DThe older we get, the more likely we are to decrease the intensity of our workouts. Exercise that is too easy will not allow you to reap all of the benefits. However, if we exercise too hard, we might not be able to adequately recover during the workout and may have to stop short of completing it.
The RPE scale (pictured above) is very useful to help you gauge the intensity during a HIIT session rather than measuring heart rate because it is much simpler and doesn't require any math or pulse counting. For the same reasons, this is also a great method you can use with your trainer. By familiarizing yourself with the RPE scale, you can communicate quantitatively how you are feeling.
It's important to note that intensity, duration, and recovery are interdependent. The harder the exercise interval, the shorter you will be able to do it and the longer recovery period will be needed.
During your HIIT workout, there should be times of "active" recovery. This means that while you may be out of breath, you should keep moving (not standing still, sitting, or lying down). In fact, if you need to do any of those things, that is a pretty good indicator that the high intensity part of the workout was too intense. Therefore, keep in mind that your optimal Base Level during the recovery phase should be around 11-13 on the RPE scale.
To increase your intensity during the intervals you can either:
For an example of how RPE works, see the simple HIIT workouts listed below.
Beginner HIIT Workout
Start easy and gradually increase intensity so that you achieve an RPE of about 11-12 (your base level) by the end of the warm-up
Stage 1 (9:00) 3 Hills:
Stage 2 (4:00) 3 Sprints
Cool Down (3:00)
Decrease intensity to achieve an RPE of 9-10. Heart rate should come down significantly.
While it is true that aging adults have a different set of needs, interests, and desires than their younger counterparts and are often misunderstood, there are numerous myths, misconceptions, and negative stereotypes about aging and what it means to grow old. These incorrect perspectives are often barriers for both the aging population as well as the professionals that work with them to improve their fitness and nutrition. Many aging adults feel they are simply "doomed" to the consequences of natural aging and many professionals are fearful of working with this population.
It should not be this way. And, here's why:
MYTH #1: To be old is to be sick - This myth centers around the belief that aging and disease go hand-in-hand and that individuals are destined to end up in the nursing home or suffering from a catastrophic illness once they get older. While the prevalence of chronic disease increases with advancing age, a large number of mature adults are healthy, robust, and without any significant functional limitations.
MYTH #2: You can't teach an old dog new tricks - Heard this one before??!!! The myth here is the belief that senility and dementia are not only a natural part of aging, but that it is inevitable. Recent evidence regarding brain plasticity PROVES that the human mind retains its ability to learn throughout the lifespan and declines in cognition are largely AVOIDABLE. There are MANY lifestyle behaviors such as exercise levels, dietary choices, alcohol consumption, tobacco use and the level of mental stimulation that have been shown to be important factors in how much cognitive decline occurs with advancing age.
MYTH #3: The horse is out of the barn - It is often believed that once an individual is older it is "too late" to reduce disease risk, increase health status, or become fit. Not true. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence to show the physiologic capacity for positive adaption is no lost...even in advanced age. For example, resistance training (or strength training) studies conducted on individuals in their 90's found that skeletal muscle can still grow and become stronger. We now know that it is never too late to positively benefit from an exercise program.
MYTH #4: The real secret to successful aging is to choose your parents wisely - Genetics definitely influence disease risk and longevity but their effects are GROSSLY overestimated. There are some specific diseases that have strong hereditary components, such as some forms of cancer, for example, and there are studies on centenarians that show there is a genetic influence on their longevity. HOWEVER, the overall evidence is clear: The influence of lifestyle and environment are far more important factors in the determination of health and functional ability than genetics.
As a Functional Aging Specialist and Certified Health Coach specializing in adults and seniors, it is important to me that my clients understand the above mentioned myths. No one is "doomed" and it is never too late to start making healthier lifestyle choices and implementing an exercise routine consisting of strength, endurance, and flexibility training. Of course, it is crucial that we start slow and make one small change at a time, but it's even more important to know that it is scientifically proven that small changes over time can lead to big results in how you will move and how you will feel.
Are there really any health benefits to turmeric? Umm, yeah, there is.
