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Secrets for Aging Well

Most of us can agree that the Fountain of Youth is a myth, and no method yet exists to completely stop or reverse aging. However, we can also likely agree that there are steps we can all take to slow down the aging process. The following are the top ten secrets for aging well, to enjoy your life and live a healthier one for many years to come…

  1. Eat nutrient-rich foods. With your diet, set a plan in place to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, minimum. In addition, consume three servings of whole grains, and stay away from processed foods, and items that are high in saturated fats or starch. Focus on fresh, organic, and colorful as you fill your grocery cart.
  2. Get lots of antioxidants. Experts have found that most age-related diseases are triggered or intensified due to free radicals. Antioxidants are the key to neutralizing them, and can be found in supplements as well as darkly-colored veggies and berries.
  3. Drink lots of water. Hydration is important no matter what your age! A good rule of thumb is to drink about 5-8 glasses (8 oz.) per day.
  4. Reduce alcohol intake. While moderate intake of alcohol (one beverage per day for women, or two beverages per day for men) has been found to lower risk of heart disease, heavier drinking can be harmful to your health in significant ways.
  5. Exercise regularly with aerobics and strength training. This is a must for slowing down the aging process! By exercising your muscles and keeping them moving, you will slow down the muscular deterioration that comes with aging naturally, and avoid any deterioration that could have resulted from sedentary living.
  6. Stimulate your brain. Studies have exhibited the importance of mental health in addition to physical well-being. Doing puzzles and challenging your brain with additional stimulation can prevent declines in cognitive function, keeping your memory and more in shape.
  7. Follow a healthy sleep schedule. Your body needs to rest in order to function optimally and bolster your immune system against disease. If you are not getting at least six hours of sleep each night, you are at a higher risk of heart attack or stroke.
  8. Don’t forget sunscreen! Regardless of the weather or season, sunscreen is necessary to protect your skin from harmful UV rays that damage the skin, cause wrinkles, and put you at risk for skin cancer.
  9. Strengthen yourself to prevent falling. Falls can cause minor and severe injuries that are not only painful, but take far longer for aging adults to recover from. If you make a point to walk three times each week for as little as 30 minutes, or participate in other physical activities like cycling, dancing, and hiking, you will strengthen your bones and muscles to reduce your risk of falling.
  10. Check your meds. With each visit to your doctor, bring along your medications, supplements, and vitamins (or a complete list) for them to review. As you receive more prescriptions (a normal part of aging), you’ll want your doctor to ensure they interact safely together and don’t have harmful side effects.

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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Winter Sports Conditioning to Prevent Injuries

We know it is already here and likely you have already hit the slopes and trails, but it is never too late to add some conditioning exercises to help your knees get strong and resilient for the challenges you are throwing at them out there.

Whether you ski, snowshoe, snowboard, or any other winter sport, specific muscle groups tend to take the increased challenges that snow and ice throw your way.

  • Stretching: This is critical to keep your muscles flexible and loose and prevent injuries. Stretch when you are warmed up, not cold, otherwise you risk pulled or even torn muscles. This is known as dynamic stretching. After warming up, stretch in gentle pulses, allowing you to push the stretch more.
  • Quads: These are the four muscles on the front of the thigh, and considered the most important muscles to keep your knees stable and strong. Do Swiss ball squats against a wall and also quad extensions.
  • Knees: Adductor and Abductor exercises are critical in maintaining lower body balance, something needed in every winter snow sport.
  • Lateral Movement: Training this way challenges balance and all the above muscles and trains your body to react to challenging terrain and slopes, and build your explosive power.
  • Step-up exercises: Use a platform such as a sturdy stool or a balance board to do step ups and challenge your coordination and balance while building key leg muscles such as your quads and glutes.
  • Bosu ball: This will work on balance and coordination. This Bosu ball list of exercises has endless ideas, but focus especially on the front, back and side lunges.
  • Core: This is obviously working on your key abdominal muscles, but don’t forget your back muscles, as they are equally important to maintaining a healthy core which is needed in winter sports. Oblique Twists are great for this and there are many variations to challenge yourself.
  • More stretching: We really cannot say enough that you must not skip regular stretching for injury prevention. Here is a great pre and post ski stretching routine to get you safely through the season and beyond.

These are a great place to start to get you ready and keep you injury free during your winter adventures. Start today!

