080816 Protect your memory by staying at a healthy weight

080816 Protect your memory by staying at a healthy weight

New research recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found a link between weight and memory loss in older women. An analysis of data gathered from 8,745 women, aged 65-79, showed no signs of dementia at the beginning of this study. Things changed.

Throughout the study, periodic body mass index (BMI) measurements were taken on the participants.

The researchers found that for every increase in the BMI unit, memory loss also increased when measured from the memory test. This is not unexpected.

Clearly, from all the scientific studies conducted over the years, there is a direct link between excess body fat and heart disease. The fact is that for every risk for cardiovascular disease there is also a risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, the findings were not inconsistent with other data gathered relating to weight gain, cardiovascular health, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The question may arise as to what is a good BMI number. The standard reply is between 18.5 for a normal weight, 24.9; 25-29.9 is considered overweight and 30 plus is obese. However, these numbers should be viewed with caution if you are athletic and muscular. For the purposes of the study, the women were neither athletic nor muscular.

Some dietitians believe that individuals over seventy may be better off if their BMI scores are slightly higher, i.e. 25-27, than recommended by the BMI charts. The reasoning behind this lies in the definition of the ideal weight, which can change, as we get older.

Shedding weight does not seem complicated; eat less, exercise more. However, there is more to it than that. There are dietary changes one can make in cutting weight safely. Putting these changes into effect is another matter though. Here are few ideas to help.

Enjoy frequent but smaller nutritionally balanced meals.
Leave fried foods off the menu.
Eat more fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. These foods add more fiber to your diet.
When cooking, use canola or olive oils. They are healthy monounsaturated fats that your body needs to function.
If you are over fifty, add more lean proteins such as chicken and turkey, without the skin and fish.
Cut back on the simple sugars in your diet. Consider whether you actually need that pop or sugar based fruit drink. You probably don’t.

To get a kick start in losing weight begin with a daily log of what you eat and drink. These diaries help maintain the focus on healthy eating and make you accountable for the calories going into your body each day.

Additional actions that will lower your BMI are aerobic and anaerobic exercise five to six days a week. Not only will exercise help with weight loss but it can help raise your energy levels, lower your blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, blood sugar and triglycerides.

You may be thinking that losing a lot of weight until you are under the BMI recommendations would be even better. However, this is not the case.

If you are under the numbers on the chart, you may be at risk of being or becoming malnourished, which can lead to other health related issues such as osteoporosis.

Admittedly, some older citizens may unintentionally be losing weight by not be eating enough nutrients due to poor teeth or dentures, decreased appetite, and in certain instances difficulty in swallowing their food. If this is your case, see your doctor. If not then consider eating more frequently each day.

Eating smaller, but balanced, meals five to six times throughout the day will help you gain weight. Foods such as fish, legumes, nuts, poultry and whole grains taste great and make it easier to add the calories to your diet.

If you are still unable to lose that excess fat then it is time to seek the counsel of a registered dietician. These professionals will closely examine your habits, lifestyle, overall health then create a well thought out outline for you to follow in regaining your health.

Not only will losing weight help to keep your memory intact it also contributes to less pain in the joints, lower cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar control, which assists in diabetes and cardio management.

010816 Make your workouts more productive

010816 Make your workouts more productive

Commit to working out with a good training partner

Many people who want to work out find that exercising is more productive when they do it with a friend. This leads to competition during the period. Unless you are highly self-motivated, it’s easier to make an excuse and not exercise your hardest if you are doing it by yourself. However, with a friend, it is more likely that you will follow through because you don’t want to be a pansy.

You only cheat yourself by not working hard or even worse, missing a session.

Find a gym that fits your personality

Some gyms are exhibition halls of tank tops and spandex for the younger crowd. If you are not already in good shape, these may be intimidating. Men and women do not want to go into these gyms because feel like they are a course on the body buffet. The point being is you want to be comfortable with those around you while you’re exercising. This means you want to be with people similar in age, overall appearance and exercise ability.

Hire a trainer or instructor.

If you have never exercised before, or if you used to exercise three or more years in the past, then first up would be a hirer a trainer because things have changed. When doing so, ask them what certifications and qualifications they have. The top certifications are from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). These trainers can show you how to use the equipment the correct way. This minimizes your exposure to injury.

