Why Should We Exercise

plank

We have attempted to tackle the reason why people either don’t start exercising, or they start and somewhere along the way, stop.  I have spoken to quite a few people who, for one reason or another, do not want to go to a gym to workout, and they do not have workout equipment at home.

Neither of those (we will call them excuses for now) should prevent you from exercising. There are so many exercises you can do in a 30 – 45 minute workout routine (3-4 times a week), that can get you in pretty good shape, without the aid of a gym or expensive exercise equipment.

The first step to any exercise program is to get clearance from your doctor.  Our audience is typically the over 40 crowd, and as we are well aware, the older you get, the more health risks there are.  So, it is always a good idea to make sure you are healthy enough to start an exercise routine.

The second step is to set a goal.  What do you want to accomplish?  Do you want bigger muscles?  Do you want a thinner waistline?  Are you preparing for an athletic competition or event?  Your goal will determine what type of exercises you should be doing and how you should perform those exercises.

For simplicity sake, let’s assume you want to lose some weight, firm up some body parts that for whatever reason (gravity), have begun to sag a bit, and get in overall better health.  All good reasons.

Here is a partial list of some really good exercises you can perform, without weights, kettle bells, dumbbells, bands, machines, etc.:

  • Air squats – one of the best all around exercises
  • Planks
  • Side planks
  • Lunges
  • Floor bridge
  • Push ups
  • Walking/running
  • Balance drills
  • Yoga poses

Weight bearing postures can actually build muscle, which is important to anyone over 40, as we lose a certain percentage of muscle tone each year.  You could add some dumbbell exercises to your routine to assist in strengthening certain muscles.  All it takes is a couple of 5 or 10 pound dumbbells to get started.  Heck, you could even start with a jug of laundry detergent, anything to add resistance.  It is funny, but since we sold our house, I don’t have any exercise equipment in my new living space.  I used a jug of detergent the other day to do shoulder raises.  It weighs about 8 pounds and did the trick. You can get creative here, but make sure the weight is correct (not too heavy for a particular exercise to where you may injure yourself), and it allows for the proper form (also to prevent injury).

Once a good routine is designed, make time in your schedule to exercise.  Put these times in your calendar and treat them like an important business meeting.  In other words, set a high priority to exercising and try not to miss a session.  Once that first session is skipped, it is easy to blow off others and before you know it, you are back to being a couch potato…don’t miss!

You can find information online about the exercises I mentioned above, or you could seek the help of a Certified Personal Trainer to get started.  Blend in some weight resistance as I mentioned above (push ups, air squats, both of which are body weight resistance), or dumbbell work such as shoulder presses, bicep curls, and bench press exercises.  Include core work to strengthen the all important stomach and back muscles. These include the plank, side plank, air squats, and floor bridge exercises mentioned above.  And don’t forget to elevate your heart rate with some cardio work (walking, running, jumping jacks, bike riding).

Once you get the routine down, you can add resistance as you get stronger.  This will continue your improvement and build your strength and endurance, which in turn will reduce the chances of injury performing daily tasks, tone up your muscles, and most likely reduce that waistline.

Give it a try and good luck.  Remember, we want fitness for a lifetime, not just until that big event that we want to look good for.

Bust Through The Status Quo

Lady Running

We have written articles about exercise over the past handful of months, and many people have commented that the information made a lot of sense.  After further checking, we also have found that many people still have not changed their habits.  That is, their habit of remaining sedentary.

Nobody disputes that exercise and physical activity benefits the human body, and that a sedentary lifestyle does the opposite.  So why is it that people just can seem to move from the status quo, TV watching, relaxing lifestyle that they may have become accustomed to?

The majority of people diet and exercise to look better.  I have always felt that was the wrong reason.  Sure, we all want to look our best, but really, what is more important than your health, and why is it that improving or maintaining your health is way down there on the priority scale?

Here is some information to try on for size:

40% of Americans say they perform no leisure time physical activity at all.

We also know that 1 our of 3 children in America are obese.  There is a strong link between TV watching and obesity.

Researchers estimated that physical inactivity accounts for 6% of the burden of heart disease, 7% of type 2 diabetes, 10% of breast cancer, and 10% of colon cancer. Inactivity also causes 9% of premature mortality.

There is a correlation between sitting and the chance of dying early.

Think about that for a minute.  Dying early?  Holy cow, how much more severe can you get than that, and yet people still love the couch potato lifestyle.

