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7 Ways to Success Long gone are the days when ‘aging gracefully’ meant taking to a rocking chair on the front porch. Today’s seniors are more active than ever. They’re out jogging, walking, swimming, biking and hiking – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And, say doctors, by remaining active, they’re increasing their chances of staying healthy and young. Exercise, say many medical researchers, is a veritable fountain of youth. Seniors who engage in moderate to strenuous exercise on a regular basis are doing their bodies a favor in more ways than one. Recent studies released by the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health and the Arthritis Foundation all support regular, moderate exercise to help prevent or treat heart conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. In fact, say most doctors, by including a half hour of exercise in your routine three times a week you can reduce your risk of nearly every physical condition that’s associated with aging. “I love to travel and I exercise daily to stay fit so that I can enjoy my travelling more,” says Maddi McDonough, 66, of Pembroke, Massachusetts. “When we went to Switzerland, I was able to hike right up to the peak of Mt. Pilatus while others sat at the lodge and waited. In Alaska, I went mushing on a dog sled, and white water rafting in Colorado. I didn’t bungee jump in Australia, but it sure was tempting.” For Maddi, exercising is walking – 10,000 steps a day, every day. Since she started walking, her cholesterol levels have dropped, her blood pressure is down and the sciatica that had confined her to bed for months at a time hasn’t reared its head in almost two years. She’s one of millions who have snapped pedometers onto their belts to join the 10,000 steps club. Walking is only one way of staying physically active, though. It doesn’t matter how you exercise, says the American Heart Association. The key is to get moving – and keep moving for about half an hour at least three times a week.
The Arthritis Foundation’s position on exercise reflects the changing attitudes of the times and the new information that research has brought to light. For decades, doctors advised patients with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis to ‘take it easy’. Not any more. Nowadays, the advice is ‘move it or lose it’. Just like muscles which atrophy if not used often, joints stiffen and become inflexible without regular use. Exercise helps keep the joints flexible, builds strong muscles around the joints and reduces joint pain. That’s not all, though, say the experts at the Arthritis Foundation. Regular exercise increases energy, promotes better sleep, controls weight, decreases depression and increases self-esteem. And it’s fun. Just ask Marilyn Boynton, a 68 year old self-described ‘old broad’; Marilyn took up tap-dancing at the young age of 59. At one point, says the tap-dancing senior, her back hurt ‘really really bad’. Instead of retiring to her rocking chair, she joined a health club, and within a couple of months, the pain in her back had already begun to lessen. For those who’ve been sedentary for some time, jumping right into a strenuous exercise program could cause injuries or strain. Instead, the American Heart Association offers the following advice for exercise success. 1. If you haven’t been active for a while, are overweight or have a chronic health condition, see your doctor before beginning any exercise program. 2. Choose a variety of activities that you enjoy so that you don’t become bored with just one type of exercise. 3. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that fit well. 4. Make exercise a habit, but be flexible. If you miss a regular activity, make it up by fitting physical activity into your day another way. 5. Don’t overdo it at first. Start slow and gradually work up your endurance and ability. 6. Exercise with company. Finding a friend to work out with you can make exercise more enjoyable and help you stay on track. 7. Remember to take the time to warm up before exercise and cool down after your workout. “Exercising is good for you,” says Maddi McDonough. “It keeps you young and healthy. It gives you a good perspective on life and makes everything more fun.”
Ten Best Ways to Maximize Your Workout Time When you’ve got a busy schedule crammed full of meetings and work, you don’t have time to mess around with your workout. You want to get the best results possible for the time you invest – the good news is that you can get extra benefits with just a few simple changes to your workout! Keep proper form. One of the most common mistakes in exercise is not maintaining the right form during the workout. Bad form can lead to muscle pain and stiffness but, more importantly, bad form prevents you from burning as many calories as you normally would. Maintain good posture during exercise and you’ll build more muscle faster! Take giant steps. During your cardio workout, take deep, wide steps to shape up your thighs and buttocks. By taking a larger step than normal, you require more effort from your muscles – more effort equals more strength and shapeliness. Short, shallow steps don’t place enough stress on the muscle to produce fast results, but when you change to bigger movements, you start to see serious muscle taking shape. The same concept is true for running as well: runners who take long, deep strides burn more calories and cover more distance than shortstriders. Listen to your breath During a cardio workout, check your breathing to see how hard you’re truly working. If you can carry on a conversation with ease, it’s time to increase intensity. How to know when you’re at the right level? The general rule of thumb is that when you can sing the national anthem but need a breath after every phrase, you’re most likely at the appropriate level for your needs. You should never work out so hard that you can’t talk or begin to feel faint.
