Seniors: Find An Activity You Can Enjoy The Rest of Your Life! That’s How Long You’ll Need It.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could exercise for a limited amount of time and have it last the rest of our lives? Because it’s a source of fun and achievement for me, you’d still be able to find me in the gym on a predictable basis.

One of the great facts that we’ve discovered in the last few years is that simply being active doing things that you already enjoy contributes significantly to your physical well being.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/03/20/291894075/exercise-cuts-breast-cancer-risk-for-all-women-everywhere?ft=3&f=1001

Wonderful news to those who think it’s only about sweat, strain, and soreness.

Don’t over-analyze trying to figure out the best program.

The most important and best program is the one you do!

Once you experience the vitality that accompanies a fitness lifestyle, there are countless choices for continuing.

Guiding you through your fitness journey,

Steven

Simply Senior Fitness by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Fitness Extremes or Fitness For the Finer Things?

image

(photo of my training partner/coach, Hector)

Athletes who drive themselves to extremes inspire and enlighten; they challenge us to dream and show us what can happen when we do!

Fitness can be defined by raw numbers describing VO2 max, repetitions per minute, single rep maximums, and/or a mass of other scientific data.

Let’s make it simple; Let’s make it functional!

Fitness, as I am foreseeing the future, becomes the capability of enjoying the things that mean the most to me –not (necessarily) as an end in itself, but as an indispensable component of enjoying what life offers in all of its adventures. I will continue to enjoy training as something intrinsically rewarding, of course. To me, movement is life, and a side benefit is the contribution it makes to health. As Ralph Waldo Emerson penned a century and a half ago, “It is good health and appetite that impart the sweetness to the sugar…”

When your body is in a state of ill health and disease it’s difficult, if not impossible, to enjoy even the most basic of pleasures.

Allow me to take the liberty, then, of framing the concept of fitness in this most unscientific perspective: having the level of physical ability, including cardiovascular fitness, strength, and ability of movement, to enjoy what means the most to you!

Am I missing anything?

For the rest of my days, this becomes my training mantra, with sporadic episodes of peak performance along the way. It’s my journey, and of course, yours shall be yours and, happily, both are correct and true!

Individualism is part of the fitness trail, and a welcome and significant part, indeed.

I admire the strongest, the fastest, and the biggest. But the road I travel need not be theirs. It’s only important that I train for the strength and stamina to travel my own path–the one that brings me fulfillment and joy.

Fitness is photographed and marketed heavily. It has a beautiful face, a sculpted body, and the look of victory and determination.

Do not be discouraged about who you are and the road you are traveling. Give yourself the health and wellness you need that a fitness lifestyle will bring to you.

Take reasonable care of yourself and enjoy the finer things along the way!

The Secret Is…
there’s no secret,

Steven

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

If I Could Give You Anything To Start Your Healthy Lifestyle, Here’s What It Would Be…

Looking back and reflecting on my love for healthy living, what is the one thing that could be deemed the prime mover?

I don’t know that sharing this with you will make a difference in your life; but then, I don’t know that it won’t. And it’s easy for you to skip past these observations if you find them of no use, so I won’t feel guilty about wasting your time.

If these words can move you to be a healthier you, I’ll be a happier me.

This body that is me has always been a source of wonderment and fascination. From the complex issues of mind/body interaction, to the amazing intricacies of the cellular machines which comprise our corporeal reality; I am in awe.

I think, therefore I move. I touch and my brain signals that I feel. Soundwaves move a membrane in my ears causing tiny hairs to transfer a signal to my brain, and the glorious laughter of a little child stirs my heart.

I enjoy these capacities to feel and experience life and I feel they are worth caring for. I do not worship this body. And whatever your religious beliefs and understandings; or skepticism thereof, there is nothing stopping you from being as amazed as l.

Amazement, for me, has led to the act of caring for and appreciating what I see as something precious and transitory–my good health.

I wish for you this same amazement…or any other positive emotion that just might be your prime mover.

To Your Healthy Lifestyle,

Steven

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Elbow Pain: Not Necessarily Inflammation–And Why That Matters

(view of right elbow showing medial epicondyle with connective tissue and first layer of muscle) 


If you’re enjoying a sport where the elbows are a focal point for inordinate stress–tennis, golf, baseball, weightlifting–the joy can disappear rapidly when even a slight movement or touch of the elbow elicits sharp pain. 

For years, intermittent but significant elbow pain has been part of my training. Only now do I feel confident that I understand what was, and still is, taking place physiologically to produce this pain. 

