Don’t Overlook This Classic Gem for Great Workouts

Don’t Overlook This Classic Gem for Great WorkoutsIf it seems like everybody wants the newest device or trendy workout, here’s a reminder to try a classic exercise device that delivers on all fronts: the rowing machine.

  • They’re easy to find and easy to use, providing both cardio and strength training for anyone, including people over 50, 60 and 70. You get muscle work, bone-health benefits, and probably a good sweat while raising your heart rate and increasing oxygen intake.
  • You can adjust most rowers to fit your own fitness level and the intensity you want. Listen to your favorite podcast for a more relaxing pace or go harder with your own motivating soundtrack.
  • They give a low-impact, full-body workout, with extra emphasis on the quads, biceps and – surprisingly – the core.
  • The full-body effort really amps up the number of calories burned, making this a great way to lower your body fat percentage (while building lean muscle).
  • You can row at a steady pace or using high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
  • And you can row for a brief warmup or as the centerpiece of your workout.

Take a moment to learn proper form. Rowing is simple, but you want to be sure you’re doing it right. You can watch a YouTube video or ask one of our staff members for a quick lesson.

There’s a reason why some “classics” never go out of style. We know you know about that!

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

Strength Training to Push What’s Possible

Strength Training to Push What’s PossibleIndia Bridgette is a professor in the course titled “What’s Possible?”

The 61-year-old champion sprinter and former Marine knows it takes discipline to answer that question and to excel at anything.

She recently added strength training to that answer, too – for everyone, no matter what age, lifestyle, or fitness goals. Working out with weights has helped her show What’s Possible on the track and in everyday life. She’s learned that, for older adults, weightlifting gives self-governance and a pre-emptive strike against the aspects of aging that otherwise can limit our quality of life. (That’s her in the photo above from the Florida Sports Association.)

“I appreciate being able to lift my grocery bags in one session instead of going back a couple of times,” India says. “And just the mobility I get from the strength training is big every day, not just on the track.”

Bridgette is ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in her age group in the 50-meter dash, the 100, and the 200. She started strength training in January 2022 and saw a noticeable difference in her performance on the track and everyday mobility.

“The weight training has given me the strength for the endurance to enhance my speed,” India says. “People think the sprinting, the speed, comes from your legs. But the actual speed comes from the core and the arms, the pumping of the arms because as fast as you can pump your arms up and down is as fast as your legs are going to move up and down.

“So having that extra core strength and muscle strength in your upper body assists with the movement of how fast your legs can move.”

The weight training also helps with the endurance it takes to travel internationally and to compete in multiple events over a few days. It’s improved her bone density to that of a woman 10 years younger.

Reasons to Start Weightlifting Now

Resistance training is crucial for everyone since we all lose muscle mass as we age. Muscle is key to performing the tasks of daily living – like standing up from the couch – whether you’re a competitive athlete or not.

It also:

  • Burns fat
  • Improves balance
  • Eases arthritis pain
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Builds strong bones
  • Improves sleep
  • Improves brain function and health
  • And fights depression – among many other proven benefits.

India recommends starting with a personal trainer for anyone who is new to resistance training. Talk about why you want to be stronger, and your lifestyle.

It can do for you what it did for her. It expanded the answer to the question, What’s Possible?

Even after India’s military service and countless track medals, she still yearned to find out what was inside of her.

“I just felt like there’s so much more in me,” she says, prompting that question over and over: What’s Possible?

It’s a question we can all ask ourselves throughout life. Come tell us about it, and we’ll start helping you shape the answer.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

Trouble Sleeping? Exercise Could Be the Solution

Trouble Sleeping? Exercise Could Be the SolutionMillions of people don’t get enough sleep every night, even if they know how important it is to their physical and mental health.

And as we age, some people have extra trouble getting the right amount of rest (which varies for each individual, of course).

But here’s one thing everyone should know: Exercise will help you get more and better sleep. Whether it’s walking, running, weightlifting, yoga… Studies are clear that regular, moderately intense exercise improves sleep length and quality.

“Sleep quality and quantity are two important aspects of reducing stress, improving mood and providing lots of energy,” the Functional Aging Institute says. “Lack of sleep and stress go hand in hand.”