Double up your workouts. Add weights to your cardio routine (or vice versa) and you can start to see results within three weeks! You really see the best of both worlds by using interval training. Interval training is highly effective because you introduce your body to a new challenge every five minutes or so. Traditional cardiovascular exercises focus on building aerobic capacity while weightlifting concentrates on increasing muscle strength. Combining the two into one interval training workout means you get benefits from both! Add variety. The fastest way to become disillusioned with your workout is to do the same thing over and over again, plus your body can become conditioned to the movements and fail to burn as many calories as you would like. Avoid all this by surprising your body with new and different challenges at least once a week. If you typically run several times during the week, try hiking at a nearby park. If you’re a Spinning devotee, take a Pilates class instead. The ultimate switch-up for most exercisers is swimming: an exercise that requires much more aerobic and muscle strength that imagined. Do a few laps in the pool and you’ll see what I mean. Challenge yourself. Set a goal for yourself every week that is beyond your normal effort. Try lifting weights that are five pounds heavier than you normally use, or walking three miles daily rather than two. Small goals like this are easily attainable and can make big changes in the results you see from your workout. Introduce yourself to stretching. Stretching is sometimes the crazy uncle of the exercise family – nobody really wants to talk about it, but the fact is stretching is key to getting more out of your workout. Stretching assists in muscle recovery from strenuous workouts and can prevent soreness that might stop you from working out. Your entire body feels more comfortable when you have strong, flexible muscles. Spending a few minutes when you wake up and again before and after your workout really add up in terms of flexibility. Don’t exercise on an empty stomach. Sure, it may seem efficient to work out when you haven’t eaten in hours but in reality it’s a bad decision. When your body’s fuel supply is low, you start feeling sluggish and slow – definitely not the ideal mood for a productive workout. An empty stomach does not equal more calories burned.
Snacks, not meals, provide the best fuel. After dining at the all-you-can-eat buffet, you may feel like you should work out just to compensate for overeating, but don’t do it. Exercising on a full stomach can lead to cramps, upset stomach, and/or diarrhoea because your body is trying to digest the meal and also provide you with energy at the same time. The best way to fuel your body without nasty side effects is to have a small snack 15 to 30 minutes before you exercise. Ideal snacks include foods with adequate carbohydrates: bread, cereals, and rice. Drink plenty of water. You’ve heard it over and over, but it really is true: water will help you lose weight. Water helps fill your stomach to stop hunger pangs and keeps you alert throughout the day. When you become dehydrated, your entire body slows down and works much less efficiently. Working out causes you to lose hydration through sweat, so it’s important to replace lost water after a workout. We all run short on time these days but by incorporating one or more of these simple strategies you can maximize your workout time and see fantastic results fast!
The 3 Most Common Workout Mistakes. When you invest the time in exercising, you want to see the best results possible but sometimes exercisers unknowingly handicap themselves by hidden mistakes. These errors are typically undiscovered until pointed out, which is why it is important to be aware of potential mistakes in order to avoid them. Let’s discuss the most common mistakes that occur during workouts and how to avoid making them. Poor Posture This is probably the all-time worst offender. Bad posture while you exercise means that you’re probably not getting the full benefit of your workout, and opens the door for pain and stiffness later. This is also referred to as “having proper alignment” and means keeping your spine in the best position possible (typically a neutral stance with shoulders back and head held high). When your body is out of alignment, it can prevent you from getting the most out of your exercise – poor alignment in abdominal crunches will not only give you a neckache but also work the wrong muscles and potentially bulk up your stomach instead of flattening it! Many trainers recommend imagining a string attached to the top of your head and pulling your body straight to help keep good posture. Slumping and hunching over may give you some relief initially but standing up straight provides the best support for the body and feels most secure. If you need helping remembering to check your posture during your workout, write a note to yourself and put it in a pocket or attach it to a piece of workout equipment to jog your memory. Wearing the Wrong Shoes or No Shoes At All! Exercising without the proper footwear is only setting yourself up for future suffering! There is a reason why shoes are designated as being for running, walking, or cross-training, and it’s not just to sucker you out of the most money. Each activity demands different things of your feet and the shoes are designed specifically to support the areas of the foot that undergo the most stress. You won’t feel any immediate effects from wearing walking shoes while running but in the long run some problems will surface. If you participate in a variety of sports and activities, the best choice is probably a cross-training shoe, which aims to support multiple areas of the foot. Go to your local shoe store and when the salesperson asks if you need assistance, take him up on it! Describe to him your typical workout and the frequency, and he should be able to recommend a sturdy shoe that fits your needs. This may not be cheapest shoe but it shouldn’t necessarily be the most expensive either. If you are unsure about the recommendation, visit another shoe store for a second opinion.
