.)

Should you weigh yourself every day?

Building and preserving muscle goes a long way in your later years. Start now to reap the benefits.

Q. It’s so important for people to understand the importance of muscle as it relates to strength, metabolism, and overall health. Can you describe what happens to muscle tissue as we age?

A. Between the ages of 20 and 90, it’s possible to lose more than 50% of our muscle mass due to sarcopenia (literally meaning “vanishing flesh”) that’s the result of a sedentary lifestyle. And, for women, the effect is even greater, as we have less muscle mass by nature. Add an illness or injury and the picture gets worse; you can lose 1% muscle mass each day after surgery or during an illness!

We lose not only muscle mass, but also muscle strength as we age and that can lead to a decrease in functional fitness, that is, the ability to continue to do the things that help us live independently. Climbing stairs, shopping and carrying groceries, cleaning the house, working in the garden…all of things we take for granted when we are younger can get harder if we lose a significant amount of muscle mass and strength.

The good news is that muscle is very responsive and adaptive to strength training, and we can regain mass and strength by doing progressive, resistance exercise twice a week. You don’t even have to go to the gym. Resistance exercise can be done at home with hand weights or exercise bands. Bob and I like Fitness Blender for online app-based fitness programs, and Go4Life from the National Institute for Aging for easy, free exercise programs.

An eating plan rich in plant foods is good for your heart, and the rest of you, at any age.

Q. Would you explain how menopause influences body weight, muscle mass, bones, and the heart?

A. After menopause, the gradual loss of estrogen affects a woman’s health in many ways, and none of them are positive. Body composition can change, and you may have more visceral fat (the dreaded “belly fat”), an increase in the fat content in muscle, and in your heart and liver, and an overall increase in body weight until about age 70.

Muscle mass is affected, as mentioned before, but most the changes in muscle are related to lack of physical activity that builds and maintains muscle by stressing it. Bone loss begins at about age 30, but after menopause there is a rapid decline in bone mass for the first five years. Bone losses level off after that, but bone density is not as good as before menopause. Dietitians stress the importance of a healthy eating plan, including calcium and vitamin D, during adolescence, a prime bone-building time of life, right up to menopause (and afterwards) so that you have the strongest bones possible before calcium losses occur.

The heart is also affected by reduced estrogen levels.  Before menopause, women tend to have more “good” cholesterol in their bloodstream, and are considered at a lower risk for heart disease than men. That estrogen protection starts to wane with menopause.  But, as dire as it sounds, women can now live almost half of their lives after menopause, and exercise, both aerobic and strength training, help promote a healthy body weight, bone health, heart health, and muscle health. So, instead of looking for a superfood, magic supplements, or prescription drug, start eating right and moving more today, because it is never too late!

Find exercise that you enjoy. Doing different types prevent boredom.

Q. Starting an exercise program, increasing exercise frequency, and changing the type of exercise you do can be daunting. What is your advice to help us stay fit and fabulous after 50?

A. There is no “best” exercise. Find something you like to do, start slow, and just do it.   In my community, I’ve seen older adults go crazy for pickleball, and people who haven’t exercised in 20 years are showing up to play this fun sport. It might also be helpful to join a YMCA or a gym that caters to older adults; many people get free or reduced YMCA membership with their Medicare supplemental insurance but never take advantage of it. And, if that doesn’t work, find a friend or a fitness buddy to walk with.

Q. How important is maintaining strength and agility as we age with regards to independence and quality of life?

I can’t say it enough: Keeping our muscles strong, and staying flexible and agile can help prevent falls, fractures, and metabolic diseases (like diabetes). My goals include traveling, and being able to lift my suitcase to get it into the overhead bin on a plane! I also plan to be able to haul a 50-pound bag of dog food into my shopping cart, my car, and into the house to feed my two big dogs! Those tasks define functional fitness for me at age 66!  I am also realistic and I know things can happen to my body. When an injury or illness comes along,  chances are, you will recover faster and easier if you are fit!

Yogurt is a convenient, versatile, protein-packed food, and it also promotes a healthy digestive system and strong bones to help you stay fit and fabulous after 50.

Q. Protein is getting a lot of attention these days.  Should older people eat more protein than the current suggested intake?

A. Researchers have identified something called “age-related anabolic resistance,” thought to be caused by less sensitive signaling pathways that lead to a slower muscle-making ability. So, older adults who are strength training need more protein than the current recommendation, and protein should be distributed throughout the day to maintain or build muscle. While protein needs vary, I think an easy way to look at it is to recommend about 30 grams of protein per meal (a smaller person might need less 20-25, and a larger person trying to build muscle might need more, 30-40 grams) every day. I would also suggest a nighttime snack with protein, such as a half-cup of cottage cheese, two one-ounce string cheeses, or a small bowl of cereal and milk to “feed” your muscles while sleeping.

Why Walking Is Good Exercise

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The other day, I heard an exercise instructor say that walking isn’t really exercise, and it upset me. There’s no reason to disregard any form of physical activity as not “difficult enough.” Walking is good exercise.