In fact, there is more scientific evidence for all the awesome health effects of turmeric than for ANY other spice! So, here it is:
1. Studies have shown that turmeric can lower artery-clogging LDL cholesterol
2. It's good for your gut because it increases the flow of bile that breaks down fats, thereby helping digestion.
3. Turmeric lessens stomach acid production, so it can be used for heartburn (reflux) issues. However, some people may find that spices in general make reflux worse; others find that it helps with digestion. (so, still listen to your doctor)
4. It can relieve the inflammatory soreness of people with rheumatoid arthritis and improve how insulin regulates blood sugar.
5. Alzheimer's researchers call turmeric the "smart spice" due to its neuroprotective properties. In fact, Curry-loving cultures, such as India, have the lowest rates of Alzheimer's disease.
6. Turmeric is a top anticancer spice that helps the body's natural ability to kill cancer cells.
PRO TIP: Combine your turmeric with black pepper
Unfortunately, turmeric eaten alone is very poorly absorbed. But, combined with black pepper and the health benefits of turmeric are enhanced more than 1,000 times!!! So, for example, you can make a salad and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, which even further enhances absorption.
When we eat a variety of healthy foods, we are also eating a variety of healing foods. The list below contains real foods that are scientifically proven to prevent illness and stay healthy. What you feed your kids can really make a difference in how often AND how severely they get sick.
Phytonutrients are immune-boosting substances only found in fruits and vegetables. Phyton is the Greek word for plant, so photonutrients are what gives fruits and veggies their rich color. Phytos help your body fight germs and they prevent wear and tear on your cells and organs, and help the body repair itself.
Here are 5 ways to prepare your family for flu season by getting in plenty of "phytomins" into your daily diet:
1. Teach kids about phytos. Become Phyto-Mom and Phyto-Dad. Your kids will get more excited about eating these colorful foods IF they first know why they are so good for them. Dr. Sears, a renowned pediatrician for over 30 years, explains it to kids like this. "Germs are like tiny bugs that are so small you can't even see them. Germs are what make you sick. They get inside your body and cause colds and earaches and many other kinds of sickness - even tooth decay! You can do things to keep germs out of your body. You wash your hands before eating and after going to the bathroom. You stay away from kids with colds (and, if you have a cold, you cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough to keep from spreading germs to your friends). Yet no matter how careful you are to keep germs out of your body, some are going to get in. So, it's important to have a strong army inside you to fight these germs.
"The germ fighting army inside you is called your immune system. The soldiers in this army can actually chase down germs and gobble them up. If your army is strong, it will catch the germs and beat them up, but if it is tired and weak, the germs might win - and, in that case, you will get sick. Your immune system army needs the good stuff in fruits, veggies, and other healthy foods to stay strong."
2. Eat a variety of foods - Different foods contain different phytos, which have different functions in the body. Some help the eyes and skin, while others are antioxidants that protect rapidly growing cells from becoming cancerous. The list is endless.
3. Eat phytos as close as possible to their natural state - Most raw fruits and veggies have more phytos when consumed raw, but tomatoes, for example, is an exception. When tomatoes are cooked, they release more phytos, including lycopene. If you do cook, be sure to lightly steam them as boiling in water for a long time can destroy many of their nutrients.
4. Choose deep colors and strong flavors - Think tomatoes, blueberries, red grapes, Brussels sprouts, chili peppers, garlic, onions, and curry. These are all great sources of phytos.
5. Feed your family fish and flax - These foods are good for your immune system and your nervous system. The nutrients in fish and flax help injured tissues repair themselves and fight inflammation.
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition defines health coaching as "a wellness authority and supportive mentor who motivates individuals to cultivate positive health choices. Health coaches educate and support clients to achieve their health goals through lifestyle and behavior adjustments."
As a Certified Health Coach, I work with families, adults, and seniors to achieve greater health with a strong focus on Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude, and Nutrition. All four elements affect our health, not just one or two. I use trusted, science based education along with positive encouragement and support to help people become a healthier version of themselves.
Some of my clients are in what I call the "preventive" mindset. These clients are currently not experiencing any pain or chronic illness or injury, and are looking to improve their health and wellness or to maintain good health for as long as possible.
