World Class Falling

World Class Falling

Look at this picture. You are in it, even though you may not realize it. Notice something about the player in the red jersey in the lower left? Look at his right arm.

soccer

He is making a controlled fall to the ground. To reduce the impact to the hip, he has reached down to the ground. The elbow is slightly bent. Watch any sport where an athlete is falling and you’ll see this posture. Below is NBA star Lebron James making the same move.

lebron

So what does this have to do with you? Odds are 100% you’ll fall. It may not be on the field in the World Cup or in an NBA game, but you’ll fall. Each year, one out of three people 65 years of age and older fall, and it is the major cause of injuries resulting in disability or death. Usually it happens at home, but can happen anywhere.

For these athletes, falling is inevitable. They will go down, and they must get up and play on. They are able to avoid serious injury because they train their bodies to absorb the force of the fall. In particular, their upper body and core strength acts like a spring to buffer the impact.

The falling posture you see in these athletes, where they are reaching out to the ground, is instinctive. All humans do it. Unfortunately, unlike these athletes, most people in adulthood don’t train to prevent injuries from falls. Older adults are more vulnerable to injury, especially fractures to the wrist and arm, when they instincitvely reach down because of a loss of muscle mass, due largely to inactivity, not just aging.

However, older adults can see the same results - fewer injuries from falling – by following the example of these athletes. Developing upper body and core strength doesn’t require hours of training, just a little time and effort. Here’s an excellent selection of exercises from the American Council on Exercise to get started with. Add in a few push-ups from the knees or against a wall. At Cascade Boomer Fitness, we do these types of exercises every day.

By regularly doing these, you’ll greatly increase your odds that if you go down, just like a world class athlete you’ll be able to get back up and play on.

 

 

 

Sweat: The Happy Drug

Sweat: The Happy Drug

Recently, a friend was feeling blue. She wasn’t sure why – caring for an elderly parent, hormones, fatigue? She’d just returned from a long road trip through beautiful, uplifting landscapes. Usually very upbeat, she found her mood puzzling.

She’s not alone. Presently, 1 in 4 women ages 50-64 are on an antidepressant. Use of tranquilizers is equally widespread.

One thing you had to wonder about was if her mood was related to the fact that other than some slow-paced hikes, she had not exercised much in almost three weeks. Prior to her trip, she exercised vigorously a few times a week, which helped maintain a very positive state of mind.

Below is a nice info-graphic showing the positive effects of exercise on the brain (don’t know why they stuck in antibodies other than to make the chart symmetrical). This is not speculation; numerous studies have confirmed each of these statements.

exercise-brain

The amount and timing of the release of these natural mood lifters resulting from exercise varies from individual to individual. However, for most people, they show up during or after moderate to intense level of exertion sufficient to result in sweating and light burning in the muscles.

Exercise is not a cure-all for every emotional wound and stressor that is part of the human condition. And sometimes, such as in the case of severe clinical depression, medication may be the only solution.

But there’s no doubt that exercise can help lift a dark mood. If you exercise regularly, you’ll find the presence of these sweat induced factors and neurotransmitters will reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of mood swings. You won’t need to depend on artificial drugs that are expensive and cause dangerous side effects, including addiction.

You may be sweaty, but you’ll be just like the song: Happy.

 

 

 

Food and Fitness

In our culture, obsessed as we are with body shape, we tend to think of food almost exclusively as it pertains to body fat and how we look in the mirror. However, for an exerciser, much more important is the critical role food plays in fitness, especially as it pertains to the cells inside your body.

Food has three main jobs during and after exercise: 1) to provide energy, 2) to counteract inflammatory responses that result from exercise, and 3) to provide raw materials for repairs to cells and tissues during recovery from exercise.

Veggie1

As to Food Job #1, most Americans don’t need to worry about consuming more energy.  Over 67% of us are over-weight and body fat is stored energy. The standard American diet (SAD) brims with excessive energy because we consume way too much sugar and refined carbohydrates in cheap processed foods that occupy over 85% of the shelf space in the standard chain supermarket.

As to Food Job #2, exercisers need to eat lots of whole fruits and vegetables. Mild inflammation is a natural side effect of exercise. When your body is stressed via running or resistance exercise, there is a breakdown in the muscle tissues, which is the soreness you feel a day or two later. Sensing this damage, the body’s immune system reacts just as if you fell down and scraped a knee. Whole fruits and vegetable are rich in complex compounds called phytonutrients that calm down inflammatory processes. Phytonutrients are absent from processed foods.

As to Food Job #3, exercisers, especially older adults who are already losing muscle mass due to aging and sarcopenia, also need to eat lots of protein, especially within the first two hours after a hard exercise session. Muscles are mainly water and protein. They recover from exercise stress when the blood stream delivers the amino acids contained in high protein foods to the damaged muscle site, making the muscle stronger than it was before exercise.

Eat to thrive, not just survive.

