Posture Plays Important Health Role Later in Life

“Stand up straight!”

“Stop slouching!”

We all used to hear that as children, right? It’s even more important now, later in life.

Parents might tell their kids to correct their posture more to instill pride and project confidence. But good posture is about a lot more at this stage of life.

As we age, our bodies are “devolving” into a more rounded, slumped posture. Not only does that add years to our appearance, but it also contributes to joint and muscle misalignment, which creates bad movement patterns. Continue with those, and pain and injury aren’t far behind.

For many, the slouching starts due to an occupational hazard: sitting behind a desk for decades.

The body will conform to those positions that it is most frequently in. As you sit in a chair, the body assumes a forward head posture with hunched shoulders. Hip flexors also are contracted and shortened. Even our breathing can become restricted.

Try this: Take a long deep breath. See and feel how your chest expands and your shoulders roll back, creating the desired tall, upright posture.

The rounded haunch is common but not inevitable. You can prevent or correct it.  So focus on breathing, stretching, and strengthening your core to maintain a solid base. And be sure your regimen includes at least a couple of exercises where you’re pulling those shoulders back, like seated rows. Yoga and Pilates are also excellent for strengthening posture.

All of those will get you or keep you standing tall. Mom would be proud.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

This Photo Shows the Power of Fitness As We Age

Football players Tom Brady and George BlandaIf a picture’s worth 1,000 words, then this one’s as long as the Harry Potter series of books.

On the left is eternally youthful Golden Boy Tom Brady at age 43. On the right is a quarterback from another era, George Blanda, at the same age, looking like a Public Service Announcement from the anti-smoking lobby.

Now, this isn’t about football or quarterbacks or even just cigarette smoking, although we’ll get into that.

Instead, we’re talking about the changes in aging that we’ve seen in the last two generations, since Blanda’s heyday as an NFL great, and today, as exemplified by Brady. The comparison reveals a lot about anti-aging myths that were nurtured by the reality of an earlier time – and persist today to the harm of many people who are in the “second half” of their lives.

Stereotypes Standing in Your Way

Any of these sound familiar?

  • “She looks good – for her age.”
  • “Old people are so cheap.”
  • “Old people are afraid of technology.”
  • “They don’t want to try new things.”

These are just some examples of ever-present ageism that might’ve had some basis in reality back in, say, the 1960s, when Blanda was thrilling crowds. 

But today?

Marketing research shows the “active ager” consumer has time, money, and powerful motivation to spend on fitness, wellbeing, clothes, beauty, and more.

If you’re over 50 and want to exercise, quit bad habits, and start better ones, then don’t let ancient negative thinking hold you back.

It’s up to all of us to decide how we want to present ourselves – how we want to look and live, far past the time limits that might’ve applied to our parents and grandparents.

Happy Years Ahead

Adults 65 to 79 say this is their happiest stage of life, according to a British study of 300,000 people. The study found that satisfaction with life peaked during this period. This jibes with other clinical and anecdotal research.

Fitness helps people at any age feel satisfied, healthy and confident. It gives mature people the ability to continue living the way they want to live — to move, feel and look better

This is largely about individual choices, but Blanda was a man of his time even more than Brady is of his. Consider these general trends for the US, Canada and other Western countries:

  • Half as many people smoke cigarettes as they did in 1970.
  • Alcohol consumption is down.
  • Life expectancy for Americans born in 1990 is 75.4, compared to 69.7 for those born in 1960.
  • Physical fitness is part of the culture; it simply was not 50 years ago.

Of course, obesity, high blood pressure and other problems are on the rise – and only about a third of adults exercise regularly. So, it’s sort of “one step up, two steps back” in the broader sense.

You have more options today, and more support to live a long, healthy life. We’re here to help.

Just imagine the stories your photos will tell.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Sleep Better This Year With These Easy Tips

Man lying in bed.The year 2020 was a nightmare. If worries about the coronavirus and other news kept you from sleep last year, then we have some suggestions here for getting more restful, healthful sleep in the new year.

Number 1? Exercise, of course. Nothing helps you sleep better than working your body. This is true for all kinds of exercise – especially resistance training (also known as weightlifting).

