Summer Living: Healthy Tips for the Season

Everybody loves summer, right?

The sunshine and warm weather can lift our spirits and get us engaging in healthy living. Jogging, gardening, hiking, outdoor swimming… the options are endless with the longer days.

Summer is also a good time to remind ourselves about some healthy lifestyle choices. So, let’s review how to make the most of the season.

Hydrate yourself
That’s right – warmer weather means we need to be even more vigilant about drinking plenty of water. Among the many benefits: It keeps us cooler.

Getting the right amount of water each day also helps increase our metabolism, which helps us lose weight and keep it off. Plus, drinking a glass before a meal helps us feel full faster, so we’re less likely to overeat.

Water is also good for digestion, healthy skin – and just about everything related to a healthy body.

Add cucumber slices or fruit to a pitcher to give a refreshing, light flavor.

Drink water even when you’re not thirsty. A good rule of thumb is to drink between a half-ounce and 1 ounce of water for every pound of body weight, according to WebMD.com.

Avoid the heat
Enjoy your outdoor activities before the highest heat of the day.

If you like to garden, for instance, get your digging done around breakfast time rather than in the afternoon.

An evening walk or jog can be much more pleasurable than taking one in the hot middle of the day.

Wear sunscreen and hats
Too much exposure ages the skin and can lead to skin cancers. Consumer Reports says 61 percent of people over 60 don’t use sunscreen. And skin cancers are up among Baby Boomers.

So, get something with an SPF between 30 and 50. Look for UVA and UVB protection. Reapply frequently, and don’t be stingy.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends sunscreen and hats – along with staying in the shade, wearing clothing to the ankles, and wearing a long-sleeved shirt.

For a natural, do-it-yourself sunburn treatment, consider essential oils: peppermint, chamomile, tea tree and lavender; or oatmeal baths. Men’s Health recommends a spray made from 1ounce pure aloe, 1 ounce coconut oil, 2 ounces of witch hazel, 5 drops of peppermint oil and 5 drops of lavender oil.

Win the Mosquito Wars
Be sure to empty flowerpots, buckets, and other water containers to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Use outdoor repellents around the yard. Use yellow-hued outdoor lightbulbs, since they attract fewer pests.

To keep the bugs off your body, the CDC recommends mosquito repellent with 5 percent to 50 percent DEET. Others swear by Off! Deep Woods Insect Repellent Avon Skin So Soft, Repel Tick Defense and other easily found items.

Enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, avoid too much alcohol, and get plenty of rest.

We’re here to keep you moving – and it’s always safe and plenty cool in here with us! Come on down.

Check Out These Over-50 Fitness Influencers

We love bringing you news and information that will inspire your fitness journey.

And on social media, particularly Instagram, there’s no shortage of interesting, helpful fitness influencers in the over-50 fitness category. In fact, we would never try to pick a “Top 10” list.

But we are more than happy to share a few that we think you might enjoy. And feel free to share with us any others that you like.

And before you scoff about the value of “influencers,” read what the National institutes of Health had to say about them:

“Studies have proven that fitness influencers positively affect people’s exercise intentions or behaviors. Fitness influencers can be seen as health communicators on social media who use their professionalism, reliability, and attractiveness to motivate people’s fitness behavior.”

Happy scrolling!

