Fitness, Seniors

Exercise – Reduce the Risk for Dementia.

How does exercise work to help prevent dementia?

As aging occurs the brain begins to shrink, specifically the hippocampus.  The hippocampus is the area of the brain involved with memory function. 

Exercising helps to increase the size of the hippocampus.  Not only does exercise work to slow brain shrinkage; it also aids in:

  • lowering high blood pressure
  • promoting blood vessel flexibility (to maintain blood flow to the brain)
  • creating new neurons (for the transmission of nerve impulses)
  • enhancing mental capability
  • reducing stress.

Aerobic / high intensity exercise also increases levels of the brain protein that works to repair and protect the brain. 

Strength training is important too.  It:

  • improves mental skills and cognitive function
  • develops muscle mass for improved bone density, balance, resting metabolic rate (bigger muscles burn more calories).




Maximize Weight Loss During Resistance Training

To maximize weight loss during your resistance (weight lifting) training workouts:

  1. Concentrate on endurance (stamina, staying power).
  • Do extra repetitions (reps) at lower weight.
  1. Perform high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Increase intensity (push yourself harder) for a short period of time and then take a break.
  • This works all your energy systems in a single workout, strengthening the cardiovascular system while burning extra calories.
  1. Target multiple muscle groups in the same exercise with compound exercises (see examples  below).
  • Compound exercises will help burn lots of calories and excess fat because more muscles are utilized.
  1. Increase protein consumption.
  • Ingesting protein right after resistance training helps the body recover from the workout.
  • This also helps build muscle, improving body composition.
  • The body uses calories to maintain muscle.  So, extra muscle will burn extra calories.

Examples of Compound exercises:

Kettlebell Swings – works the quads (front of thighs), hamstrings (back of thighs), core, back, shoulders; improves cardiovascular strength and endurance.

  1. Start with:
  • toes pointing out (to accommodate the kettlebell),
  • feet apart for stability (wider than shoulders).
  1. Keep back and head straight, focus on a spot across the room.
  2. Squat down so that knees are bent and heels are close to the back of the thigh and hips are pushed back.
  3. Lifting up the kettlebell; snap it back between your legs so that it extends through the legs and out behind.
  4. The kettlebell will now begin to lower.  When it is at its complete decline straighten up, thrusting the pelvis to propel the kettlebell forward to chest height.
  5. Stand erect with shoulders back, as the kettlebell lowers, squat down slightly with hips back.  Repeat movement.

Note:  during the exercise –

  • Keep abs tight.
  • Breathe!!
  • Maintain a solid grip on the kettlebell handle.
  • Push hips back; stretch the hamstrings.
  • Drive the hips to do the work.
  • Keep the lower back tight, maintaining the arch.


Back Rows – works the back, shoulders, arms, core (rear deltoids, rhomboids, teres major, trapezius and levator scapulae, latissimus dorsi arnd spinal erectors).

  1. Starting position:
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand
  • Bending at the waist bring torso forward; keep back straight, knees slightly bent and head up.
  • Arms are fully extended hanging directly in front (palms supinated, facing torso).
  1. Contract back muscles, engaging the core, bend the arms towards the body, and pull both dumbbells at a 90 degree angle up to ribcage.
  2. Lift (row) the dumbbells up until upper arms are parallel to ribcage/torso.
  3. Hold for about one second in this top position.
  4. Then, slowly (3-5 seconds) lower the weight back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps (repetitions).

Note:  This exercise is not recommended for people with back problems/issues.

During the exercise:

  • Be cautious with the weight, using less weight rather than more.
  • Breathe!!
  • Ensure perfect form: Keep back straight throughout.; Only the arms should move; Avoid rounding the upper back; Keep the neck neutral, spine flat, and shoulders back.
  • Perform exercise with a slow tempo; avoid jerking the weights.

With most exercises, supervision by someone with expertise can benefit beginners.

Follow the link below for a yummy (protein enriched) post workout smoothie recipe.