What’s it going to take to get you moving?  I have some ideas…

  1. Get a dog.  They love to walk and you will be busy following after them.
  2. Find an outdoor hobby.  Hiking, kayaking, biking, golfing (without a cart).
  3. Join a group that does any of the above.  Socializing helps.
  4. Put these activities into your calendar.  Scheduling them works.
  5. Be logical.  Prioritize your health over most everything else.

Number 5 makes so much sense.  After all, what is there if you don’t have your health?  Here is to your health and breaking the status quo.  You will love your new lifestyle and guess what, you may fit into those jeans a little better as well.

As We Age, Exercise is Even More Important

 

It’s funny, not ha ha funny, but funny in a different sort of way, but as I talk to people about exercise, they  invariable say, “I just don’t have time to exercise”.  I am really tempted to say, that’s ok, you will have plenty of time when your dead, but I refrain, after all, my job is to encourage them to exercise, not scare them.

I figure the problem is one of a handful of things.  Either a person doesn’t want to exercise, he or she has trouble prioritizing, or they don’t see the importance.  After all, they must figure that they have lived for this long without any type of fitness program, so why is it so important to start now?

It is important because as we age things break down.  Think about a car for example, always my favorite analogy to the human body.  Over time, wear and tear occurs on all vehicles. We know that to be a fact.  At some point there will be problems.  We change the oil and do tune ups.  Put in fuel regularly, and change all the fluids.  Those things are regular maintenance so your car lasts longer and performs when we need it.

The same is true with our bodies.  We put in fuel (sometimes good, sometimes bad.  What happens when we put bad gas in our car’s fuel tank?).  The older we get, the more important it is to stretch and strengthen our muscles.  Doing so, like the car, will make them last longer and perform when we need them.  Our muscles become less elastic, and we actually lose muscle mass as we age.

I have a saying, “time waits for no one”.  Basically, it’s nature.  Our bodies age.  The question is, how fast do you want it to age?  Your body, if treated properly, and it is never too late to start properly caring for your body, can give you 50, 60 70, 80, and even 90+ years of dependable service.

So I ask, what kind of quality of life do you want in your senior years?  If you dream of an active retirement where you play golf, travel, play with the grand kids, start caring for your body now and you will increase your chances for that fun and active lifestyle, throughout your life.  You can always start by simply walking, as we have said many times, and build from there.  Just do it!

Good luck, and drop me a note anytime to discuss or simply give me a progress report.

It starts with the heart!

Chuck

 

 

Humbling Experience

Jefferson Awards

When I decided to walk across America for heart disease, I knew it was the right thing to do.  When we decided to start a nonprofit to help others, it sure felt right, although the red tape, regulations, and legalities made me wonder a bit.  Since that time, there have been moments when I thought, geez, it would have been much easier to retire and play golf.

Retirement dreams come in all sorts of sizes and packages, but I’m really not ready for that.  Yep, I ditched the corporate America job, and as I said in my book, I pretty sure I am heading down the right path.  It is a calling, it is what I am “supposed to do”, and in turn, it is probably the hardest thing I have ever done.  It requires reinventing yourself, and at age 54, I wondered if I was up for the task.

My first thought was to improve my value to the newly formed organization, relating to heart health, of course.  I figured it was probably too late to go to med school, so the idea was to learn about fitness, an integral part of heart health.  I studied for, and passed, the National Academy of Sports Medicine exam to become a Certified Personal Trainer, which, is no easy task.  It took about 6 months and was as hard as any college class I have taken.  Either that, or studying when you are older is harder (probably a combination of both).  At least this time I was sober when taking the exam lol, just kidding, we did drink a bit in college, but I never took an exam drunk, at least as far as I can remember.

Anyways, with my CPT in hand, I decided to get another accreditation, this time another three-letter acronym starting with the letter “C” CPR.  That was easy.  So, move on to the next step, get certified to teach CPR.  Done.  The last piece is to become nutrition certified.  I have that in the plans for the next few months.

All of this knowledge will help our organization, and help me help others learn how to live more heart healthy, but it is a long tough road.  Who would blame me for either semi-retiring, now at age 55, or going back into the familiar world of telecommunications?  Believe me, I have thought about it often.  Fold up shop, give our money to another worthy charity, and take the path of least resistance.

Then came the Jefferson Awards, which is a pretty big deal, after all, Joe Torre was being honored for his good work, and was the keynote speaker.  Other national honorees over the years include John Glenn and Condeleezza Rice, holy cow, this is a big deal.

My friend, and one of Walk For The Beat’s board members, whose heart is in the right place, happens to work for Vodafone.  They are a large telecom company  with a presence here in the United States, and they happen to be a sponsor for the Jefferson Awards.  Therefore, they participate, and internally select “exceptional employees” to represent their company at the ceremony.