1. Joan MacDonald @trainwithjoan. She started getting fit at age 70 and now trains with her daughter. She’s lean and muscular and sports a great smile.
2. Ashley Ward @itsashleywardd. This “hot daddy” type really keeps it in the family, too, frequently posing online with his buff young son. He’s a former pro rugby player and coach and frequently poses in sexy shirtless pics, if you’re into that kind of thing.
3. Jean Titus @titusunlimited. This “Silverfox squad member” also sports the physique of a fitness model half his age. He’s been featured in ESPN and BET.
4. Wendy Ida @wendyidafitness. She says her life was in shambles before she found fitness. Now, she’s a champ and an author in her 70s.
5. Old Lady Gains Apparel @oldladygains. This women-owned business sells “fitness apparel for unstoppable midlife+ women.” With attitude!
6. Debra Atkinson Fit4Menopause @flipping50tv. The podcaster, author and speaker helps woman over 50 live their best lives with strength, bone and brain health, and “science-based hormone-balancing exercise.”
7. Shaun T @shaunt. OK, he’s not quite 50, but this bodybuilder, famous from infomercials a few years back, shows it’s possible for “older” men to pack on the muscle and keep it.
8. Kim Hale @mskimhale. Not all fitness happens in a gym, as this dancer proves. Hale was an aspiring chorine on Broadway years ago and has now returned in her 50s to make her dreams come true.

If any of these influencers – or anything else you see on the Internet – inspires you to make healthy changes in your life, then we say that’s a good thing.

But you’ve gotta do more than just watch these folks and others on your phone. Call us or come see us today and let’s get you moving with purpose.

In no time, you’ll be an influence on others around you, who will start to wonder… What’s the secret?


Diet Is More Than What You Eat

When someone asks about your diet, you naturally think about food, right?

But what if we expand our ideas about the word “diet” to include everything we consume in other aspects of healthy living? What would your exercise “diet” be? Your emotional diet, your spiritual diet, etc.?

It’s more than just an interesting way to look at things. This can be a helpful tool in assessing the various categories of your wellness – which, in turn, can help you see how to improve something here, tweak something there, and even applaud yourself for something else.

“Diet” is really just another word for choices we make habitually. So, let’s consider what we consume across the spectrum. What are some good, healthy choices, and how can we look out for pitfalls that can throw of four diets as surely as a giant slab of birthday cake with ice cream.

Physical. Exercise and nutrition are essential to maintaining health and independence. You know this. So – move your body and eat right!

Do This More: Resistance training. Stay strong so you maintain muscle mass, balance, and everyday functional performance.

Do This Less: Sitting. Go for a walk, take dance breaks during TV commercials, and stand during part of your computer time.

Emotional. How well do you cope with challenges of life? Are you trustworthy and respectful?

Do This More: Meditate. Pause throughout the day to focus solely on your breathing, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Do This Less: Consume news and social media. It can be so overwhelming and depressing. Limit yourself so that you stay informed and in touch, without going down any dark rabbit holes.

Intellectual. Engage in creative pursuits and things that stimulate your brain.

Do This More: Read and write. That means read good books, not snippets off screens, and write in longhand, not on the computer – poetry, fiction, or letters to loved ones.

Do This Less: Consume sugary drinks. You already know they contribute to physical problems like obesity and diabetes. But consuming too much sugar also raises your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Professional/Vocational. Even if retired, you still gain satisfaction using your skills as a mentor, volunteer or caregiver.

Do This More: Volunteer with a community organization that needs help in your area of expertise.

Do This Less: Complain about how things aren’t as good as they used to be when you were in charge or coming up.

Social. Our interactions with family and friends keep us connected, lowering stress and depression.

Do This More: Call someone you’re thinking about. Go back to your house of worship, recovery program, or community center. Start dating again, if it’s time.

Do This Less: Complain.

Spiritual. Let your personal values guide you to a life of meaning and purpose.

Do This More: Say “Thank you” to whomever or whatever you believe in. Make a gratitude list.

Do This Less: Live in the past. Memories are nice, but we only have right now, so enjoy your blessings and spread the bounty today.

Environmental. Be aware of how different environments affect you, and of your effect on the environment.

Do This More: Plan your next trip to somewhere that makes you happy or fires your imagination.

Do This Less: Put yourself in settings that cause you stress. Seriously. You can just say no to all kinds of things.

Keep it simple. Remember, you are what you eat. But you’re also what you read, believe, tell yourself, do with other people, and put into the world.

Living well is a banquet. Enjoy!

Are You Ready for the Summer?

Peter likes to run the trails in his neighborhood and work out on equipment in the park.

