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.

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

 

Live to Eat, Or Eat to Live?

I had a conversation the other day with someone about what is and what isn’t healthy in terms of food.  We batted around a few things like potato chips, soft drinks, lunch meat, etc., and agreed on all the different foods we discussed.  It’s not rocket science after all, and most of the information out on popular foods has been known for quite a while (although sometimes things change, like with eggs).

At the end of the conversation, the man I was talking to said, “but every now and then you need to eat something that tastes good”.  Although I agreed with him, and stated that it is ok to have a cup of ice cream once or twice a week, or a cheeseburger once or twice a month, does eating healthy mean you have to live on a diet of cardboard?

There are many foods that I like that provide flavor and satisfaction to the taste buds.  Fruit, in moderation, is an example.  I say moderation because of the sugar content.  Yes it is better than processed sugar, but it is still sugar.  We can get into that later.

As for the aforementioned fruit, blueberries are my favorite, primarily because of the nutritional value, and, I find them delicious.  I make multi-grain pancakes now and then, and add blueberries and pecans to the mix.  Top them with some natural butter (Kerrygold, the low sodium version), and real maple syrup, and I’m not sure if there is anything that tastes better.

I know that some people don’t like seafood.  I do, so that makes it easy for me.  Salmon cooked just right, topped with garlic and lemon, or with a dab of that Kerrygold butter and herbs, served with brown rice drizzled in olive oil with garlic and pepper is a great healthy combination that can taste, if prepared properly, fantastic.

If you like meat, that’s ok.  On thing that is recommended almost unanimously is to consider what you eat, eats.  In other words, natural beef or chicken (beware of the word natural, it is not something that is regulated) that is free from hormones, etc., and is free range, grass or grain fed is the healthier choice.  Personally, I try to limit red meat to once every one or two weeks, but that’s just me.

For snacks, peanut butter is my favorite.  I asked someone in the know once if I could still eat my staple PB and J sandwiches (wheat bread and natural jelly), and stay heart healthy.  She said, yes, which made me happy, but then said “eat them without the bread and the jelly”.  Of course, then they are not PB and J sandwiches, are they?  So, I improvised.  Slice a big red apple and smear peanut butter on the wedges.  You don’t have to believe me, try it for yourself, it is a satisfying and nutritious snack.

I won’t lie to you, eating healthy is not all that easy.  It takes planning, will power, and discipline.  Your brain, stomach, and taste buds will be fighting you at first, and they can be very formidable opponents.  It’s kind of war of attrition.  The longer you stay at it, sooner your enemies will give up and actually join the home team.  They will begin to appreciate the flavors of healthy foods.  In my case, it is kind of a matter of survival, so my brain joined with me first.  I have since won over my stomach and taste buds, although I will say, they get what they want every now and then.  That’s ok, remember, moderation is ok.

One last thought along the lines of moderation in regards to healthy eating, you can designate a couple of meals or even a day during the week, where you are going to go off the board and have an unhealthy favorite.  Like that greasy cheeseburger, with an order of fries.  Or maybe add some potato chips (my personal favorite) along with a sandwich.  If it keeps your taste buds happy, then it is a win-win.

This blog isn’t necessarily about dieting.  That is another subject and one that I believe best in the hands of professionals like a registered dietician or your doctor.  Doctors can advise you based on your personal health situation, although many are not actual dietitians.  Walk For The Beat does partner with Stronger U in this area, and more information is available upon request.  They provide information to help their clients reach their goals through nutrition and diet (for the lack of a better word).  As for us, WFTB, we focus on the heart, because in our humble opinion, it all starts with the heart!

 

 

TV Experience

We were featured on Fox 2 News here in Detroit on Saturday morning, and it was a very cool experience.  It was an honor to be included and thanks to Charlie Langton and Fox 2 for having us.

I will say, I was a bit nervous prior to the event, however once we were on the set, it felt somewhat natural.  Charlie is a professional and welcomed us with his usual zeal.  The rest as they say is history.  We had fun, although we were discussing a very serious situation.  I have to say, there is a lot that goes into producing the news.  The content, the timing, the organization, it is endless.  It made me appreciate what goes on behind the scenes to get the finished product.

It was nice to have our organization, Walk For The Beat, highlighted, and great to have Dr. Kazziha from Cardiovascular Consultants, and Brittani Staley from the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority join me on the set.  Of course, I always feel better when the good doctor is nearby.

It was a great experience, although it was only a few minutes in length.  Perhaps in the near future, we will be highlighted in a segment that provides more insight into our organization, what we do, and our plans for our walk across America.  Until then, check out our website at http://www.walkforthebeat.org.

Chuck

fox-2-feb-4

Current Reality

Depression, anxiety, and a feeling of hopelessness affects a lot of people.  Many people are fighting these feelings, and they can be caused a host of different things.  The loss of a loved one, the lost of a job or even a change in jobs, financial problems, retirement, and poor health are some of the things that can lead to depression.

When someone has anxiety or depression, all the logic in the world may not be enough to bring them out of it.  One thing that occurs is that in their mind, whatever current reality the person is dealing with, seems like a permanent reality.  But is it?