Other clients are in the "repair" mindset. These individuals may be battling chronic pain and inflammation, illness or disease, and are looking for ways to feel better and learn the skills needed to improve their day to day living. For these clients, I try to bridge the gap between what doctors ask their patients to do and patients actually doing it and getting the results they need.
As a health coach, I know that you, the client, are the expert of yourself. For this reason, you steer the ship, so to speak. We look at the goals you want to achieve and break those down into small chunks that you can accomplish. Our goal is to become just a little bit better everyday.
What health coaching is definitely NOT about is treating, prescribing, diagnosing, nor advising you in any way to eat according to a certain diet plan, or to take certain supplements, or to change your medications. This is outside the scope of practice for ANY health coach. We are not doctors. We are coaches. We are not therapists. We are coaches. We are not registered dietitians. We are coaches.
Health coaches motivate, encourage, support, and educate clients on good health practices. We help you find your "why." We help you take a look at your current lifestyle exercise, attitude, and nutrition and help you improve those areas. We go with you every step of the way.
To learn more about having me as your health coach, please click here.
Last Saturday was absolutely beautiful! It's August, but that morning was a brisk 65 degrees outside and perfect weather for my daily walk. In fact, I was enjoying it so much that I walked a 10k instead of my typical four mile route.
During my walks, I think....a lot. Sure, I'm jamming to Beyonce or Def Leoppard (don't judge), but I also use that time to think about what is going on. School, family, kids....kids....kids, my business, my goals, my to-do-list, what I'm going to eat that day, is today the day I pick up the dry cleaning? You know, the typical stuff. It's what I normally do during those four miles.
But, that day, I walked six. The additional two miles I began thinking about other things that I don't typically get around to. My struggles. For weeks, I had been struggling with my nutrition. I was mentally trapped between wanting to see abs...and wanting to build abs.
Not a fun place to be. To see abs requires a calorie deficit. To build abs requires a calorie surplus. Both cannot be done. It's science.
For weeks, y'all, I had been trying to navigate this terrain by myself. I would see the scale go up a tad, freak out that I was gaining, then restrict calories to make it go back down. A vicious cycle of wanting to eat more so I could build muscles but then eat less because the scale moved.
I was frozen...and going nowhere.
Leading up to this point, I had considered signing up AGAIN for 12 weeks with a nutritionist to help me sort it out. But, I kept telling myself that it cost a lot of money, I didn't really know if I was ready to commit to another 12 weeks, I'm not even sure what my goal would be, I need to focus on homeschooling my kids, I'm too busy to deal with all of that right now, and on and on.
On this walk, I had an ah-ha moment. You know, one of those moments in our lives when a light bulb goes off....goes on? and we have this intense revelation about something. I thought about the what-ifs.
I invested in myself?
I actually got on a program and learned how to take better care of myself?
I stopped worrying all the time about food and just focused on my training? What would that look like?
I put my health first and removed this stress from my life?
One of my clients came to me with this EXACT same story? What would I tell them?
My kids came to me with this EXACT same story? What would I tell them?
And, then....the ah-ha moment. And, it applies to SO MUCH MORE than just nutrition and fitness.
I imagined sitting down and having the following conversation with my 16 year old son.
Me: "You know son, you're 16 years old now. Soon, you will start working and you will need to learn how to balance making good grades in school while managing to work a part-time job. It will be really hard. You will be tired, and it's going to be difficult to manage all the things you need to get done.
In fact, school and work should really be the ONLY two things you concern yourself with. They are of utmost importance for your future. I know you workout four days a week NOW, but the more you put on your plate, the more you just won't have time for that and you probably won't feel like working out because you will be so tired.
And, sure, you eat pretty healthy NOW, but the busier your life gets, the less time you will have to make that a priority. You will need to run over to Chick-fil-A or grab something from the vending machine...maybe even rip open a bag of Ramen when you get a chance.
Taking care of yourself will just have to wait. School and work. That's where you need to focus."
WHAT. PARENT IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD TELL THEIR KIDS THIS??!!