Maria is crazy about hiking with her weighted backpack.

And Joe rides his bike as often as possible, even to the grocery store and his favorite watering hole.

These are just three of the responses we received recently when we started asking people what kinds of activities they enjoy outside of the gym.

We believe working out with us is important and can improve your life in countless ways.

And one of them is being able to get outside and enjoy yourself more, with the confidence that comes from the strength, agility, and endurance we help you develop.

Time Outside Is Healthy

Living the way you want is one of the main values of functional fitness, and everybody has their own individual goals. But time spent outdoors is good for us and might even help us live longer, according to research in the Lancet Planetary Health.

It says that being around greenery improves longevity for folks who live in cities.

  • Parks, for instance, give us space to move our bodies and play, which is good for us in countless ways – from lower blood pressure to calmer moods.
  • Trees reduce noise and improve air quality.
  • Another study reported that women near green spaces had lower rates of death from kidney disease, respiratory disease, and cancer.

New York and Paris are among the globe’s top metropolises adding greenery, at least partly to add years to residents’ lives. The French capital even wants to make a third of its public green spaces into sustainable farms, complete with chickens and beehives.

Many in cities everywhere can enjoy the benefits of grass and trees in parks or back yards. Some trails have activity stations that encourage calisthenics and stretching along the way, like the ones Peter enjoys.

The point is, fitness in the gym helps you enjoy fitness outdoors for all kinds of activities.

And that sunshine on your shoulder makes everything just a little bit easier.

A Big Bike Trip

What are you most excited about as we head to summer?

  • Maybe it’s just being outside in the sunshine, walking the dog and working the yard.
  • Being able to travel to see friends and family who live far away?
  • Maybe you’re itching to spend more time on the golf course or pickleball courts.

Chris is one man with big outdoor fitness plans for the summer.

After working out at a gym for years, he has taken up biking, with a group and on his own, three or four times a week. This followed time spent running, hiking, climbing, and paddling at a local park that has a range of activity options.

Now he’s ready:

“I’ll turn 63 on a big ride out West, somewhere in the backwoods of Montana,” he says proudly, part of a 2,400-mile, off-road ride down the Continental Divide.

Chris knows: When you’re fit, you’re ready for anything.

Is Weight Loss the Most Important Goal?

If you want to get in shape, you better believe this: Nothing is more important than losing weight!

The number on the scale is all that matters!

And we have a special deal for you on a certain bridge in Brooklyn!

Trust us, folks. Despite society’s focus on it, your weight is not always the most important factor in your health and fitness. And losing weight should not necessarily be the No. 1 goal of exercising on a regular basis.

That’s a common misunderstanding that frustrates many newcomers to fitness. It keeps others from even trying to get in shape.

It’s true that weight loss is a common goal. It’s an excellent goal for many people. And being at a proper weight is essential for your health.

But there are so many more reasons to pursue or maintain a fit lifestyle. And there are so many other indicators of health than just pounds – like body fat percentage and strength.

  • Thin doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.
  • Strong is the new skinny.
  • You might weigh a little more after losing body fat and gaining muscle.

Remember that daily movement is essential for optimal aging. It keeps you feeling better, moving better, and – yes! – looking better.

It lowers healthcare costs.

It extends independence.

So, let’s go over some of the main facts about fitness over 50 that often get overlooked in all the misinformation out there.

Focus on Function

Cody Sipe, a professor and co-founder of the Functional Aging Institute, fights ageism and focuses on functional ability rather than merely someone’s weight or age.

He points out a few of the common false myths.

  • Older people should never lift weights. Not only can most mature people lift weights, but they shouldlift weights. Strength training builds muscle mass, which we lose as we age. And it protects bone health.
  • Walking is good enough. Walking and jogging are nice first steps, but we must do more. That includes strength, cardio endurance, balance and mobility.
  • You’ll hurt yourself if you exercise. Wrong. It’s more dangerous to sit all day than to move your body with purpose.

