Fitness Extremes or Fitness For the Finer Things?

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(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.

Seniors: Use This Benefit/Risk/Alternative Model When Choosing Your Exercises!

Information is critical to making wise decisions. To be useful, it must be reliable, timely and relevant.

If you’re like me, you ‘just Google it’ but then you’re confronted with millions of possibilities–many of which are misleading or even blatantly wrong.

There’s no substitute for using some functional critical thinking skills.

Making good choices regarding your fitness journey means you’ll have better results, enjoy it more, and be safer along the way.

We each start with our own priorities of needs, unique capabilities, and most importantly–a health and wellness profile that’s our most important starting point in the process!

You, more than anyone else, know the unique physical issues and challenges that you must consider.

And it’s important that you do.

It’s very easy to walk into a health club, sign papers and wander into a fitness class. When you sign the waiver forms it’s for the club’s protection, not yours.

The trainer on deck has no knowledge of your health status.

I say this not to disparage the group fitness concept, but to encourage you to move at your own pace, know your body, and take responsibility.

Remember, your aging process has taken place over a period of time; little by little. As a senior, it makes sense to moderate your pace and efforts more so than in the past.

It’s a fitness journey, not a fitness boot camp.

The ‘Boot Camp’ training setting and mentality can be a great fitness tool because the individual pushes beyond his/her normal limits. I participated in the Marine Corps version and understand the concept completely.

Using the Analysis Tool

  • BENEFIT: What’s the specific outcome you’re seeking? Improved balance? Better posture? Losing weight?
  • RISK: This would include specific risks (which might not be obvious) such as the possibility of aggravating a previous injury by using an inappropriate movement. You can even include here logistical issues – – things in your life that might make it more difficult to participate in a class you’re considering – – transportation, cost, convenience, etc.

ALTERNATIVE: Rather than risk injury from a difficult movement, if a safer technique, done properly and with the correct form can produce similar results– it becomes the better alternative. If going to Yoga class isn’t possible could you, at least for now, participate in a different program that would still be of benefit?

For example: Because of an arthritic condition in the joint of my big toe, there is very little range of movement before pain happens quickly and sharply. A very useful leg exercise is the lunge. You have the picture already in your mind of what happens to the back foot in the lunge position – – stability depends greatly on the flexed and planted toes.

This exercise is not for me.

My favorite alternative is the squat, where the downward force is directed to the heel and my toes are happy. Happy toes are good toes.

My other issue involves bursitis in my shoulders. I used to think my father was simply using it as an excuse to avoid exercise years ago.

Now I understand.

In the featured photo you noticed the little blue sacs surrounding the shoulders–the bursae. Their job is to facilitate smooth, cushioned movement. The most visible shoulder muscle, the deltoid, is missing from the picture. It covers the bursae you see. When those bursae are inflamed, the pain is chronic and can, at times, create an acute ‘stabbing’ sensation.

Fortunately for me, the condition is one I can tolerate and still exercise my shoulder and back area, though much differently than in prior years.

Because lack of use allows everything to deteriorate more rapidly, I choose to use it as best I can, while I can, and tolerate the discomfort along the way.

Our fitness journey, because of aging, will definitely involve trade-offs and substitutions.

Guiding you through the process,

Steven,

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

“What’s My Best Protection Against Alzheimer’s?”

Let me get the information straight to you in the latest study from The American Geriatric Society,

“Researchers have learned that physical activity helps reduce AD risk by up to 65 percent, depending on the type of exercise and its intensity. That’s because exercise reduces blood vessel disease risk, improves your breathing function, supports the survival of the cells that make up your body, and lessens Inflammation.”

You can read the entire summary article here,

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170809140124.htm

Repeatedly we’ve seen references to exercise and a healthy lifestyle in connection with Alzheimer’s prevention. Please read this article and notice the diseases which, in themselves, raise your risk factors. They are all, to a significant degree, results of unhealthy choices!

A different study projected a 35% reduction in dementia worldwide with specific lifestyle changes: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/healthier-living-could-reduce-worldwide-dementia-by-a-third-report-says/2017/07/19/e40438be-6cc0-11e7-96ab-5f38140b38cc_story.html?utm_term=.2ee8a72e9e39

I am not ignoring genetics, but I am stressing the incredible power of your own personal choices!

A while back I read the results of a survey stating that, among seniors, there is a greater fear of Alzheimer’s than the fear of death!

I have my own personal insight.

My paternal grandmother suffered immensely before she died from a vicious and deadly neurodegenerative disease called Huntington’s.

I know that my joy of movement and exercise arises from deep inside where my childhood memories reside of my beautiful grandmother.

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.

Senior Fitness and Loneliness: Reach Out and Workout!

Every day it seems we as a society are being overcome by a different epidemic.

Loneliness

“There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators,” Holt-Lunstad said in a statement about the research.

You can access this article from Fortune.com by clicking here:http://fortune.com/2017/08/07/loneliness-public-health/

On top everything thing else we deal with as we age, it turns out that loneliness is more lethal than we thought.

And it’s all around us.

The fact that it is ranked in the same risk category as major health issues presents us with a special opportunity to make an impact.

Take a friend with you to your fitness class today!

You’ve been thinking about it because you already know the health benefits. Now your reason becomes so much more compelling for your friend who has been alone.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive impact that exercise has on depression. Combine that with the caring that you can demonstrate, the positive atmosphere of a group fitness experience, and it becomes a super rewarding effort.

Much of fitness is an individual, personal goal, look-in-the-mirror experience for us when we train. The person who’s all wrapped up in himself makes a very small package.

Reach out and remove some loneliness today.

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.