 

More:

  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark.
  • Limit bedroom activities to sleep and intimacy (no TV or electronic devices).
  • Get outdoors for sunlight every day to keep your body’s natural sleep clock ticking on time.
  • Avoid caffeine after lunch.
  • Limit food that’s high in sugar, saturated fat, and processed carbohydrates – and, for some, spicy food at night.
  • Eat more plants, fiber, and foods with lots of unsaturated fat, like nuts, avocados, and fish.
  • Watch the amount of alcohol you consume.
  • Don’t drink anything close to bedtime. You don’t need another reason for a late-night bathroom visit!

As children, some of us were raised to believe that sleep was a sign of laziness. Nothing is further from the truth. You need a solid 7 to 9 hours each night to keep your body and your brain functioning properly.

After 65, sleep issues can increase accidents, falls, cognitive decline, depression, and more.

Talk to us about exercise and healthy habits to improve your rest. Don’t struggle one more night – let alone another year!

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Why Your Process Deserves More Focus Than Your Target

Women shooting arrow at a target.Did you start the new year with a big goal?

Lots of us do every year, right?

We tell ourselves things like

  • “I will lose XX pounds by this date!”
  • “I will save XX money by that date!”
  • “I will find my life partner … or my next career move … or set a retirement date or … or … SOMETHING REALLY IMPORTANT THAT I PROBABLY WON’T BE ABLE TO DO!”

We’ve all been programmed to focus on goals – and told relentlessly that reaching these goals is all up to us. Success or failure. Win or lose. You make it or you don’t.

But what if that’s not the best way to look at things? What if we started the new year thinking about something besides goals?

Process.

Aim to Improve Every Day

That’s right. Focus on doing the right thing every day, in little pieces if that’s the best you can do – and keep that up consistently. 

Do what you can — what you can control (your words and actions).

That’s the process; trust that the results will come.

Dan John, a champion weightlifter and Highland Games competitor, is 63 and still a trainer and competitor. Focusing on his process has kept him active and competitive, even after some health setbacks we all face (even elite athletes).

“Goal setting has great value – except it has no value,” Dan says on the Optimal Aging podcast. “What has great value is respecting the process.

“If on January 1, you say I’m going on a diet, it’s better to say, I’m going to drink two glasses of water today, I’m going to go out for a walk, and strive to increase that walk every day… learn how to goblet squat, maybe do a pushup… try to build that up over the 365 days.”

Too often, we simply fail to meet our goals – and we take that as a defeat, as a sign that we, ourselves, are failures.

What We Can and Can’t Control

And, let’s face it, there’s SO MUCH we simply can’t control.

We know this – and so do you, of course. So, keep it in mind and use this awareness to shape your thinking.

Consider the common goal of getting promoted at work. Let’s say Sharon wants to become a VP this year. She’s put in the time, she’s met all her marks, etc… But someone comes along who has a better resume – or an uncle on the board of directors! Who knows…? But something beyond Sharon’s control prevents her from receiving the promotion. 

It happens to all of us.

Instead, what if Sharon adjusts her daily work habits, finishes her master’s degree, or volunteers to lead a mentoring program? The day-to-day activity will bring the stimulation, interaction, and attention that she’s expecting from that promotion. (And this all makes her more marketable, as well.)

Now, our specialty is helping you lead a healthier life and enjoy the freedom that brings.

So, let us help you build a healthy living process that includes regular exercising and healthy living. (We can even talk about goals, if you like!) We’re here to help you get where you’re going, one day at a time.

For more on the power of doing what you can every day, read “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, a powerful and compelling best-seller to help you wrap your head around getting what you want.

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

21 Reasons to Stick with Your Fitness Commitment in ‘21

 

 

Whether you made a resolution to get fit or just renewed your commitment to exercise and eat right, we’re here to keep you going throughout the year with these 21 reasons to stick with it in ’21.

