Long and Winding Fitness Road

Long and Winding Fitness Road

Here’s the truth: Fitness takes time and effort for the rest of your life. There is no pill or machine that makes it faster or easier.

Every day we’re barraged with ads promising fast results in fitness or weight loss: “6 Pack Abs In Six Weeks,” “The Magical Plant from Brazil That Burns Off Ten Pounds in Two Weeks,” “The Ten Easy Steps to Playboy Bunny Buns,” or “The Movie Star’s Secrets to Skinny.”

In fact, fitness is all about permanent lifestyle changes. You exercise almost every day and you avoid foods that will undermine your efforts. It’s all about your effort, discipline, patience, and will power. This is a double challenge because we live in a society that is structured to reinforce us to sit in chairs and consume deadly industrial foods.

stretchWhen you exercise, you make changes to your muscles and metabolism. There can be quick results – usually blood sugar drops during exercise, blood pressure drops immediately after, endorphins and other nourishing factors are released in your brain.

But the deep, lasting changes due to exercise take time. Muscles develop slowly by day in, day out through repetition that tears down then builds up at a cellular level. New neural patterns are formed in the central nervous system. New blood vessels form to deliver nutrients. Gradual hormonal adjustments get made to improve your body’s ability to burn far for energy. Additional red blood cells develop to aid in transferring oxygen to muscle.

Biology has its own clock. There is no way to hurry this process with any commercial gimmicks. But it works, if you give it a chance.

If you’re older, you know that time flies. Be patient, stick with it. If you make exercise a habit, before you know it, you’re fit.



Some days maybe you don’t have the time or desire to do a “formal” workout, the kind where you go to a gym for a long, sweaty exercise routine or even take a walk. Good news, you don’t need to if  you don’t want to, and can still work towards getting and staying fit. Just do a few mini-workouts at home.


Mini-workouts can be spread throughout the day and can be only 2-5 minutes long. You don’t need to put on exercise clothing or go outside. Mini-workouts can be used during commercial TV breaks, when you need to get up from your chair for a while, or as short escape from gawking at Facebook. No equipment is required.


Mini-workouts count. The Centers for Disease Control recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise. That’s just 30 minutes a day. This time doesn’t need to occur all in one bout of exercise. Do three 5 minute workouts per day and you are half way there.

Doing mini-workouts you can flex and strengthen various joints and muscles just like you would in a gym, so you can exercise your whole body.

If you are newer to exercise, they are an excellent way to get your body accustomed to physical exertion. In a mini-workout, you’ll get used to getting your pulse up briefly and breathing harder, without getting exhausted.

Mini-workouts are actually recommended for persons trying to build bone strength if they have osteoporosis. Research shows frequent, short cycles of loading (for example, light jumping 5 up to 50 times) increases bone strength more than a long exercise session.

Here’s a mini-workout. Start slowly to get warmed up. As you get stronger, you can add more exercises, like forward and side lunges.

  • Jump lightly on the balls of your feet for 1 minute.
  • Do 10-20 wall pushups
  • Do 10-20 half or full squats
  • March in place, lifting your knees high for 1 minute

A mini-workout is that simple. Do this three for four times a day and you will get huge health and fitness benefits.







Lisa’s Dynamic Warm-Up

Lisa’s Dynamic Warm-Up

In The Younger Games, we always do some type of dynamic warm-up. It offers many more benefits than the old-fashioned static stretching which many Boomers learned in high school phys-ed classes, like bending over to touch the toes.

A dynamic warm-up consists of exercises that move multiple joints in multiple-planes while stretching multiple groups of muscles. A dynamic warm-up itself is exercise that also prepares you for more exercise by warming up the fluids lubricating the joints, moistening tendons, ligaments and connective tissue, and elevating your heart breathing rate.

Below is an excellent dynamic warm-up routine by Lisa Huck, a functional training specialist in California.

Try some of these yourself. Start slowly to get used to them, then as you loosen up and feel more confident, you can put more energy into them like Lisa does and gradually increase your range of motion.

These types of routines can be used on their own when you don’t have a lot of time or are not feeling super energetic. Although you don’t use any gym paraphernalia, don’t be fooled. This type of movement has health benefits for your entire body because you are stimulating your circulatory and lymph systems, as well as massaging internal organs.

If fact, often just getting started with a dynamic warm-up gets you in the mood for more challenging exercise.