A Few Top Motivators

People over 50 have endless reasons for wanting a healthier lifestyle.

  1. Grandkids. If you don’t think you need strength, agility and endurance to be The Fun Nana, well, guess again.
  2. Travel. Try carrying luggage, putting it in an overhead compartment, and enjoying activities WITHOUT being in good shape.
  3. Mental Health. Exercise relieves depression, battles dementia, and improves sleep. Hello!
  4. Physical Health. It keeps you at a healthy weight, which lowers your risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and countless other issues as you age.
  5. Sports and Hobbies. You can continue your favorite leisure activities if you are fit. This is true for everything from pickleball to ballroom dancing.

So, you see, although it really is important to maintain a healthy weight, this is a much more rewarding journey than just obsessing about that number on the scale. Questions? We are here to help!

When to Pause on the Path and Look Back

Here’s a “hot take” on a common bit of advice that tells us to “Never look back – you’re not going that way.”

Yeah, sure. But here’s the deal.

If you don’t look back sometimes, then how can you review where you’ve been – and feel great about how far you’ve come?

If you’re always looking ahead to a goal off on the horizon, then you’re always going to be unsatisfied – because that goal, and the horizon, will constantly move farther away from your grasp.

It flies in the face of so much of our “goal-driven” culture, but it makes sense to focus on our gains instead of the gap between where we are and where we want to be.

That’s the premise of a book called “The Gap and the Gain” that offers a more constructive way of looking at yourself on your journey, whatever journey it might be.

The authors suggest that you’ll feel more inspired when you look back at how much you’ve gained, which is a defined point from THERE to HERE, rather than always reaching for some impossible “out there” that you can never, ever reach.

It’s a little like the “all or nothing” excuse that we often hear. People tell us they would love to get in shape, but they just don’t have time to dedicate their lives to it.

But guess what? You don’t have to dedicate endless hours and become obsessed with the gym. Any exercise is better than nothing. Any healthy meal is better than a drive-through. Any activity is better than none.

And it all adds up to impressive GAINS that will motivate you even further.

Seriously, think about this.

Do you feel frustrated because you haven’t reached your goal weight?

OK. Now remember what you weighed when you started. Compare it to your current weight. Applaud that gain! It’s fantastic!

If you can’t go to the gym five days a week, no worries. Go two days a week. That’s better than none.

It’s all in how you look at it, but in a practical sense that pays off in real dividends.

Specifically regarding “The Gap and the Gain,” here’s what co-author Benjamin Hardy says:
“[T]his one simple concept is a masterclass on positive psychology, healthy relationships, mental well-being, and high-performance. Everything that psychologists know about how to create a high-functioning and successful person can be achieved using The GAP and the GAIN.”

It makes perfect sense once you think about it.

If you’re always trying to be somewhere you LITERALLY CANNOT BE, then you’ll always feel like a failure.

But if you’re reviewing your achievements and saying, “Hey, I accomplished that much,” then you’re more likely to keep going – and to feel happy and successful.

Try it next time you find yourself saying something like, “I’m just not getting anywhere.”

Turn around, take a look… and SEE.

We want to be beside you on your journey, wherever you need us. Call or come see us today, and let’s get you moving.

That’s an easy GAIN you can make right now!

How Old Am I? That Depends!

They say age ain’t nothing but a number.

OK, fine.

But which number?

When someone asks, “How old are you?” do they mean your chronological age – which is how many years you’ve been on the earth?

Do they mean your biological age, which is how old you are in terms of your physical health, aging cells, biomarkers, etc.

Or do they mean your subjective age, or how old you feel in your mind – your self-image?

It’s interesting to think about. On the one hand, you can’t do anything to change your chronological age. You are 52 or 79 or whatever, and the number reliably changes once a year (until it doesn’t).

Of course, we can change our biological age by practicing healthy habits, like exercising regularly, eating well, and avoiding cigarettes, alcohol and drug abuse.