Is walking good for weight loss?

Working out doesn’t have to be extreme to be beneficial, and, as it turns out, putting one foot in front of the other is harder work than we thought.

This study shows that walking burns more calories than experts have presumed for decades. I’ll remember that when I’m walking my dog, Lucy (pictured below).DSC_0036

Any movement burns calories, and adding more walking to your routine may help with weight loss and prevent weight gain. In addition to burning calories, which may mean easier weight control, walking has other benefits.

How exercise alters gut health for the better

Why walking is good for mental health

Brains shrink with age, which is not good news for memory, judgement, and coordination.  Research from the UCLA Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh links any type of aerobic exercise, including walking, to a better brain structure and reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

I don’t know if my brain is expanding when I walk the dog every day, but I do know that it gets me out of the house and away from my desk, and that the rhythmic motion of walking reduces my stress and clears my mind.

Lucy is little, but she needs to exercise every day. That’s why I log at least 10 miles a week of walking outside in all kinds of weather. There is evidence that walking in nature changes your brain for the better.

Bottom line: Walk more for better health

I love to walk, and there’s no doubt that it’s good exercise. If you haven’t been working out lately, walking is a step in the right direction.

Start slowly and work up to at least 30 minutes on five days a week. Walking briskly offers more health benefits.

Walkers who have been doing the same loop for a while may want to take walking up a notch to make it more challenging.  Round out your walking routine with at least two sessions of resistance training, such as a weights or bands class, each week.

Now, where are my sneakers?

What Health Experts Resolve to Do in 2016

 

 

While I like the idea of a fresh start, I’m not really one for making new year’s resolutions. I wondered if other food, nutrition, and health experts felt the same way, so I asked around. Truthfully, some of their answers surprised me! Here’s what they said.

Keri Gans, RDN, author of The Small Change Diet

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Personally I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I have always held the belief that there is “no time like the present” to make changes or improvements in your life. And that no matter when you begin, you should gradually ease into these changes in order to create a new habit. It doesn’t matter how fast you get there, what matters is as long as you stay.

Registered dietitian Sally Kuzemchak’s goals for food, fitness, and health in 2016

Catherine Katz, PhD, Founder of Cuisinicity

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As I am reflecting back on this past year and looking toward 2016, my thoughts keep coming back to Carly Simon’s song “These are the good old days…” It may sound corny and perhaps even trite but I take this message quite literally. Twenty years from now, we will be reminiscing of these times, these days we are living now and I want to live them fully cognizant of how meaningful they are, right now. What this means to me personally is just to keep cherishing my family with all the wonderful people and furry friends in it. What this means for Cuisinicity is that I not only want to keep doing what I have been doing but I also want to pay it forward to our beautiful planet even more mindfully than I already have. So, my new year resolution is to contribute to the sustainability of our environment and to the well-being of other species by creating even more plant-based recipes. In that spirit, I have expanded my repertoire of dishes and added a new Vegan category in my Recipe index on Cuisinicity.

Six food trends to help you eat better in 2016

Ellen Albertson, PhD, RDN, CD, Psychologist, Nutritionist, Certified Wellcoach®
SmashYourScale.com

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I set resolutions because they’re a powerful tool to plan and get psyched for a year of achievement, happiness and success. My thinking changes this time of year. I review what I’ve achieved in the previous year and consider where I want those completions to lead me next. Rather then setting resolutions around what I should or shouldn’t do, I think about what I really want and commit to meaningful resolutions I can accomplish.

How to give up your inner critic this year

Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, co-author of The Calendar Diet: A Month-By-Month Guide to Losing Weight while Living Your Life.

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After years of working to help people live healthier lives I’ve realized that it’s really about what you do day in and day out on a consistent basis that yields the best results. So, I don’t usually make New Years resolutions. I used to in the past but I’ve found that after a few weeks I always seemed to forget about them. Instead, I have an ongoing loose list of goals that I try to focus on and tweak as needed no matter what time of year it is.

Feeling adventurous? Seven fitness trends to try in 2016

Holley Grainger, MS, RD, Owner, Holley Grainger Nutrition 

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While I’m not one to set hard-core resolutions each time the calendar year turns, I do like to use this time to reflect on the previous year to help me reset and create goals (business, personal, etc.) for the upcoming year. As a full time work-from-home mom of two, this year I’m hoping to be more intentional and mindful about the time I spend with my family, the time I spend on myself, and the time I dedicate to my company.

Amber Pankonin, MS, RD, CSP, LMNT, writer for Stirlist.com

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I actually do make New Year’s Resolutions. I think it’s a fun way to bring in the new year. I think spending some time reflecting back on the year is a healthy thing. It helps you evaluate what went right, what didn’t go so well, and how you can do better. I’m not a fan of lofty New Year’s resolutions because those can cause feelings of guilt and frustration. This year my New Year’s resolutions include making some changes in my business and I’m also going to pick up my ukelele more than once a month!

 

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