Older & Wiser with Sue Grant

Posts in the fitness success category

Happy New You! (Helpful hints to help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions)

It’s that time of year again, where we vow to make some sort of fitness related resolution, only to have abandoned our best intentions by March. Research shows that about 60% of people make them — and that more than half of those of us who do, don't keep them for longer than a few months.

The secret to making a fitness New Year’s resolution last is to admit that getting and staying in shape won’t always be easy.  But SO worth it!  Here are some tips that will help you succeed:

Ditch the term “New Year’s Resolution”

That infamous term is associated with failure and broken promises, so avoid mentioning that expression when thinking and talking about your fitness goals. 

Instead of getting stuck in the “New Year’s resolution” mindset, come up with specific, achievable goals. 

Aim low

It goes without saying that most New Year's resolutions are easier announced (or written) than done-but if you set the bar too high, you're doomed from the start.

Start small, and make your goals realistic enough that you can easily imagine them becoming reality.  If you only focus on your big, long term goal, you might feel like a failure and give up if you don’t achieve that big goal soon.  Set yourself up to succeed by creating reasonable, manageable goals that will bring you to your big goal.

For example, instead of a sweeping declaration like “I’m going to get fit!”, schedule three or four days a week at the gym instead of seven. Or, if the gym is not your thing, track the number of steps you take each day and work on increasing that number by a reasonable amount each day.

Be Specific

Your declaration should be absolutely clear. Making a concrete goal is really important rather than just vaguely saying “I want to lose weight.” Come up with an explicit goal: How much weight do you want to lose and at what time interval? 

The timeline toward reaching your goal should be realistic and definite too. That means giving yourself enough time to do it with lots of smaller intermediate goals set up along the way. Focusing on these small wins keeps you encouraged along the way—each time you meet one, you have reason to celebrate your progress.

Change one behavior at a time 

Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time. Thus, replacing unhealthy    behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to reassess everything in your life this month. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time. The key to success is to zero in on one goal, not three.

Spread the Word!

You will be much more likely to succeed if you tell your friends and family about your plans (but carefully avoiding the “Resolution” term!). Social support can help you stay accountable, so let your world know about your aspirations. If you’re into social media, post regular updates on your progress. Your fans will cheer you on!

The more people to whom you announce your plan, the more people there'll be to prod you along if you fall behind. Just letting others know that we've committed makes it more likely that we'll follow through — we're less likely to slide if somebody else knows what we've said we'll do. 

Put “exercise” in your calendar for the entire year

There’s a saying that when people retire, they can either schedule their new free time for exercise or for Doctor’s appointments.  Plan on committing to whatever form of movement you enjoy in February, March and the rest of the year, not just January!

Don’t beat yourself up

Perfection is unattainable. Remember that minor missteps when reaching your goals are completely normal and OK. Don’t give up completely because you ate a brownie and broke your diet or skipped the gym for a week because you were busy. Everyone has ups and downs; resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track.

Change Your Cell’s DNA with This Type of Exercise!

High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is a very popular exercise regime, but many people have assumed that it is only for elite, highly trained athletes.  Not so!  Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that HIIT has even bigger benefits for older adults!

The idea of HIIT is very simple.  You exercise hard for a short while, rest for a bit, and then do it again.  You alternate between a short bout of intense exertion and a nice easy recovery.

The astonishing results of the Mayo research study were that some age-related deterioration of muscle cells had actually been reversed on people over 65 that did HIIT.  This is huge!  HIIT seemed to change a cell’s DNA in a way that boosted the muscle’s ability to produce energy.  It also triggered the growth of new muscle, helping to counteract the inevitable muscle loss that is part of the normal aging process.

These changes were more dramatic in the over-65 exercisers compared with a group of people under 30.  We rule!  

If you are considering giving HIIT a try, you should definitely check with your physician first. However, many studies have shown that intervals can be safe and beneficial for people with diabetes, heart disease, and more. 

If your physician gives you the green light, start off easy!  Begin your workout with a nice easy warm up (as always). If you enjoy walking, try walking briskly for a couple of minutes, followed by a slow stroll until you recover.  You can do the same sort of interval on a stationary bike or any piece of cardio equipment.  Gradually increase the number of intervals you do, but again, don’t overdo it at first!

I recommend that you do just one or two HIIT workouts a week, combined with light or moderate exercise on the other days.  You need to give your body time to rebuild bones and muscles to increase strength.

HIIT is not for everyone, but you may want to give it a try, now that we know how beneficial it is for us Older Wiser folks! 

 

Sue Grant holds numerous certifications within the health and wellness industry.

  • Certified as a personal trainer by the ACE
  • Certified as a Master Instructor for the FallProof Program
  • Certified by the Arthritis Foundation
  • Certified in Older Adult Fitness by the American Institute of Fitness Educators

Sue has also studied personal training and group fitness through U.C. San Diego’s Fitness Professional Certificate program. Click here to find her collection of DVDs.

How Many Steps a Day: Is 10,000 Necessary?

10,000 steps…….. or not!

You have probably heard of the recommendation to walk at least 10,000 steps each day.  This is a commendable goal, but if we don’t reach that target, it’s tempting to simply give up and throw in the towel.

New research has concluded that the 10,000 step target might actually be a little on the high side, in a report from Atlantic.com. 

Researchers from Harvard gave fitness trackers to 16,000 women ages 62 to 101 and counted their steps.  They then monitored their health for a four-year period.  In a comparable study, scientists from the renowned Karolinska Institute in Stockholm gave a similar device to 851 subjects, including almost 400 men, and tracked them for 14.2 years.  In other words, one trial observed an impressively large number of subjects, and the other monitored its subjects for an impressive number of follow up years.

Surprise!  After adjusting for diet, lifestyle, and other factors, the Harvard researchers found that the women who walked about 4,400 steps a day had a 41% lower risk of premature death than the least active gals, who averaged 2,700 steps.  The Swedish study also found that the most active subjects had a 50 to 70 percent decline in mortality during a defined follow up period compared to the least active, most sedentary participants.

Walking more than 4,400 steps further on decreased the risk level moderately, and the benefits plateaued  at around 7,500.

Harvard lead author i-Min Lee says the 10,000-step goal should be lowered to encourage more people to get walking.  “If you’re sedentary,” she says, “even a very modest increase brings you significant health benefits.”

Fun fact to ponder:  The 10,000 step target isn't actually based on scientific research – it stems from a 1960s marketing campaign for a Japanese pedometer that played on the fact that the Japanese character for 10,000 resembles a man walking!  

Take away message:  Don’t give up if you aren’t walking 10,000 steps a day.  Shoot for at least 4,400 – a much more manageable target.

 

Sue Grant holds numerous certifications within the health and wellness industry.

  • Certified as a personal trainer by the ACE
  • Certified as a Master Instructor for the FallProof Program
  • Certified by the Arthritis Foundation
  • Certified in Older Adult Fitness by the American Institute of Fitness Educators

Sue has also studied personal training and group fitness through U.C. San Diego’s Fitness Professional Certificate program. Click here to find her collection of DVDs.

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