One example is that many people obsess over losing a job.  Sure it is important to make a living and be able to put a roof over your head and food on the table.  However, does it mean you are going to be unemployed forever?  Many people didn’t even like their job, but are now upset they don’t have it, and the feeling of hopelessness creeps in.  Just remember, this isn’t necessarily your permanent reality.  You have the ability to bounce back and potentially bounce back better than you were before.

This holds true for many of the causes of depression and anxiety.  People feel their current reality is one that will last forever.  In the vast majority of cases, it won’t, however that piece of logic often doesn’t resonate with a depressed person.  That is where the professionals come in, along with patience, understanding, and love.

These feelings are real and they can be debilitating.  These feelings are stressful and of course that has consequences on your heart health.  Educating ourselves in this area is important, both for the people who have these types of feelings, and their loved ones.

 

Stress and politics, it is really a matter of your heart!

 

I try to avoid politics in my writing, and I believe that although politics is mentioned, the main message in the blog is not political at all, it is truly about heart health.  Heart health is my mission.  It is what our organization is working for, that is fewer heart disease related occurrences.  It is believed that 80% of heart disease related occurrences can be prevented.  80%, that is an amazing statistic.  When I read that, I realized that what we are working towards is achievable.  We can make a difference.

 

One of the causes of heart disease is stress.  Stress can adversely affect your body, specifically, the toll it can take on your heart.  In the big picture, what has been more stressful lately than the recent presidential election and subsequent inauguration?  Two sides bitterly opposing the other.  The Facebook arguments, what the media chooses to highlight, the non-peaceful protests, the fake news, the strong opinions, and the spin and twisted truth, it is surrounding us, maybe even consuming some.

 

I’ll have to admit, I didn’t sleep all that well the night of the inauguration.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t so much about who is now our President, although it does bring some trepidation, it would have no matter who was elected,  I was restless because of concern for what we as a society have become.  We have become a society of know-it-alls, and that is scary.  What this means to me, is that very few people are truly objective and willing to have open minded discussions before forming an opinion.  We have become intolerant to people with opinions that don’t mesh with our own.  That is dangerous for many reasons, including a lack of growth as a person and how we interact with others.  Of course, not everyone falls in this category, but it is prevalent in today’s society.  How did this happen?

 

I have my theory, and of course I am going to share it, otherwise what’s the point of writing this blog.  LOL.  Let’s do it like this, let’s imagine these two candidates in 1950, or 1930, or 1830 for that matter.  What would we know about them?  We would know their accomplishments, what they tell us, what we heard with our own ears, or read about in a single newspaper, a newspaper that most likely reported factual information (what a novelty).  We may not have all the information about the candidates, but what we would have known is most likely credible.  At the very least, it would have been based on our own rational thoughts and feelings.

 

Today we are bombarded with the opinions of others, factual or not; blog posts factual or not; media reports (many of which have a biased spin); memes (most of which are contrived, are biased, or filled with lies); and publications, many of which have an ulterior motive.  We are supposed to sift through it all to know what to believe.  I say it is impossible. 

Just as an example, there was a video on Facebook of Bill Clinton at the inauguration looking off into the distance.  You have probably seen it.  Hillary looks at Bill, with a funny look on her face, Bill catches her glance and then proceeds to look back in the original direction.  Hillary looks to be a bit put off by it all.  The caption represents it as Hillary catches Bill staring at Melania Trump, insinuating that he can’t keep his eyes off good looking women.  Nowhere in the short video is Ms. Trump.  Nowhere is there proof that Bill was looking at Melania and not something else.  What I found interesting were the comments.  People bought it hook line and sinker.  That’s what scary, because they are basing their opinions on information that may not be credible.   

 

To reduce stress in your lives, I think it is important to know that most information available to us, needs to be fact checked and read with a bit of skepticism.  In other words, we need to remain open minded and know that what we are reading is probably not 100% factual.  Know that you most likely aren’t a political expert, and most likely don’t know all the facts.  I will give one more example, I questioned the US giving Iran $150,000,000,000 (that’s a lot of zeros).  I have an opinion on it, but really, what do I know?  Was I involved in every sit-down discussion with the Iranian leaders?  No.   Was I in the internal US strategy meetings to discuss how to handle the situation?  No.  Do I have all the information I need to form an educated opinion?  I doubt it, and guess what, our leadership isn’t going to give us all the information in every situation, often times in order to protect us. 

Why then get all worked up over it, and argue with someone who may know less than me about a subject, should they have a different opinion than mine.  That type of rationale, recognizing that we are not experts in every matter, is becoming rare in our society and it needs to change fast.  I’m not saying you cannot have an opinion, it is ok to have an opinion, just keep an open mind that the reasons you believe in a certain thing, may have been based on flawed information for no particular fault of your own.

 

I for one, am going to take a deep breath, do my homework, try to forge my opinions (political and otherwise) out of knowledge and facts (notice I said try), and not engage with others if they happen to have an opposing opinion, unless, and here is the key, unless they are as willing as I am to admit that we are not experts in the matter, and willing to be open minded.  Less stress will result, and less stress is better for the heart.

 

Thanks for reading, and I hope our society can someday see the light.

 

Chuck Woolaver

 

It Starts with the Heart!