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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Move It Sister/Brother-This Ain't No Parking Lot!!-fitness tidbits from Lisa Tonra

"Move It Sister - This Ain't No Parking Lot!" 
by Lisa Tonra, Personal Trainer

I'm old, out of shape and everything hurts - why start exercising now? Because exercise really IS the fountain of youth!

Let's start by getting some common myths out of the way…

1. I'm (getting) old anyway. 
As the saying goes, age is just a number. Exercise, both cardiovascular and strength training, helps you look and feel younger and stay active longer. Equally as important,  regular physical activity lowers your risk for a variety of serious conditions, including Type II diabetes (diabetes mellitus), cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, obesity, colon cancer, Alzheimer's Disease and dementia. Much research has shown that inactivity often causes older adults to lose the ability to live independently. Being sedentary can lead to more doctors' visits (or worse, hospitalizations) and increased use of medications for largely preventable illnesses. Exercise is the key to staying strong, energetic and healthy, and delaying or reversing common conditions of the aging process.

2. Exercise will put me at risk for falling down. 
Not true! Regular exercise builds strength and stamina, which prevents loss of bone mass and improves balance, thus REDUCING your risk of falling! Muscle weakness has been shown to be the biggest risk factor for falls. Although we do lose some muscle mass with age, exercise can slow this rate of loss and even reverse it.

3. I've never exercised before. 
No problem - it's NEVER too late to start exercising! Physical movement and sports skills can be learned at ANY age (you may not become an Olympic contender, but I can guarantee that climbing stairs, walking the dog and carrying groceries will become MUCH easier). The advice of a well-qualified personal trainer and/or physical therapist can be invaluable as you begin your journey towards greater health.

4. My joints ache and it hurts to move. 
Motion is lotion for aging joints! Most adults over 50 suffer from osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) at one or more joints. Exercise will improve strength, flexibility and posture, helping to alleviate its common symptoms which include stiffness, pain and loss of functional movement and mobility. One of the greatest 'at-risk' joints is your knee. The odds of developing knee osteoarthritis (OA) rises hugely after age 50. By age 80, about one-third of men and half of all women will have OA of the knee. As knee OA progresses, it can cause debilitating pain, reduce your mobility and increase difficulty in performing daily activities. Add it all up and your quality of life is greatly reduced (and who wants that?) But adding exercise to your life can significantly reduce your risk for developing symptomatic OA. If you already have an arthritic knee, hip, or shoulder exercise can greatly improve your mobility and will reduce discomfort. More mobility and less pain? Let's GO!

5. I'm forgetful and get distracted easily - I can't manage an exercise program.
Not so fast! There is much research to support the value of exercise in shoring up memory and brain function. Both cardiovascular and strength training exercise can actually help to 'bulk up' the brain by creating more cells in the brain areas responsible for memory, learning. and critical decision making. More blood flow to the brain = sharper thinking AND reduced risk of Alzheimer's Disease and dementia. 

Knowing that regular exercise can improve bone mass, strength, flexibility, agility, ability to carry out daily activities, memory and brain function (WHEW!) what are you waiting for? 

Here are some tips to getting started safely:

1. Get medical clearance from your doctor. Ask if there are any activities that you should avoid.

2. Consider your existing health concerns. For example, if you have diabetes you may need to coordinate your meals and medications with your exercise schedule. If you have hip or knee OA, water exercise may initially be the best choice for you.

3. START SLOWLY! The usual aches and pains that accompany OA can be circumvented by adding activity in small 5-10 minute increments. Try a ten minute walk around your neighborhood at a leisurely pace each day for a week. As your fitness improves add a few extra minutes to the walk or challenge yourself with hilly terrain. Remember, motion is lotion for your joints!

4. Challenge yourself to commit to your new activity schedule for at least four weeks. After about a month your exercise schedule will become a habit that you will miss if you skip!

5. Stay focused on short-term goals such as improving your mood and energy levels.

6. Listen to your body. Exercise should not be painful or make you feel lousy (but do expect a small amount of typical muscle soreness after unaccustomed activity or more intense exercise). Stop immediately if you have chest pain, feel short of breath, feel dizzy or nauseous. Stop the activity also if a joint is red, swollen or feels tender.

7. Get expert help. If you've never exercised before, have been 'out of the game' for a while, or simply feel unmotivated enlisting the services of a professional is a wise choice. A well-qualified fitness trainer or physical therapist can help ease you into a routine that is best suited to your body type, interests and activity limitations. Lifestyle changes, including exercise routines, are most effective when you have a personalized program, preferably with a professional who works directly with you. It can indeed be intimidating to work with a trainer in a gym setting, but there are many options today! Exercise experts can meet you at your home, office, or community center and can arrange small group training sessions or classes. What better way to get fit AND catch up with friends than a buddy workout or class that is tailored to exercisers just like you? A pro can also make sure you cover all components of a well-designed activity program: cardiovascular exercise, strength training, flexibility and balance exercises.

So If you dread working out, it’s time for a mental makeover! Consider physical activity that is tailored to you as part of your new lifestyle, instead of a tedious chore that must be done. The best thing about exercising is that it gives you energy for more activities. When it becomes habit, you’ll never want to give it up. And exercising with others, either as part of a formal program or with your neighbors and friends, can add to the enjoyment of becoming physically active. Done safely, and under the guidance of a therapist or trainer, it’s NEVER too late to start. Once you add EXERCISE to your life you'll add LIFE to your years!

About Lisa:

Lisa Tonra, a twenty-year veteran of the fitness/wellness business, holds credentials from ACSM, NASM, and BASI Pilates and is currently a Physical Therapy graduate student. She specializes in injury 'pre-habilitation,' prevention and recovery for all sports-related and overuse conditions. Lisa can also design, implement, coach and monitor fitness routines for all recreational athletes, fitness enthusiasts and beginning exercisers. Her philosophy is a simple one: "There is a (sometimes hidden) fitness enthusiast in all of us! It’s good to set a short-term fitness, health or lifestyle goal to get yourself up and moving, but challenge yourself to take the longer view of 'training for life.' What are Your Body Goals? I can help you achieve and maintain them, and do it injury-free!" 

Visit Lisa's personal website here:

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Thank you very much for leaving a comment. Due to my time restraints, some comments may not be answered.I will answer questions that I feel will help the community as a whole.. I can only answer medical questions in a general form. No specific answers can be given. Please consult a podiatrist, therapist, orthopedist, or sports medicine physician in your area for specific questions.