 

 

 

 

 

Drink, Drink, Drink

Drink, Drink, Drink

The hot switch is about to flip on, bringing long days of sunshine that you dreamt of all winter as you were gutting it out in a dark, stuffy gym. Now you can exercise outside in the yard or a local park or on a bike or hiking trail. Ah, Summer! But remember to bring water along with sun screen.

Dehydration is a natural consequence of exercise, even inside, because body heat rises right along with your work rate. Mild dehydration is no big thing because we can get to water in a matter of seconds at home or in the gym.  But it can be a different story if you are outside under the hot sun, especially more than an hour, and become seriously dehydrated.

Older adults exercising outside are at an increased risk for dehydration because our kidneys do not regulate fluid retention as well, nor do we feel thirst as early as younger people as body fluid levels drop. Certain medications can also accelerate dehydration.

Your body cools by routing blood to 3 million sweat glands that are distributed along a fine network of vessels near the surface of the skin. This incredible control system tries to maintain the core body temperature at a normal 98.6 degrees F. Only 8 – 10 degrees above this magic number, you are delirious or dead due to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Everybody needs to know their warning signs(Read “Surviving the Extremes: What Happens to the body and Mind at the Limits of Human Endurance” by Kenneth Kamler, M.D He was the medical support on several expeditions into hostile environments. You’ll learn fascinating details about  the body’s response to heat as he tells the unlikely survival  story of an ultra-marathoner who got lost during a race in the Sahara Desert.)

However, older adults exercising outdoors need to be cognizant that although the combination of heat and  dehydration may not result in full-blown heat stroke, even mild dehydration can cause early symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, muscle cramps, and mental confusion. These don’t kill you, but they increase the odds of accidents and falling.

Sweating indicates your body is responding to internal heat stress, which is a good thing. But it comes at a cost. As you dehydrate, your blood plasma decreases, causing the blood to thicken which then causes your heart to beat harder. Your brain also signals your blood vessels to open as wide as possible to help dissipate the heat, which in turn  further taxes your heart to continue to deliver an adequate supply of blood to the muscles in need of oxygen and nutrients to fuel movement.

You cannot replace all the fluids at the same rate that they are lost. It takes time for anything you drink to transit through your gut and into your bloodstream. Even for young people, thirst lags dehydration.

For this reason, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 1/2 to 1 cup of water for every 15 minutes during exercise, whether you are thirsty or not. If you are exerting more than an hour, you can also add an electrolyte like a little sodium or potassium, which is basically what’s in sports drinks like Gatorade. Below you’ll find a recipe for a rehydrating drink that works and tastes great.

If you are seriously over-heating, drinking fluid alone will not lower your core body temperature. Research shows that even drinking ice-cold water has little impact, though it tastes good. The only way to lower your core temperature is to lower your metabolic rate, which means you either slow down or stop altogether.

Remember muscles, including your heart, are 70% water, so drink, drink, drink.

Electrolyte Rehydrating Sports Drink
2 cups coconut water
2 tablespoons sweetner of choice (alternatives to cane sugar include agave nectar, honey, stevia, and medjool dates)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Juice from 1/4 lime
Sea salt to taste
Blend all ingredients in a blender until well mixed.

 

What Real “Senior” Fitness Looks Like

What Real “Senior” Fitness Looks Like

When gyms and trainers put the word “senior” in the name of an exercise program, often what this means is a few non-challenging exercises done in slow motion. The underlying assumption in these programs is that all older adults are like fragile pieces of china ready to break at the lightest touch.

At Cascade Boomer Fitness, we take a totally different approach in The Younger Games. We assume older adults are capable of doing much more than they know. Not only that, they benefit immensely, both short and long-term, when they exercise in a way that challenges and advances all their physical abilities – cardio, strength, flexibility, and neuro-motor skills (balance, agility, power).

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In our facility, you’ll see people doing classic exercises to develop basic strength  using tools you find in all gyms, like elastic tubes, machines, dumbbells and stability balls.

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But The Younger Games goes beyond the typical group classes where you dance around with 2 lb. weights and do some half-squats and lunges. We believe the most important weight to master, both for the short and long-term, is your own body. So we add lots of drills to develop agility, coordination, balance and power. At Cascade Boomer Fitness, you’ll see people moving in lots of different ways and directions with dynamic exercises, starting with the warm-up.

We work on balance…

edbalance We do obstacle courses where we have to get up and over…

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Down, under, and up…

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We add some unique total body challenges that require balance, strength, coordination…No worries about falling – our floors are padded and safe.

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This isn’t just exercise for fitness. This is training for real life, all the physical challenges and obstacles we encounter in everyday life – getting over a pile of snow, sliding under a car to see what is rattling or to fetch a spoon your grandchild tossed under a table, pushing open a jammed door,  crawling on your hands an knees in smoke to escape a fire, lifting a bag of dog food, pushing your carry-on into the overhead bin on an airplane.

Try a FREE session of The Younger Games. Once you do, you’ll realize you’re not fragile. You can be stronger and more resilient than ever. And have fun doing it.