The situation regarding my own experience involved the inside, or ‘medial’ portion of the elbow. Tennis elbow typically involves the outside, or ‘lateral’ epicondyle. The forces generated by the backhand stroke are primarily responsible in that case. Complicating matters at the site of the epicondyle is added leverage straining the tendons that pass over the protrusion of the rounded bone. 
Let’s take a look at what’s happening and why. 

(next layer of muscle added–notice the major flexor muscles originating from the medial epicondyle) 

“Originally, inflammation was thought to generate the pain in medial epicondylitis. However, magnetic resonance images (MRIs) and histology show the presence of microtears in the flexor-pronator tendons without inflammation.”

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1231997-overview#a1

(last layer of muscle from the medial epicondyle) 

 
“Kraushaar and Nirschl noted that histopathological studies of tendons suffering chronic injury demonstrate an absence of acute inflammatory cells. Nirschl has called this degenerative process a tendinosis, indicative of the failed intrinsic mechanism of the tendon to heal, rather than a tendinitis. A tendinitis implies an extrinsic blood borne response including the presence of inflammatory cells not evident in the histopathological studies of chronic overuse tendons.”

http://www.nirschl.com/elbowten.asp

What we thought in the past was an inflammation problem (the suffix ‘itis’ in medical diagnoses indicates inflammation) is really a degenerative tendon condition necessitating an entirely different set of responses. 

So here I was, years ago, treating medial epicondylitis with ibuprofen and upping the dose while experiencing no relief of inflammatory symptoms. Unfortunately, I was one of the ones who later found out that the warning labels on Ibuprofen are there for a reason. You can read what happened to me in the following post:

http://wp.me/p45KYd-mm

The other recommended response to inflammatory pain is complete rest to facilitate healing. 

That’s exactly what you shouldn’t do when the healing involves tendons.

 Here’s why… 

“For healing to occur, tension is required across fibroblasts in order for cells to divide and orient themselves perpendicular along a line of stretch. 11 The stress also stimulates collagen fibrils to orient themselves in a parallel arrangement to the direction of tensile load, allowing them to resist imposed demands. 19 However, when the rate of injury exceeds the intrinsic ability of the tendon cells to repair themselves, tissue damage occurs. If the injurious behavior is continued long enough, degeneration of the tendon results.” (quoted from Nirschl Orthopaedic Center website) 

The participation in a well-rounded physical therapy regimen designed to aid in the proper repair of tendons without overuse is the best course of action. Only if this has been pursued without success should one consider surgery, suggests the information on the quoted website above. There is a wealth of information to be found on this site. 

The Latest Incident: My Acute Onset Experience 

I remember exactly where, when, and what happened regarding my right elbow problem. A little over a year ago, I’m doing chin-ups to failure and I’ve got a spotter behind me to start assisting for more reps when I’m at my limit. About the seventh assisted chin-up I feel a sharp burning pain radiating from the inner side of my right elbow. As much as I’d like to think that I can push myself as I did in earlier years, at 64 common sense is more valuable than reps to exhaustion. I’m still dealing with the resultant chronic pain. 

“Trained muscle is able to absorb more energy prior to failure, and the incidence of injury increases with fatigue. This is because as a muscle fatigues, greater stresses are absorbed by the tendons.” (Nirschl Orthopaedic Website)

For this reason, and my own training experiences through the years, I recommend that the risks accompanying extreme training definitely exceed the potential benefits. 

 
At this point, armed with new information, I am seeking relief of my pain with a revised plan of attack. I will update you with future results. 

Recommended in the referenced article is the use of forearm braces that help by dispersing the forces generated by muscular contraction.  

Delivery from Amazon is scheduled for Tuesday. 

Don’t Need to Train To Failure, 

Steven 

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Fitness: It’s Really About Discovering What Fits

Let’s take a look at three potentially enjoyable ways that you can change the course of your life with fitness.

Before we go there, however, let’s focus on the process of discovery, itself.

It involves doing something different.

Obviously–how else could anything be discovered?

I guarantee you that there is an exercise activity that you can and will enjoy, that will change your life in major ways. You simply have to make the effort to discover it.

Your comfort zone is your jail. The keys to escape are labeled ‘decisions’. These keys are located deep inside the place where only you can go.

Dance to the Music

There’s no need to sweat over the details on this one, but you do want to work up a sweat, if you can. This is purely and simply about the music that moves you and whatever moves you can do. Your body doesn’t know what’s right or wrong, so just get going and get crazy. Use a rhythm that’s irresistible.

Is this easy, or what?

