Take Steps Toward Better Heart Health

Bernadette Harris knew she needed to make some changes in her lifestyle. “I was working 15, 16 hours a day. I wasn’t eating right. I wasn’t exercising,” she recalls now. Her high blood pressure scared her. “I don’t want to be the grandma on a walker,” Bernadette says. “If I didn’t make some changes, I was not going to be here for my daughter.” She started making changes advocated by the CDC Foundation for American Heart Month in February.  Exercise is among the most important steps we can take for heart health to prevent heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and more. “Physical activity is key to a healthy heart,” the CDC campaign says. “Even small steps toward being more active can add up to big health benefits over time.” The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, broken up any way you want, and two weekly sessions of strength training. Other steps the CDC and heart advocates support include:

  • Managing risk factors like blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Working with healthcare providers
  • Eating right
  • Reducing stress
  • Quitting cigarettes

“Making these changes was about really enjoying life more, really living, not working all the time … recognizing the things and the people who matter most,” Bernadette says now. Talk to your doctor about your heart health. And, if you’re not already working out with us, let’s get you started today for a stronger tomorrow. Call us today to get started!

How to Build Healthy New Habits

It’s the time of year when everyone wants to build new habits, and “getting in shape” is always one of the most popular New Year resolutions.

We love it, of course, and welcome everyone who’s starting this month – and all our returning friends who are back for more strength, endurance, and agility.

Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of people build healthy habits that last long after the holiday thrill fades. How’d they do it? Here are some common success factors for you to keep in mind.

1. Set SMART goals

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. So, apply this to building habits, as well. Instead of saying, “I will exercise more,” say, “I’m going to the gym three times a week for at least 30 minutes through January, and then I will add 15 minutes each day starting in February.”

2. Start small

Research, and a terrific best-selling book, tell us that “atomic” (small) changes are the best. Avoid statements like, “I’m going to lose 20 pounds this month,” and set more realistic expectations.

3. Celebrate little victories

Did you hit your workout goal for the week? Treat yourself to a fancy coffee. Dropped that first pound? Give yourself a high-five in the mirror.

These little victories are so important to acknowledge.

4. Remember your ‘why’

Let’s admit it: There will be days when you don’t feel like exercising. Just remember WHY you started in the first place. To rule the golf course this spring? Walk your granddaughter down the aisle? Turn around a doctor’s warning? That’s the secret fuel to keep you going.

5. Workout with your partner or a friend

Working out with a pal makes it way more fun. A trainer and a small group can serve the same purpose. Talk to us about making these valuable connections.

6. Tie habits together

Here’s another gem from “Atomic Habits” – link your new habit to one you already do. Let’s say you want to start each morning with 5 minutes of meditation. Do this RIGHT AFTER you brush your teeth or walk the dog. Makes it super-easy.

7. Choose fun

If exercise feels like a drag, you’re less likely to do it. Choose something that’s fun for you, no explanation or apology to anyone. Weightlifting, yoga, jogging, dancing… Whatever gets you moving!

8. Keep track of yourself

Take a photo and record measurements when you start. Record progress weekly, even if it seems minor. Here’s why: Small progress adds up, and when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, there’s nothing more motivating than reviewing your record… and seeing how far you’ve come.

Talk to us about all these ideas and more. We want to see you in here long past the strong “resolve” part of “resolutions” goes away. It’s consistency you’re after, and we are here to help you achieve it.

More of Your Fitness Questions – Answered!