And, yet, we tell ourselves this all the time! We put work, kids, our spouse, friends, social events, gatherings, volunteering, anything and everything AHEAD of ourselves....and we actually think this is somehow heroic. Like we should be commended for sacrificing ourselves and putting everything else first.
Is this what you would tell your kids?
Is this what you would want for your kids?
Is this what you ARE telling your kids by the actions you are currently taking?
I want my kids to make their health a priority, and I know you do as well. I want them to eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep, find activities they enjoy, laugh, find happiness, reduce stress, prep meals, enjoy beautiful Saturday morning walks, and live a complete and fulfilled life.
We want the absolute best for our kids, but are we telling them that by our actions? Do they see those behaviors in US? Do they see us make time for exercise, or do they see us make excuses? Do they see us working toward our goals, or giving up? Do they see us prep our meals, making healthy, balance choices, or haphazardly pull in to the closest fast food drive-thru because we are SO RUSHED to get to the next destination?
What you do will have so much more impact on your kids that what you say. You know this is true.
Encourage your kids to be the happiest and healthiest version of themselves and model for them what that looks like.
When I got home from my walk, I was fired up and immediately got on the computer and emailed my nutrition coach. I signed on for another 12 weeks. Later in the day, my kids asked my why I had signed up again. I told them, "Because, boys, I need help meeting my health goals. I want to really nail it at the gym, and I want my nutrition to be on point. Working with a coach keeps me accountable, and takes away the stress of trying to navigate it all by myself. I know how to do it, but I don't always do what I know I should do. Sometimes, I need a little help too." They nodded, and replied, "Cool."
So, I ask again, "Would you tell your kids what you tell yourselves?"
When people first hear that I love to do pantry makeovers, I can see a look of dread come over their faces. It's a look of "Oh, heck naw, she ain't coming all up in MY pantry! Forget that!"
So, allow me to explain what a pantry makeover actually looks like. If you invite me into your home, I can absolute assure you that there will be zero judgment. Zero. I'm not there to rummage through your things and then proceed to tell you that you've wasted your hard-earned money and that you should throw everything out. That would be a horrible mistake on my part, and one that I would never consider making.
So, what EXACTLY happens when I come to your home for a pantry makeover?
First, I take a very brief look at your pantry.
Then, we sit down at your kitchen table.
We will go over the Traffic Light Eating Method (or review it if you have already attended one of my L.E.A.N. workshops.). Then, we will go over how to read and analyze all the parts of a nutrition label. We look at everything from serving sizes to protein, fat, carbs, sugar, fiber, and end with the all-important ingredients list.
We will then review 12 ingredients that we especially want to look for and why. And, don't worry. You will get to keep the list because some of them are hard to remember!
After you have a clear understanding of traffic light eating and food labels, we will get started in your actual pantry. If you have kids at home, get them involved in the process and let them help out too! I have stickers that they can use to label items as either a green, yellow, or red light food (and don't worry - "red" does not mean "banned" or "bad" food.
After we have identified a number of traffic light options in your pantry, we will then look at the Healthy Substitutions Handout and talk about some possible substitution strategies that you can try.
It's important to remember that change is a process. You do not need to throw food away! As you work toward replenishing the items in your pantry, you will have the tools you need after our pantry makeover to know what to look for the next time you head to the grocery store.
Did you know that the risk of falling increases more than five times between the ages of 50 and 75? In fact, falls are the #1 cause of injury related deaths for people over the age of 65. That's scary.
We can, however, understand why this is the case and learn ways to decrease our risk. First, let's take a look at what is going on in our body and brain as we age that increases our risks of falls and second, steps we can take to reduce our chances.
Why Prime-Timers are More Prone to Accidents
1. Brain and balance will be off - As we age, the eye-muscle-brain communication pathway slows down. We experience diminished proprioception, which means the ability to adjust our posture to compensate for changing surfaces underfoot. For example, if there is a toy in the floor, you know you need to step over it, but the relay from your eye to your brain to your reaction is slowed, and therefore, you trip.
Also, the structures within the middle ear that helps us maintain balance, weakens with age. The best way to keep our proprioception and sense of balance in tact is to keep our muscles and nerves strong through reactive games, like Ping-Pong.