The Benefits of Exercising on an Elliptical Trainer

Strengthen the Cardiovascular System, Get a Total Body Workout and Burn Lots of Calories.  These are the benefits of exercising on an Elliptical Trainer.

Exercising on an elliptical greatly reduces excessive pressure on the joints while providing for a beneficial cardiovascular workout. In addition to exercising the heart, the elliptical works the muscles in the lower body:

  • thigh muscles (quadricep & hamstring)
  • gluteal muscles (buttocks)
  • hip flexors (located at the front of the hips); help to bring the thigh toward the chest.

You can get a low or high intensity workout by adjusting the speed, resistance and stride length on the elliptical while decreasing the possibility of injuries along with exerting the leg muscles and heart.  Speed up your pulse and heart rate on the elliptical.  Going in reverse on the elliptical works well too. Stepping in a backward motion works the gluteals, calves and hamstrings, while stepping forward works the quadriceps.

It is important to change up your workout routine. Variety during exercise will:

  • keep your body from getting used to a single movement
  • promote the build up of muscle mass
  • continue the boost to metabolism.

By going “hands-free” (not using the railings on the elliptical trainer) you will improve your balance and posture.

Stand up straight when on the elliptical to lengthen the abs and engage the core. Keep the abs (abdominal muscles) tight.  Use the arm levers to work both the upper and lower body at the same time. Keep the shoulders back and head up. Look forward, not down at your feet, let the lower body support your weight. Do not lean on machine armrests during exercise (that will reduce the calorie burn).

Don’t forget about interval training (see the related blog on this website). To do intervals on the elliptical you may either:

  • maintain the resistance and increase pace (go fast for 1 minute then recover at a slower pace for 2 to 4 minutes)


  • maintain your speed and increase the resistance (high resistance for 1 minute then recover for 2 to 4 minutes at a more comfortable resistance).

You can burn up to 400 calories in a 30 minute workout while exercising on the elliptical. It provides for a heart-healthy, aerobic exercise.  It is a good exercise option because it burns lots of calories in a short amount of time and is low impact.

As with any exercise, consult your physician before using elliptical equipment.


Increase Strength with Low-Energy (Eccentric) Exercise

Eccentric exercise/training is a form of exercise that works well for the elderly, and also for people with cardiopulmonary or neurological issues. It challenges the muscles; increases muscle strength; protects the joints; and uses a lesser amount of energy.

Eccentric training targets the muscle lengthening (elongation) phase of a muscle contraction by purposely slowing this portion of the contraction, resisting the force of gravity.

There are 3 facets to a muscle contraction. During a bicep curl (with a dumbbell), for example:

  1. concentric contraction: muscle contracts (shortens) as the weight is being lifted.
  2. isometric contraction: stopping movement (at 45 or 90 degrees).
  3. eccentric contraction: occurs while lowering the weight; the muscle lengthens. When controlling the rate of the downward motion of the dumbbell (resisting the force of gravity), the muscle is in a state of eccentric contraction.

It can be difficult for some senior citizens and those with certain afflictions to participate in a much needed rigorous exercise program, mostly due to loss of muscle mass.

Low intensity, eccentric exercise is ideal in these circumstances because:

  • may start out using lighter weights,
  • oxygen requirements are less for this type of exercise,
  • muscle damage and tendon strain is minimized (as compared to concentric exercise),
  • less weariness from eccentric training than from concentric training,
  • can raise resting metabolic rate.

An eccentric exercise program will train muscle groups and increase strength and flexibility with low-energy exercise. Some eccentric exercises are illustrated below to get you started:


EccenBlog6Sit to Stand (Knee Extension)

  1. Stand close to a chair.
  2. Slowly lower yourself into the seat of the chair (seated position).
  3. To increase difficulty, stop midway before completely lowering into the seated position.

When strong enough, progress to barely touching the chair.


EccenBlog4  Heel Lift (Ankle-Plantarflexion)

  1. Holding onto a support (such as a chair), raise up onto your toes.
  2. Now slowly lower your heels to the floor, taking 3-5 seconds to do so.