We love hearing your questions about fitness. Here are some we are asked most often. Food for thought!  Question: Older people don’t need to lift weights, right?Answer: Wrong! Resistance training is ESSENTIAL for everyone as we age, for many reasons that are indisputable. Humans start to lose muscle mass regularly in our 30s, and if we don’t work to build muscle, we eventually become frail and weak. That leads to balance problems, falls, broken bones, and more. Plus, lifting weights helps to keep us lean, to sleep better, and to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol. Q. Does muscle really weigh more than fat?A. No. A pound is a pound is a pound. BUT muscle is denser than fat and takes up less space in our bodies – about 22% less space.  Q. Is the “no pain, no gain” idea for real?A. No, it is not. Some discomfort might be normal when starting a new activity, but many types of pain are not – like joint pain and tendon strains. If you’re new to exercise, don’t ignore pain. Talk to a trainer or healthcare professional to help you distinguish between normal and concerning discomfort. Q. Do I have to go to the gym every day?A. Absolutely not. We recommend two or three times a week with us to start. Health experts suggest everyone needs 150 hours a week overall of moderately strenuous cardio exercise, and at least two strength training sessions a week. You can break that up into chunks of time that fit your schedule, and you don’t have to do it all here.  Q. When will I start seeing results?A. Everyone is different, and it depends on your goals, but most people report that they start seeing differences within the first two to three months. Many also notice that that they start to feel better and move better within a few weeks. Q. Do I need expensive clothes and shoes?A. Not at all. Don’t be worried by “fitness fashion” you might see in the media or in the stores. Dress comfortably in whatever you have and don’t worry about “looking good.” We just want you here and moving! Q. Should I focus just on losing weight?A. No way! Losing weight is a common goal. But don’t get too hung up on that number of the scale. There are so many more benefits. You’ll feel better, move better, and look better. If you also lose weight, that’s good, too.  Q. Can I work out even though I have arthritis?A. Yes, you can – and should. It might seem counterintuitive but think about exercise as providing lubrication for your body. It lessens pain and stiffness by taking pressure off aching joints, and it can ease joint inflammation and stiffness. What questions do you have? We’re here with answers!

10 Easy Tips to Feel, Move and Look Better

You don’t have to spend a fortune or your time at the gym just to feel, move and look better at any age. Just practice these commonsense habits, commonly known today as “self-care.” You might read this list and say, “Well, of course!” But print it out and keep it handy until you’ve incorporated all these ideas into your daily lifestyle.

  1. Drink plenty of water. It’s good for everything from your skin to your weight. Try to consume an ounce for half your body weight in pounds. So, if you weigh 200 pounds, drink 100 ounces a day. PRO TIP: You can “eat” water, too! Another good reason to consume at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies, which generally contain a lot of water.
  1. Eat more whole foods like meat, fish, vegetables and fruit than processed junk. PRO TIP: Protein for breakfast keeps you full longer and prevents energy crashes.
  1. Exercise – or, at least, move your body – every day. Experts say we need 150 minutes a week of moderately intensive cardio exercise, plus two sessions of strength training. PRO TIP: Focus on strength. You’re never too old or young to lift weights. Women, too. It’s the ‘miracle drug’ as we age and keeps our function and everyday abilities high. It helps prevent falls, obesity, high blood pressure, dementia and more.
  1. Sleep. Aim for 7 to 9 hours each night. If you have persistent problems, seek advice – like keeping your bedroom cool and dark; avoiding electronic screens for an hour before sleep; and maintaining a steady sleep schedule. PRO TIP: No TV in the bedroom.
  1. Smile. Practice gratitude and a positive attitude. PRO TIP: When you’re feeling down, make a list of your blessings. Literally write them out. Your brain and soul can’t hold onto anger and thankfulness at the same time.
  1. Take care with your appearance. Stand up straight. Wear clothes that are clean and fit. Wash your face; comb your hair. PRO TIP: Prioritize mobility, strength and nutrition instead of weight.
  1. Stay socially active. Maintaining relationships with friends, family, and even acquaintances at work, houses of worship, or the gym are important to your overall wellbeing. PRO TIP: Volunteering is an excellent choice, even if it’s just a little bit of time each week.
  1. Wear sunscreen and avoid direct sun on your face. PRO TIP: Start moisturizing now if you don’t already. Men, too. (It won’t turn you into a woman. Promise.)
  1. Avoid cigarettes and alcohol. Nothing ages you faster or worse! PRO TIP: Seek support and resources. You don’t have to go it alone.
  1. See your doctor, dentist, and eye doctor regularly. Keep those annual appointments! PRO TIP: Be proactive about your health and fitness. Share your exercise, eating, and sleep tips with your healthcare team.