They will guide you along in developing excellent technique for each of the exercises. Once you become somewhat familiar with doing them, you are going to be enjoying yourself more in the gym. You don’t have to be with these trainers forever, but do learn the basics and then strike out in your own. Periodically it might be wise to hook back up with the trainer just to check out how you doing with your exercise technique and your program.

Pick activities you like to do

Your interest in the exercise is going to determine whether you stick with it. If you feel like walking, then walk. If you like to socialize then get involved with a socializing activity such as bowling or some sort of recreational league sport. If you want to get stronger, then lift and cut the jawboning. All this does is cuts into the exercise time with unproductive results and at worse take up air someone else could be using. That being said, if all you want to do is socialize then go to a gym with lots of machines. They take no brains or instructions to use and are ideal for idle chitchat.

If you like constant movement, try some dancing or endurance running. Strength training can be both a social and individually focused activity, depending on your ultimate goal. If social, go to a social club and leave the hardcore lifters to a hardcore gym.

End each session with something challenging

If you find that doing Bulgarian split squats is something that, even though you know are highly beneficial, but really don’t like to do, then get those out of the way right off the bat when you’re fresh and eager. This serves you in two ways: one, the exercise is over and secondly you know that the rest of the workout is going to be more fun now that they are done. You can now leave the gym with good memories of doing your last exercises.

Keep records

Keeping an exercise logbook is essential to tracking your progress and for successfully reaching your goals. You can get as detailed as you want by listing things that you eat, drink, the quality of your sleep, the number of hours you slept, how you felt doing exercise, the weight used, the repetitions performed, the sequence of the session, how much you weigh going in and leaving, the restorative methods used… This record keeping is up to you. If you use it, it will serve you well.

By following these tips, you will set yourself up for success in achieving your exercise goals each day, each week, and each month.

250716 A beginning resistance training routine

250716 A beginning resistance training routine

A beginning routine is made up of large muscle group exercises featuring balanced applications of sets and repetitions for both agonist and antagonist groups. After a movement specific warm up where each exercise is performed ten to twelve times do eight to twelve repetitions at your workout weight for two to four sets. A set is one group of eight to ten repetitions.

Follow each set with a rest period of sixty to ninety seconds, depending on your present conditioning status and then begin the next set of the same exercise. Move through the list at a steady pace. You should not be in the weight room much longer than forty five to fifty minutes.

The decision to do them all at one time will be a personal matter, one that takes into consideration the time you have to exercise. The full body workouts are good at helping to improve your general physical conditioning. This schedule would be done on alternate days so you have a recovery period inter spaced between workouts.

If you make the decision not to do them all in one session then consider doing the upper and lower body exercises on different days. Following this exercise schedule allows you to exercise five days in a row with the weekend off for active recovery activities.

These are the essential ten and form the foundations of any strength program regardless of how you decide to do them.

  1. Military presses
  2. Chin ups or pull downs
  3. Bench presses
  4. Barbell rows
  5. Squats
  6. Dead lifts
  7. Curl ups or full range sit ups
  8. Back extensions
  9. Laterals
  10. Calf raises

Using the big ten exercises in your training program.

Start out with one set of eight to twelve repetitions and after a week or two add an additional set. Several weeks later add one to two more sets until you reach four to five sets of each exercise. Begin with sets of eight and as you get stronger and can tolerate the stress of lifting gradually add more reps until you’re at twelve repetitions for four to five sets.

After three to four weeks have elapsed on this schedule begin to dramatically increase or decrease the repetitions on one of the days each week. This will shake up your body and make it realize that every day will not be the same. This is how growth takes place.

Once at the five sets of twelve it will be time to drastically change your entire program. But that is not what this article is about so I won’t address it now. Suffice it to say this will be the time in your program that new exercises, new reps and set schemes and different work to rest ratios will be needed to up the intensity necessary to continue your steady progress towards greater physical fitness.

After the exercises have been completed it’s time to start the cool down phase of the session. This period allows your body to readjust back to its normal temperature, pulse and breathing rates.

