Exercise, It’s all we hear about

“Exercise, exercise, exercise… that’s all I seem to hear about these days.  But how do I start?  I don’t have time.  I get up early to drink a cup of coffee and read the paper, go to work and come home tired and all I want to do is rest and watch TV before another busy day.  I try to do more active stuff on the weekends like hiking, soccer and softball, but keep getting injured and have to stop.  I can’t wait for retirement so I can start exercising.”

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Not an atypical story.  The aging weekend warrior, the work centered weekday.  Waiting for retirement to start an exercise routine.  What’s wrong with this story?


Proper exercise accomplishes several things.  It improves cardiovascular health.  Aiding weight control is another significant benefit.  It helps maintain muscle mass as we age, as well as improving balance and flexibility.  In the next few posts we’ll take each one of these in more depth.  But for now, how do we start?

Don’t buy anything you see on TV in those infomercials!  Please.  Most home exercise equipment ends up in your bedroom with clothes draped or hung from it or in the garage collecting dust.

Walking a half hour three times a week is a good place to start.  That is the minimum requirement for improving your cardiovascular fitness. Yes, it’s hard in the winter with rain and snow so it may have to be at a gym in bad weather.  So, sign up for membership at a gym convenient to your home or work and walk on a treadmill.  One less grande latte a week may pay for it.  But before you sign up, interview a couple of trainers.  You don’t want a muscle bound beast that trains everyone the same.  You need to find someone who understands ageing and can tailor an exercise routine appropriate for your age and condition.  One that focuses on active stretching and flexibility and on proper form.  On maintaining muscle mass, not preparing you for a competition.

If you find a gym and a trainer that works for you, then pick a time.  Three days a week adding a half hour workout to your half hour walk would be a good start.  If you commute to work, leave early to avoid traffic and work out near work and take your shower there.  It’s easy to find an excuse at the end of the day not to work out, but less so in the morning (being hung over is not a good excuse!).  Whenever you choose, either hire a trainer for a few weeks or get a workout buddy with similar goals.  If there is someone waiting for you, its less likely you’ll cancel.  Fitness classes are another good way to start, but not those with names like “Insanity” or with “Power” in the titles.  Easy does it.  Look at one first to see how the instructor interacts with the participants to encourage proper form.  Proper form is essential for avoiding injury, especially when starting out.

Stay tuned for more!!





Vacation Strategies: Play Now? Pay Later?

We’re on vacation: nCoppa ai baci di damao work, drink more than usual, abandon normal dietary controls, and don’t exercise… Well, that’s the formula used by far too many vacationers, especially those over 60, and especially those on cruises.  We were on a cruise in the South Pacific two years ago.  On board was a Canyon Ranch Spa!  Being exercise zealots, we were in the gym every day for a couple of hours, and additionally took yoga, Pilates and other fitness classes.  We watched our diet, didn’t over consume, didn’t eat one of those fresh morning cinnamon rolls, did active shore excursions and came back 5 pounds lighter!  Regrettably, we watched our shipmates expand…waistlines, that is.  Multiple trips to the breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet lines, lots of those fresh cinnamon rolls, not one but two trips to the ice cream dispensary at lunch (it was hot and humid, after all), fine dining restaurants, and oh those desserts!  Certainly didn’t see most of them in the gym.  So what’s wrong with a little excess?  After all, we’re on vacation!

On this 15-day cruise, it was easy to follow the mainstream vacationer’s journey and consume 5,000 to 8,000 calories a day.  That easily translates into 1 to 2 pounds of daily weight gain. (it takes a surplus of 3,500 calories/day to gain 1 pound per day – an ice cream sundae can be over 1,000 calories and over 30 grams of mostly saturated fat).  So, that equates to 15-30 pounds over the course of the trip if you really don’t control consumption and don’t exercise to increase caloric burn.  To return home and resume normal activities will keep that 15-30 pounds on your frame, most of which will be visceral and abdominal fat which raises your risk of heart attack, diabetes, etc.  Let’s say you go on a diet to get back to where you were, which might not be where you want to be.  Faithful dieting and incremental exercise (not just what you were doing before the trip, but more vigorous, more often and for longer times) would take you about 4 months to recover to your baseline.  Time for another cruise?

I know this seems a bit obvious, but think of that vacation as a time to get healthy, reduce your stress, exercise more (most people say they’d like to do this anyway), do as much physical activity tourism as you are capable of doing.  You can eat things you don’t normally eat, but everything is OK in moderation.  Keep that calorie intake at normal or just above normal levels.  SKIP THE BUFFET lines, and just order from a menu, less rather than more.

Have a happy, and healthy vacation!



Survivorman tips: I use them for preparing for a race.

Ha!  You are thinking to yourself – How does Survivorman, trekking through the wilderness compare to running a race? It’s not a big leap and is a great metaphor for life. TV binge watching can bring some great perspectives when you weren’t expecting them. Survivorman Saturday, what a great TV binge!

Survivorman AKA Les Stroud (http://www.lesstroud.ca/survivorman/) shows us how he stays alive in the wilderness.  He uses wit, planning and sometimes just good luck. Sometimes when you are running a race, that’s about all you can think of.. staying alive and finishing.  Now that’s a bit dramatic, but you get the point.

Mr. Stroud, in one episode told the story of an experienced hiker, out for a day trip and never came back because he FORGOT several key tips  that you should NEVER forget, no matter who you are and your skill level.