 

  1. Because 2020 could not have been worse!
  2. This is the year you truly embrace healthy living and an attitude of gratitude.
  3. You can look and feel good for your sweetheart or yourself on Valentine’s Day next month.
  4. You want to be part of the one-third of people over 50 who exercise regularly.
  5. You want to live longer and have more freedom to do what you want to do.
  6. About 70 percent of the disposable income in the US is in your generation’s hands, and you darn well intend to spend your share.
  7. If you’re retired or working less, you have the flexibility to work out when, how and where you want – and that’s a luxury you earned and should use.
  8. You still want to be the fun grandparent.
  9. You need to stay strong to help care for your own parents.
  10. Remember, exercise is the miracle drug. It’s good for your bones, muscles, balance, heart, breathing, mental health and sleep.
  11. It’s fun – even when you don’t feel like it.
  12. You want to look good – and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.
  13. You’re not going to quit something important just because you’re having a tough day.
  14. Springtime will be here soon, and you’ll want to garden, golf, or play tennis.
  15. The vaccine is coming and we all have a lot of time to make up for. That includes (we hope!) making travel plans. In the US alone, people over 50 spend $160 billion a year on travel. You need strength, balance and stamina to go everywhere and do all that’s on your list.
  16. You’ll want to socialize when Covid-19 is over, and your pals will want you to join them in a new exercise class or small group training.
  17. You like making your doctor smile.
  18. When the holidays roll around, you will have earned that extra dressing and the slice of pumpkin pie.
  19. You want to avoid being overweight, falling, getting diabetes, and letting high blood pressure go unchecked.
  20. To set a positive example.
  21. Exercise makes you feel good. Every time.

Over the year, be sure to stay up to date on activities here and throughout the community so you can make plans and set different goals.

Whatever your motivation – and no matter what happens next with the pandemic — we’re here to help you reach your goals. We want to help you have a good, safe, healthy time while you’re doing it.

Let us know what motivates you. And don’t be shy to say when you need a little extra encouragement some days.

The new year is going to be soooooo much better!

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Top 10 Reasons People Over 50 Should Practice Resistance Training

 

Resistance training is one of the best things we can do for our health later in life. It includes weightlifting, using resistance bands, practicing yoga, or performing moves like pushups. Whatever you call it, strength training is a must for people over 50. Here are just 10 reasons why.

 

 

  1. Resistance training adds years to your life.
  2. Stronger muscles = stronger bones.
  3. It works out the brain, too.
  4. Less body fat, better skin tone.
  5. Play better golf, tennis and more.
  6. Resistance training lowers blood pressure, bad cholesterol and inflammation.
  7. It relieves anxiety and tension.
  8. It helps improve our self-esteem and keeps us from thinking we’re weak.
  9. It can improve memory and mild cognitive impairment.
  10. Strength training is effective at treating the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes and other ailments.

If you want to get started on a resistance training program that is safe and effective for you, email me and we get you set up on a program that will keep you healthy and strong.

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

How to Offset the Time You Spend Sitting

A few years ago, sitting got slapped with the “just as bad as smoking cigarettes” rep. Whether that’s actually accurate, it’s compelling motivation to get off the couch and move your body for your health.

Now a new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine makes the connection clear between walking, sitting, and longevity.

“Higher sedentary time is associated with higher mortality in less active individuals,” researchers wrote.

Thirty-five minutes a day of brisk walking or other moderate activity helped the most in reducing premature death, they wrote.

It’s just one study, of course. International authorities recommend 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, plus two sessions of strength training at a minimum.

And walking is often addressed as a nice start, better than nothing for older people in particular, to get started on a healthier path.

But it’s not enough. We also recommend more and more vigorous exercise for most people over 50, including resistance training and cardio workouts. A combination of both is best.

Let’s discuss the details that are right for you individually, based on your goals, lifestyle, and possible limitations.

But believe this study at heart: Exercise means a longer, healthier life, even when we spend too much time sitting.

At any age. Even yours. 

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Skiing (Far) after 50: He’s Ready to Hit the Slopes Again This Year

Dick O’Loughlin, 84, is getting ready to go skiing this winter, just as he has for more than 40 years.

Covid can’t stop him from enjoying his outdoor passion.

Just like strength-and-balance workouts with a personal trainer keep him in shape for it.

“It’s not the easiest sport in the world, and I want to be able to continue it as a part of my lifestyle,” says Dick, who stays active with his wife, Sally, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “I’m outside in the fresh air and I can enjoy the mountains. When you make a good run down the slope, you say, ‘Wow, look what I just did.’”

And even this year, some ski slopes plan to welcome crowds, although with some restrictions and mask requirements. Dick and Sally will be going to the Vail, Colorado, area again, where restaurants will have limited capacity and masks will be required while skiing, in lines, and on lifts and gondolas.