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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Top Smartphone Fitness Apps for 2016 Made Simple

By Janet Luhrs, www.simpleliving.com

Are you overwhelmed by fitness wearables? Do these gadgets simplify or complicate your life? I decided to take a look at new tech trends, and found that the new trend is to track your fitness right on your smartphone without having to purchase an additional gadget.

The good thing about fitness apps on your phone is that most of us carry our phones with us anyway, and you are not limited to the fitness tracking options in just one wearable. There are more fitness apps available in 2016 to customize your tracking to those activities that are most important to you.

You can track miles, elevation gain, be entertained while exercising, and learn to sleep better or get a daily motivational message to keep you going. Here are some of the top rated apps available:

Android

  • Argus tracks and displays your calories, heart rate, sleep and more. A nifty ability to scan barcodes on food labels makes tracking your calories a breeze as well as keeping track of your nutritional intake, for example if you are trying to get more calcium in your diet. You can build in challenges to your workout plan to push yourself to the limit.
  • Strava monitors both runs and cycling routes, provides challenges and achievement recognition, and even makes games out of your cardo workout. All of this can integrate with the leading Android Wear devices.
  • Map My Run will give you a great workout summary that charts you pace, distance, counts calories burned, and even gives you elevation gain, which is great for people who hit the trail or stairs workouts. You can control your playlist an also incoming calls without leaving the app or losing your workout data.
  • Fitness Builder gives you anytime/anywhere access to a live personal trainer and a ton of workout building, instructional videos, physical therapy tools, and hand-crafted workouts. This one offers a free month then afterwards it is subscription-based per month.

IPhone

  • Fitocracy appeals to those who like to work through levels and real life goals in personal trainer style. You are encouraged with game achievements and can share with friends and others in the Fitocracy community.
  • NexTrack Exercise and Weight Loss Tracker is for those who gain motivation with activities and prizes and points that can be redeemed for fitness prizes and coupons. It tracks over 200 different activities regardless of what you are doing, you will be rewarded.
  • Charity Miles gets you in shape and supports your selected charity at 25 cents per mile on foot and 10 cents per mile on bike. A certain level of accountability occurs as you have to share your activity on Facebook so that the charities can receive the donations.
  • Carrot Fit would be more aptly named “Personal Trainer from Hell” as it threatens, ridicules, and bribes you to get your butt moving. Ok, you are inspired and rewarded also as you are given “7 minutes in Hell” workouts for just about every fitness level. Your 7th grade PE teacher must be in this…

There are countless more apps for many other activities – but we don’t have space to tell you about all of them here. If the app idea appeals to you, then just find one that motivates you and go for it. For that matter, try a new app every few weeks and let us know which ones you liked and why.

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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Essentials for Winter Hiking and Snowshoeing Safety

Rumor has it that 2015 was the year of the hiker with hiking and I both increasing in popularity like never before. With all the new interest comes a large group of inexperienced and potentially unprepared people in the back country. This is dangerous regardless of the season, but winter hiking and snow country unpreparedness can become a life threatening situation very quickly due to exposure, hyperthermia, avalanche dangers and other concerns.

The place to start is with any local mountaineering organizations as well as being familiar with local and regional safety resources. In Washington State, the following organizations have a myriad of resources and helpful links to keep you safe in the backcountry this winter. Your state and region will also have similar organizations.

When you are on the trail in snowy conditions, keep in mind the following:

  • Always carry the 10 essentials, they really are essential if you find yourself in need
  • Carry extra water, emergency supplies and food to last you a full day in case you get stranded, lost, or injured.
  • Know your avalanche dangers in the area you plan to hike and realize they do not just occur on steep grades. Avalanche.org is a great resource for more detailed information.
  • Know the 10 essentials of Avalanche Safety and follow them.
  • Be aware that many objects and hazards can lie just beneath the surface of the snow such as rocks, sharp branches, and even barbed wire fences. Proceed with caution as if something is under there.
  • Always carry a map and familiarize yourself with your course before you leave the trailhead. Snowy conditions can make even the most familiar of trails unfamiliar to you and cause you to be disoriented.
  • Along with your map, bring a compass and have an understanding of basic compass reading.
  • Don’t walk out on frozen water just because someone walked it before you. Check for thickness yourself and when in doubt, it is best to go around.
  • Let someone know where you will be going and approximately your expected arrival time.
  • Know the signs for hypothermia and frostbite and be prepared to deal with it. Hyperthermia can progress very slowly, impairing judgement and lead to life-threatening decisions.
  • Get the appropriate winter clothing and gear for your activity. Sierra Trading Post has created this great guide to help you plan your layers and suggested fabric types for each layer.

