Keep Your Cool in the Summer Heat

Group of three older people huddled together and smiling on a beachAs alluring as summer can be, it can also pose potential health risks, like heatstroke and dehydration.

But you can still have a fun, safe summer outside. Be sure to take no-nonsense precautions and respect Mother Nature (and your wellbeing).

  1. Drink plenty of water. It increases your metabolism to help you lose weight; makes you feel full faster; and – importantly now – keeps you cooler. Plus, water is good for digestion and skin. Follow this rule of thumb: Drink between a half-ounce and 1 ounce of water for every pound of body weight, according to WebMD.
  2. Avoid midday heat. Enjoy your outdoor activities when it’s cooler. If you like to garden, get your digging done around breakfast time. Then walk or jog after dusk. Play in the water when you can. Workout in our comfortable facility at any time.
  3. Wear sunscreen and hats. Most people over 60 don’t use sunscreen, Consumer Reports says, even though skin cancers are rising among Baby Boomers. Use something with an SPF between 30 and 50. Use plenty and reapply often.
  4. Be careful of bugs and other garden dangers. Empty flower pots, buckets, and other water containers to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Use outdoor repellents around the yard. Keep walkways, patios and garage floors free of hoses and other things that can trip you up.

As always, eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, limit your alcohol, and get a good sleep every night.

We’re here to keep you moving – and it’s always safe and plenty cool in here with us! Come on down.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

Want to Live Long and Well? Keep Moving!

Barb, an older woman, is getting ready to swing a baseball batBarb Markelz is one of those people who personify the belief that movement is the key to healthy, happy living.

We couldn’t agree more!

Barb spent her career teaching physical education, always moving and instilling movement as a value in her students.

Now retired at 68, Barb has no plans to stop now.

“Movement is my way of life,” says Barb. “I just think that the brain and the body are connected. And anytime you get moving it jump-starts everything. Every day I move, I sleep well.”

She should be sleeping even better lately, after the path she cut at the National Senior Games in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Barb entered four events — power walk, basketball, pickleball and softball.

Her mom, also a retired phys-ed teacher, competed in pickleball at 90. So did Barb’s husband.

Movement runs in the family in a big way.

In the last National Senior Games three years ago, Barb, her mom, her husband, and all four of Barb’s siblings competed.

150 Minutes A Week, At Least

Barb, and the other 12,000 athletes at the National Senior Games, don’t fit the mold of aging.

They’re too active.

Most people simply don’t move enough, let alone people later in life.

The World Health Organization urges everyone to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderately strenuous cardio exercise, or 75 minutes at a vigorous pace. Experts also say everyone needs at least two strength-training sessions a week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adds “activities to improve balance such as standing on one foot” about three days a week.

“Older adults should move more and sit less throughout the day,” the CDC says. “Keep in mind, some physical activity is better than none. Older adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity gain some health benefits. Your health benefits will also increase with the more physical activity that you do.”

Barb keeps proving that.

Discovering Strength Training

She’s always been athletic, playing basketball and field hockey as a youth, and competing in previous National Senior Games.

But she had never practiced strength training until this year, when she and her husband began using a personal trainer for the first time.

She says she’s glad she did.

“I never lifted at all in my life,” she says. “I didn’t know anything about strength training. I decided in February that I really needed to get ready for these Games, and swimming was not doing it.

“The trainer is teaching us stuff we never knew, and it has made a big difference here for me.”

Just keep it moving, Barb says.

That’s the secret.

“The older I get the happier I get,” she says. “When I’m 70, I’ll be happier than now because I’ll be the babe (in the 70-74 cohort). And when you’re the youngest in the next age group, you kick butt.”

Moving on UP!

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

Exercise can overcome genetics to fight obesity in mature women, study finds

Two older women in a gym facing forward and smilingHere’s good news for mature women who think obesity is just part of their DNA.

It turns out that exercise lowers their risk of obesity, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed data from 8,200 women of European ancestry in their 70s. They determined that genetic influences on obesity are strongest in inactive women – and, get this, weakest in those who get plenty of physical activity.

“The choices we make in our life play a large role in our health,” said study author Heather Ochs-Balcom of the University at Buffalo in New York.

“In older age, we can overcome our destiny for obesity – given to us by our parents – through exercise,” Ochs-Balcom explained.

“For the elderly, exercise is important for preventing muscle loss, which helps reduce the risk of falls. Plus, there are many other benefits of exercise in older adults.”

People over 65 should be as active as possible, the National Institutes of Health says. Anything is better than nothing. Aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Break that up in plenty of short sessions if you like.

Good examples of movement include walking, running, gardening, dancing or joining a gym or fitness studio.

Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns. And come talk to us to learn more about the positive effects of exercise on your weight and lots more.

You don’t have to accept “That’s just the way I am” any more.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

7 Summer Fitness Motivators

A family of four walking down a sunny path in the woodsIt feels like we’re heading into our first more-or-less normal summer in three years.

Are you looking forward to being outside in the sunshine?

Seeing friends and family who live far away?

Getting back to golf or tennis?

We all have our favorite summer activities, and we’ve all been limited from enjoying them as much as we want to. But now, it’s time to dust off that list of favorites and make some plans. No matter what’s on your list, be sure to add strength, stamina and agility to your goals. Because if you’re not in good physical shape, you’re going to continue to be limited in what you can do.

And it doesn’t matter what you’re hoping to enjoy. Being fit will help you do it, while improving your quality of life and extending your independence.

Let’s look at common reasons people over 50 decide to get fit or stay fit. What does each one inspire you to do this season? We are here to help you make those desires a reality.

7 Reasons Why

  1. Nobody wants to be the “boring nana,” right? Millions of today’s grandparents play active roles in their grandkids’ lives. Summer Fun Item: Anything from playing tag in the living room to coaching Little League, from flying to Disney or driving to camp.
  2. Feel, Look and Move Better. Most of us want the benefits of exercise more than we want long hours in the gym. It’s no different for people over 50. Exercise improves your mood, your appearance, and your mobility. Summer Fun Item: I want to look my best for our daughter’s spring wedding.
  3. Gardening and hiking are just two of the physically demanding hobbies that people enjoy and want to continue, regardless of age. Summer Fun Item: Explore my town’s bike trails and parks.
  4. Some people go to the gym because they like to work out. But for many, it helps them keep doing something else they love. Summer Fun Item: Beat my brother-in-law at golf again.
  5. The pandemic seems to be over, or at least manageable. Is it time to resume checking off that list of places you always wanted to visit? Summer Fun Item: Meet old friends for walking tours of great cities or national parks.
  6. Mental Health. You might know that exercise is good for your body. But did you realize it’s also great for your mind, helping to build memory and ward off dementia? Summer Fun Item: I want to pray or meditate on a beach, mountaintop, or countryside porch.
  7. Physical Health. Did you hear about the real “wonder drug” to help keep your body healthy? It’s called exercise! Fitness even helps us recover from common surgeries and illnesses. Summer Fun Item: I want my doctor to see shock (the good kind) on my doctor’s face at my fall visit.

It really doesn’t matter what you want to do this season. It’s your life! You should enjoy doing whatever you like.

It’s our job to help you get or stay fit over 50 so you can live life on your own terms for as long as you want.

Ooh, summer livin’… let’s have a blast!

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

Focus on Exercise to Fight Osteoporosis

Group of older people, facing the camera and smiling, doing an arm exercise togtherDid you know that exercise is key to maintaining strong bones as you age?

It is.

The Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation is focusing on exercise this month as it marks the annual Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month.

“Exercising to help achieve good bone health can and should be a family priority and continue throughout one’s lifetime,” said Claire Gill, the organization’s CEO. “There are so many things that people can do each day to strengthen our bones. It is our hope that Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month helps to inspire people to make exercise an important part of their daily routine. We want everyone to work toward the realistic goal of living active, vigorous, and rewarding lives.”

Regular exercise and a good diet with appropriate amounts of calcium and vitamin D are key.. It is important to know that exercise — which can include everything from jumping jacks to jogging, from lifting weights to playing tennis – can make a major impact in achieving strong, healthy bones.

In the UK, half of women over 50 and a fifth of men over 50 will break a bone because of the ailment. In the US, some 10 million people over have it, with another 44 million having low bone density, placing them at an increased risk for bone fractures.

Bone fractures related to osteoporosis send more people to the hospital than heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer combined. But, regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises have been proven to build and maintain bone density for women and men.

See your doctor about your nutritional needs.

Let’s get you started with safe, fun, and effective exercise!

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

Gimme 5: Here’s What Can Happen When You Start Exercising

Two men at the gym high-fiving each otherWant to play a game of “What’s the Point?”

It goes like this.

Think of all the times you’ve said “What’s the Point” of doing the right thing for yourself, your family, and your community. Like this:

  • What’s the point of exercising?
  • What’s the point of dieting?
  • What’s the point of registering to vote…or making an eye-exam appointment…or stopping at the stop sign when no one else is around…?

Can you relate?

Of course. We call can.

So, in the interest of stating the obvious so that you can never use this little tool to reserve more couch time, here is our list of 5 Things That Can Happen When You Start Exercising. (There are many more, but we hope you get the point at five.)