As for exercising barefoot, the only time this is appropriate is when you are exercising in sand! All other surfaces simply place too much stress on the foot to be acceptable. Do yourself a favor and buy the right shoes for your workout – your feet will thank you! Overestimating the Intensity Too often exercisers overestimate the intensity of workouts and credit themselves a little too much. The right intensity is purely an individual decision but a good general guideline is to try to carry on a conversation. If you can speak in short sentences with a breath after each one, you’re in the general area. Needing a breath after each word is the high end of the intensity range, but you should never exercise so hard that you can’t speak. That’s a dangerous situation and if you feel yourself becoming unable to communicate, slow down immediately and allow your body to return to normal. Pushing your body to the high end of its intensity helps rev your metabolism and burn more calories. Don’t get comfortable in your workout and assume that your efforts are enough, because becoming complacent can seriously slow down your weight loss. Make it a point to push yourself to work hard and your body will reward you with increased aerobic capacity and decreased fat and weight. Many trainers suggest purchasing a heart rate monitor that can accurately identify when you are working within your target heart range. This can be a useful tool but the best tool of all is your own personal assessment of how hard you think you are working.
The Best Gyms for Busy Professionals When you are constantly busy and on the go with work, it can be difficult to keep a regular exercise schedule. Relying on your self-discipline to get you up at 6:30 on Saturday morning for a run is probably not the best idea, but fortunately you no longer have to bully yourself out of bed for exercise. Gyms that cater to busy workers are popping up all over the country and more established gyms are offering better deals for the 9-5 crowds. You should check out the facility itself along with the terms of the deal before signing anything. Here are some tips for finding the best gym for you! Check the schedule Many gyms now stay open twenty-four hours a day, including the popular chain 24-Hour Fitness, allowing you to work out at any time of day or night. You may not necessarily want to work out at 3AM but for some people it does fit into their schedules much better than a typical gym. If your job typically keeps you at the office past seven in the evening, then heading straight to the gym will probably work for you. Most trainers recommend not exercising within three hours of going to bed to avoid difficulty in falling asleep and you should keep that in mind when you exercise in the evening. If you are interested in taking classes at the gym, talk to a staff member about the evening class selection. Gyms that value their busy working patrons will offer a full selection of cardio and yoga classes for the evening hours. Also find out about any restrictions – does the pool close at 10 P.M.? Will you need identification to use equipment after a certain time? Knowing these things ahead of time will save you stress and hassle later on. Investigate the facilities The facilities offered by the gym can be more important to some people than others, but at the very minimum a good gym should offer a weight-lifting room fully equipped with machines that in top condition, a wide open area for cardio exercise classes, separate locker rooms for men and women, and a swimming pool. Other gyms may offer specialized classes like Spinning and Yogilates or amenities like saunas and massage services. Decide ahead of time what’s important to you and write down exactly what you want in a gym. Visit some local gyms and determine how they measure up to your needs. You should check out each area thoroughly and feel comfortable with it. Subtly check out the gym-goers and ask yourself if they look like people with whom you would feel comfortable sharing machines and locker rooms. Investigate the locker room for your use and assess its level of cleanliness. You may want to ask a staff member about maintenance and cleanliness. Another important aspect that many people forget about is the parking lot. Did you have trouble finding a parking place when you came? Ask a staff member or gym regular about parking and the number of people that use it. Find out the busy times and slow times, and then assess how it fits into your schedule.
Read the contract before you sign This one seems like it should be obvious but too many people sign all kinds of contracts without ever reading the fine print. This is especially important in a gym contract because if you have to cancel early for any reason, there can be sizable fees involved. The contract will also tell you exactly what is included for your money for you can make the most of your contract. Maybe you didn’t realize you would have access to the spa but the contract states that you do. That’s a nice bonus right there! You should be offered your own copy of the contract and if not, feel free to make one for your records so that you can refer to it if any dispute arises over your usage of the gym. Understand the fees This is something else you should understand fully before signing the contract. Many gyms offer graduated programs that can be adapted to your needs. If you know you aren’t interested in the swimming pool (even though that’s a fantastic way to shape up) then you may not have to pay for the use of it. If your potential gym doesn’t offer a program like that, ask if they would be willing to make a special deal with you. Explain that you really like the gym but don’t need the full package offered. Many gyms are willing to negotiate with you as long as you approach it with friendliness and respect.
The Easiest Upper Body Strengthening Routine Weight-lifting is one of the fastest ways to see changes in your body but too many people are scared away from it by horror stories of women turning into bulky Schwarzenegger clones as well as torn ligaments and other afflictions. The reality is nothing like that; women will firm up, not bulk up, and when you lift weights properly there’s practically zero risk that you will injure yourself. Don’t miss out on the benefits of weight lifting any longer; start one of these simple routines and be on your way to firmer muscles right away! Follow the exercises described below and incorporate them into your exercise plan at least three times per week, and you will start to see results in as little as three weeks. Pair you’re weight lifting up with daily cardio exercise and watch your body truly reinvent itself! Begin by assessing your current strength level. If you are a member of a gym, the staff can help you determine the best weight for you, but if you’re a home exerciser, don’t worry. Invest in a good set of dumbbells that range in weight from three to ten pounds (more if you are an old pro at weight-lifting and expect to increase your strength considerably). Hold the 5-lb. weight in your dominant hand and do as many bicep curls as you can before tiring. If you can do more than 15 curls without feeling your muscle tire, you need to use a higher weight. On the other hand, if you were only able to do twelve repetitions or less, you should probably use a lower weight until you have built up more strength. Between twelve and fifteen reps means the five-pound weight is appropriate for you right now. Once you have identified the right weight for you, the next step is to know the right form to use. Proper alignment is crucial to avoiding injury and getting the most out of your workout, so stand up straight as you move the weight and remember to keep your shoulders back and lifted and your head high. Imagine there is a string attached to the top of your head that is pulling your body straight. If you feel yourself begin to hunch over or slouch, stop and take a deep breath and then resume your good posture. Staying in alignment earns you the most results from your workout.