Follow these guidelines and you will be doing all you can to keep yourself safe out there and having fun all winter long.

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com.

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5 Simple Steps to New Year’s Resolution Success

By Janet Luhrs, www.simpleliving.com

I have a great idea for you – a new way to make new years resolutions that you might actually keep. Imagine that! How about if right now, you find 30 minutes to sit down in a comfy place, play some good music, and give some good thought to what you’d really love this upcoming year. 

First, rather than just making a simple list that you fire off quickly, think deeply about what’s most important to you, and where you want to be this time next year as you look back. As you work on this list, those things that are most important to you will become clear and your resolutions will come from these. This is what gives you the clarity and vision you’ll need, behind your list of resolutions.

Second, keep your resolutions simple, clear, and measurable. If you can’t measure or see your movement on a resolution, then how will you know you’ve reached your goal? For example: “I want to be healthier in 2016” sounds great, but that can cover a wide variety of areas and the resolution itself is not measureable. “I commit to better cardio health by doing 30 minutes of cardio 3 times a week” is clear, simple, and measureable.

Third, keep it fun! Find a way to add even a smidgen of fun to mundane goals, such as committing to flossing every day to your favorite music. There are creative and silly ways to approach just about everything.

Fourth, stay focused. Making a long, varied list of resolutions that cover health, finances, relationships and education will look good on paper but long lists are nearly impossible to achieve. So instead, take on just one or two and maintain your focus on those two. As you find yourself experiencing success with those, then maybe in June you can add one or two more resolutions to your plan.

Fifth, practice daily. As you touch base on working toward success each day, your resolutions become a part of your wiring and daily routine. Daily practice makes ingrained habits and lifestyle changes. When that happens you can attain just about any reasonable goal you desire.

What are some ways that you have found success in your resolutions? We would love to hear what works for you.

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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Winter Fitness Tips: Why & How to Stay Active This Season

Most of us will admit that exercising in the cold, wet weather is a challenge, if not downright impossible. But it’s important to maintain a regular, healthy schedule of workouts and activity during the winter months. However, this doesn’t mean you have to go it alone and suffer through the nasty winter weather without support! The following winter fitness tips will explain why, and provide suggestions for how to stay active even when snow, rain and cold might discourage you from exercising.

Fitness professionals of all genres and types will tell you that exercise must be consistent to be the most effective. Don’t put your fitness regimen on hold, just because of rain or snow!

Walking in the snow is actually a great method of winter fitness, since it requires more cardiovascular exercise than walking unhindered on the sidewalk or street. And playing in the snow with your kids and grandkids is both a fun and healthy way to fit in some activity. More restorative activities such as tai chi and yoga can help increase your strength and flexibility, while helping you relax and improve mental and emotional health.

By working out during this season, you can also help reduce weight gain from drinking and eating the rich foods that are so readily available throughout the holidays this time of year. Make eating choices with your health in mind, such as enjoying a couple of satsuma oranges instead of a cookie.

Additional Winter Fitness Tips:

  • Be sure to warm up before your workout! Stretching and preparing your muscles for movement (particularly in cold weather) is important to avoid strains and other injuries.
  • Drink plenty of water. This is important any time of year, but can be harder to remember during the winter, when the rain is coming down or there’s snow on the ground. Follow these tips for staying hydrated during winter workouts.
  • Layer your workout clothing. Dress well for the weather. The first layer should be thermal to keep the heat in, then add more layers and an outer shell that are lightweight and easy to peel off as you get warmer during your workout.
  • Wear safety devices and reflective accessories. Days are shorter and darker this time of year, so if you’re going to be outside for your workout, make sure to wear items that will ensure cyclists and motorists can see you.

How do you stay active during the winter season? We’d love for you to share your tips!

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Seniors

We’re at that time of year again, when we’ll be celebrating with loved ones, enjoying special food and gifts, and then making plans to make 2016 even better than this year. New Year’s resolutions will make up a decent portion of conversation at many a holiday table. And although lots of people will be planning to lose weight, learn a new language, or cut back on the coffee, seniors have some special priorities.