What about that last one – subjective age? Well, now, that one’s much more a mind game.

Minus 20 percent

A Pulitzer Prize-winning writer in an Atlantic essay said people seem to have an “intuitive grasp of this highly abstract concept – ‘subjective age.’”

The BBC wrote about the idea, too.

And the American Psychological Association even investigated whether our feelings about our “subjective age” can affect health and longevity.

Studies show that teenagers and young adults tend to think of themselves as older – maybe because they’re eager to start living their adult lives and being perceived as legitimate.

But after 40 or so, people begin thinking of themselves as being 20 percent younger. So, if you’re 60, you might think of yourself as being 48.

It’s why we are sometimes startled by looking in the mirror. Or by seeing current pictures of childhood friends on Facebook and wondering why they look so old.

Neither good nor bad

Here’s the thing. Subjective age isn’t good or bad, just like chronological age on its own. If you’re 72, then you’re 72. If you instinctively feel 58 or so, that’s fine, too.

What’s NOT fine is being biologically older because you’re not exercising, eating right, and taking care of yourself. You can change that one!

There might be some scientific reasons for feeling like we’re a little younger than we are – or even a little older, since that happens, too.

It doesn’t mean we’re delusional. It doesn’t mean we’re desperately trying to be young again.

But it might mean that we still feel like we have a lot of life ahead of us, that we have things to do and place to go and people to meet.

That we’re not ready to give up on life, or ourselves, just yet.

And that’s where fitness comes into play. When you have the strength, agility and endurance of health and vigor, guess what? You have a higher quality of life, more independence, and greater ability to do what you want to do.

We’re here to help show you how. Come see us today.

Healthy Recipe, Vegan Four-Bean Chili

It’s hard to believe a pot of chili could be so filling and flavorful without a speck of meat or any added fat. But this recipe, lightly adapted from one in Toriano Gordon’s “Vegan Mob,” proves it can be done! Just toss everything in the pot and crank up the burner while you assemble some bowls of your favorite toppings — vegan or non-vegan. Crack open a bag of chips, invite some friends over, and you’ve got a party! Serves 8-10.

Ingredients

  • 1 (15-ounce) can each of pinto, kidney, black and cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium summer squash, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 or 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (plus more, if needed)
  • ¼ cup chili powder (plus more, to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (plus more, to taste)
  • 1 dried chipotle pepper (or 1 teaspoon powdered, or diced chile in adobe sauce)

Optional: Cooked rice, diced tomato, diced green onions, shredded vegan cheese

Instructions

  1. In a heavy stockpot, combine beans, vegetables, garlic, tomato sauce, broth, chili powder, 1 tbsp salt, chipotle. Stir to blend well.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until steam rises from the pot and ingredients are heated through, about 10 minutes. Cover. Cook 30 minutes more.
  3. Remove the lid and taste for seasonings, adding more salt and chili powder if desired.
  4. Ladle in bowls. Add rice if desired and serve with tortilla chips and accompaniments of choice on the side.

Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.

Eye of the Tiger: Keep Your Drive at Any Age

Studies show that having a purpose is key to overall optimal aging and to success in fitness at any age.

Once you meet 80-year-old track-and-field champion Howard Booth, you won’t doubt that again.

It’s Howard’s commitment that keeps him going in life and in sports.

“So much of it is the psychology,” says Howard, a retired professor. “I know that deep down, doing this stuff is good for me. There is a little bit of self-brainwashing involved,” he says, describing what others might call motivation.

He worked out in gyms before the pandemic and then built a home gym with a stair stepper, treadmills, chin bars, free weights – and a pole-vaulting pit in the back yard. He likes to lift weights, perform bodyweight exercises like pushups, and practice dynamic balance moves.

Howard has won three gold medals in pole vaulting in World Masters Athletics championships. He’ll compete in Sweden this summer in pole vault, hurdles, and a relay team.