How to Avoid SAD Endings

How to Avoid SAD Endings

We’ll be again presenting the two-part “Living Well for Boomers and Beyond” on March 6 and 7 from 6 pm – 7:30 pm at the Bend Senior Center. Expect it to be informative, eye-opening, practical, and maybe even life-changing.

The first session will focus on food, including discussions about some of the issues pinpointed in this excellent summary from Authority Nutrition charting the disastrous changes in the Standard American Diet (SAD) that have caused an epidemic of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer – all major killers of older adults. More importantly, we’ll explore exactly how to escape SAD and minimize or eliminate the deadly impacts it has on our health.

To register, go to Bend Parks and Recreation.

Livin’ La Vida – Paleo Style

Livin’ La Vida – Paleo Style

When you have an hour, listen to this excellent podcast by Chelsea Prather and Katie Haldiman in which they discuss the role of real food in the prevention and treatment of the five major causes of mortality. The podcast is from Jimmy Moore’s The Livin’ La Vida Low Carb Show, an excellent source for cutting-edge information on nutrition and health.

Because Chelsea and Katie are both registered nurses and Certified Nutritional Therapists, they bring unique expertise and perspective that is especially pertinent to Boomers because one works in a hospital emergency room and the other in assisted living facilities. And both are champions of living a Paleo lifestyle to support health, regardless of age.


Paleo is a term that is very often misunderstood. When Cascade Boomer Fitness does our workshop on “Living Well for Boomers and Beyond,” we get asked questions like, “What is this Paleo meat diet?” In this podcast you’ll learn how Paleo is much more than just a “diet” and it’s more about eating real, whole foods that have not been processed. And the typical Paleo plate has many more vegetables than meat.

This podcast provides you a better understanding of how important the health of your gut (the intestinal tract) is to overall health. They explain the very dynamic relationship between what you eat, your gut, and every organ system in your body!

Older adults need to hear what these two nurses have to say. As we age, the diseases they discuss become more prevalent, changes in our intestinal tracts make proper digestion more challenging, and we become more dependent on expensive prescription drugs with negative side-effects. It doesn’t have to be this way. Chelsea and Katy make a strong case that the better food choices can frequently alleviate or eliminate problems like high blood pressure and acid reflux.

For those who live in Bend, Chelsea’s Whole Story Nutrition will be offering a series of four 90-minute weekly sessions at COCC in April 2014. Go to the Real Food Academy for details.

Going for Gold in ADLs

Going for Gold in ADLs

In the  TV build-up to the Olympics, they’ve been showing some of the rigorous training regimens these elite athletes follow to prepare for their specific events. As exercisers and trainers, we can only shake our heads at how challenging many of the exercises are that they do almost daily. Of course, there’s a payoff – they result in remarkable physical achievements in competition, maybe a gold medal, fame and glory.

As older adults, we can learn from the Olympians’ dedication to training and practice. We won’t be training for flying through the half pipe on a snowboard or hurtling down a mountain at 80 mph. What we’re training for is more basic and important – to preserve and improve our strength, flexibility, and agility to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), the physical tasks of everyday life.

This morning Bend woke up to about 18″ of fresh snow. To get to the grocery store, we’d have to dig out. As I started shoveling, it was deja vu all over again. During “The Younger Games” workshop just a few days earlier, we practiced squats to lift weight while protecting the lower lumbar spine, rotating the upper torso with the oblique muscles while holding a 10 lb sandbell, curling resistance bands with our biceps, and throwing a sandbell with force at a target a few feet away. Every one of those exercises enabled me to move that snow and, better yet, not feel tired and sore afterwards.


Another 6 week, 12 session “The Younger Games” workshop begins March 4. Go to Bend Parks and Recreation for more information and to register.

Cascade Boomer Fitness can’t promise you’ll win a gold medal in the Olympics, buy you’ll be an ADL champion every day of your life.


If you want to see what an Olympian’s workout is like, watch the film “In the Moment” that follows Lindsey Vonn, one of the greatest American skiers of all time who is sitting out the Sochi Olympics due to an injury.


The White Dragon Revisited

The White Dragon Revisited

With the cold air and falling snow, it’s easy to want to go into hibernation in your house or go the gym and jump on a treadmill. But for people who love to walk or run outdoors, for whom just being outside is a joy, there’s no good reason not to lace up the shoes and go out the door. The Norwegians have a saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.

So we just need to make some adjustments when exercising on snow. Below is a whimsical story written a few years ago by one of the trainers at Cascade Boomer Fitness, when he blogged as the Tuff Old Jock, that has some good tips to remember when the snow comes, whether your run or walk.