The National Sleep Foundation adds, “Not only will getting your zzzs help you perform on a test, learn a new skill or help you stay on task, but it may also be a critical factor in your health, weight and energy level.”

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

Here are a few tips for restful nights.

  • Don’t exercise too close to bedtime, since it can stimulate your brain and raise your body temperature, changes that can keep you up.
  • Maintain bedtime routines and schedules.
  • Get some sunlight every day.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark and free of electronics.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon and too much alcohol close to bedtime.
  • Don’t drink much of anything as bedtime approaches; it could make you need to get out of bed.
  • Talk to your doctor about chronic issues. You could have sleep apnea or another serious but treatable disorder.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

How the Gym Helped ‘Get My Act Together’ After Cancer

How the Gym Helped ‘Get My Act Together’ After CancerTodd Allen and his wife took a European trip seven years ago.

He felt terrible by the time they got home.

Blood tests revealed cancer. Stage 4. Bone marrow.

Todd went through 18 months of chemotherapy and had knee surgery and hip surgery.

Never much for exercise, Todd then made a decision: “After the recovery, I said I gotta get my act together.”

“I’ve been a gym rat ever since,” says Todd, now 65. Now, with a healthy prognosis, he wakes up early each morning to lift weights, run stairs, and do other physical activity. “I look better now than I ever have in my life.”

The Research on Exercise and Cancer

Research proves that exercise is good for our health at any age. Experts say it also helps prevent cancer and lower its risk of recurring. And regular exercise benefits cancer survivors the same way it helps the general population – by reducing obesity and blood pressure, lowering risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, and more.

Strength training is particularly important to help maintain muscle and bone density. People generally lose muscle mass with age, and cancer exacerbates the decline.

The National Cancer Institute shares powerful data about how exercise can reduce the risk of certain cancers:

  • Breast cancer by 20 to 80 percent
  • Endometrial cancer by 20 to 40 percent
  • Colon cancer by 30 to 40 percent

The Clinical Oncology Society of Australia issued formal guidelines that recommend exercise as a part of treatment for all cancer patients. It said:

  • Exercise should be a part of standard care for cancer patients to fight the disease and side effects of treatment.
  • Treatment teams should promote physical activity, so patients meet exercise guidelines.
  • Patients should be referred to an exercise physiologist or physical therapist.

“If we could turn the benefits of exercise into a pill it would be demanded by patients, prescribed by every cancer specialist and subsidized by government,” said Dr. Prue Cormie, author of the organization’s report. “It would be seen as a major breakthrough in cancer treatment.”

A healthy lifestyle should include exercise – which also helps limit other factors like obesity and blood pressure, before and after cancer.

After treatment, exercise helps restore self-esteem and a sense of control, which cancer strips from patients, says Andrea Leonard, founder of the Cancer Exercise Training Institute. “Teaching them to regain control empowers them, increases esteem and confidence, and takes them from victim to survivor.”

‘Let’s Get Some Life While We’re Here’

For Todd Allen, working out at the gym brings him the variety, social interaction, and mental health benefits he craves.

“I love the comradery,” he says. “You have to show up or you get razzed. That’s key for consistency.”

With his health now solid and his outlook bright, Todd is committed to enjoying every day.

“Let’s get some life while we’re here,” he says. “I’m going to hold onto this thing for as long as I can.”

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

Experts Rank Mediterranean Diet as the Best

Experts Rank Mediterranean Diet as the BestFor the sixth straight year, the Mediterranean diet has been ranked as the best overall diet for health and wellbeing, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Concerns about healthy aging came into play this time, the magazine said – including bone and joint health, and increasing quality of life.

The phrase “Mediterranean diet” has been around for a while now, and it’s based in the eating habits of the countries around the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece and Italy. It features simple, plant-based cooking, a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and extra-virgin olive oil.

It encourages consumption of fish packed with omega-3 fatty acids, while calling for less chicken and dairy than the usual Western diet Americans favor. Red meat is used very little.

Various studies have said it helps lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia, depression, and breast cancer. It has been linked to better bones and heart health, as well as longevity.

And, since it’s more of a style than a “don’t eat this” diet, the Mediterranean approach offers is easy for many to follow.

Which diet landed at the bottom? The “raw foods” diet, which was cited as having a lack of nutritional completeness and being difficult to follow.