His speed and strength training make him a competitor. Vaulting alone requires you to race down the track and hoist yourself over a bar 7 feet high.

“Drive is why I got a PhD. That’s why I had a great career as a professor,” said Howard. “It is paying attention to details of what you’re doing at that time.”

Determination Is Key

You don’t have to be a retired professor, a pole vaulter, or as dedicated as Howard is. You just need a purpose to keep you moving. Experts say we need at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity cardio exercise, plus two strength training sessions a week, to stay healthy.

Many active agers benefit from focusing on a main “why.” They can return to it like a mantra for ongoing inspiration… Maybe they want to walk a granddaughter down the aisle, enjoy a summer working the back yard, or follow doctor’s orders to treat symptoms of chronic health conditions.

It doesn’t matter “what” your “why” is. Just that you have one.

Optimal aging requires the strength, stamina and agility to live life on your terms for as long as possible. It takes effort and determination, but you’re no stranger to putting in work to enjoy rewards later.

Plus, as Howard shows daily, it’s fun to move your body and to challenge and reward yourself.

He enjoys hiking with his wife, a painter, and they visit museums together when traveling for his track meets. Howard has a mountain bike and likes to paddleboard.

For anyone not quite as advanced – or, well, determined – as he is, Howard has some simple advice.

“Start simple and easy,” he says. “You get better and you learn to do new things, which is better than sitting there watching some stupid TV program that has no merit. When you’re done, give yourself kudos: You did it.”

Let us show you how to get that sparkle of drive back in your eye. Call or come see us today.

Gaining Plank-spiration from a 58-year-old World Record Holder

DonnaJean Wilde, a 58-year-old retired educator, made headlines recently when she set a world record for abdominal planking by a woman.

She received official recognition from the Guinness World Record folks for holding a plank for 4 hours, 30 minutes and 11 seconds in Magrath, a town in Alberta, Canada. That was 10 minutes longer than the previous record, set in 2019, Guinness says on its website.

“The challenger’s forearms and toes must touch the ground at all times,” Guinness explains. “The remainder of the body must be lifted off the ground and be kept straight throughout.”

Wilde says she has long suffered chronic pain in her hands and arms. She came to love planking after she broke her wrist and was limited in her activities.

During training, she would read, watch movies – and even completed the work to earn a master’s degree, Guinness says.

You can watch a video on DonnaJean’s achievement on YouTube.

The male record is held by former Marine George Hood, who planked for 8 hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds a few years ago at age 62.

Even people who are very fit will struggle to hold a plank for more than a few minutes. And good news: You don’t have to! The plank is great for core training, posture, gait, balance and more, can be done anywhere, and has many variations.

“Anybody can do what I do,” George told the media after reclaiming his title. “Everybody has to start somewhere.”

The Plank 101

It’s safe for people over 50 – as DonnaJean and George prove. “This is probably the best exercise you’ll ever do,” AARP blogger Barbara Hannah Grufferman wrote. Research shows the benefits of regular planking.

It helps your midsection without the strain of crunches. And it works more than just the abs, targeting the entire core, which wraps around us and stabilizes our bodies while doing everyday tasks. Stability and balance are essential for functional fitness.

When you’re in the plank position, you’re working just about every muscle in your body. The focus is on the core and abs. But you’re also using your legs, arms and back to stay in place.

We’re happy to show you in person, but here’s the basic idea. Start by lying face down on an exercise mat. Keep the elbows close to your sides, the palms facing down, and the fingers facing forward. Lift up, keep your body straight, and put your weight on your elbows and feet.

Engage those core muscles and hold on.

Aim for 30 seconds at first. Rest a minute. Try for three rounds of that to start, a few times a week. You’ll be amazed how fast you advance.

Motivation for Everyone

Let DonnaJean and George serve as inspiration, no matter what your goals are.

“Keep trying and keep practicing,” she told Guinness. “I actually still can’t believe it. It feels like a dream.”

Dreams come true at any age. Come see us today and let’s bring yours to life.