The White Dragon 

Early one morning, I was waiting at a gate in Denver International Airport for a flight to San Francisco that had been delayed because of snow. To pass the time, I was on my computer looking at running and exercise blogs. A man, whose hair was tied back in a long, dark braid, sat down beside me. He was wearing a black North Face jacket over some kind traditional garb tied by a colorful sash at his waist. He had knee-high boots that appeared to be made of wool.

snow leopard

I noticed he had a pair of brand new trail shoes tied to the handle of a brown canvas carry on bag. “You a runner?” I asked. His age was hard to guess. His Asian face was ruddy, lustrous, and weathered. His eyes, surrounded by deep crows feet, sparkled like black diamonds.

He nodded with a warm smile.

I asked him where he was going. “Home. Tibet,” he said.

“Wow, I bet that’s a tough place to run. The altitude,” I said.

He shrugged. “High, no bad. White Dragon. Yes.”

I thought about what he said. “White Dragon?” I asked, not understanding.

He grinned and pointed to the snow swirling around the airplane outside beyond the window.

“Ah, yes, now I understand. Yeah, snow can be tough.”

“White Dragon,” he offered.

I asked him what he meant. In his broken English he explained that his ancestors taught him that there is a White Dragon. Sometimes it lives in the sky, but when winter comes, it lives beneath the surface of the earth. Snow is its skin. I asked him to tell me more.

He paused as if to see if my interest was sincere, then continued. He said the White Dragon has laws. If you say a quick prayer to it before each outing and heed them , you can run safely all winter long.

First Law: White Snow Dragon Hides
There’s always some mystery when you run on snow because you don’t always know what is really under your feet. The snow may be thin, but hiding a layer of ice. Deep snow can conceal rocks, roots and curbs. Start slowly to get the feel of the snow and surface underneath, watch for lumps and dimples where you are about to step. Run more upright with short strides and come down more flat-footed than you do in dry conditions.

Second Law: Stay Quiet So White Snow Dragon Sleeps
Be light on your feet. Float like you are on thin ice. You will not slip as much, or break through hard crust. If the snow is more than a couple of inches deep, you take one successful stride at a time, not reach too far or gain the high forward momentum you attain in summer. If you slip, forward momentum will turn you into a comic figure.

Third Law: Fight White Dragon, White Snow Dragon Wins
You cannot overpower snow. If you push too hard with your foot, you will not turn the force of your muscles into kinetic energy, but dissipate it in the snow. That’s tiring and why when you run on snow you will never run the same distance as fast as you do when its dry. Plan on a shorter, slower run. If even the most powerful athlete tries to attack a run in deep snow , s/he will collapse with exhaustion within minutes. Relax and submit.

Fourth Law: White Dragon Centers All Beings
Find your balance by running with a low center of gravity. Stay upright in your core. If you are on ice or on a steep hill, keep your hands low and slightly away from your sides. The steeper, the lower. Enjoy the burn in your lower legs and ankles as they seek to find balance on an unstable surface.

Fifth Law: If White Dragon Wakes, Kiss the Earth
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you will fall. Keep your upper body strong so you can use your slightly bent, outstretched arm to soften the impact of the ground and roll to minimize the shock to any one part. If you don’t hurt too bad, have a good laugh.

I had many more questions to ask him about the White Dragon, but they called to start boarding his flight. What about gear? What about different types of snows? What about wear and tear on the knees from the unstable surface? Are there exercises to prepare for being on snow?

I stood up to thank him for his advice and shake his hand. He was short, but sinewy and powerfully built.His grip was firm. I glanced down at the trail shoes dangling from his bag. They were heavily lugged and had a high cuff, perfect for the deep snow where he was headed.

I thought about giving him a tip that if he was going to run on ice a lot, he might want to get some 3/8 sheet metal screws and insert them around the outer edges of the shoe, maybe set them in a little Shoe Goo. That works as good a studded snow tires. But then I realized he might not have access to a hardware or running store, besides I didn’t really have anything to teach him he didn’t already know, and just said, “I hope you have many happy miles in those shoes and don’t wake the White Dragon.”

He smiled. “Oh, no, I sell shoes to tourist in Kathmandu for fifty bucks. Use these,” he said pointing to his wool boots with a Yak hide sole. “They hold on like snow leopard,” he said, walking away with one arm held high, his fingers spread wide.

As he disappeared down the jetway, I was still smiling.