The report ranks 24 eating plans in various categories, such as best “family friendly” diet. Be sure to scroll through the list to learn more about healthy eating options for you.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

Active ‘Older’ Adults Are Trendy – Again!

Active ‘Older’ Adults Are Trendy – Again!You might not realize it, but if you’re getting fit or staying fit after 50, then you are riding the wave of one of the hottest trends in fitness around the world.

TWO trends, actually, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), which has released its 17th annual survey on the hot topics in the fitness industry.

Ranked No. 1: wearable technology, like smart watches and fitness trackers that can monitor heart rate, calories and other data.

No. 2: Strength training with free weights, like barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells.

No. 3: Body weight training, which uses the body for its source of resistance.

Now, each of the top three apply to the people over 50, right? You might wear a smart watch, and we know that strength training is essential for healthy aging, whether it’s with free weights or body weight.

But the fourth and fifth items on the list get right to it.

No. 4: Fitness programs for “older adults” made a comeback into the top 10.

No. 5: Functional fitness training focuses on improving balance, coordination, functional strength, and endurance for the everyday activities outside the gym.

This doesn’t surprise us, since we are big believers and advocates for fitness over 50, including functional fitness, whether you want to:

  • Achieve athletic excellence or just maintain a healthy weight…
  • Travel the world with confidence or just play with your grandkids…
  • Or simply feel better, move better, and look better while making your doctor and spouse happy.

If those are “trendy” concerns, then we are happy to be considered “cool.”

The list reflects some interesting changes fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, home gyms fell from No. 2 last year to No. 13.

“The health and fitness industry is returning to the basics,” said Walter Thompson, former ACSM president and lead author of the survey. That follows how fitness professionals pivoted during the worst months of the pandemic to provide service for people wanting to exercise primarily at home.

Take This as Encouragement

We hope this year’s list gives you a little extra encouragement to start exercise or to keep at it. We know it’s challenging either way sometimes, especially if you are starting out.

But this goes to show that you’re not alone as an “older” adult pursuing a healthy lifestyle! And we are here to help you feel comfortable, stay safe, and achieve results for the lifestyle YOU WANT TO LIVE.

Finally, it’s interesting to see how various regions and countries ranked the trends. For example, Australia ranked “Fitness Programs for Older Adults” first, and Spain led with functional fitness.

Europe put “body weight training” at the top, Mexico liked weight loss programs, and the United States matched the overall global ranking for the top spot, wearable tech.

Fitness over 50 knows no boundaries. Let’s get it!

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

How Exercise Keeps Us Moving Right

How Exercise Keeps Us Moving Right

Moving with stability and control can become more challenging as we age. If you’ve noticed this, then it might be time to start exercising to increase your mobility.

For example, can you squat down and then get back up? Do your joints ache, like your wrists, hips and knees?

With poor mobility, we can lose the ability to do things we enjoy; have a higher risk of falling; and experience social isolation.

Studies suggest that the more we exercise, the better off we’ll be. Mobility limitations in older adults are commonly caused by low physical activity, strength or balance impairment, obesity, and chronic illness like diabetes.

In addition to strength training, mobility work often includes foam rolling, mobility drills, and stretching. By working out to increase our mobility, we help avoid injury; protect and support joints; and maintain a fuller range of motion.

For maturing active adults, mobility work is essential for a safe, healthy lifestyle – whether you’re picking up grocery bags or kettlebells, cleaning house or completing a workout.

Sore joints, limited movement and joint pain are often made worse by our sedentary lifestyles. We sit a lot. We don’t move much at most jobs. We look at screens too much, hunched over a desk or looking down at a phone.

The right exercises can prevent bad posture, pain and physical disfunction.

Take an active role in maintaining your mobility so you can live the life you want to live. We’re here to show you how.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

Start by Taking One Step at a Time

Start by Taking One Step at a TimeWe all know that most New Year’s Resolutions fail.

 

But do you know why?

Here’s one possible explanation. Most people set a huge goal for their resolution, and when they start trying to make that goal come true, they get frustrated by its overwhelming nature.

Does this sound familiar?

Did you ever resolve to, say…

  • Lose a great deal of weight?
  • Or go to the gym six days a week for 90 minutes?
  • Or meditate for an hour every morning?