EccenBlog3a Straight Leg Raise (Hip Flexion / Knee Extension)

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Keeping your knee/leg straight, lift your right leg.
  3. Slowly lower your leg, taking 3-5 seconds to do so.
  4. Repeat with the other leg.

To decrease difficulty or to reduce back strain, sit up to perform the exercise (as shown in the small boxes).


EccenBlog2    Leg Lowering (Trunk / Abs)

  1. Lie on your back and lift legs straight up.  Be sure to pull your belly button in toward your spine for stabilization and do not arch your back.
  2. Slowly lower your legs, taking 3-5 seconds to do so.

To decrease difficulty or reduce back strain, bend your knees while lowering legs.


EccenBlog3  Elbow – Tricep Extension Drop

  1. Begin in position with elbow bent.
  2. Extend right arm straight out behind, quickly.
  3. Slowly bend your elbow back to starting position, taking 3-5 seconds to do so.
  4. Repeat with other arm.

To increase difficulty add weight using a dumbbell or other household item in your hand(s).


EccenBlog1  Abduction Lift (Shoulder)

  1. Standing with elbows bent, lift both arms to shoulder height.  Do not hunch or hike shoulders during the exercise.
  2. Slowly lower arms/elbows, taking 3-5 seconds to do so.

To increase difficulty add weight holding a dumbbell or other household item in your hands.



Tighten your Abs (Abdominal muscles)

Abdominal muscles (Abs) provide support to maintain posture and participate in breathing process especially during exhale (when they help force air out of the lungs by depressing the thorax).

When exercised they can be defined by the 6-pack ab effect (Rectus Abdominis).  The deeper muscles (close to the spine) have the most effect on posture and help to maintain a healthy back (Transverse Abdominis).

The Oblique muscles that run along the sides of the torso/trunk (external & internal) work to rotate the trunk/torso and (bend) flex the spine, along with maintaining posture.

You do not need to go to the gym or need much equipment to exercise the Abs.  Described below are a few routines that, when consistently practiced, will work and build these muscles.


TrunkAbCurlFAbdominal Curl on Fit Ball (eccentric exercise)

  1. Sit on the fit ball.
  2. With stomach muscles tightened slowly lower your trunk parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold this position for 3 – 5 seconds.
  4. Do decrease intensity place hands by hips.


TrunkTwistF  Trunk Twist

  1. Tighten the Abs.
  2. Twisting at the waist, rotate upper body from side to side.  Be sure to keep the back straight.
  3. Do this 10 – 12 times.


SideBendCrunchSide Bend Crunch with Dumbbell

  1. Grasping a dumbbell (or bag of rice from the kitchen), tighten abs.
  2. Bend to the side as shown.
  3. Do this 8 – 10 times.
  4. Repeat on other side.


ReverseCrunchF  Reverse Crunch

  1. On your back, bring knees  to a 90 degree angle.
  2. Tighten abs.
  3. Bring hips up (curl hips) so that lower back lifts up off the floor.
  4. Do this 6 – 8 times.


CrunchBentLegF  Bent Leg Crunch Twist

  1. On your back, bend legs and tighten abs.
  2. Raise upper body and one (1) bent leg.
  3. Twist touching the opposite elbow to the knee of the raised leg.
  4. Alternate sides
  5. Do this 8 – 10 times for each leg.


FitBallTrunk ExtensionFDouble Leg Bridge with Fit Ball (eccentric exercise)

  1. On your back, place your feet on Fit Ball.
  2. Lift hips off floor; squeeze buttocks (glutes).
  3. Slowly lower hips for 3-5 seconds.
  4. Do 8-10 reps; 3 sets.
  5. For an easier version of this exercise use a BOSU ball (instead of Fit Ball).


ObliqueAbPlankFOblique Side Plank – Lowering (eccentric exercise)

  1. Lie on your side with your feet and elbow touching the floor.
  2. Lift you torso / trunk so that only your elbow and foot are touching the floor.
  3. Slowly lower your trunk for 3-5 seconds.
  4. Do 6-8 reps.
  5. Repeat on other side.