So as you look toward January 1st and think about how you will make your life better in the New Year, here are the top resolutions for seniors…

  1. Make fitness a priority. We say all of the time that fitness makes everything better, and it truly does! Regardless of whether you have had your health and fitness at heart and just need to enhance it, or you’re just beginning to look at this crucial part of living, make fitness a priority in the New Year. From consistent exercise, to eating healthier, any steps you take toward your health and fitness will be beneficial.
  2. Proof your home against falls. One in three aging adults falls each year, leading to painful injuries that can take months to recover from, or even death. Fall-proof your home by removing things that may put you at risk for falling, such as throw rugs, and install things that may help you prevent a fall, like handrails in the shower.
  3. Challenge your emotional and mental health. I know that I’ve mentioned this several times before, “Use it or lose it!” Your mind works better the more you use it. Do puzzles, crosswords, and engage your mind in social situations like bridge club (this will also help keep you from becoming depressed).
  4. Document your memories. You’ve lived a long, full life! While you probably don’t expect it to come to a close anytime soon, now is the time to document your stories and memories for your legacy, so that your children and grandchildren (and beyond) can appreciate them too. At very least, make an effort to label every photo or memento you have. Another great project to start in the New Year is to put them all into an album – craft stores have fun paper, stamps, cut-outs and more to make a beautiful scrapbook.
  5. Get things in order. This may be a morbid concept, but getting your affairs in order and informing your loved ones of your wishes now will save a lot of heartache and complication after your passing. It can be hard to face this project, or to even know where to start. The National Institute on Aging has some guidelines – click here to learn more.

Happy New Year!

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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New Year’s Resolutions to Improve Your Health & Fitness

According to the numbers, 45 percent of Americans usually make resolutions, but only 8 percent of the people who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve them. A lot of adults choose this time of year to make a step toward better fitness (38 percent of resolutions are about weight loss). However, a general New Year’s resolution to lose weight or exercise more often probably isn’t enough to keep the motivation going for more than 8 weeks. Unfortunately, only 14 percent of those over the age of 50 who make resolutions achieve them. Let’s change that!

This year, follow these tips to keep your resolutions to improve your health and fitness:

  • Make specific resolutions (i.e. “I will exercise 3x per week” vs. “I will exercise more often”) with manageable, short-term goals
  • Schedule time on your calendar to complete the goals you set
  • Stay accountable with a friend or loved one
  • Keep track of your progress, and celebrate your successes
  • Reassess your resolutions if needed, but don’t give up!

Now that you have the tools, here are some good New Year’s resolutions to improve your health and fitness:

  • To start exercising, schedule workout/active sessions for 3-4 days each week based on things that you already enjoy doing (hiking, playing tennis, golfing, etc.).
  • To lose weight, resolve to exercise on a regular basis and change your diet to include more fresh fruit and vegetables, and less/no processed foods, sugars, or starchy carbohydrates (such as bread and pasta).
  • To improve strength and balance, start a weekly resistance training workout regimen.
  • To reduce high blood pressure and/or cholesterol, schedule cardiovascular exercise (jogging, cycling, swimming, etc.) at least three times each week for 30-minute (minimum) segments.
  • To increase workout intensity and effectiveness, schedule workout time with more frequency or variety (such as adding a day each week, or adding a new activity) or extend the amount of time you spend working out through the week.

Have a very happy New Year, and good luck with your resolutions!

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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Stay Hydrated During Your Winter Workouts

Dehydration is a concern for active people all year ‘round, not just in the hot summer months. Winter activities, however, pose different challenges to stay properly hydrated. Understand that dehydration occurs when fluid loss equals greater than 2% of your total body weight. That can actually be easy to do even in the winter months since while participating in winter sports, you may not get over heated and not think to drink as often as you do in summer months.

Add the contributing factors of household and office heat systems, causing drier air indoors, you stand a chance of already being a bit dehydrated even before you begin your activities.

While participating in winter sports, you are at risk of not “feeling” thirsty because you feel 40 percent less thirsty in the cold than when you’re warm. You also sweat less and that can lead some people to believe they don’t need more fluids.