Build Upper Body Strength This is a simple routine that you can easily incorporate to your preexisting workout schedule. Simply add these exercises three to four days per week and watch your muscles become shapely and defined.
Bicep Curl (tones front of arms) The classic move, bicep curls can be underestimated and overused if you’re not careful. It’s not just about lifting a weight up and down; when done correctly, this can be one of the most powerful moves in your arsenal. Begin by holding one weight in each hand with your palms facing inward. Rotate your arms out so that your palms now face to the front and slowly lift the weight almost one hundred and eighty degrees until your palm and the weight face your shoulder. Slowly lower the weight back to its original position and then repeat. By slowing down the speed of the movement, you force the muscle to work harder than it would with the momentum of a fast action. This develops the bicep muscle faster and better. Repeat this move for three sets of 25 repetitions for each arm. Tricep Press (tones back of arms) The tricep muscle can be one of the most difficult muscles to develop primarily because most people do not use it very often in daily life. Running along the back side of the arm opposite to the bicep, the tricep muscle can turn flabby and droopy without exercise. The best move to tone saggy arms is to begin standing with feet shoulder-width apart with weights in hand. Take a giant step forward with your right foot, lean forward slightly and then raise the weights behind you with your palms facing the ceiling. Raise the weights toward the ceiling as far as possible and then slowly lower. Repeat this move for three sets of 20 repetitions: on the final repetition of each set, hold your arms up and gently pulse the weight up no more than a few inches. Asking your tricep muscle to squeeze every ounce of strength out of it will start to show serious results in a short amount of time. Overhead Raise (tones shoulders) Shoulders can be neglected when you focus on improving the arms, but having strong, healthy shoulders is vital to many everyday movements. Strengthening the shoulders will allow the arms to grow stronger as well and improve your overall upper body muscle. Begin by standing with weights in hands about shoulder height. Slowly lift the weights overhead and then lower. Repeat the movement for three sets of 25 repetitions. This move tones the muscles that run on top of your shoulder and increase performance from the bicep. When these muscles grow in strength, they complement each other and increase effectiveness as well as turning your muscles into lean, beautiful powerhouses.
The Senior New Year’s Resolution – Get Moving for Life! There was a time when people stated that the only two sure things in life were death and taxes. But all of the recent research points to one additional certainty, the slogan, "Get Fit, For Life." The growing opinion of all researchers is that exercise, even in its most modest forms, is simply the best prescription for both physical and mental health. If you want to continue your quality of life as you age, then exercise is found to be the best remedy. That notion is reflected across all age groups, whether you are female or male, and is also independent of cultural differences. The failure to be active is putting you at a major risk for coronary artery disease. In fact, inactivity creates a major risk for coronary issues such as smoking, unhealthy cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Regular exercise can improve the health of your heart and actually reverse some health risk factors such as that of smoking. Like all body muscles, the heart is also a muscle and will become stronger as a result of exercise. Cardiovascular workouts can strengthen the heart which in turn helps it pump more blood with every beat and sustains its maximum level with less strain. That translates to a slower heart rate while resting because less effort is needed to pump blood throughout the body. People who exercise vigorously and often will reduce the risk of heart disease the greatest, but studies also show that any exercise can be beneficial. Studies have found that moderate exercise is also beneficial for those people with existing heart disease. Another example of the positive effects of exercise is the impact found on people getting the common cold. A University of South Carolina study analyzed data over the course of a year, studying the behaviors of more than 500 healthy women and men. The study group, with the average age of 48, yielded some noteworthy findings. Though all participants in the research were healthy, not all exercised regularly. The exercise patterns ranged from those who did no exercise to those who spent at least 30 minutes in moderate exercise. The study then compared the physical activity to the intensity and the number of colds the participants had over the course of the year. The findings were exactly as one would think. Those who got at least a moderate amount of exercise on just a few days a week averaged just one cold. In the study, the less active participants reported more than 4 colds in the year. The greatest benefit came during the prime cold season in the fall when nearly 40 percent of all colds were reported. The more active participants showed a reduction of 32 percent during the prime cold season.