Give Thanks for These 15 Fitness Facts

Anytime we think about gratitude, most people often put their health high on the list.

And not much boosts your health quite like healthy habits – including regularly exercising, eating right, sleeping well, and managing stress.

It’s always a good time to express gratitude. And here are a few more items to add to your gratitude list, all related to how fitness enriches our lives at any age. Can you think of any others?

  1. You’re never too old to start exercising and see immediate health benefits – for your body, brain and spirit.
  2. Over-50 fitness is a growing trend in the industry around the world, as more gyms, studios, manufacturers and “thought leaders” continue to see the economic power of “older” people wanting to stay healthy.
  3. You can exercise anywhere – with a lot of equipment, with a few items, or with nothing but your body and some motivation.
  4. Consistency is key to success, and it’s liberating to accept this truth – rather than to always be chasing instant results or miracle cures, and berating yourself when you fall short some days.
  5. We can enjoy occasional, big meals more when we’re practicing healthy lifestyles consistently. That doesn’t mean we get to eat more food at them – just that we’re allowed moderate indulgences when we are regularly exercising and eating right.
  6. We sleep better when we exercise regularly. And is there anything better than sleeping well?
  7. Exercise lowers stress, high blood pressure, cholesterol, risk of diabetes, and obesity – just for starters.
  8. It keeps us stronger when we come down with illnesses, and it helps us recover from surgeries and other setbacks
  9. Exercise is good for brain health, improving memory and mood, and lowering the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  10. Staying fit and eating right are the best defenses against heart disease, the No. 1 killer in the United States and many other countries.
  11. Weightlifting has a greater effect than running, walking or cycling on lowering the risk of heart disease, according to the British Telegraph.
  12. Exercise is the miracle drug. It’s good for your bones, muscles, balance, heart, mental health and sleep.
  13. Fit folks are better lovers. At any age.
  14. Your grandkids will want to play with you more when you’re ABLE to play more.
  15. Most people love to travel freely. And that requires strength, stamina and flexibility. In other words – fitness!

Enjoy the holidays, other big events, and daily life as much as possible. Offer thanks. And give love – to everyone, including yourself.

We’re here to help you do that with safe, fun and effective guidance to help you feel better, look better, and move better!

Being Grateful Is Good for Your Health


Gratitude is important every day.

It’s good for our physical, mental, spiritual and social health – and it even has a relationship to exercise.

“Studies suggest that making a habit of noticing what’s going well in your life could have health benefits,” the US National Institutes of Health says.

Age can make us more grateful, when we consider the power of our life experiences and our good fortune, along with our perspective and wisdom. Try to deliberately take a few moments each day to express gratitude — to other people, to your idea of God, and in a daily journal. Writing down reasons to be thankful really does wonders to fight self-pity, depression, and bad moods.

When we focus on our blessings (like generally good health and mobility), we’re less likely to be down in the dumps about our challenges or shortcomings (like what we assume our bodies can’t do anymore).

Studies show gratitude improves your emotional wellbeing and stress management. It has been linked to fewer signs of heart disease. Meditating and practicing kindness have similar benefits, the NIH says.

Psychology Today reports that grateful people have fewer aches and pains and feel healthier than other people. They’re also more likely to take care of themselves, exercise more, and keep regular checkups.

Why else should we be thankful for giving thanks?

It reduces symptoms of depression, our urges to overeat, and high blood pressure, studies show. Plus, it helps us sleep. So try counting your blessings at night, not sheep. And come see us to learn how exercise enhances everything (including gratitude).