“What Exercises Should I Avoid If I Think I Have Osteoporosis?”

Extremely important–before getting involved in any form of exercise, is knowing your real health status. Don’t guess about Osteoporosis–get tested and educated by your health care professional.

Exercise videos on the internet can be excellent instructional tools, and you might be tempted to test your capabilities by imitating what you see. Movements that look easy and simple can still be absolutely wrong for you! Because the bones of the spine and hips are primary sites of bone deterioration, even basic upper body movements done at particular angles can induce dangerous stress levels on the weakened bony structures of the spine.

Prohibited Movements

  • Twisting motions, especially in the context of movements outside of your normal range, unless you have have been medically cleared for such exercises.
  • Bending forward beyond what you are already capable of doing safely.
  • Movements involving arching the spine, typically done by lying face down on the floor and pushing up with your arms.

These cautions might seem so basic as to be unnecessary.

Not So.

All the time I see people training using inappropriate techniques–young and old.

Aging demands that you pay close attention to the changes happening in your body. Health issues increase those demands.

Guiding you through your fitness journey (safely),

Steven

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

“What’s The Best Type of Exercise to Avoid Osteoporosis?”

There’s a very clear winner here; an undisputed champion. Let’s start with a bit of history.

More than a hundred years ago, we understood the concept of bones becoming stronger in response to stress. The phenomenon was observed and described by a German surgeon named Julius Wolff in the late 1800’s.

If you jumped over to Wikipedia, here’s part of what you’d read about his conclusions,

“If loading on a particular bone increases, the bone will remodel itself over time to become stronger to resist that sort of loading.[2][3] The internal architecture of the trabeculae undergoes adaptive changes, followed by secondary changes to the external cortical portion of the bone,[4] perhaps becoming thicker as a result. The inverse is true as well: if the loading on a bone decreases, the bone will become less dense and weaker due to the lack of the stimulus required for continued remodeling.”

Since Scott Kelly arrived back to earth after a year in space, they’ve been testing him more than a laboratory rat. His experiences are unique in the entire history of mankind! When testing his bone density to study the long term effects of weightlessness, they were amazed. He was losing an average of one percent per month! Post menopausal women may lose about 2 – 3 percent per year. Keep in mind that the astronauts utilize a scientifically designed exercise regimen.

Stress It Or Lose It

Although we’re addressing Senior Fitness, I must share this incredible fact for the benefit of the next generation:

“Research has shown physically active young girls gain about 40% more bone mass than the least active girls of the same age. In girls, the bone tissue accumulated during the ages of 11 to 13 approximately equals the amount lost during the 30 years following menopause.”

This excellent information is quoted from the International Osteoporosis Foundation, whose link is: http://www.iofbonehealth.org/

You Need a Resistance Training Routine That Becomes a Lifestyle

It has been shown that post menopausal women can halt the constant loss of bone density. However, it involves training consistently three times weekly. And, as Wolff’s law tells us, if the loading stops, density diminishes.

Don’t worry. It is not necessary to become a full time weightlifter or bodybuilder. A well organized lifting routine involving your major muscle groups will get it done. A comprehensive workout can be done in twenty minutes. For recuperation/recovery reasons, this type of training should be done every other day. And be sure you’re supporting your hard work with proper nutrition!

This a difficult and major change/commitment for most people.

Is it worth it? Only you can answer that question.

For sure, Osteoporosis is a dangerous foe.

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.

“What Should I Do In My Fifties to Prepare For My Sixties?”

Notable changes are ahead and you need to anticipate (not fear) them and prepare for them. Of course you knew that already, but let’s get to some details that might be news to you.

Aging demands courage. As the physical changes become more noticeable, your resolve must respond accordingly.

I made up my mind when I started receiving the mailers from AARP years ago that transitioning into seniorhood (no, this is not in the dictionary) would be made with a positive attitude and effort.

What’s Happening to My Body?

Even though I have trained diligently throughout my entire life, my ability to gain and maintain muscle mass is clearly different now than in my Fifties. Genetics, as in all things, definitely influences these types of responses. I train with others my age who have maintained a ‘rock hard chiseled’ look that would be characteristic of someone decades younger. That’s simply not my genetic tendency. You must come to grips with your own.

Remembering that the vanity issue is no longer my main concern or primary mission, I don’t let it bother me. Benefit: less time looking in mirror.

Don’t Let This Happen To You!

I received an email from a gentleman who, after reading my post about tendinosis, told me that he had the exact same experience. About two years ago I was doing a set of chin-ups, reaching my limit, and then decided to keep going with a spotter’s assistance– pushing myself to failure.

When I felt the sharp burning pain in my elbow, I knew immediately it was a mistake.

I have been living with chronic tenderness and soreness in the elbow ever since. The gentleman who had contacted me mentioned that his MRI showed tendon and ligament damage. He was advised to have surgery. I’ve requested his help in sharing his experience with me. Surgery is the last option for me.

What should you learn from my mistake?

If you are a training veteran and have the ‘max out’ attitude, you can get away with it in your Fifties. But I recommend that you go with lighter weight and higher reps moving into your Sixties. Of course you can see pictures on the Internet of lifters in their Seventies busting big weights.

Do so at your own risk.

There’s no way to undo tendon and ligament damage. My training routine, out of necessity, looks entirely different now.

The wonderful thing is that there are so many ways to enjoy the fitness lifestyle. I’ve shifted away (not entirely) from my weight training towards my Shotokan roots.

Most importantly, you must include the basic and necessary types of exercise in your routine now to prepare for your Sixties: cardio, resistance, and neuromotor training!

Thank you for sharing this post..

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.