A second study by David Nieman of Appalachian State University found that those who exercised recovered more quickly when they did come down with a cold. Nieman's study focused on women compared those who walked regularly to those that did not. The more active group who still got colds had symptoms that usually lasted for less than five days, while the women in the less active group had colds that lasted seven days. Being physically active appears to stimulate immune cells that target many viruses and infections. Though exercise appears to stimulate such cells, that stimulation appears to last only a few hours. However, regular exercise appears to lower the overall risk of being susceptible to the flu, colds, and other viruses. When it comes to weight and weight gain, the benefits of exercise have always been known. But to be frank, moderately intense exercise of 30 minutes may not in and of itself be enough to prevent weight gain. Current recommendations suggest that 45 to 60 minutes per day is more appropriate if you want to prevent weight gain. In addition, exercise will not simply melt excess pounds away magically. To lose significant weight, both increased exercise and reduced calorie intake is required. What many people are unaware of is that the person exercises without dieting may not lose any actual weight because as we exercise we replace fat with more dense and heavier muscle mass. But the psychological effects of exercise on dieting patterns as well as weight control also appear to be very significant. Studies indicate that people who exercise regularly are more apt to stay on a diet plan once a plan has been implemented. Some studies have reported that even modest exercise patterns lead to mild appetite suppression. Why that is so is still unclear but exercise appears to improve a person's psychological well being and give the person more will power to resist breaking from the diet, exercise replaces the sedentary habits like watching television that is often accompanied by the urge to snack. Most importantly, exercise without dieting still adds extraordinary health benefits. One study reported that people who are overweight but fit have half the death rate of overweight and unfit people. Other studies have suggested that people who have exercised regularly for many years develop efficient body mechanisms that help burn fat and thereby contribute to a person's staying leaner as they age.
Yet another study reported a 58% lower risk for Type 2 diabetes in adults who exercise for as little as 2.5 hours a week, even if the exercise was of a moderate level. That level of exercise reduces the risk in overweight people, even if those people remain overweight. Regular exercise improves insulin sensitivity. People with diabetes are at high risk for heart disease, so the protective effects of aerobic exercise on the heart are very important for people with Type 2 diabetes. Initial indications are that strength training to increase muscle mass and reduce patient fat is also helpful for people with diabetes. And perhaps the most interesting positive report to date on the healthy effects of exercise is a British Journal of Sports Medicine that suggests that aerobic exercise can help to lift depression. Though the authors of this study used a very small sample of just twelve people, the pilot also suggested that regular exercise works faster than antidepressant drugs in treating depression.
The Senior Stretch – Warming Up Before Starting your Day Perhaps no aspect of senior fitness is overlooked as often as stretching. Stretching in the morning may be the best way to make the most of every day. Regular morning stretches help maintain overall flexibility, which, in turn, affects the rest of our lives. Stretching prevents every day injuries and allows our muscles to perform at their maximum potential. In addition, stretching is simple, requiring no additional equipment or physical skills, and demanding only a little bit of time. Like a good tune up for an automobile, daily stretching, especially in the morning, helps work out any “kinks” in your body. Also, stretching in the morning prevents those “kinks” from happening to begin with. Muscle and back pain, for example, can be both alleviated and prevented by a good program of daily stretching. In addition, stretching prepares your body for the rest of the day. Balance and coordination are improved and flexibility is increased. The body’s range of motion and ease of movement are heightened, and muscles are prepared for activity. The mind, too, benefits from the relaxation, peace, and calm that is induced through just 10-15 minutes of stretching each morning. Mental and physical tension, as well as anxiety and blood pressure can be reduced through focusing on the muscles as you stretch in the morning.
Although you don’t have to be an expert in order to stretch, there are some important guidelines that will help you make the most of a morning stretching session. If you don’t have any experience with stretching, several dozen books and on line resources exist to show you how. Many of these include pictures as well as text. Similar books and websites cover other stretching methods such as yoga. No matter what method you choose, make sure and listen to your muscles during stretching. As you execute each stretch, push yourself to the point where the muscle feels strained, but not in pain. When you reach the point where the muscle feels tight, hold the position for 10-15 seconds until the muscle loosens, then stretch a little further. In this manner, you can increase your range of motion without experiencing discomfort or pain. While stretching, avoid the impulse to bounce, pushing the muscle past the point of tolerance momentarily. Bouncing may allow you to stretch a little further, but it greatly increases the chance of injury. For maximum benefits, physical fitness experts recommend stretching uniformly, meaning that each stretch on one side of the body (your right leg, for example), should be matched by a stretch on the other side (your left leg). In addition, make sure to stretch complimentary muscles—if you stretch the muscle on the front of your leg (called the quadriceps), stretch the complimentary muscle on the back of your leg (the hamstring). Initially, you may not be able to move through a wide range of motion. Don’t let this frustrate you. Each day you will find yourself able to stretch a little further, and the stretching will become less stressful and more enjoyable. Muscles that have not been stretched in a long time (years, for some of us) take time to regain their flexibility. Hang in there! The benefits of a flexible body far outweigh the time and discomfort you may go through when you start stretching daily. Make sure you keep yourself in the habit of stretching each day. Skipping a few morning sessions will result in muscles tightening back up. Try and create a schedule (10-15 minutes per day) and stick to it. If you can manage to keep up with regular morning stretching, you will feel the benefits in no time. We can do many things to aid us in maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle. No matter what you choose to do, begin each day with a stretching session. Few activities are as simple, requiring no special equipment or expertise. Your body will feel and respond better and will be able to perform to its highest potential. Injuries, aches, and muscle strain can be avoided, and the rest of the day’s physical activity will be greatly aided by starting off your day with a good stretch. Most importantly, after you have established a habit of stretching each morning, you will feel great. So warm up before you start each day. Stretch!