Should I Run or Lift Weights? More Fitness-over-50 FAQs

Question: Is it better at my age to run or lift weights?Answer: Fitness offers more than just those two choices. The goal is to find exercise you enjoy that provides a cardiovascular workout and resistance training. Cardio includes running, using the elliptical machines, biking, swimming, and lots more. Resistance training includes lifting weights, using our machines, using resistance bands, and body-weight exercise like yoga – anything that provides resistance. We need both forms of exercise as we age. Q: It seems so complicated. How can I make sense of it?A: As you know, lots of things seem complicated at the start. But once you get started, you’ll see how simple it is. That’s why we’re here – to show you how easy, fun, and effective it is to develop healthy habits. We’ll show you how to KISS – Keep It Simple & Strong. Q: Do I have to go to the gym every day?A: Absolutely not. We recommend two or three times a week with us to start. Many of our members find that’s all they need moving forward, and some like to add a day or two as the weeks go by. It’s all up to you. But health experts suggest everyone needs 150 hours a week overall of moderately strenuous cardio exercise, and at least two strength training sessions a week. You can break that up into chunks of time that fit your schedule, and you don’t have to do it all here. Anything counts! Q: When will I start seeing results?A: Everyone is different, and it depends on your goals, but most people report that they start seeing differences within the first two to three months. Many also notice that that they start to feel better and move better within a few weeks. Q: Do I need expensive clothes and shoes?A: Not at all. Don’t be worried by “fitness fashion” you might see in the media or in the stores. Dress comfortably in whatever you have and don’t worry about “looking good.” We just want you here and moving! Q: I went to the gym once in college and didn’t like it. Why should I try it again?A: Oh, boy! Well, first, trying something once doesn’t provide enough information to give a full picture. And second, we’re not the same person at age 50 or 70 as we are around 20, right? If you’re not happy with how you feel, move, or look right now, exercise will help. If you’re worried about maintaining your physical independence and mental sharpness, exercise will help. If you want to maintain healthy blood pressure, weight, and stress levels, exercise will help. A lot of time has passed since you tried exercise once. Let us show you all the possibilities for improving your life today. >What question do you have? Give us a call today.

Exercise Helps Prevent, Treat Diabetes

Fifteen years ago, Alan Rosenthal was a fit 60-year-old who had just returned from a bicycle trip through France. Then a blood test revealed type 2 diabetes. His doctor gave him a three-day course on diet, exercise, and self-care. The doctor also recommended a local trainer. And even though Alan knew his way around a gym, he adopted a new perspective and learned workouts to keep him healthy. “My goals were different when I was younger,” says Alan, who enjoys an active lifestyle with his husband, 78, who is not diabetic. “Our social life revolves around meals and eating, so there are challenges. But as time wears on, we’ve adjusted how we eat and our exercise.” November is American Diabetes Month, a great time to highlight the link between exercise, diet and the disease, including for people over age 50. Weight Is a Big Factor The American Diabetes Association says 30 million Americans have diabetes, the seventh leading cause of death. It can affect every decision, including what to eat, and requires steady attention. Weight is a major factor. Exercise and proper eating are important in preventing and managing diabetes. The ADA says we can take steps to prevent type 2, the most common form. “Stay at a healthy weight, eat well and be active. With these steps, you can stay healthier longer and lower your risk of diabetes.” The ADA defines type 2 diabetes as “characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body’s inability to use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults but can appear in young people.” Among Americans 65 and older, 25.2 percent or 12 million people have diabetes, the ADA says.  How Exercise HelpsPhysical activity:

  • Helps lower blood glucose, blood pressure, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Lowers risk for pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke
  • Relieves stress
  • Strengthens the heart, muscles and bones
  • Improves blood circulation and tones muscles
  • Improves flexibility

And no, you’re not too old to start.