Use big movements to work the big muscle groups. This creates a greater demand for cardio/pulmonary response – -you want your heart to start beating faster and your breathing to be faster and deeper. Incorporating partial squat movements (according to your ability, of course) is fantastic for accomplishing these goals. Start with a music list that contains about ten minutes of tunes that you love. Just do this self made dance routine any way you like for the ten minutes, three times a week. You will find this ‘self’ time to be incredibly gratifying, first of all, because you made the decision to discover! This is its own reward. Secondly, as you allow yourself to enjoy the movement without fear of doing ‘a wrong move’ you will focus more on the moment. This is an important aspect of exercise as a stress reliever. Think about it. If you find yourself worried about not knowing a particular dance routine, or being self conscious about how you might look, how much fun is it going to be? You’re not in competition with anyone. On the contrary;

You’re on a journey of discovery to find joy in movement.

Work Your Body With Resistance

Resistance exercise is important because maintaining muscle strength and bone density is critical for good health as we age. There is no substitute for this. Muscle and bone respond to regular (meaning consistent over a period of time) resistance exercise by becoming stronger. In our dance routine, your legs and hips will be receive significant resistance training, while the upper body very little.

I’ve trained with weights since I was young. At that time it was a vanity thing. Now, in my sixties, it’s a survival thing. In those days people believed that big muscles made a person ‘muscle bound’ and restricted natural movement. Science has since revealed that weight training produces substantial benefits that go way beyond muscle size.
Body weight only routines are fantastic, creative and challenging. Aging, however, has compromised my ability to perform certain movements. The arthritic pain in my big toes, for example, makes a simple push-up a painful exercise for me. Welcome to aging. The use of free weights gives me the ability to design a full body strength and resistance routine and to meet my particular needs. In this way, free weights offer an incredible variety of moves with variable resistance that nothing else can match. Because I also have total control of the speed and range of motion of the movement, it’s the safest way to resistance train effectively. Training slow and deliberate is my style. It’s easier on tendons that, at this point, have shown some signs of wear. Go at your own pace with the goal of smooth movement, moderately challenging yourself, with particular focus on form. If you’re a beginner, you really should enlist the aid of a personal trainer. I know, it’s not easy finding the right person, but it’s very important. You’re most likely to succeed with resistance training by seeking out a local Senior group class conducted by a knowledgeable, enthusiastic instructor. I’m the first to admit that the gym, for most people, is not an easy place to have fun.

In recent years, much has been discovered about the efficacy of moderate exercise. It’s simply not necessary to ‘max out’ and ‘feel the burn’ to benefit greatly from exercise. Enjoy your experience with exercise for the health of it, accomplished with simple moderation!

What About Walking?

Walking is a good activity–something that you do every day. But because you do it every day, unless you’re doing it faster, or uphill–requiring greater effort, I’m not going to give you credit for exercising.

I propose that exercise is ‘The use of positive physical stressors on the body systems that results in increased strength and/or improved functioning.’

How do you know when walking becomes exercise?

Your heart will be beating faster and you’ll be breathing a little heavier. If you do this consistently over time, you will need to walk a little faster to produce that same heartbeat and respiratory response. That means you’ve gotten fitter and you’ve advanced on your journey.

For the More Adventurous

Why not embark on a fitness journey that can calm the spirit as well? Tai Chi or Yoga could be perfect for the reflective soul seeking to unite mind and body.

So much to choose from…

Find Your Keys,

Steven

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Uncle Harry Lost 37 Pounds Fast on The Amazing Acorn Diet!

Did I get your attention? I hope so…because there is no uncle Harry and there is no Acorn Diet.

Uncle Harry cited above in the title is anecdotal evidence. Someone’s story is supposed to prove validity. I don’t mean to be rude here, but maybe it took Uncle Harry six months to lose 37 pounds, not two weeks. Maybe Uncle Harry’s picture of ‘before and after’ isn’t actually what it appears to be. Maybe uncle Harry was doing something along with the Acorn Diet that they are not telling us about. Get the picture? These ‘Uncle Harry’ stories abound in articles and advertisements that are trying to get you to buy. They work.

They are generally void of any way for you to determine their validity.

People buy anyway.

On the net (and in print), anecdotal (Uncle Harry) evidence will always confront us. It’s best not to base your decisions on this type of hearsay information. The reality is that even some recognized experts, who wield powerful influence, can lead us astray.