8 Tips for Toning your Tush for the AARP Set Who doesn’t want a more attractive bottom line? Exercise mavens note that shaping the glutes (gluteus maximus, the official name for the muscles of your tush) is the single item most likely to appear on the priority lists of both men and women on all ages. It tends to creep its way up the priority list over the years as age and nature take their inevitable toll on the bottom line. The loss of muscle mass that goes along with aging is the prime culprit in sagging tushes and dropping bottom lines. However, say a fitness expert, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything to tone your tush, even in the golden years. If you’re looking to shape up your butt with just exercise, though, it won’t be that easy. According to Women’s Sports & Fitness magazine, it takes a combination of healthy diet, cardio exercise and specific shaping exercises to get that shapely, rounded and firm bottom that is everyone’s goal. Because the rear end is one of the body’s storehouses for fat, you can shape and firm the underlying muscles all you want – but it won’t make a difference if you can’t see them through the layer of fat that covers them. In addition, some of the best butt-sculpting exercises are ones that can be hazardous if you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis or arthritis. Here are the best tips for seniors who want to tone their tushes – the safe and fun way. Before undertaking any exercise program, see your doctor to get his blessing. Exercise is a good thing – and most doctors will be happy to refer you to a professional who can help you design a workout program that’s perfect for you. Take a good look at your diet and tune it up. Eating healthy will help keep that fat padding over your bottom to a minimum and let all the effort you’re putting into toning your tush show through. The best toners for your tush are stair-climbing and jogging – exercises that work those gluteus muscles to the max. They also have the advantage of being aerobic – they’ll keep your cardio and pulmonary systems working at top capacity and reduce the risks of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis and osteoporosis.
To get maximum benefit from your walking and jogging, you can add light weights to ankles. That way you also take advantage of strength and resistance training that can strengthen your bones and help improve your balance. If your doctor or physical therapist Okay's them, squat thrusts are amazingly efficient at sculpting your bottom into shape. Because one-leg thrusts put all your body’s weight on one leg, you’ll be practicing balance as well as improving your bottom line. Don’t do these if you have osteoporosis or any type of arthritis, though. The risk of compression fractures is too great.
If your doctor feels that jogging and stair climbing are too risky because of joint problems, it doesn’t mean you can’t work those glutes. Jogging and working out in water takes the pressure off joints and eliminates impact stress entirely, while increasing the benefits of most exercise because of the added water resistance. Check with your doctor to be sure, but most experts feel that water aerobics are an excellent alternative to high-impact and joint-stressing exercises like jogging. Another alternative to high impact, weight bearing aerobics is chair aerobics. Seated exercise may sound like a contradiction in terms, but you can get one heck of a good workout for your butt with leg bounces, knee lifts and crossing scissor-kicks all without ever standing up on your own two feet. Among the physical activities that are great for your bottom are golfing, walking, swimming, jogging, dancing and bowling. If a regular exercise program isn’t for you, engage in one of these activities three times a week (or three of them once a week or.. you get the idea) for at least half an hour. A regular workout and exercise program that focuses on toning your tush is a great way to keep your body looking – and feeling – young and healthy. Don’t let a sagging bottom bring your spirits down – join in the fun and trim your bottom line.