2. Your senses decline with age - Unfortunately, this means that you may not see, hear, or smell an accident coming. Because our senses don't work as well as they used to AND the fact that our proprioception and balance are off, we may not respond as we would in our younger years. We may not see the object in the floor, or that last step on the stairs, and we may not hear a ball rolling on the floor toward us thrown by our favorite grandchild. You may not smell something burning in the kitchen, but when you do and you try to react, the weakened other senses come into play.
3. You may develop an accident-prone heart - Many prime-time falls occur when people quickly change position, such as from sitting to standing or hopping out of bed. Normally, a sudden change in position, from down to up, gives a signal to the heart to pump more blood to the brain. Yet, as we age, this signaling system weakens, causing something called orthostatic hypotension, or postural hypotension. When you change position, the blood pressure drops, blood flow to the brain is insufficient, and you get light-headed, or even faint and fall. It's also important to note that postural hypotension is made worse by plaque buildup in arteries, atherosclerosis, and diabetes.
Now that you understand what is going on in the body and brain that increases the risk of falling, let's now take a look at things you can do to decrease your risk.
6 Ways to Protect Yourself from Falling
1. Move slow as you get up and go - Always change position slowly to give your heart advance warning that your brain needs adjustment of blood flow.
2. Keep fit - The stronger your muscles and bones are and the more muscle-coordination activities you do to improve your balance, the lower your risk of falling and of being injured if you do fall. Fit people suffer fewer fractures.
3. Light your way - Keep a nightlight on for those middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom. Don't walk around in the dark! Even better, before going to bed, make sure the path is clear from your bed to the bathroom and from your bed to the kitchen, or wherever you might get a drink of water.
4. See where you're going - Make sure your glasses fit the activity. Bifocals, for example, may help your reading, but can blur your path while walking.
5. Fall-proof your home - Here are just a few ideas:
** Make sure you have nonskid backings on all your rugs
**Keep entrances and hallways well lit - especially around stairs
**Keep floors clear of clutter
**Cover any temporary extension cords you are using with rugs or duct tape
** Install nonslip adhesive strips on the floor of your shower or bathtub
**Avoid placing decorative bed pillows on the floor when going to sleep
6. Drink alcohol for taste, not effect - Limit yourself to no more than one drink per day. A drink is equivalent to 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits.
Mature adults benefit from incorporating a weekly exercise routine. Fitness is important for keeping your muscles and bones strong, your joints flexible, your brain sharp, and your balance stable. The best exercise is the one that you will do! To know how much exercise you really need to see results, keep reading!
If you are brand new to fitness training, then aim to start with just 20 minutes a couple of days per week. Over time, you will will build up your strength and endurance and may be able to reach a total of 60 minutes of exercise per day., with 30 minutes dedicated to strength training! But as you begin a strength program, you will want to start low and go slow. This means that the older you are, the lighter the weights should be, and the more careful you need to be.
To see amazing results, mature adults should aim for twice weekly progressive strength training. This has been shown to be just as effective as training three days per week. Research suggests that older adults need a longer recovery than younger adults. The more you increase your sets, reps, and weight used, the longer your body will need to recover.
Another aspect of a strength program is training for muscle power. This type of training tends to decline earlier and faster than muscle strength with advancing age. Muscle power is even more important than traditional strength training for many functional tasks such as stair-climbing and rising from a chair. Power training using a variety of equipment such as body weight, sand bags, weighted vests, medicine balls, kettlebells, and resistance bands can all be used and typically require using lower weight but at more intensity. It should be noted that before beginning power training, you should have proper form, and a conditioning phase focused on muscular strength and endurance.
Balance and Fall Prevention Training
Falls are due to a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors include a history of falls, living alone, certain medications, impaired mobility and gait, sedentary behavior, visual impairments, poor lower extremity strength, and fear of falling.
Extrinsic factors include environmental hazards, improper footwear and clothing, and the use of walking aids or assistive devices.
Exercise has been identified as the best single intervention to prevent falls in older adults with up to 42% of falls being preventable with a well-designed exercise program.
To get the best results, balance and fall prevention training should be performed for at least two hours per week for a 6-month period. Further, balance improvements are lost quickly if training stops.