Survivorman Tips:

  1. Are you physically fit for what you are doing?  This certainly applies to running.  We have heard stories about people getting injured and even dying because they are not at the fitness level for the activity.
  2. Do you have the right gear?  He was talking about something warm, good hiking boots, tent, etc.  I’m talking about shoes that fit, clothes that don’t rub and the ever wonderful glide for those spots that like to rub (ouch).  Additionally, do you have hydration and nutrition available – all “gear” to a runner.
  3. Know your route and go with what you know – sometimes the path of least resistance can be your downfall.  Survivorman was talking about looking down a steep incline and thinking you could get down faster (and risking a fall or worse).  I am talking about speeding up on those downhills to catch up on your time and then wondering why your quads are fried and your knees hurt at the end? Also knowing your route will help you a) get to the race – oh yes, I fell into that trap.  Living about 20 minutes from one of my races, Miss Smartypants (AKA – me) thought she could just dash right over – duh… check the road closures that were up for the full marathon and bike race… It’s not just about your personal race….Sigh… (P.S. I did make it for the second wave of runners). Also know your running route, you’ll know the ups and downs better so you are prepared.
  4. Last – do you have the will to survive?  Survivorman says those with a strong will to live generally do survive, because they will take the time needed to figure things out and not panic or give up. Ok, so this may be a little bit over the top for a run – but when I got caught up in all the traffic, I almost said – forget it, go back home and have a cup of coffee and read the paper – but NO, I said to myself – so you don’t get there in time, not everyone is starting at 7:30 (next time be prepared and go back to point #3).

Then during the run I was hot and tired – OK,  so I’m hot and tired, talk to self —- “self- just run slower”…  OK so I kept going and said to myself – “this is not going to be a good race, but you are going to finish hydrated, uninjured and run hard over the finish line”.  CHECK!  Did it…Finish time- not so good.  Lesson Learned.

So the above tips are paraphrased, and even embellished from what I remember from the episode of Survivorman.  The tips and commentary are a metaphor for life as well as a 1/2 marathon or any type of race.  We make our choices and can live or die by those choices.    IT’S UP TO YOU!   Now get out there and do something fun, but just be prepared.  I think I am going to try an triathlon, now that I just turned 63. Why not?

Worms Live Longer If Their Calories Are Restricted

I was reviewing some of my notes  on aging from a few years back –  one was from a seminar  I attended in 2013 at Stanford University. It was  titled “Frontiers in Aging- Conserved Longevity Pathways and Anti-Aging Interventions” by Matt Kaeberlein, PhD. Associate Professor, University of Washington. Dr. Kaeberlein discussed one of the keys to longevity is calorie restriction. He sited studies in worms, mice and yeast – it was compelling that in those studies – all with calorie restriction have better longevity.

What is Dr. Kaeberlin doing now?   Below is a link to his website Kaeberlein Lab.  I’ll keep my eye on this work and other work that is out there helping those Turning Sixty and Beyond or as I like to refer to it T60+ age better!


How 15 minutes saved my life

It took going “down under” and reading Emma and Audrey’s book  I Don’t Have Time: 15-Minute Ways to Shape a Life You Love to realize how silly it is to not take 15 minute chunks to either work on a project (work or otherwise), have some self-time (taking a foot soak – you have to read the book to understand that) and realizing that you really can get so much done in 15 minutes.  Emma and Audrey have graciously provide a PDF sneak peak (below)  to give you a flavor of what you can do in 15 minutes.  I encourage you to read it, laugh at yourself and have fun with YOUR 15 minutes.  Check out their website as well.  Cheers!  Who doesn’t have 15 minutes to spare.

I Don_t Have Time Review Excerpt(1)


MINDFULNESS: Hitting Monday and Hitting the Wall

Monday mornings begin with great intentions – I’m going to run (checked that box), I’m going to do my Lumosity Brain Training (didn’t do that), I’m going to do my meditation (oops… that’s slipping).. I really won’t eat another piece of chocolate in the afternoon. Oh yes, the smoke detector suddenly went off sometime past 11 pm last night for no reason (then I couldn’t get back to sleep), the thermostat is beeping… add new batteries, the work email is piling up and there’s no food in the frig for dinner.   Ah yes,  Life gets in the way of great intentions, but at the end of the day – this really is a first world problem.

Mindful (from UC Berkeley) is defined as “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and surrounding environment”.  Yikes – sounds like brownian motion of the brain.

An interesting article  titled “Deconstructing the Emotion Regulatory Properties of Mindfulness: An Electrophysiological Investigation”  http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnhum.2016.00451/full

This article, pretty scientific reading, says that mindfulness helps control emotions. Yes, it does!  Now what happens when Life Gets In The Way.  My quick answer – Breathe…. It can be done walking down the hall, paying the bills, even talking on the phone on answering email.  If you have a little more time, try the app Insight Timer… I just did it for 1 minute… Even that short of time quieted the brain and brought a little calm to Monday morning.


Bits & Bytes: Do you Love #Wearables?

I love my Fitbit, Apple Watch and Garmin Watch.  Not to mention my Lumo Lift and Lumo Run.  OK… I admit it – I love wearables.  Why do I like these electronic friends?  They each give me a piece of information or social connection that was missing.  For example, my Garmin was the first to notice that I likely have exercise induced SVT.  While running, the watch “told me”my heart rate was in excess of 180 BPM.  WTF… No wonder I felt logy and not quite right.  That lead me to  my AliveCor Kardia (attaches to my iPhone and I can take an EKG on the spot).  It documented those runs of fast bad boys (and I don’t mean my legs).  So next step – off to the cardiologist (stay tuned to see how that turns out).

At the end of the day, the wearable provides information, social networking (love competing with my fitbit friends), and the gentle nudges to sit up straight and run with better form.

What do you love most about your wearable?  Where will this all wind up?  Who knows, but for now it’s fun and I have more things to plug in at night.  Even my dog has a Whistle activity tracker.  We are a family of wearables.