Midway through this cool down process do one or two static stretches for the various areas you’ve just worked out. Avoid, if possible, doing the same stretches each time by selecting a different one from any of the vast movements that are available.

Several of my favorite books are the Stretching Handbook by Brad Walker, Stretching by Bob Anderson, The Whartons’ Stretch Book by Jim and Phil Wharton, Stretching for Athletics by Pat Croce and Sport Stretch by Michael J. Alter.

After you have cooled down then it’s time to replenish your muscles with fuel. Eat a protein and high glycemic carbohydrate snack to help get your muscles back into the positive growing zone.


Start out by learning how to do the exercises correctly, be consistent in your exercise sessions, maintain the intensity, stick with the basics and eat well.

There you have it; a full schedule to get you into shape safely and effectively. But don’t get in a hurry to leave the gym just yet because you still have to cool down

250616 Older adult exercise guideline

250616 Older adult exercise guidelines

The previous adult guidelines apply to the older population but with a few moderate stipulations that are just for this group. If you are an older adult but are unable to do at least 150 minutes of medium intensity aerobic activity each week due to chronic health conditions then continue to do what you can do. It is far better to be a little active than none at all.

Let your physical abilities and health conditions guide your exercise response. Just don’t quit.

Exercises that help prevent falls by maintaining balance capabilities are essential to good health. Strength training keeps your muscles ready to prevent a fall should you find yourself losing your balance and beginning to fall. If you don’t have the strength to catch yourself then you will more than likely fall.

Schedule periodic discussions with your doctor to determine if the exercises you want to do are appropriate for your particular health conditions. Don’t delay going in if you have questions.

You can ride a stationary bike or use a hand device that allows you to pedal with your arms if you aren’t able to maintain your balance on a bike. Other options are to walk with a friend or joy a local fitness center.

If you decide to join a health center follow your gut instincts when it comes to the exercise program they put you on; if it doesn’t feel right don’t do it! Ask for clarification as to why you are supposed to be doing the exercises and then have the instructor demonstrate each one before you try it. If it hurts don’t do it, there are scores of other exercises that will provide a similar result.

If you decide to go it on your own plan on doing some cardio, strength training, flexibility, and balance training two to three times per week for twenty to thirty minutes a day. The thirty minutes a day is a high end number. Don’t kill yourself in these workouts. They should be enjoyable and fun to do. If not then change your program.

Most professional strength coaches or personal trainers will be more than happy to assist you, if not, go to another gym, and find someone with a little compassion. It’s not always about the membership and the money you pay to be a part of the club.

070516 Accentuating your child’s natural abilities

070516 Accentuating your child’s natural abilities

Not every child will be a sports super star or even a National champion. Deep down parents most realize this but still, hope springs eternal for our children. Having said this now is the time to help the young trainee make logical choices in how they train.

Some children show potential to run distances while others seem better suited to sprints or feats of strength. One is clearly aerobic whereas the other leans more toward the anaerobic type of training. Only a limited number of children have the genetic make up to excel in all activities.

Spending lots of time urging a child to run long distances when they are better suited to becoming strong and powerful will cause frustrations for both parties. In fact, pushing in this direction can actually weaken the potential of the child to get strong and powerful.

Assuming desire is at the same level for both of them, in the long run, they will never reach the same levels as the one who has the genetic makeup to run long distances. This has nothing to do with their desire but instead to the fact their body is not built to run long distances. There are too many fast twitch fibers compared to the runners’ slow twitch fiber make up.

A child that is naturally anaerobic will be at a distinct disadvantage to the one who is naturally aerobic in makeup when it comes to aerobic activities.

An answer to the dilemma lays in accentuating the positive and eliminating the negatives. Work on those parts of the skills, movements and physical conditioning qualities that are behind in the learning curve. Keep in mind that constant negative harping on the lagging parts will become a sore spot for the child. It won’t take long before they’ll be less inclined to continue with their training.

Helping a child to maintain their motivation to work out means emphasizing their natural abilities; the ones they excel in and which make them happy at the same time. After all, every one of us wants to be good at something and participation in physical activity is no different.

A child who enjoys exercising will more than likely remain engaged in vigorous physical activities for the rest of their lives.