Top 5 Cardio Activities When you want to find the best cardio activity for you, consider your personal preferences as well as your body. If you hate getting hot and sweaty during a workout, then running is probably not for you. If you like trying new workouts that keep you engaged and entertained, consider an instructor-led belly dancing class. People who prefer to exercise alone should probably just avoid the gym during busy hours. If you have bad joints, avoid high impact classes like step aerobics and kick boxing. Everyone is different, not just in personality but in body as well, and that can mean great things in terms of workouts. There is a huge variety of exercises that burn serious calories and you’re sure to find one that appeals to you. To burn fat and reshape your body, you can’t beat cardiovascular exercise. Getting your heart pumping and boosting your metabolism is what cardio does best, and it’s the only sure fire way to lose weight and get rid of fat. Some cardiovascular activities burn more calories than others and speed up fat loss while reshaping the body, and that makes them good choices for people who are serious about losing weight and improving aerobic capacity. Looking at the top 5 cardiovascular activities, there is great variety while all maintaining the same purpose of burning major fat and calories. Swimming and Water Aerobics Swimming should be the king of all workouts for its user-friendly status and low stress on the body. If you fit in three 45-minute swimming workouts every week, you will see major changes in your body in just two to three weeks. Your body becomes buoyant in the water, meaning that it is supported by the water and does not have to depend on the muscles nearly as much. If you just stand still in the pool, your muscles will have very little to do, but when you start swimming at a brisk pace your muscles become involved with pushing your body through the water – not an easy task. That’s why swimming burns so many calories; the muscles work almost twice as hard as in land workouts and torch up to three times as many calories. Challenge yourself by swimming one lap breaststroke, one lap backstroke, and still another lap butterfly. Freestyle is good but you burn far more calories when you mix it up and challenge the body to respond. Water aerobics offer the same support as swimming but instead of propelling your body from one end of the pool to another you stand in place in the water and use the water’s resistance to build muscle and burn calories. Water aerobics frequently use accessories for strengthening workouts but if you don’t have any, don’t worry! Just go to your pool and perform the same toning exercises that you would do in the gym. Squats, lunges, leg lifts – when done under water, these movements become more challenging and require muscles to work harder, resulting in a higher calorie. The best part is that the support of the water cuts the stress on joints and can help people with arthritis and other joint disorders to get exercise back in their lives.
Power Walking (at home) A power walking life up to its name and requires you to put out a lot more power than a stroll around the block. In power walking, you swing your arms back and forth as you walk briskly – this helps to burn calories as well as propel you through your walk faster. Increasing the speed will boost your calorie burn even higher. An excellent variation for a power walking routine is to add arm movements a few days per week. As you walk briskly, raise your arms overhead and bring back down to the pace of your walk. This can seriously raise your heart rate and increase your fat burn. Power Walking (at the gym) Power walking at the gym is as easy as hopping on the nearest programmable treadmill and setting off. If you are not sure how to program the treadmill, ask a trainer or knowledgeable friend to show you how. You should choose a walking route that includes inclines and changes to surprise and challenge your muscles. Most treadmills that offer these walking programs talk you through the route so that you are alarmed with the incline increases. Use the same variation from the home power walking and add arm movements to increase heart rate and calorie burn. Belly Dancing Belly dancing won’t burn quite as many calories as swimming or power walking, but for sheer fun and novelty this workout can’t be beat. Belly dancing has become wildly popular across the nation in the past few years and nearly all gyms offer at least one class for interested parties. You will work your hips, thighs and waistline in a typical class as well as increase your aerobic capacity. And who knows, your belly dancing skill might come in handy some day! Ashtanga Yoga The most physical form of yoga is Ashtanga yoga, which uses the same traditional yoga poses but incorporates powerful aerobic conditioning at the same time. You will move quickly and powerfully in a fast-paced routine that is led by a certified instructor who is experienced in moves that boost your heart rate and burn the calories. Ashtanga yoga is still relatively new in some places and it may be difficult to find a class at first, but more and more gyms are offering classes. You can find Ashtanga videos at stores nationwide, so you may want to consider having your own private session at home.
Top 5 Fitness Myths You’ve heard the stories: weight training makes women look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, exercising on an empty stomach burns more calories, and more. While some fitness myths make sense on the surface, deeper examination proves these stories are simply made up and have little or no basis in reality. Let’s tackle five of the most common myths and check out the real story behind them. 1. No pain, no gain – Perhaps the most common myth out there is this one that says if you don’t feel pain when you exercise, you’re not doing it right. The truth is absolutely opposite: exercise done right should never be painful and professional trainers recommend that you stop your workout at the first sign of pain. The logic behind “no pain, no gain” says that you can’t expect good results without sacrificing something – twisted at best, downright sadistic at worst. Exercise should be something you enjoy or else you very quickly become disillusioned and drop it entirely. While an intense workout may create slight discomfort, it should never get to the point where you are in actual pain. 2. Training with weights bulks women up – Few women want to look like professional bodybuilders, so this myth scares thousands of female exercisers away from weights every day despite scientific evidence to the contrary. The physiological differences between male and female bodies decree that men have a higher percentage of muscle throughout the body; thus men tend to increase bulk with weight lifting. On the other hand, female bodies have a higher percentage of fat to assist with childbearing and have less muscle to build and bulk up. Weight training for women is aimed at producing stronger muscles that can take more stress and bounce back better than ever. 3. Exercising on an empty stomach burns more calories – This one seems like it should make sense since exercise burns calories and an empty stomach has no calories to burn. It seems like you would be ahead of the game! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Your body needs energy to run, so when you exercise on an empty stomach the body has to find fuel somewhere else. The body tries to provide energy while looking for it at the same time and can get overwhelmed, resulting in the risk of dizziness or even fainting in extreme situations. The smartest choice is to have a small snack about ten to fifteen minutes before working out. Carbohydrates are the best source of energy, so have a small slice of toast or a banana.