Whether you’re up for skiing or not, exercise with a trainer can keep you in good shape and ready. Stamina, strength, and flexibility are key to being in peak skiing conditions.

Come talk to us about any questions you have. But here’s a good general guide to how to prepare.

  • Cardio. Be sure to go on a few walks each week, and take the stairs when you can. Or, if your stamina is already fair, then work in two or three cardio workouts weekly.
  • Resistance training for legs. Most of the muscle strain from downhill skiing is on your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. A nice leg circuit twice a week will help get you ready. That means squats, lunges, leg curls and calf raises. Ask for a demonstration if you’re not familiar with the proper form.
  • Core. Skiing requires a strong core because of all the twisting and leaning forward. Get ready with planks and twists.
  • Flexibility. Stretch before working out with weights, walking, or running – and that includes your lower back. 

Plenty of Older Skiers

Baby boomers make up about 20 percent of US skiers, with millions of more people over 50 also hitting the slopes. Nowadays, it’s not as physically hard as it used to be because skis are wider and easier to control, other equipment is also better, and the slopes are groomed to be so much smoother.

Plus, “senior” discounts are plentiful, with some mountains even offering free passes to people over a certain age. 

Check with individual locations about travel, lodging, and ski information this season, which will be affected by Covid-19, like everything else.

And for information about discounts and group trips, visit the 70+ Ski Club. 

He Keeps Seeking Challenges

Dick and Sally have worked out with a trainer for many years. During the pandemic, they have continued virtually – even when their trainer went to Europe on vacation, and they’ll keep it up while in Colorado.

“I make sure they’re pushing me,” Dick says “They know me well enough that they’re not going to give me a namby-pamby workout.

“I want to be challenged. I’m always looking for the next step. I feel better. I have more strength and more balance. It’s my lifestyle.”

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Success Story: After a Rough Year, He Makes It Look Easy

Howard Snooks Flexing.Howard Snooks had it all.

At 66, he was retired from a successful career as a social worker, married and healthy.

Then in 2015, Howard’s wife of 34 years abruptly left him. Several family members died. And he had an emergency hip replacement after a fall.

“Kablooey,” he says now.

With resilience and a newfound commitment to fitness, Howard fell into an unexpected late-in-life adventure: modeling.

After that rough year, Howard came upon a newspaper article about the dearth of Baby Boomer fashion models. He figured he was in decent shape and made some calls. 

Now 71, he’s been in TV and Internet commercials, walked the runway, and filmed a Land Rover ad that could go national soon.

At 5’10” he’s down to 168 pounds and 12 percent body fat. He has no styling tips, having never tried Botox, moisturizer, or even an expensive haircut.

“I don’t look like a young man,” he says. “My mindset keeps me open to new experiences, to whatever new things come my way.”

Howard attributes his post-2015 happiness largely to working out. He hit the weight room hard, he says. “I went for it. It kept me sane.”

He also liked the new look it gave his body and the attention he got from women. “I wanted people to be surprised when they found out how old I was.”

But more important has been the steady interaction he gets at twice-weekly workouts at a small gym.

“It’s a real companionable thing,” he says. “I feel like I belong to something.”

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Science Proves It: More Exercise Means Less Risk of Heart Disease

Older women stretching in front of a younger women.A scientific study shows something we’ve believed here for a long time: Physical activity is good for your heart, no matter what your age.

Being active keeps your heart stronger and healthier than being inactive. And the more you exercise, the healthier your heart gets. The National Institutes of Health says physical activity can help lower and control high blood pressure levels.

That doesn’t mean you have to devote your life to the gym. Brisk walking – say, 20 minutes a day – is a great start. Regular exercise at a gym, fitness studio, pool, or yoga class can bring even greater heart-health rewards.

Research by the American College of Cardiology further underlines the connection between exercise and heart health. It found that women over 70 who got at least some exercise were 11 percent less likely to develop heart failure than women who had no activity. Women with the most activity were 35 percent less likely to get heart disease.

Heart disease includes stroke, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and coronary disease.

The research is consistent, but there’s still no easy fix. You have to do the work to gain the benefits.

We like to think of exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle, just like brushing your teeth and wearing a seatbelt. Healthy habits add up to a healthy life – and a healthy heart.

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.