Two options for balance and fall prevention training include Tai Chi and Yoga. Tai Chi is an ancient martial art with many different forms that incorporates mild strength training, balance, postural alignment and concentration by using slow, continuous movement of many body parts.
Yoga has gained momentum over the years among both the general population and mature adults. While more studies need to be done on the effectiveness of yoga, modest improvements in gait, balance, upper and lower body flexibility and lower body strength have been reported in the literature. Also, be aware that some yoga poses may be inappropriate for older adults with specific chronic diseases or orthopedic concerns.
HIIT Training (High Intensity Interval Training) is a very effective form of cardio conditioning. During the exercise intervals, heart rate and metabolism increase significantly. During periods of recovery (lower-intensity exercise), heart rate, oxygen usage, and metabolism remain elevated above the level that you would expect from low-intensity exercise.
One way to think of HIIT training is that it is kind of like shaking a snow globe. If you give it just a little shake then you don't disturb all the flakes and the snow disappears quickly. But, if you give a vigorous shake, you disturb many more flakes with the water swirling violently around inside and it takes much longer for the snow to disappear. HIIT training, therefore, "shakes up" your metabolism and the harder you exercise the more calories you burn afterwards.
If you are new to endurance training, start with something you enjoy doing like walking, swimming, dancing, hiking, etc. Then, to try higher intensity training, experiment by exercising a little harder than usual until you feel like you are getting out of breath and then back off to your usual pace or even a little below it. Eventually, try progressing to longer intervals (2-3 minutes) and limit how hard you go during the higher=intensity phase. Keep in mind that the recovery intervals should be longer than the higher-intensity intervals; shoot for a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3. A general idea would be to begin higher-intensity periods of about 30 seconds, and no more than 3 sets of intervals. Aim to increase over time and work up to as much as 2-3 minutes of higher-intensity, followed by adequate recovery for a total of 5 or more sets during a workout.
Being fit and healthy is an important aspect of prime-time health. Whether you are in the preventive mindset or repair mode, exercise is a critical part of functional aging. As we age, our sense of balance, coordination, and response time all tend to decrease which can lead to falls, the number one cause of injury related deaths in the United States.
But, if we spend just 20 minutes a day focusing on exercise, we can drastically reduce our chances of injury related falls, and continue to live our lives on our own terms rather than be limited by our chronological age. In fact, studies have proven, for example, that older adults can maintain muscle with exactly the same amount of strength training as younger adults. Losing muscle is the main reason people decline as they get older, but it doesn't have to be this way!
So, what kind of exercise do prime-timers need? A balance of strength training, endurance training, and flexibility training. We need to build up our muscles, which will in turn create stronger bones. We need to work on endurance so our heart doesn't have to work as hard, and we need to work on our stretching so we can do all the things we want to do.
Think of movement as the best medicine you'll ever take and one that has only pleasant side effects. In fact, exercise is the most under utilized antidepressant!
As you begin to think about adding exercise to your daily life, it can be hard to know where exactly to begin. Like I said, there are three aspects of training (strength, endurance, and flexibility) so if we plan just 20 minutes per day, we would start with 2 days focused on strength, 2 days focused on endurance, and 2 days focused on stretching.
If you are new to all of this, then the best thing you can do for yourself is start low and go slow. Don't do too much at once. Here is a simple 6-day plan you can follow:
Day 1: Resistance bands for 20 minutes
Day 2: 20 minute walk
Day 3: Brief 5 minute warm-up followed by 15 minutes of stretching
Day 4: Dumbbell strength training for 20 minutes
Day 5: Swimming, dancing, golf, tennis, whatever you enjoy for 20 minutes
Day 6: Yoga
There are tons and tons of free videos online to help you get started. However, if you are worried about hurting yourself, it's a good idea to hire a personal trainer in the beginning. A good personal trainer will help you figure out a plan, assess your current fitness level, your ability to balance, and your range of motion through various exercises, and then work with you to develop a plan that will get you the results you want. It's important to know that you will not need a personal trainer forever. You may feel very comfortable exercising on your own after just a few months!
If you would like to know more about the personal training services I offer, please click here.