Credentials Are Nice, But Don’t Guarantee Validity

A number of years ago, one of the most prominent scientists in the world (Nobel Prize in chemistry, among numerous other awards), Dr. Linus Pauling, made a strong and compelling case for mega dosing vitamin C. Credentials and accomplishments don’t get any better than his. Vitamin C, based on his research, was a powerful anti-cancer substance when taken in large doses. At that time, that was all I needed to know– Linus Pauling? ….vitamin C? ….no brainer! I jumped on this. I was downing C tablets the size of horse pills.

After years of clinical tests and trials, I am not aware of any conclusive clinical evidence that has proven mega doses of vitamin C to be effective as a cure for cancer.

What’s the consumer of health and fitness information to do?

For this, I will suggest the admonition spoken in the boxing ring before the bout begins, “Protect yourself at all times!”

Keeping It Real,

Steven

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Know Your Numbers: Ignorance and Inaction Can Cause Serious Side Effects

You can certainly make some guesses about your health based on what you see in the mirror. And the daily feedback your body gives you is, indeed, a helpful status indicator.

But nothing compares to plotting the course of your wellbeing using the numbers of your personal chemistry.

I have chosen to share my health information with you in the hope that you will become proactive about your future. You, however, must react to your own unique set of circumstances.

For the past thirty years, the measurements included in this basic battery of tests have been my guide posts. Let’s take a look at them, and I’ll share with you my personal decisions regarding recommendations given to me over the years.

Never have I been prescribed medication to treat a chronic condition, although I have been advised in the past to consider it with regard to blood pressure and cholesterol. Being prescription free and healthy at 65 puts me in the company of a very small minority.

By way of background, my father and mother were both on medication for blood pressure and cholesterol. In spite of strict dieting and being an avid and dedicated swimmer, Mom had continued cholesterol problems even while on medication. My father had a quadruple bypass in his fifties and a second heart surgery before he died in his seventies. The genetic deck was stacked against me regarding the most troublesome health issues of the day. The expectation, as a young man, was that these same cholesterol and blood pressure problems would be mine by way of inherited tendencies.

Serious research done while in college ingrained in me a respect for the power of pharmaceuticals–both the benefits, and the inevitable side effects. My approach to good health became the pursuit of what the body could do best on its own first–fortified with the benefits of exercise, nutrition, recuperation, and a calm spirit.

Let’s look at the numbers:

1. Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol levels above 200 typically raised concern on the part of my doctors, with drug recommendations following. I was advised years ago, with my level at 230, to be on medication. I chose to continue doing what I was doing and felt comfortable with my situation. Data have been available for years regarding the numerous controversies surrounding these drugs, and I made my choices accordingly, keeping my opinions to myself. In later years, under a different primary care physician, I was advised that the concern over cholesterol at a 220-230 level was mitigated by the HDL/LDL ratio and my commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

Finally, a doctor who felt the way I did about my wellbeing.

2. Blood Pressure

For many years, BP hovered in the 130/85 range – – sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. When advised to bring the numbers down with drugs, I kept on course without them. The goal was to remain heart healthy without drugs beyond the age at which my father had his first quadruple bypass.

I succeeded.

3. Blood Glucose Levels

This has been the biggest surprise to me. You can readily see that it is borderline healthy. Even though I pay close attention to sugar and carbohydrate intake, the numbers are revealing. My first takeaway was, “What would it be if I wasn’t so careful?” By all outward appearances–my weight, BMI, exercise level, food consumption –you’d think that blood glucose levels would be toward the lower limits. Looking in the mirror would make me think that there’s no hint of a reason to be concerned.

In this case, however, the mirror is blatantly misleading.

Summary and Conclusions

The decisions you make about your health are the most personal and important that you will make. I am not recommending that you make the decisions that I made, but that you make the best decisions for yourself, armed with the best information you can have, and understanding your own commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

Making decisions based on a few pieces of the puzzle can lead you in the wrong direction. I had always thought, based on my total profile, that taking drugs for either my cholesterol or blood pressure would have created issues with side effects more devastating than the slightly elevated risk posed by being at the edge of normal.

There is no doubt whatsoever that America’s treatment of choice for practically all ailments is some sort of pharmaceutical. We can’t blame this situation on the industry, as much as we’d like to. You must take responsibility for your own health–each and every day with the lifestyle decisions that you make.

The journey of good health is not an easy one. Along the way, if you’ll make the effort to incorporate more healthy responses and less dependence on others making your decisions, you will be glad you did.

I promise!

Steven Siemons
5/18/16 Research Update:
“…heightened blood pressure was associated with a 62 per cent higher risk of vascular dementia between the ages of 30-50.”
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160518120124.htm

5/11/16 Research Update: Has Good Cholesterol Been Hyped? :
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160510165110.htm

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.