JackKnifeCrunchF  Jack Knife Crunch/Sit-Up

  1. Tighten Abs while laying on the floor.
  2. Using the strength from your abs, simultaneously raise upper body and legs forming a “V”.
  3. Reach to touch ankles or feet.
  4. Repeat 6-8 times.
  5. Rest, then do another set.


PlankFProne Plank (eccentric exercise)

  1. In the prone position Tighten / Pull in abs to stabilize your trunk.
  2. Raise up on toes and elbow.
  3. Slowly lower downward without arching back.
  4. Do 8-10 of these.
  5. Rest; do another set.


1-LegStandSingle Leg Stand (Trunk Flexion)

  1. Stand on one leg.
  2. Bend forward from the hips.
  3. Touch the floor (if possible).
  4. Hold 5-7 seconds.
  5. Return to upright, keeping back straight and leg bent.
  6. Hold 5-7 seconds.
  7. Repeat on other leg.






Rapid Fat Burn with Circuit Training

What Is Circuit Training?

Circuit training is a programmed series of body conditioning exercises set on a specific course. Weight training and aerobics work well for this purpose. The time between exercises in the circuit is short; move rapidly the next exercise. After completion of the prescribed circuit, repeat it starting at the first exercise. Continue to repeat the circuit until the set amount of time is up.

Since each exercise station changes up the muscle group being worked, no rest is needed when moving between sets of exercises. The exercises are performed in rapid repetitions which raises heart rate. When the heart rate is boosted lots of calories are burned. When done with the session, calories will continue to be consumed for a few hours more.

You decide what exercises to include in the series. The course can be quite simple or complex, whatever suits your needs. A typical circuit should work each section of the body. An example circuit is described below.

#1. Run in place as quickly as possible. Pump arms while moving legs. Easier:  slow down or march in place. More difficult:  raise knees higher (to chest). Do this Warm-Up for 2 minutes only at the beginning of circuit session.


#2.  Bench Dip:  Keeping elbows close to sides, lower body almost to floor.  Then press upward until arms are straight.  Easier:  Knees bent and feet flat on the floor. More difficult:  Straighten legs; put feet on chair in front. Do 10 reps per set.


#3Crunch – Bent Knee:  Lay on back, knees bent, arms straight at sides. Keep head & neck in line with spine, tighten abs. Raise shoulders & upper back toward ceiling. Low / middle back & arms stay on floor. Do 15 reps per set.

CrunchBent Knee

#4.  Full Squat: Head is up; back is straight; feet are pointed slightly out. Squat until backs of thighs touch calves. (Easier: thighs parallel to floor). Keep abs tight; balance weight on heels. Adjust arm position for balance. Do 10 reps per set.


#5Wall Push Away:  Facing wall, place hands (fingers up) on wall about shoulder width apart. With body straight, elbows up and heels on floor, lean into wall. Hold position for 4 seconds, then push away using arms. Do 15 reps per set.

WallPush Away

#6Crunch Twist:  With legs bent, tighten abs & raise upper body and 1 leg. Twist to touch opposite elbow to raised knee. Alternate sides. Do 15 reps per set.


#7Lunge:  With feet hip width apart, step into a deep forward lunge. Front knee should be aligned with ankle; back knee pointing to the floor. Push back leg to straight keeping rear knee raised.  Hold this position for 7-10 seconds. Repeat with other leg.  Perform the lunge 10 times for each leg.


#8Standing Bend:  Stand with feet together and reach overhead with palms touching. Bend body to one side as fa as possible. Repeat on other side. Do this Cool Down Stretch only at the end of circuit session.





Why Do Women Need Muscles?

Ladies, if losing body fat is one of your priorities, then gaining muscle is a must.  There are many benefits to building up your muscle strength.  You’ll get stronger – unload all those groceries from the car!  Don’t worry, you won’t get BIG muscles or become bulky; you’ll mostly become stronger, gaining some lean muscle tissue and lose body fat.  Physiologically it is impossible for women to gain muscle in the same way as a man.

