Aging, Exercise, and Your Contentment With Life

Looking back on my assumptions about what life would be like in my sixties, I must say that I am pleasantly surprised.

It’s about how great I feel at this age!

When contemplating how I might feel as a senior citizen from the vantage point of my young adult years, I imagined a life lived within the confines of a worn out aching body constantly reminding me of my years.

Thankfully, that just isn’t so!

I share this with you not from a sense of superiority, but with a purpose of encouragement.

It’s not too late to begin your lifestyle journey that includes proper nutrition, exercise, and a focus on wellness.

Challenging the assumption that people over 65 are generally a happy group, a 15 year study just released cites depression as a pervasive reality for many. “Key factors in these increases (of depression) include levels of physical impairment, the onset of medical conditions, particularly chronic ones, and the approach of death.”


My emphasis here is on the preventable status of ‘levels of physical impairment’ from which so much misery arises.

Your investment in your physical well being directly effects your happiness!

Contrast that gloomy outlook on living with what proactive looks like in this article from the Washington Post: ‘You can be a high level athlete whether you’re 20 or 70. These competitors are proof.’

(Be sure to read this. I can see in my stats if you did!)

As we approach this season which highlights gratitude and contemplation, make the decision to take charge of what you can change, and give yourself the gift of better health and more contentment along the way!

To Your Health and Fitness,

Steven Siemons

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Barefoot Running at 63… Almost.

(My new every day shoe–I love the Glove! Notice in the workout photo the shoes I used to wear).

The ‘almost’ included in the title means two things: first, I’m not really running barefoot – – the Merrell Vapor Glove 2 is as close as I get to that; and second, it’s actually treadmilling that I do. My interval training does include peaks at 10 on the treadmill, but real runners are outside, right?

This is not a paid endorsement in any fashion, but these have become what I wear all the time now. Everywhere!


(Black/Gray pair is casual dress and Orange/Gray goes to the gym)

How It All Started

While enjoying a nice evening with the kids about a year ago, I picked up from their coffee table a book about barefoot runners. I was captivated not only by the incredible capabilities of the long distance runners described, but I experienced a personal revelation regarding a debilitating problem I had with shin splints forty years earlier. It occurred when I was participating in Platoon Leaders Class, which is the officer candidate school for the Marines. The intensity and duration of the training left no time for recuperation. The pain that developed in the front of my legs made walking barely tolerable. Never had I given thought to the biomechanics of running before, and even after the incident I simply forgot about it…until I read in this book about the significance of landing on the front of the foot while running. All along I had been slapping the front of my feet on the ground by landing heel first. That severe pain in my shins during my training in Quantico made sense now.

It also made sense that after sheltering my feet and all their accompanying ligaments and tendons in elaborate foam containers (shoes) all these years, I should ease into it.

I don’t ease very well. Poring over the Amazon reviews regarding minimalist running shoes, I decided on the Merrells. I bought what the marathoners and trail runners liked. That simple.

Their cautionary words in the reviews were correct – – it definitely takes getting used to. And it won’t happen fast if you’re used to nothing but foam or stiff leather containers surrounding your feet. What you will find is that you have to learn to walk differently, paying attention to the landing of your steps. If that sounds like a bothersome and trivial task to you, don’t spend the money. These shoes will not let you bang your heel down. (Actually they will, but once you do, you’ll try hard not to do it again). In the beginning I thought that they were simply too minimalist – – that I wouldn’t be able to get used to them. Now, I have no problem running on the street and wearing them all day long. They are extremely light weight, flexible and breathable. It is this fit and flexibility that distinguish them from any type of padded foam or thin leather sole shoe. And they really do fit like a glove – – with an arch that follows the exact upward curve and shape of my foot.

The Net Effect

I never had calves before. Of course I did, really, but you just couldn’t see them. Not only have I noticed muscular development, but undoubtedly my ankles as well as my feet have become stronger and more flexible. I enjoy feeling how my feet touch the ground as I walk, and sensing the pressure of the ground beneath me.

Sound a bit strange? It would to me if I hadn’t experienced it myself.

If you give the Merrells a try, pay attention to the size. My size in any other shoe is 11.5, but the Merrells that fit me are 10.5.

To Your Happy Feet,

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog
Footnote Update 9/9/15— check out this NY Times article on the importance of ankle strength as we age:

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

“No” on Diet, “No” on “Ultimate”– “Yes” on Lifestyle!


In a newly blended fashion, ideas that have appeared before must reappear. Amidst the daily bombardment of ultimate arms, abs, and glutes; and the never-ending debate over the perfect diet details, there’s just one concept overriding everything.