If you are not careful to re-hydrate as your body loses fluids, your body expends extra energy to send blood to the skin and produce sweat. The effects of this is lower fluids in your bloodstream, making it ineffectual at delivering much needed oxygen-rich blood to your hard working muscles, lungs and vital organs

This is confirmed for you when you experience muscle cramps, but more serious symptoms are fatigue, mental confusion, which are not things you want to risk experiencing out on the trail in the back country or at the top of a mountain skiing.

How much hydration is needed for varying individuals? Check out the ACSM Fluid Replacement Recommendations specific to your needs.

Older athletes do have certain factors to be considered. As we age, we become more vulnerable due to our bodies’ reduced ability to conserve water. Also, our sense of thirst tends to lose its accuracy which in turn makes older individuals less responsive to the bodies’ signs that we need to re-hydrate Individuals with diabetes and kidney disease are at a greater risk for dehydration, as well.

So how do you stay ahead of this game and prevent dehydration during winter sports? Here are some simple tips to incorporate:

  • Be in the habit of carrying a water bottle with you at the start of each day and re-fill often. Especially do this in the mornings that you know you will be working outside later on in the day, that way you start out well hydrated.
  • Keep it easy and incorporate a sports hydration pack whether you are walking locally, hiking the back country, or skiing. Staying hands’ free instead of carrying a bottle makes it easier and quicker to sip continually during your activity.
  • Drink warm beverages: Green teas and other caffeine free options are a great way to get your fluids if you are not that excited about cold water in cold weather.
  • Eat your way to hydration: Veggies and fruits are packed with fluids and also give you that extra energy for your winter workout coming up. Start your day with plenty of these.
  • Just say no to caffeine: It is a diuretic which contributes to dehydration.
  • Plan ahead: Keep extra water bottles in the back of your car and replenish when you use them. Hydrating after your hike or ski day is easier if plenty of extras are on hand.

How do you feel like you do with staying on top of winter hydration? Let us know what works for you!

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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Don’t Get Into a Winter Workout Rut

It is cold and dark out there and there are real reasons why various animals hibernate in the winter months. Coming home from work and cozying up on the couch with a good read or flick just sometimes seems more attractive than getting out there and getting sweaty. Even the most dedicated of athletes hit ruts in workout routines, making it hard to keep motivated.

There are plenty of reasons to stay motivated in your workouts, so you don’t get into a winter workout rut. We have a list for you to refer to when those days come… and they will!

  • Spring time and better weather is really only 3 months away. You can accomplish a lot in three months and really be ready to go for some of those outdoor pursuits you don’t do during the winter. Post a pic of yourself engaged in your favorite warmer weather activity for motivation.
  • Learn to love the cold. Winter sports are a blast and if you don’t have one, make this winter the one where you try something new. You will be invigorated just getting out in the pretty white stuff and it is all that much more fun while trying that new snow sport you have been putting off.
  • Bust the Blahs: Most individuals in northern climates are affected even just a bit by the decreased daylight and sunshine. Getting out and ramping up your heart rate and endorphins has been proven to help beat the winter blues. Just tell yourself it is a commitment to good mental health.
  • Get a workout buddy for the winter months: When you are committed to checking in with someone else, you are setting yourself on the path to success since you are less likely to put things off if you are checking in with someone or meeting them to work out.
  • Set some goals: Sit down and think of the fitness skills or levels that you know you have been thinking of. Then make a plan to get to the finish line. Are 25 pushups a challenge? Are you frustrated with your ab strength? Set specific goals to certain levels and work toward those each day and mark your progress in a workout journal app.
  • Speaking of technology…check out some of these great fitness apps. Getting started on one of these will make your workouts fresh and fun and keeps you accountable and motivated as you see your progress in relationship to your goals. There are a great variety to choose from with different focuses such as cash rewards or involvement in a fitness community for “team” encouragement.
  • Burn Baby, Burn: More calories, that is. You burn more calories working out in winter months than you do in the summer. This is due to your body needing to work harder in the cold weather to maintain proper body temp.
  • Get some new gear or workout clothing. If you have fun, new things to wear and also appropriate gear to keep you dry and warm, you are more likely to get out in the elements and look great while working towards your fitness goals.

If it helps, post some of these reasons on 3×5 cards around your house to keep you on track and motivated to hang in there until that great weather returns. It will return and what you do during these winter months will have bearing on in what condition you will greet the spring!

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com