Saturday, March 22, 2014

Health Benefits for the Active Aging Exerciser

There are numerous health benefits for exercisers of all ages. Today I want to highlight just a few that might be of particular interest to the active aging participant.

Exercise is known to prevent cognitive decline and maintain brain health as people age. A recent study has shed light on one reason why. The study showed that people who engaged in long-term, regular exercise had substantially more small blood vessels in their brains and more blood flow than people who performed little exercise over the years. One researcher remarked, "We know exercise increases the number of blood vessels in other parts of the body. What we now know is that it also affects the brain."

Exercise has also been shown to reduce chronic pain. Often sufferers are terrified that if they move, they will damage themselves, but nothing could be further from the truth. James Rainville, spine and rehabilitation specialist, states "There is no scientific evidence that activity and exercise are harmful". Exercise can also help prevent chronic pain. Another study showed that in women 65 and older the prevalance of chronic pain was  21% to 38% lower among exercisers.

Exercise can make daily life functions easier. We all lose muscle mass as we age which causes loss of strength. It might not be noticeable at 60, but by 70 will start to affect the ability to easily complete daily functional movements. Regular strength training and resistance exercises can make climbing the stairs, getting in & out of the car, and bending to empty the dishwasher smooth and easy movements.

The benefits of exercise extend to participants of all ages. The benefits are immediate, cumulative and long lasting. Make sure to move your body today!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fit Bit

When I was a Costco yesterday, I saw they have the Fit Bit for sale at $94.99. It's usually $100, I've even seen it for $150 so you can save a little if you can get it at Costco. I'm not sure what model they have so if you purchase one make sure you are getting the model you  prefer.

Fit Bit is a popular tool that tracks your activity, gives you the ability to sync your stats, see trends and reach your fitness goals. It is a band you can wear on your wrist or attach to your shoe. Research it at fitbit.com. It might be just the tool you need to jumpstart your Spring fitness regimen.

(No, I don't get any remuneration! I just want to share the good price with my friends.)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I enjoy celebrating the holidays and am anticipating St. Patrick's Day on Monday. When my kids were little, I used to read Green Eggs and Ham to them on St. Patrick's Day morning and then make scrambled eggs with green food coloring. I don't do that anymore but I do enjoy making corned beef and cabbage and whole-wheat Irish Soda bread for a special celebration.

What naturally green foods can you enjoy this St. Patrick's Day?

Kale is trendy right now. It is a powerhouse of nutrition, rich in calcium, vitamin A, vitamin K, iron and fiber. Add some to salads or soups. I enjoy the bagged kale salad from Costco.

Green Tea has been linked to protection against diabetes, heart disease and obesity. It might slow the growth of cancer. I brew a gallon of green tea at a time and enjoy it all day long. I have developed such a taste for it that I crave it over most other beverages.

Kiwi has more vitamin C than an orange and is also rich in the antioxidant lutein. You can actually eat the skin but if you prefer not to, you can peel and slice it to eat as is or to add to salads. Another way to eat a kiwi is to slice it in half crosswise and scoop it out with a spoon.

Basil is an amazing herb. It has fiber, vitamins A, C, K, and B6 as well as calcium, zinc and iron. You can add basil to your salad for a flavor punch. Try topping your whole-wheat veggie pizza with slivers of basil. What about including it in whole-wheat pasta along with broccoli & a few artichoke hearts? Since basil can be pricey, I like to buy the basil plant and have it available in my kitchen for a few weeks.

Cabbage is economical and and low in calories. It contains sinigrin which has shown unique cancer preventive properties. Cabbage also has cholesterol-lowering benefits which are enhanced when it is steamed. Add cabbage to your winter vegetable list along with butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

Enjoy a little GREEN at your table this week.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Training to Prevent Muscle Imbalance

Hop on one leg. Do a single leg deadlift. Try a single arm overhead tricep press.

Adding uni-lateral moves to your workout can prevent injury. Studies found that the non-dominant limb tires faster during exercise, affecting your coordination. This may put stress on ligaments surrounding your joints and lead to strains.

When you work your weaker side on it's own, your stronger side can't pitch in. Single-leg jumps, single leg squats, and one-arm curls can help prevent muscle imbalances between the two sides. Balanced muscles safely perform functional movements such as lifting a child or carrying a heavy box.

Another recent study demonstrated that unilateral plyometrics improved performance more quickly than using both legs. When your center of gravity is askew, additional muscle fibers kick in to stabilize you, leading to faster gains. The body is required to recruit core muscles and secondary movers to complete the movement. This is a great option to maximize limited workout minutes.

Uni-lateral movements are an important addition to your workout. Try incorporating a few this week!