The Top 5

  1. You can lose fat and gain muscle. Note that this is not the same as “losing weight.” That’s because the number on the scale is often irrelevant. It’s body fat you want to lose, not necessarily weight, and muscle you want to gain – especially after midlife, when our muscle mass declines progressively.
  2. You feel better. After just a few weeks of training for strength, endurance and flexibility, you will probably be standing and walking more upright; feeling less joint pain and muscle tension; sleeping better; and gaining self-confidence.
  3. You begin making your doctor very happy. That’s because many typical health indicators generally improve, like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and bone density. That’s just for starters. Seriously – most of what our doctors nag us about IMPROVES WITH EXERCISE.
  4. You will look better. We’re not promising a new career as a fitness model. But who doesn’t want to tone up our body, get more radiant skin, and look better in clothes (and out of them)?
  5. You will enjoy your sports and hobbies more – whatever they are. It doesn’t matter if you play golf or tennis, coach a kids soccer team, tend to your garden, or just like to walk your dog in the neighborhood. You’ll have so much more energy and vigor that you’ll enjoy everything more – and be less prone to injury. That’s right: Exercise helps prevent injuries, including falls.

The Choice Is Clear

Now, look, you probably have heard most of this before.

Let’s face it, we’re not inventing a revolutionary new system to look better, feel better, move better…or improve the quality of your life…or help you stay independent …or extend your healthy lifespan.

You know all of this already.

So, back to the start: What’s the point?

Look in the mirror. Look at your family and friends. Look in your heart.

That’s the point.

And if all that’s not enough, here are two things that will happen if you don’t start regular exercise and proper eating.

  1. You will continue to feel, move and look worse.
  2. You will limit your own autonomy, enjoyment of life, and quality of your remaining years.

The choice is yours. Let’s get going!

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

Plan to Keep Working? Then Plan to Stay Fit

Yellow book cover for "In Control at 50" by Kerry HannonAfter 50, questions about retirement plans are as common as “What’s your major” back in college.

It used to be 65 was the standard target for most people. But retirement plans have shifted generationally, along with everything else.

And while we often talk about happy retirement being a prime motivator to stay fit after 50, let’s not overlook the millions of people who aren’t planning to give up work at the traditional point in life.

Did you know that two-thirds of workers over 50 and almost 80 percent of the self-employed don’t plan to retire at 65? That’s according to a study in December 2020, but only 1 in 5 said the pandemic had delayed their exit from the daily workforce.

But the same survey found just 62 percent of us are focused on staying healthy so we can keep working.

And trust us, if you’re going to keep working, or if you’re looking for a job, then you need to stay in shape – with the strength, endurance, agility, and social competence that’s required.

A new book aims to help us navigate today’s job market, “In Control at 50-Plus: How to Succeed in the New World of Work” by Kerry Hannon.

Hannon lays out why we’re working later in life nowadays, the challenges older workers face, and strategies for re-entering the workforce or finding a new job.

It can be daunting.

We say you need to take care of yourself regardless and to keep your fighting spirit alive.

And we’ve got your back. Let’s get the “eye of the tiger” back for you.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

Thousands of Older Athletes Race Back for the National Senior Games

Senior runners lined up on a track for the National Senior GamesOne of our favorite events for active agers is back for the first time since 2019. We love the National Senior Games because of the boundless inspiration they offer everyone, regardless of age or fitness level.

Thousands of people will gather in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to compete in track and field events, plus softball, tennis, pickleball, swimming, and more.

Some are well into their 70s, 80s, and 90s. The oldest at the last event in 2019 was 103!

Some athletes have been active their entire lives and see no reason to let age slow them down. Others are relatively new to fitness and exercise. And many overcame injury or illness to be strong enough to compete.

With family and friends in tow, they support each other, make friendships, and build community – proving yet again the valuable social aspects of physical activity.

Here are just a few athletes from across the country. We hope their stories inspire you to get fit, stay fit and enjoy living your life to the fullest at every age.

Pat Kelly, 62, running in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races

Racing brings simple joy, she says. “I feel like a 10-year-old again, you know, not thinking about anything else in the world, just running a race,” Pat says. “I love that feeling. That escapism.”

She loves the training, too. “It’s a feeling that is deep down. It brings me great joy to be able to do it. And I have a great appreciation that I’m able to do it.”

Dick Johnson, 81, Pickleball

After 10 or 20 years of inactivity, Dick had grown overweight and developed diabetes. Then he found the popular game with the weird name.