“Even if you’ve never exercised before, you can find ways to add physical activity to your day,” the ADA says. “Even if your activities aren’t strenuous, you’ll still get health benefits.”Regular physical activity is important for everyone, but it is especially important for people with diabetes and those at risk for it, the ADA says. “Get active and stay active by doing things you enjoy, from gardening to playing tennis to walking with friends.”For Alan, that means working out with a trainer twice a week. He also enjoys biking, swimming, and walking.Alan is determined to focus on all aspects of managing his illness – exercise, diet, checking his blood sugar, speaking with his doctor.“I realize the importance of exercise in controlling my blood sugar,” Alan says. “As I look at my diabetes, the way I eat and the way I exercise… they go hand in hand.”

Success Story: Fighting Back against Obesity

Mary Frances Benton, 61, knew it would take time to lose 40 pounds. But she dropped 15 pounds in just a few months last year, boosting her spirits, and she’s continued to slim down and gain strength ever since. Besides, she knew better than to expect “instant” results, partly because she had done this before. Like millions around the world, the fight against obesity has been ongoing for a while. About 12 years ago, Mary Frances noticed that she was gaining weight. She went to a friend’s gym and asked for a trainer. Within a month, she was feeling better – stronger, and with more endurance. An out-of-nowhere stroke nine years ago took its toll. So did the pandemic – Mary Frances didn’t make it to her gym during lockdown. Now, after returning in 2022 to work with the same trainer she knows and loves, Mary Frances has slimmed down and feels great. “I have a Peloton at home, but I prefer coming to the gym,” she says. “I know he’s going to push me, and I need that.” Obesity Continues to Rise In 1990, about 11 percent of Americans were obese. But now, it’s 41 percent, according to research. That got worse during the pandemic, and it wasn’t all just because of Covid-19.  Conventional wisdom has told us that our metabolisms slow down as we age. But research in Sciencesuggests that simply isn’t true. To feel more energetic, we can stop focusing on age and focus instead on lifestyle choices we can control – like exercise, eating right, managing stress, and getting enough sleep.

  • It’s good for most of us to limit your caloric intake to around 2,000 calories a day – and to burn more than that in activity.
  • Eat plenty of plant-based food, limit the amount of super-processed material you consume, drink plenty of water, and make sure you’re eating enough protein.
  • Then, of course, you’ve got to move that body – every day! US and international recommendations say that each adult should get 150 minutes a week of moderately vigorous exercise a week – plus at least two sessions of resistance training or weightlifting.

Whatever term you prefer, it’s essential to health and maintaining a proper weight after 50. And, no, women don’t need to worry about getting bulky. She Prefers Weightlifting Just ask Mary Frances, who loves weightlifting more than running (and she’s run two half-marathons). “Unless you take steroids, it’s just not going to happen,” she says. “When I first started working out, I was going thru perimenopause. The weightlifting really helped with mood swings. I prefer it to cardio.” She’s looking forward to an adults-only trip to Disney World with her husband and two grown sons. And the exercise is all a part of her plan to live well. “I’m going to keep doing this and keep eating right,” she says.  Say hi to Mickey for us, Mary Frances. And keep up the excellent work. You’re inspiring others to seek help with living a better lifestyle.  We’re here to help YOU, too. Come see us today.


‘Blue Zones’ Series Shines Light on Longevity

Do you want to live a longer, healthier life? Then we have a show for you. The idea of blue zones was popularized by author Dan Buettner in his book, “The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.” He discovered five places in the world where have greater longevity and happy, healthy lives past 100. Now this fascinating research has been adapted for a beautiful Netflix docu-series, “Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones,” hosted by Buettner, who takes viewers to these locations and introduces us to people who live there. It’s a great show – well worth your time.  Buettner identified nine lifestyle habits of people in the blue zones. Here’s some of what he found, and how we can adapt them to our routines.