060913 Increase your diabetes protection by lifting weights – part two

Increase your diabetes protection by lifting weights – part two

If you are one who is overweight and/or physically inactive, before beginning any type of exercise program talk to your doctor first because this activity is going to challenge your heart. After you have talked to your doctor and mutually agree that physical exercise is going to benefit you, find a certified trainer to get you started in the right direction.

Certified trainer’s from the NSCA and ACSM know how to demonstrate and instruct you how to do the exercises correctly and have the professional expertise to correctly setup physical fitness programs, including strength training that will take into consideration your present physical fitness. It is easy to be injured and if you are older it is correspondingly harder to recover from an injury suffered in the weight room.

The Dr. Rimm ends by saying it is “not necessary to focus on the number of minutes of weight training to take on each week.” He says, “you don’t have to do 150 minutes a week, although that is a good target. Anything will help. In terms of the biology, building some muscle is better than none at all because that will lower your blood glucose levels. So modest amounts of weightlifting will help retain lean muscle mass.”

When lifting, begin your program exercising the large muscle groups rather than smaller ones such as your biceps. These large muscles burn more energy and make a larger contribution to increases in your lean muscle mass. Exercises such as the military press, pull downs, bench presses, barbell rows, squats and dead lifts will not only increase your strength levels but will also burn calories long after the session is over. Unlike aerobics, which quickly lose their calorie burning after effects within a short time span, resistance training continues to burn the calories substantially longer.

150713 Gaining muscle with electrical impulses, fact, or fiction

Gaining muscle with electrical impulses, fact, or fiction

Periodically one sees an advertisement for an electrical device that supposedly builds muscles or helps someone to lose weight. Without a doubt, some types of electrical stimulation are beneficial, however the gains in the muscles are minuscule. Useful versions of these are seen most often in a physical therapy setting where they are used in the rehab of an injury and after a surgery to help control pain. The tens unit comes immediately to mind.

The repeated shocks produced by these electrical devices can force rapid contractions of the muscles. This repeated stimulation does cause a certain amount of growth in the muscle fibers but even the best of these devices, as used in the medical field, can do only so much. They help to partially stave off muscle atrophy during the rehabilitation.

In order to gain muscle size, strength, and to burn enough calories to lose weight, exercise is a critical part of the equation. Without exercise, these devices are practically useless, especially the ones seen on TV.

One popular, regularly advertised, model found that the stimulation of the major muscles of the abdomen, arms, and legs for up to 45 minutes, three times a week for a full two months produced no significant changes in the participants strength levels, body fat ratio to lean muscle mass, weight , or their overall appearance.

The recommendation from most astute observers is to regularly exercise and follow a sound nutritious diet because getting stronger, bigger, and losing weight does not come with an electrical machine. You actually have to be active and watch what you eat and drink.

100713 Killing the pain of exercise, does it kill the gains too?

Killing the pain of exercise – does it kill the gains too

In a study conducted at Ball State University years ago, researchers found that lifters who took ibuprofen or acetaminophen disrupted the benefits of lifting weights. The manufacturer of Tylenol funded this study.

After the results of this study came in the researchers discussed amongst themselves the ill effects of both of these drugs on muscle protein synthesis. This is especially true, according to the study, when a person is trying to build up muscle mass.

Because the original study was only a one-day study, it was decided to extend it out with a greater population. This population was a mature group of 36 men and women 60 to 78 years in age. This group exercised for three full months. It is unknown exactly how many times a week they exercised or what the exercises consisted of but the results were outstandingly remarkable.

According to lead researcher, Todd Trappe, “those lifting weights and taking recommended doses of ibuprofen or acetaminophen increased both their strength and muscle mass 25 to 50% beyond that of placebo group which lifted weights and took look-alike but inactive pills.”

The question that immediately arose after these results were examined was whether or not you should be adding these drugs your exercise program. The quick answer from Trappe was no.

As he explained ” the amount of the benefit that you get when you do resistance exercise without the drugs is so substantial that is not worth risking their potential side effects such as gastric bleeding.”

What about the trainees who are already taking these drugs? Todd explained it this way” you don’t need to worry that they’re interfering with any resistance exercise are doing.”