And then… quickly realized how hard such huge tasks are and just give up altogether?

If you have, then you’re not alone. If you haven’t, then you’ve obviously never made a New Year’s Resolution!

Start Small

Try something different this January – or any time you want to build a new habit.

Start small. For example:

  • If you want to lose a great deal of weight, then maybe start by trying to eat one healthy meal a day.
  • If you want to exercise regularly, start with a 15-minute walk three days a week, and then add a few minutes a day the second week, and so on.
  • If you want to establish a meditation practice, then try to meditate for 1 minute each morning for a week. Seriously – set a timer! Add another minute each day the second week, and so on.

Another brilliant tip, popularized by the best-selling book “Atomic Habits,” is to stack the new habit onto an existing one. For example, go for that morning walk immediately after you brush your teeth in the morning.

Try it. It works.

Build on each small success, getting stronger at each step along the way. You wouldn’t expect to be fluent in a new language in your first class, would you? Of course not!

Most resolutions are about ABSTAINING from something – or punishing yourself for “bad” behavior. But this new approach is about setting realistic expectations for POSITIVE change.

Remember, it’s never too late for that.

We’re Here to Help

When it comes to fitness, remember that you have succeeded at reaching countless goals in your life. You have a track record of success to draw on. It’s one of the great blessings of being a little bit older, isn’t it?

You’ve set big goals and reached them in the past. In your career, in raising your kids, in saving for retirement.

Getting in shape – or staying in shape – is no different.

We want to help you build exercise, and overall healthy living, into your daily routine. Consistency is key to getting good results and living a long, strong life.

So is having plenty of support around you.

So is having people hold you accountable.

So is being gentle enough with yourself that you acknowledge your progress.

You get all that and more with our effective, safe and fun approach. Let’s get started on building your new habits today.

Resolved!

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

10 Ways to Move More Every Day

10 Ways to Move More Every DayEven on days when you can’t work out, you can still get plenty of intentional movement.

Heck, it’s even more important on those days.

If you think about how you can move more, even in little doses throughout a normal day, it all adds up before you even realize it. Exercise is still important, but don’t overlook simply MOVING your body every day, no matter what.

Here are 10 easy ways to move it (so you don’t lose it).

  1. Stretch for a few minutes each morning.
  2. Walk to the mailbox every day.
  3. Park at the far end of lots so you’ll have to walk farther to the building entrance.
  4. Take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators.
  5. Invite someone on a walk to catch up, rather than meeting for lunch or coffee.
  6. Stand up when making phone calls or checking emails.
  7. Set a timer to get up and move around every 30 minutes.
  8. Dance during every commercial break when you’re watching TV.
  9. Wear a fitness tracker and set a goal for steps, calories or minutes spent in motion
  10. Walk to run errands or shop whenever possible.

What else can you think of?

Incorporate moves like this into your daily lifestyle – plus regular visits to exercise with us – and you’ll be on your way to a fitter, healthier and happier you.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

Study Links Junk Food to Brain Decline

Study Links Junk Food to Brain DeclinePackaged, ultra-processed foods are convenient and tasty. They’re handy to have around the house for the grandkids or for snacking. But they’re not good for us – not for our bodies OR our brains.

We’re talking hot dogs, burgers, sausages, cookies, cakes, doughnuts and the like. You already know they contribute to obesity and other negative physical effects.

Now a new study says people who eat too much of them have a higher risk of cognitive decline – just 20% of the daily recommended caloric intake. That’s about 400 calories if you’re aiming to consume 2,000 calories a day.

The study published in JAMA Neurology found that people who ate that much junk had a 25% faster rate of executive function decline and a 28% faster rate of overall cognitive impairment compared with those who ate the least amount of overly processed food. Executive function is the ability to process information and make decision.

Interestingly, the study also found that eating an overall healthy diet erases the negative effects of the processed foods. That means fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole foods, etc.

The study looked at the habits and health of 10,000 people in Brazil for a decade; their average age was 51.

In Brazil, ultra-processed foods make up 25% to 30% of caloric intake, researchers said. But it’s 58% in the United States, 57% in the United Kingdom, and 48% in Canada.

These foods also raise the risk of obesity, heart health, diabetes, and early death.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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