These body composition changes will not only empower you, but your body will also look fantastic.  AND the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be!  You will be burning more calories just to fuel your muscles – this helps you get rid of body fat.

It is possible to lose body fat without weight training but you’ll have to maintain an extremely clean diet and do some interval training.  However, low muscle mass is linked to accelerated aging and other health problems:  diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, greater risk of breaking a bone(s), poor posture, tendency to catch colds and become prone low mood issues.  What fun is that??

Another good thing about resistance (strength) training for females of all ages is that training hard elevates the level of the hormone (Growth Hormone) that burns fat in the body.  By training with weights women will build some muscle, lose fat, look fit and strong, have better balance and flexibility, while maintaining an advantage in the battle against the fat gain that happens with age.  Women who have more muscle mass tend to live longer.  Now, that is fun!

Seniors, Whole Health

Exercise for the Aging Population

What type of exercise is recommended for the aging population?  Aerobic exercise improves oxygen consumption and metabolism.  Maintaining aerobic fitness during middle age and beyond can delay biological aging by up to 12 years and prolong independence during old age.

A study in an issue of JAMA reports that walking two (2) miles a day reduced the risk of dementia in older men.  2,257 men from ages 71 to 93 were studied for about six years.  Those who walked less than a quarter of a mile a day were 1.8 times more likely to develop dementia than those who walked more than 2 miles.

Two other studies showed a reduction in the rate of dementia in older men.  Long term physical activity that included walking showed improved cognitive function in older women.  Increases in cardiovascular health from the physical activity probably helped to improve brain health.

Not only is aerobic training essential as aging takes place, but also strength training and flexibility/stretching are important.  By strengthening leg and other muscles balance is improved and the risk of falling is lessened.


Seniors, Wellness, Whole Health

A Quick Exercise To Do At Work … or anywhere

The Basic Chair Squat exercises the buns, hips and thighs and it can be done any time / anywhere!  Squats are one of the best lower body exercises.  This particular squat is easy on beginners and folks with knee issues.  And it’s a good functional exercise because it mimics everyday movements.  Here’s how to do it:

  1. Securely place a chair behind you (make certain that it won’t roll or move) and then stand in front of it.  Keep your feet about shoulder width apart.
  2. Now, tighten your stomach (ab) muscles while bending your knees.  Slowly continue to bend your knees and start to squat down towards the chair.
  3. Be sure to keep your knees behind your toes.  Sit down in the chair for a few seconds.
  4. Now, tighten your thigh muscles and lift up out of the chair; straighten your legs to a standing position.
  5. Do this several times.

After some days of  practice with doing this, try to just hover over the seat of the chair – don’t actually sit down, then straighten up the legs to standing.  Repeat.  Watch those knees, don’t let them go past your toes.


Fitness, Wellness

How To Add Exercise To Your Busy Day

Kids, work, cooking, household chores, shopping, phone calls, etc. all add up to a busy day.  How can a busy person include an exercise regime in their already crowded day?

If you drive to work, park further away in the parking lot; take the stairs instead of the elevator; while talking on the phone walk around or do some isometric exercises.

The parking lot:  Don’t circle around looking for the closest parking space to the door of the store or the office.  By parking further away, save time and gas, and get a few minutes of extra exercise.

Does the workplace have stairs; are there stairs in the shopping center?  Use them.  Walk some stairs and get some exercise.  In a high story building, walk up the stairs part way, then take the elevator the rest of the way.

Walk to lunch or walk during lunch break.  If bringing lunch to work, eat and then walk outside for a few minutes or around the office; do a few sets of stairs.  An hour of walking on level ground burns 175 calories; carry some groceries back to the car and burn 230 calories.

There are exercises and stretches to do while sitting at your desk.  While cooking use canned goods to perform bicep curls.  Light cleaning (dusting, vacuuming, straightening up) burns almost 100 calories per hour.  Play tag or hide ‘n seek with the kids.  Exercise during TV commercials:   alternate push ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks and arm circles or sit on a fit ball and bounce.