98 and Going Strong

98 and Going Strong

Sometimes all the promises about the health benefits from exercise can sound too good to be true. But as you’ll see in this inspiring article by Jeanne Erdmann about her 98-year-old mother, it is true.

star at 98

We can all benefit from this 98-year-old woman’s shining example, even if we’re decades younger.  Erdmann never reveals her mother’s name, just refers to her as Mom, so we will too. So here are few things to learn from Mom:

Always Be Active
Note Mom started going to the gym later in life, although she had always been very active when not seated at her desk job. She mowed the big lawn at her house. Activities of daily living, like housework and mowing the lawn, are exercise. Don’t outsource opportunities to strengthen your own body.

Keep Your Entire Body Strong with Resistance Exercise
The biggest theat to mobility from aging is loss of muscle mass and strength, which leads to frailty. Mom is a living testament that you can slow this process by doing resistance exercise, aka strength training. In addition to enabling you to do the things you enjoy with your family and friends, it will protect you from falls and speed-up recovery if you do. You don’t need to worry that you’ll bulk up like a NFL football player. What you don’t want is to be weak.

Don’t Let Pain Stop You
Mom survived bouts with cancer and falls and broken bones. Like all older people, she has osteoarthritis in some joints. All these times she could quit. But she works through the pain because exercise will lessen the pain or keep it from getting worse. (Of course, get the green light from your medical provider or physical therapist.) When the pain in Mom’s knee is especially bad, with the help of her personal trainer she just works around it with other exercise. Mom’s not letting pain disable her.

Get Help from Professionals Who Know and Value Exercise
Mom is very lucky to have the support of her family. Just as important are the medical professionals and personal trainer. The medical professionals understand Mom needs to take some calculated risk. Training to gain strength in the muscles that protect her spine is worth the risk of loading her spine with physical forces. Her trainer has a good handle on an appropriate amount of weight, number of repetitions, etc. to keep her as safe as possible, while also challenging her to get stronger.

From watching her Mom age, Erdman discovered: “We greatly underestimate the sheer physical strength we’re capable of achieving at any age.”

What are you capable of achieving? To be more like Mom would be a great resolution for 2014 for everybody.

Cascade Boomer Fitness Wishes You a Happy and Strong New Year!




Preparing for The Younger Games

Preparing for The Younger Games

Yesterday a great group of exercisers gathered for to test some of the routines planned for The Younger Games. It was challenging to get pictures because everyone was moving so much of the time.

The Younger Games emphasizes having fun and group activities, but is also has purpose – developing agility, dynamic strength, and balance. In the picture below (left to right), Lynn, Ed, Dennis, Brenda, Kris, Dave, and Cynda are at circuit stations. Each of the 12 sessions in The Younger Games incorporate a circuit  to help develop and strengthen your entire body.

Younger Games practice

We’ll be practicing agility because it’s really important for older adults. Many of us tend to slow down and do little else but walk. But real life presents plenty of obstacles to get over, around, and through. One of the coolest discoveries in fitness for older adults is that we can safely do much more than we even know.


We’ll also be doing unique activities to integrate balance, strength, and mobility. When was the last time you dribbled or played catch with a ball like in the picture below? They are doing different ball passes while moving sideways. Before our session was over, we moved in every plane and direction.


The Younger Games will be offered at the Bend Senior Center twice this winter. The first six week session starts Jan. 23 and ends Feb. 27. The second six week session starts March 4 and ends April 10. The class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:15 am to 11:05 am.

Find out more and register at Bend Parks and Recreation.

Younger Games Bulletin

Please don’t hesitate to contact Cascade Boomer Fitness at 541-233-6717 if you have any questions.



Exercise as Medicine

Exercise as Medicine

Most of us know that exercise is good preventive medicine, that is, provides protection against heart disease and cognitive decline. What many do not realize is that a growing body of scientific evidence shows that exercise is also therapeutic medicine, in other words, can be a remedy for disease.

This is encouraging news for aging adults. Four out of five adults over 65 are under treatment for chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. As a result, although only 12 percent of the population, they use 34 percent of prescription medications and a similar share of over-the-counter products. This represents a huge personal cost as well as an unsustainable financial burden on Medicare.

NY Time health writer Gretchen Reynolds wrote and excellent article, Exercise as Potent Medicine, in which she discusses the findings of a new study in the prestigious British Medical Journal comparing the effectiveness of drugs versus exercise in the treatment of heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and diabetes. The results were stunning – in most cases, exercise was as effective as pills at reducing mortality.


The appearance of  Reynolds’ article about the study happened to coincide with the release of a plethora of other studies touting the preventive and curative power of exercise. Here’s a sampling from just a couple of days at Healthday, a site that provides credible updates for laypersons on current medical research:

Bones Benefit from Exercise after Breast Cancer, Study Finds
Light Exercise May Reduce Risk of Kidney Stones
Exercise Might Lift Libido in Women on Antidepressants
Exercise Might Ease Joint Pain Caused by Breast Cancer Drugs

The study cited in the NY Times article notes that exercise as medicine has been under-studied, especially what’s the best type and right dose for a particular disease. All the research money is concentrated in the hands of a few large pharmaceutical companies. What pharmaceutical manufacturer in their right minds would fund research into something that would compete against pills and is free?