Now from my reading of the literature and perhaps this is just true for the younger trainees, most of it states that taking a pain reducing substance tends to lower the synthesizing ability of the protein after exercise. More study obviously needs to be conducted in this area. However, for the older generation it appears that taking these substances will help you maintain and improve your strength and muscle mass.

If these results were true then, is there reason to doubt they would be true today? In my gym, the recommendation is to readjust the lifting schedule rather than revert to these types of pain management aides.

010713 Physical activity guidelines and the benefits of walking

Physical activity guidelines and the benefits of walking

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends at least two and a half hours of strength training per week working muscle groups such as the shoulders, chest, upper back, lower back, legs, and abdominal muscles. And two and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity spread throughout the week. Exercise time is decreased if the intensity is higher. In this case, DHHS recommends one hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, again spread throughout the week.

You will note there are no weekend warrior (meaning someone who tries to get all of their exercise time in on one day) recommendations here. Those who try to cram it all in on one-day or over two days frequently end up injured.

If you are not able to set aside 30 minutes each day, then do your exercises in 10-minute bursts over the course of the day.

Participating in a daily regimen of physical activity not only enhances your heart, lungs, and circulatory systems it also eases the pain of arthritis.

This may sound counterintuitive to the arthritis sufferer but the physical act of moving the joints keeps the synovial fluid, the transparent, viscid fluid secreted by the synovial membrane and found in joint cavities, bursae, and tendon sheaths, of the joints equally spread throughout them.

Walking can help you attain and maintain a healthy weight, which is important because numerous studies have found a link between obesity and cancer of the colon, esophagus, kidneys, the breast in postmenopausal women, and the uterus.

Physical activity can also reduce your risk of coronary artery disease, improve the efficiency of your cardiovascular system and boost the high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol and can even help manage or prevent high blood pressure. As a side note, losing excess fat weight also has the tendency to lower your blood pressure numbers and make you feel better about yourself.

Fighting depression can be a lifelong task but scientists find that physical activity can be a useful addition to pharmacology and therapy for treating depression. If you are depressed, see someone and get help. Physical activity helps ease the stress of the day, helps cut back on anxiety, helps you sleep better, and boosts your spirits for facing the day.

Walking, as well as other physical activity can help prevent the risk of type II diabetes. Additionally physical activity may also make it possible to decrease the amount of insulin or other types of medications you may be taking to control your diabetes. It goes without saying, but I am going to say it anyway, see your Doctor before altering your medication.

Osteoporosis is a scary term for those with the diagnosis. Walking puts a load on the bones, which in turn causes them to become stronger, which in the long-term may well prevent fractures. Physical activity combined with a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D may help prevent or slow the progression of osteoporosis.


There are many good reasons to exercise and probably 100 times that many excuses for not exercising. The decision is up to you as to whether not you take advantage of the opportunities to exercise and thereby improve your health or simply sit around and complain about it.

140613 Using exercise to lose and maintain your weight-part three

140613 Using exercise to lose and maintain your weight-part three

“Before you begin a thing, remind yourself that difficulties and delays quite impossible to foresee are ahead… You can only see one thing clearly, and that is your goal. Form a mental vision of that and cling to it through thick and thin.” — Kathleen Norris, Writer

Increasing your resting metabolic rate means burning more calories throughout the day. This relates directly to the amount of lean muscle mass on your body. The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate is and the more calories you burn.

Muscle burns more calories than fat does and strength training keeps this metabolic process functioning at a higher rate even after the completion of the training session. Cardio training, unfortunately, does not have this effect on the body after the exercise session is finished, at least not as long as it does after resistance training.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends doing 8 to 10 strength training exercises with 8 to 12 repetitions per session at least twice a week. It is my opinion, as a professional strength coach of many years, that twice a week is not enough to increase your lean muscle mass. It may be enough to maintain what you already have and perhaps increase it a little, with the emphasis on little.

There is a premium placed on the intensity of the resistance exercise, just as it is in doing high-intensity intervals for your cardio. Heavier weight with fewer repetitions will increase your muscle mass.

This does not mean that a woman is going to be bursting out with huge muscles by using heavier weights. This is a common myth and if it were that easy to develop larger muscles, every man on the face of the planet would be muscular and huge.