“Pickleball saved my life,” Dick says. “Physically, it’s getting harder and I can’t play every day like I used to. But everybody’s got their stuff. That’s what happens at our age. The way I look at it the pain is worth it because if I wasn’t playing I wouldn’t be as healthy and I wouldn’t be living as long.” 

Flo Meiler, 87, Track and Field

“I am surprising myself,” Flo says. “I still can’t believe I’m doing the pole vault when I’ll be 88 in June.”

But she never forgets why: “It’s all so much fun. I’m looking forward to it.”

Flo trains six days a week, including twice a week on weight machines, and she plays tennis with friends.

What do you think?

Even if you don’t want to be this ambitious, don’t these stories make you want to stay strong and independent for as long as possible? Doesn’t it seem like the fun way to get older?

We agree! We can help you find your own fun, healthy way to stay strong and independent, too.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

New Evidence Shows how Exercise fits Depression

Older woman on a yoga mat, leaning against a yoga ball, smilingIf you still think physical exercise is only good for the body, then check out this latest research that adds to the evidence about mental health.

The Journal of American Medical Association’s Psychiatry journal just published an analysis of 15 studies involving 190,000 people to learn more about how exercise lowers depression.

Here are some key findings:

  • Just 1.25 hours of brisk walking weekly lowers the risk of depression by 18%.
  • Doubling that amount of time lowers it by 25%. This is the amount of time recommended by the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control as the minimum amount of exercise needed, along with two sessions of resistance training.
  • Benefits were strongest among people who previously didn’t exercise at all.

Four years ago, another study found that people who exercised had 43% fewer days of mental health issues.

It suggested that exercising for 45 minutes three to five times a week was great for boosting mental health.

Even simple movements like doing chores and jogging lowered the risk of depression by an average of 10 percent among adolescents, yet another study found in 2020.

The evidence is clear. Regular exercise is good for you – body, soul, and MIND.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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

Where were you in ’82?

Three women in colorfully saturated 80s workout clothesIt’s been two generations since fitness became part of the broader culture, but still, most of us don’t exercise regularly.

We see it everywhere – from gyms and studios to home workout equipment, from wearables like Apple watches to “athleisure” clothing like Lululemon.

Fitness today is a $100 billion industry worldwide, which means countless ordinary people exercise for the sake of exercising. They know it’s good for them. They know it will help them lead better, longer lives. They know it’s fun.

But it wasn’t always like that. Until about 40 years ago, fitness facilities weren’t common. Celebrities weren’t super-fit. People smoked cigarettes – a lot. The idea of “fitness over 50” hadn’t been coined

But there’s still a generational difference in this awareness, particularly among older Baby Boomers who came of age before fitness was so common.

Is that you?

Looking Back

Chances are your parents and grandparents never set foot in a fitness facility after high school PE class.

But starting in the late 1970s, Jazzercise and the running craze began taking off. And 40 years ago, in April 1982, movie star Jane Fonda introduced her “Workout” VHS tape, galvanizing all these elements to help create the modern studio, home workouts, and the home-video industry.

Fonda sold millions of copies of “Workout” videotapes and books, inspiring people everywhere to don legwarmers and “feel the burn” doing aerobics.

Before this period, most ordinary people didn’t exercise just for the sake of it. Heck, they probably hadn’t even thought of it.

That’s why so many older still people don’t “just know” a basic truth that we promote every day about fitness over 50:

We all need to exercise – especially later in life – to keep the strength, flexibility, and endurance needed to lead our best lives.

OK, Boomer?

Remember these other touchstones from the time period?

  • “Flashdance,” “Staying Alive” and all the “Rocky” chapters promoted super-sleek stars as sex objects. Lots of hard work, lots of sweat…The idea was: You could look like them! Hollywood even made a film about health clubs called – yep – “Perfect.”
  • Fashions like headbands were everywhere, along with those legwarmers, sweatshirts torn at the shoulder, and lycra workout shorts (in neon colors, of course).
  • We all had the hot new gadget, the Walkman personal cassette player, and wore it at the gym or while jogging.
  • Remember Nautilus? 24-Hour Fitness, LA Fitness, and Jack LaLanne’s European Health Spas proliferated. Jazzercise and racquetball were everywhere.
  • And throughout the decade, countless videos followed, from Richard Simmons to Debbie Reynolds.

Where We Are Now

We’ve all come a long way since then. Fitness has improved and extended millions of lives.

More people over 50 are returning to exercise or discovering it for the first time. They want to feel better, move better, and look better – which defines “fitness over 50” for plenty. They know that exercise simply must be a part of a healthy lifestyle.

They’re coming to see us every day and loving it.

So, what are you waiting for? Another 40 years? Keep going!

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

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