We don’t need to wait for more research. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Let’s lace up our shoes and exercise.


Why “The Younger Games”

Why ”The Younger Games”

In January 2014, Cascade Boomer Fitness will conduct a six-week, 12-session workshop called “The Younger Games.” While the name is playful, as will be many of our activities, this workshop is about training for your long-term well-being.

New research has an eye-opening number for Boomers:

“Two-thirds of people over the age of 65 need help completing the tasks of daily living, either from special devices such as canes, scooters and bathroom grab bars or from another person…”


That’s an alarming trend when you consider that 10,000 Boomers a day turn 65. One of the researchers comments that “there are a lot of things that can be done, including making changes to the home, losing weight and using assistive devices. Medicare pays for most durable medical equipment, such as canes and walkers…” If this trend continues, will Medicare be able to afford this?

More importantly, who wants this kind of dependency and limits on their lives when they could easily be prevented? It doesn’t have to be this way. This article forgets to mention the most important single thing people can do for themselves to avoid disabilities and frailty - EXERCISE!

Aging is like being a pro athlete. You need to train to be able to stay in the game. Older adults, too, can train to develop and preserve strength, balance, mobility, and agility. With these physical skills, we won’t need walkers and homecare assistants.

That’s what The Younger Games are all about. While having some fun and meeting other people  with the same passions, you will learn how to safely and effectively exercise to be able to perform all the activities of daily living for the rest of your life.

Find out more and register at Bend Parks and Recreation.


Feet Matter

Feet Matter

It’s easy to forget your feet unless something goes wrong with them. However, they are one of the true wonders of the human body. As suspension systems go, which is how the foot functions if you think about it, the Golden Gate Bridge may be a lot larger, but the human foot is infinitely more complex and dynamic.

The foot/ankle complex includes 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They keep us upright, stable, and mobile. Too often exercisers ignore that this part of the body needs training just like all the rest. This is especially true for older adults in order to preserve precious the strength, agility, and power that resides in the lower legs. Remember that every movement, whether walking, opening a sliding door that is stuck, chopping wood, climbing stairs, or dancing originate from the feet.

A few times a week, take off your shoes try the easy sequence in the video below as you walk around the house.

In fact, it’s a good idea to leave your shoes off all the time you are in your house. Your foot/ankle complex and lower leg are rich with nerves and sensors which talk directly to the brain to keep you upright, safe, and headed in the direction you want to go. These nerves stay alive and awake by being used. Padded shoes have their place, but so does going barefoot.

A nice thing about being an older exerciser is you don’t need to bother with six-pack abs, tight buns, ripped biceps, and all the other superficial stuff you see in the early morning infomercials.  You can focus on what matters.

Your feet matter.





Get Up and Move

Get Up and Move

Perhaps the most significant recent discovery in the science of physical health is that simply being out of your chair and spending more time moving each day is more important than a 30-60 minute bout of formal exercise.

Joan Vernikos, PhD, a a physiologist who worked for NASA for decades, was one of the first to notice that  astronauts coming back from space had atrophied muscles and smaller bones. The longer they were in the weightlessness of space, the worse the losses. Vernikos realized these changes are similar to those seen in old people. She came to a startling conclusion that these changes were not due not to adding up years but the direct consequence of the sedentary lifestyles. You can read all about her discoveries in her book Sitting Kills, Moving Heals.


In line with her research, Mayo clinic physician James Levine founded a whole new discipline –  called inactivity studies – centered on sedentary living. Among other discoveries, he’s pinned down why too much continuous sitting is bad for our health – sitting stops electrical activity in the muscles and shuts down the production of the enzyme that removes fats from the blood. Hence the epidemic levels of cardiovascular disease in industrial societies in which a life of easy convenience equates to sitting in front of a TV or computer.

Recently we watched an excellent American Council on Exercise webinar by Carol Kennedy-Ambruster, a professor at the University of Indiana, who recently completed research, sponsored by the U.S. Navy, into the health effects of too much sitting. Research shows too much sitting is associated with a higher body-mass index (more fat, bigger waist),  poor blood sugar control and high fasting insulin (pre-diabetes), and elevated blood pressure.

Dr. Kennedy-Ambruster discussed a very interesting graph, shown below, that contrasts three lifestyles. The vertical axis on the left is energy expenditure, while the axis along the bottom is 24 hours. Busy Bob (red line) is very sedentary throughout his day. Health Heather (green line) is up a lot all day long, from early morning to bedtime. Running Roy (black) goes for a run during lunch, but is otherwise as sedentary as Busy Bob.


Guess what? Only Healthy Heather likely is getting the base level of activity needed to have a good chance to stay metabolically healthy. The body is designed to move a lot, each and every day. Dr. Kennedy-Ambruster believes that research will show the ultimate activity profile will be a combination of Healthy Heather and Running Roy – lots of movement all day long combined with a bout of formal exercise.

However, when it comes to metabolic health and prevention of chronic disease, there is no substitute for just being up on your feet, doing anything. It can be working around the house, standing at your desk at work, walking as much as possible from car to store/office, or getting up to change the TV channel.

First and foremost, fitness starts with just moving more. Just get up, and stay up.