To be considered an exceptional employee, you must demonstrate that you did something good for your community.  Mark told our story to Vodafone, he was nominated by a peer, and we were selected for an award, and a grant from the company.  How cool is that?  In doing so, we were invited to attend the Jefferson Awards, which was being held in Washington D.C.  Excellent, this would provide us some visibility, a couple of days in the nation’s capital, and a few bucks to put towards our cause, or at least that’s what I thought would be most beneficial.

Not so fast mister.  Sure those are nice things, but what we walked away with was more valuable in our humble opinions, and I use the “humble” word, purposefully.  Let me start by telling you about the Jefferson Awards.  They honor people and organizations that have dedicated their lives to helping others.  We were able to listen to 60+, one minute speeches from these good folks, about what they are doing, and of course why.  it was awe-inspiring.

For about two hours, it was an endless stream of tears, not so much in listening to the challenges they faced in their lives, but for the impact they are having on others.  One that really has stuck with me, was a young girl, now probably in her mid 20’s, who was bullied in Jr. High School.  It was so bad, that she wrote a note to her parents telling them how much she loved them, but she decided that she couldn’t take living like that anymore.  It was a suicide note.  The bullies convinced her that she was worthless.  She attempted suicide, and fortunately, she failed.

Many therapy sessions later, she is a sophomore in college, and one of her counsellors asked her to talk about her story to a group of kids who were identified as having a similar experience.  Low self-esteem, etc.  That catapulted her into a new passion.  She found that she is really good at these types of speeches, and figured out that she can help many others, who share the same feelings she once felt.  From there she started a nonprofit organization, and has dedicated her life to this mission.  Truly extraordinary!

These stories came fast and furious, with each one being as impactful as the one before.  Mark and I were touched.  We later talked about what is important in life.  I had been through this “epiphany moment” after my coronary artery disease diagnosis, and now it was cool to share that feeling with my friend, although on a bit different level.  He asked if working the old 9-5 job was really what mattered.  Where should priorities lie?  What is truly important in life?  We just touched on those things a bit while walking around D.C., but I sense that Mark was doing a bit of introspection, which is good now and then, in my opinion.

I am a bit older than Mark, and my kids are grown and out forging their own paths in life, but Mark has a 4 year-old.  My advise, since I am such an experienced sage now, was that yes, your job is important.  You have to provide for your family and there is tremendous value in that, both for your family, and your own personal satisfaction, knowing that when you look back, you provided a good life for your loved ones.  The questions then remain, what more can we do to “make a difference” in the bigger scheme of things?  What should we do?  How do we prioritize it?  And of course the big one, what fulfills us?  Those are some pretty deep questions, and I know this, my story has not yet been fully written.

I have a two-year head start on Mark, and I know where I am going.  The Jefferson Awards only further cemented the notion that we are doing the right thing with our time, money, and effort to help people avoid, fight, and deal with all the issues surrounding heart disease.  It’s my thing since it affected me, so now my advice is find your thing and follow your heart.  I guess when it is put that way, there really isn’t any question about it.

Chuck

 

 

 

 

 

There’s Always A Way

Taking steps towards good health

I’m proud of sister-in-law Mary.  She leads an active life, more active than most, and I think she will tell you that a lot of that activity is self-induced.  She has a full-time job and has a very busy social calendar with events, etc.  There are a lot of people I know like that, most everyone these days, and many say they are too busy to exercise.  But does that have to be the case?

I won’t tell you how old Mary is in fear of retribution, however she has a few years on me.  Let’s just say she isn’t a millennial.  So, with all the activities going on in her life, how does she have time to exercise?

First off, if you have been following along, we classify walking as exercise.  For those that aren’t necessarily looking for that beach body physique, those of us 50+, walking is a great exercise with many benefits including relieving stress.  There are more than 10 muscles being used at the same time when you walk, and the heart is one of them.

Mary found time in her busy day by getting up 40 minutes early and hitting the pavement.  She jokes that the first time she ventured out, that she only made it to the cemetery, which is only about 300 yards away.  Over time, however, she has added a little more distance each week and now her morning stroll extends upwards to two miles.

She is a phone person.  In the old answering machine days she once left a message on our machine that nearly used up the whole tape, with the message at the end to simply call her back, lol.  Let’s just say she like to talk and is good at keeping a conversation going.  Anyways, she uses this time to get in her daily call with one of her boys, something she values very much.  This keeps with her active go-go-go lifestyle in that she is using the time to accomplish other tasks as well as getting in her exercise.