  1. Move every day. Maybe you can’t walk to work, but you can walk somewhere. And you can join us for workouts for functional fitness.
  2. Purpose. The Nicoyans call it “plan de vida” or why we wake up in the morning. Know your purpose: It adds seven years to life expectancy.
  3. Downshift. Blue zoners have daily routines to shed stress. What do you do to deliberately relax?
  4. 80 percent. A Confucian mantra reminds us to eat till we’re 80 percent full. Think about this before you reach for seconds.

Live blue!

How Fitness Builds Confidence at Any Age

 

Confidence comes with age sometimes. It’s one of the great rewards of this time of life. Maybe you’ve raised a beautiful family and enjoyed a successful career, and rightfully feel strong about your achievements and standing. But for some, it’s easy to feel insecure about our bodies and physical activity – to feel “less than” others when it comes to exercise and health. So, let’s turn that around and discuss how fitness builds confidence at any age, including yours. Principles of Living Well We believe in principles of healthy aging, inside and out. We know how hard it can be to feel truly confident in your own skin after 50 or so – and lost in a world that constantly overlooks you or says you’re past your prime. You start to tell yourself maybe you really are too old to exercise, or too overweight, or too… too… SOMEHOW not enough to maintain the strength, endurance and agility you need to live the life you want to live. But here’s the thing. YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH. And you have the power to break free from all that negativity, both from within and from the world around you.  Because this could be the best time of your life.  Fitness Builds Confidence  Fitness over 50 makes us feel better about ourselves, and it leads to further healthy habits and positive action. For instance:

  • Improved body image: When we exercise regularly, we lose weight, build muscle, and decrease pain. This leads to a more positive body image and, yes, more confidence.
  • Increased energy levels: Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. We feel more energized and positive.
  • Sense of accomplishment: When we set fitness goals and achieve them, even “small” ones, we feel capable, and we’re reminded that we truly can do what we set our minds to do.
  • Improved mental health: Exercise improves mental health, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Your mood improves, and you feel better about everything, including yourself.

A Few Basic TipsIf you’re new to fitness, find an activity you enjoy at a location that’s convenient. Remember, we’re here to help you get going, even if the solution ends up being somewhere else – so come in and talk to us today. Set realistic goals, reward your successes, and either bring a friend, join our group training, or use a personal trainer. Accountability helps!Work out for strength, endurance, and agility – all three! Don’t shrug off strength training. It’s the miracle drug as we age.Finally, remember to celebrate your uniqueness as you find how fitness builds confidence at any age. You got to this point in life because you are your own special, fabulous, WORTHY person. There’s no need to compare yourself to younger models, fitter folks, or even your own past.

  • That means you banish negative self-talk and thoughtless ageism.
  • That means your practice gratitude and support others.
  • That means you throw out the scale – because confidence isn’t based on one measly number.

Neither is your health.Let’s go! You got this.


Study Links Exercise to Immunity from Covid 

People who exercise face a lower risk of Covid-19 and of severe infection than people who don’t, says an analysis of 16 studies published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. This could lead to enthusiasm for updating exercise guidelines and health policies concerning exercise as medicine. You might remember during the darkest days of the pandemic there was a movement to include the health and fitness industry among “essential” services that could continue to be provided during a lockdown. The idea didn’t get far, but it sure makes sense. The New York Times reports that scientists have noted for decades that physically fit people have fewer and less severe respiratory tract infections. One doctor said, “I call it the vaccine-like effect.” Around the world, regular exercisers had a 36% lower risk of hospitalization and a 43% lower risk of death from Covid compared to inactive people. In addition, they had a better chance of avoiding it altogether. Research suggests exercise might fight infectious bacteria and viruses by increasing the circulation of immune cells in the blood. Also, exercise lowers chronic inflammation, which can damage the body and turn immune cells against you. Inflammation is a risk factor for Covid-19, so lowering it should also improve your odds against the virus.  Exercise also keeps you in better health generally, lowering the risk of chronic ailments like heart disease and diabetes. Don’t wait for another crisis. Get healthy now and start strengthening your immune system.