4. Crunches are the best way of firming up the stomach – Too many videos and articles send the message that hundreds of crunches are the best way to correct a jelly belly but fail to take into account that most saggy abs are because of excess fat, not weak muscles. Simply doing crunches alone strengthens the abdominal muscles but doesn’t address the layer of fat over the muscles. You may see your stomach appear to grow larger since the muscles are gaining strength underneath the fat layer. The best strategy for getting firm abs is simple: burn fat and strengthen abdominal muscles at the same time. By using a two-pronged approach, fat that covers muscles is burned and the muscles are firmed at the same time, accomplishing your goal and giving you strong, sleek abdominal muscles. 5. Protein will help build muscles – Protein can do great things for your health but it won’t help you increase your muscle strength. Too much protein in your diet can lead to unintended health risks such as kidney strain or dehydration. Extra protein also packs extra calories into your diet that can result in extra pounds – definitely not what you want. The best source of fuel for weight lifting is carbohydrates – easily digestible by the body, carbs provide fast, consistent energy for the body and allow you to continue lifting weights longer. That alone is what builds strength, not the specific kind of food you eat. Provide your body with the right kind of energy to use and you’ll be able to build muscle better. There are many more myths about health and fitness, but the best defense against false information is education. When you are confident that you know the right plan for your body, spotting myths become easy.
Training for Your First 5K When you make the decision to challenge your body and run your first 5K race, ideally you already run at least three to four times per week and have no trouble running one to two miles without resting. The best programs for this type of runner are geared towards preparing you gradually and are typically scheduled to require approximately nine to twelve weeks. If you are an absolute beginner with no experience but still exercise regularly, allow yourself at least six months to adequately prepare for the 3.1-mile race by first getting accustomed to running and then moving on to training. Newcomers to exercise and running should allocate six to nine months to ensure enough time to become aerobically fit and conduct an appropriate training schedule. You should never simply sign up for any kind of competitive race if you aren’t in good shape. Trying to run a race without any kind of preparation will lead to breathlessness, frustration, and incredibly sore muscles the next day. For those of you who fit the bill for beginning training for your first 5K race, here’s the deal: good programs are made up of easy runs for endurance, speed runs to increase agility and pace and hilly workouts to build lower body strength. Rest days are scheduled in as needed. Most schedules should be fairly flexible, allowing you to exchange workouts for days when you feel you need a break. Allowing your body plenty of rest is vital to a successful training program because if you wear your body out, you will be unable to participate. Equally important is keeping tabs on how your body feels – do you feel any pain as you run? If you ever feel anything beyond normal muscle fatigue or have recurring pains in your feet or legs, stop your program and get checked out by a medical professional. You won’t do yourself any favors by running through pain and doing so may lead to serious damage – instead, get it checked out and treated and you’ll be back in peak condition sooner rather than later. In addition to a regular running schedule, good preparation programs also include weight-training to help build up your muscles. Running for 3.1 miles requires a lot from more muscles than you might think and it’s important to be as strong as possible. When your muscles are better developed they can better support your body and increase your stamina. Since the body is essentially held up and together by the intricate muscular network, the stronger that network is, the better! Look for a weight-training plan that focuses on legs and core to build the best support.
Many people are curious about the proper diet for the training program. Most trainers do not recommend any specific regimen for race training other than to maintain a healthy diet including essential components like protein, vegetables, and, yes, even fat. Fat is a necessary part of every diet in order to maintain a healthy body but make sure you eat the right kind of fat. Saturated fats like those found in junk food are not the right kind and can seriously detract from your health. The best diet for everyone is well balanced with foods from all major groups but a focus on vegetables and protein as well as low fat and low-sodium. To make sure your diet has enough of the proper vitamins and nutrients, try using some of the free diet assessment tools available on the Internet. Many websites offer these useful calculators as part of an overall program to track your progress, and that can be helpful for the runner who needs to monitor more than more area of his preparation. While running will be the major part of your plan, you should consider some other tools that can assist you in reaching your goal. Keeping an accurate record of your workout schedule as well as your diet can help you pinpoint areas that need work as well as areas that have improved. Tools to consider include training logs, which can be found at most major sports stores and tracking applications for your PDA. Your PDA manufacturer probably offers a program for purchase on the company website or you can visit an on line retailer of PDA applications to find the one that best fits your needs. Training for and completing a 5K run can be an exhilarating and fulfilling experience. Allow yourself plenty of time so you can prepare in the best fashion possible – when you cross that finish line, you’ll feel like a million bucks!
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