Older & Wiser with Sue Grant

Posts in the weight loss category

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.

Adopt a "NEAT" Lifestyle for Better Health!

If you are one of the millions of people that don’t enjoy traditional exercise, take heart!  You’ll be happy to hear about the NEAT term, which stands for
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. (Big word!)  Thermogenesis is a metabolic process during which your body burns calories to produce heat.

NEAT is the energy you burn when you are not sleeping, eating, resting or deliberately exercising.  It’s a great alternative for those who either don’t have the time, or simply loathe exercising. 

Now that we have such accurate wearable fitness devices, researchers have been able to measure energy expenditure, rather than just count steps, and they have discovered that dozens of non-exercise activities can be slipped into our daily routine to help keep us healthy and fit.

Mayo Clinic endocrinologist James Levine coined the term when he was the director of the Obesity Solutions Initiative.  “Anybody can have a NEAT lifestyle,” he said.  “Our research showed that you can take two adults of the same weight and one can burn an extra 350 kilocalories (per day) simply by getting rid of labor saving devices and moving more throughout the day.”

If you are retired, home maintenance can be an excellent form of NEAT.  For example, making your bed uses as much energy as walking!  Scrub the counters, sweep the floor, walk the dog, carry the groceries, gardening, going up and down stairs – it all adds up. 

If you do need to sit a lot, emulate that wiggly kid in 3rd grade that drove your teacher crazy – move your legs in various directions, stand up and sit down, tap your toes and lift your heels.  The more you move, the better.

How NEAT!

 

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.

Dance For Increased Brain Health

In addition to providing physical, psychological, and social benefits, did you know that dancing is also really good for your brain? 

In a new study from Germany in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers divided healthy people 63 and older into two training  groups.  Half of the group did repetitive exercises that did not require new learning, and the other half enrolled in a dance program that required them to continually learn challenging new routines.  Classes were held twice a week for six months, and then once a week for the next 12 months.

As seen in MRIs, both groups had increases in gray matter in the hippocampus.  The hippocampus is involved in learning, long term memory, and spatial navigation.  However, the dancers had increases in more parts of this brain structure, and also had significant improvements in balance.

Atrophy in the hippocampus is part of the normal aging process, especially after age 70, but the great news is that this is one of the brain areas that can actually generate new neurons in response to physical and mental challenges – like dancing!  The key to the process, known as neuroplasticity, is to be moving while solving a cognitive task.

As we get older, many of us are worried about “losing our marbles.”  The authors of this study concluded that, “the additional challenges involved in our dance program, namely cognitive and sensorimotor stimulation, induced extra hippocampus volume changes in addition to those attributable to physical fitness alone.”

Even if you think you have “two left feet,” dancing, or doing some kind of activity that challenges you to learn new things while you are moving, will help you to keep those marbles!

 

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.

2 Surprising Myths About Fat That'll Make You Rethink Your Diet

Fat Chance!  I just read a fascinating article by registered dietitian Matthew Kadey in the June 2019 issue of Idea Fitness Journal concerning  some common myths and realities about fat in foods.  You might be surprised  by these findings– read on!

The Myth:  Fat-Free or Low Fat is Healthier

The Reality: The low fat-craze led to the formulation of thousands of lower-fat products, from yogurt to cookies.  However, fat tastes good, so when it is removed or reduced from a food, it loses a lot of its flavor.  To make up for this loss of flavor, manufacturers often add artificial flavors, salt, and sugar –not exactly a nutritional bonus!
Bottom Line: As long as you don’t overindulge, it’s better to enjoy foods in their natural, full-fat state.

 

The Myth:  Coconut oil is a “Super-food”

The Reality:  Often demonized for its upper-high saturated fat content (91% of its calories) coconut oil has experienced a renaissance.  Its supporters claim that it can help with building muscles, losing weight, improving heart, liver and kidney helps, and even taming frizzy hair! 
But coconut oil is not nearly the health boosting, fat-fighting miracle that its fans want it to be.
“There’s no strong evidence directly tying coconut oil either to a greater or reduced risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Patrick Wilson, RD, PhD, assistant professor of exercises at Old Dominion University.
Officials at the American Heart Association still say we should steer clear of coconut oil, citing concerns about its potential impact on cardiovascular health (Sacks et al.2017).
Bottom Line:  If you like the flavor or the moistness it adds to baked goods, it’s probably fine to include modest amounts (no more than a tablespoon daily) as part of a healthy eating plan.

 

I’ll continue to keep you updated as more research is published about health and nutrition.  In the meantime,  keep moving, and keep enjoying your unprocessed, natural foods!

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.

Added Sugar, Added Risk: The Bitter Truth Masked By Sweetness

Do you remember your parents lecturing  you not to eat too much sugar because it would lead to obesity or dental cavities?  They were right – these health concerns have been scientifically confirmed.

But Wait!  There’s More!

New meta-studies have shown that added sugars (like sucrose and  high-fructose corn syrup) to be risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes, abnormal lipids and hypertension.  These sugars, which are slipped into muffins, ice cream, soft drinks, and so many other products during processing are a real cause for concern.  The good news is that the naturally occurring sugars in fresh fruit are not a problem.

Cardiovascular Disease:

CVD risk becomes elevated once added sugar intake surpasses 15% of daily calories. To help put that math into real-life terms, this means that your risk for CVD will increase if you drink more than 7 sugar sweetened beverages a week.  Even worse, the CVD mortality risk increases with an increase in sugar intake. 

Type 2 Diabetes:

Habitual consumption of sugar sweetened beverages is independently associated with a greater incidence of type 2 diabetes.   Again, the data also supports the recommendation to consume a wide variety of fruits, which have naturally occurring sugars and have not been linked to the incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Blood pressure and blood lipids:

Randomized controlled trials have shown an association between higher intakes of sugar and harmful increased concentrations of triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL (low density lipoproteins) cholesterol and blood pressure.  The researchers explain that consumption of fructose in sugar sweetened beverages increases liver fat synthesis, which results in higher concentrations of circulating triglycerides and cholesterol. 

How much is too much sugar? 

The American Heart Association recommends that adult females consume less than 6 teaspoons, or about 25 grams of sugar daily.  Adult males should consume less than 9 teaspoons, or 38 grams of sugar daily. 

“But I love my diet coke!”

The negative health risks of consuming  too much added sucrose and fructose clearly indicate that we should eat whole foods, as opposed to processed foods, as much as possible. However, going “cold turkey” can seem like a grim proposition.  Keep in mind that small changes can make a difference.  Cutting back on sugar sweetened beverages will help.  Check the nutrition labels on your favorite yogurt and breakfast cereal. I was shocked to see that my beloved granola has 15 grams of sugar in a single serving!   (I found a much lower sugar cereal instead and have added a piece of delicious fresh fruit to my breakfast routine – very satisfying!)

Be mindful about the added sugars in everything you eat, including sauces, salad dressings, crackers and bread.  You probably won’t be able to avoid all sugar sweetened products, but if you start limiting them in your daily diet, you’ll be much better off.

Just think of the lectures our parents could have delivered if they knew then what we know now about sugar!       

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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