Two lessons can be learned, three if you are new to this blog, 1) walking is exercise, 2) start slowly and you will be surprised how all of a sudden you are walking a couple of miles a day, and 3) you can fit it into your day with a little extra discipline.  I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about a 4th lesson, walking can be enjoyable.

Have fun and be good to your heart.  Take a dedicated walk every day, the cemetery can wait.

Chuck

 

It’s Golf Season, Skip The Cart

DSC_0071Golf season is upon us in Michigan.  The piano music you hear during the Masters commercials says it’s so.  The grass is turning green, sort of, and drying out a bit after a very wet early spring.  All in all, the time is here.  So, when you decide to go play the first round of the year, how about walking?

Golf was not intended to be played riding a buggy in a zig zag motion from shot to shot and from tee to green.  Golf is an outdoor sport, and one of its charms is connecting with nature and the beautiful surrounding that most golf courses feature.  The sound of gas powered golf carts, along with those pesky concrete golf paths, violate that charm.

A standard golf course is over 6,000 yards, tee to green, 18 holes.  This doesn’t count the wayward shots into the woods, or the walk between holes.  When you add it all up, walking 18 holes, will net you approximately 4 to 5 miles, or more, worth of steps (8,000 to 10,000+ steps).  Add in the potential elevation changes, and the warm up and actual swings you make hitting the ball, and you have performed a fair amount of exercise for that day.  Carry your bag, and you can truly say you had a good workout.

First and foremost, check with your doctor before any exercise regimen.  This includes the exercise I described above.  Our target audience is the over 40 crowd, and possibly those with a higher risk of heart disease, but as we found out on more than one occasion lately, heart disease doesn’t discriminate.  Most people don’t know they were at risk until it is too late.  That is why I continue to advocate regular doctor visits, and knowing what questions to ask your doctor.  It can be a matter of life or death, seriously.

Once cleared by your physician, head to the course and consider walking.  A pull cart might be a good way to start, and once you feel like you can handle it, consider carrying your bag (lighten it up of course).  You may find golf more enjoyable, and ironically, you may even play better.  I know for sure, that you will get more exercise, good exercise, that way as well.  Enjoy the season!

It Starts With The Heart!

Chuck

 

 

Are All Weight Loss Plans Good For You?

Female Doctor Nutrition LabelMaintaining the proper weight as we age is certainly a good thing.  A good rule of thumb to see if you are the proper weight for your height is the BMI formula.  BMI stands for body, mass, index.  It is not the end all be all, but it will tell you if you could stand to lose a few pounds.

The BMI formula is:  your weight/your height in inches squared x 703.  For example, if you are 6 feet tall (72 inches) and weigh 170 pounds, it would be 170/(72×72)x703, or 170/5184 which equals .03279 times 703, which equals 23.05.

That number falls in the normal category.  18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight, 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, while over 30 is considered obese.  Again, it’s not the end all be all, which means it doesn’t mean you are unhealthy or at high risk for disease if your BMI is say 26. but it gives you a general idea of where you should be in terms of weight.

With that said, and you believe that you should lose a few of those excess pounds, the question is, how do you go about it?  There are dozens if not hundreds of programs out there, are they all good?  Are they all safe?  Do they all work?  Is any weight loss good weight loss?

The answer to the last question is yes and no.  Gotcha didn’t I?  Your probably thinking, what do you mean, yes and no?  That doesn’t help me.  Allow me to explain.  Sure, if you are overweight, losing that extra weight is good, but it is possible that more harm than good could be done in terms of your health, if you go about it the wrong way.

From a fitness perspective, it is important to first determine your goal.  Why do  you want to lose weight?  To look better?  To fit in an outfit for an upcoming event?  To improve your long-term health?  All are good reasons.  I favor the last of course, but regardless, there are many ways to go about it.  Then there is the question of how much weight you want to lose, and how fast you want to lose it.  I suggest being realistic here and making smart decisions.  For example, excessive, quick weight loss may not be healthy, and it may not be sustainable, which means you will be back in the same boat in a couple of short months.

We advocate a sensible program for losing weight.  This includes a well thought out and executed exercise program, along with monitoring calories while keeping a close eye on where those calories come from.  This includes having a sensible ratio of carbs, fats, and protein.  That way, you will accomplish your goal, and it will be easier to maintain over the long haul.  After all, good health that lasts a lifetime is what we all should strive for.  Here is a common understanding of weight loss, burn more calories on a daily basis than you take in, and you will lose weight.  It isn’t rocket science.

I will close by telling you what I tell everyone, check with your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet or before starting any exercise program.  Also, to get more detailed information about a good nutrition plan, check out our friends at StrongerUFit.com.  The testimonials will blow you away!