It’s a commitment to yourself.

It’s a belief in yourself as worthy of good health.

It’s the core value from which all else follows–which justifies and simplifies the hard work and time it takes to be what you’ve envisioned.

All the rest will follow.

To Your Healthy Lifestyle,


The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Join me on the G+ Community ‘Senior Fitness Issues and Ideas’

Aging And Overtraining: Creating My Own Pain

(Rear/side view of left shoulder, showing beneath the deltoid muscle)

Making excuses to myself that it’s simply the effects of aging isn’t working anymore. Life is more complicated than that.

There is a certain compulsion to my behavior.

“All too often, however, a person who suffers from impingement syndrome is noncompliant with appropriate rehabilitation, and the condition becomes chronic, leading to permanent degenerative changes and dysfunction.”
(From the American College of Sports Medicine’s ‘Resources For The Personal Trainer’)

The pain in and around my shoulders is simply a matter of beating up my shoulders to the point of receiving the critical signals from my body that rest and recovery is, at this point, mandatory. I don’t believe that I’m in the ‘permanent degenerative changes and dysfunction’ stage, but in reality, only time will tell. The reference in the quote above to ‘noncompliance’ involves, among other things, ignoring the need for recuperation time. Only sufficient rest over time accomplishes healing. And patience is, for most of us–most of the time, in short supply.

The picture that appears above, showing me doing one of my favorite back exercises, essentially depicts the problem–not the movement itself, but the imbalance of too much self-induced stress and insufficient recuperation. It was great to be hoisting up the 90 pounders, but I’ve known for a while it was a bit painful and not real smart–remember that compulsion?

If you train for vanity–
and don’t lie to me on this one–you drive yourself crazy when you miss a workout; or when you’re not seeing the changes in the mirror that you think you deserve.

Being older doesn’t change that inner desire to look good…but aging necessitates some serious mental adjustments along the way. You’ll understand this better in a few years, just like Mama said.

The same thing can happen at any age, actually–‘No Pain, No Gain’ has a nice rhyme and is very motivational, but your body gives you signals that you ignore at your own risk.


(The rotator cuff, formed by the muscles from the scapula attached to the upper end of the humerus)

My ‘off’ time will be considerable; not a total break from training, but a totally different program shifting to an aerobic emphasis with much lighter and easier lifting moves. I know that my strength gains will diminish, as well as some muscular bulk.

But fitness is not simply about size and personal strength gains; it’s a Lifestyle–and health and fitness has always been a part of my psyche. Fitness, at this moment, means repair and recuperation.

From the general audience I expect no sympathy. Overtraining was my choice and I got what I deserved.

Those of you who get serious when you put on the gloves and thrive on the sound of the bar hitting the rack; you understand my frustration.

Moderation is good and effective for all your fitness needs.

Train smart so you can train longer,


The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Join me on the G+ Community ‘Senior Fitness Issues and Ideas’

Mobility: Movement Is Life; Longer Life.


"These findings suggest that any self-reported knee pain in osteoarthritis, as opposed to hand pain, seems to be a crucial factor leading to early cardiovascular mortality and is likely to be linked with decreased mobility,…”

This is the conclusion of a study involving middle age women over a period of 22 years…

First, let me confess at the outset that at this point in my early sixties, joint pain and stiffness are virtually nonexistent for me. For this fact, I am grateful. The biggest issue is the joint of my big toe – – it can be extremely sensitive and jolt me with shooting pains if abused. Those of you who know what burpees are will be able to understand that I have to gently get into the push-up position as opposed to hitting the deck in a hurry. So working out and training in Senior years involves various techniques of accommodation, which in itself is a topic to address at another time – – but its main component is adaptability.

I share these seemingly minor details with you to let you know that I am in no way capable of understanding all the issues surrounding the debilitating pain and discouragement that are a part of living with severe arthritis. So that when I discuss below the critical need for movement and mobility exercises, do not think that I underestimate the degree of difficulty on the part of those of you who are afflicted. But in spite of your difficulties, any movement you can accomplish to improve over time must be attempted to the best of the abilities that you have, or those abilities, as well, will continue to diminish.

‘Use It Or Lose It’ is true regardless of your level of fitness; regardless of how you feel.

Even in the severest cases of rheumatoid arthritis, movement and exercise – – however modest and limited it may be – – is recommended! The resulting lack of mobility experienced by the study participants noted above, was, most likely, the prime factor in their decline of overall health. Eventually, the lack of cardiovascular exercise takes its toll, frequently, in the sudden and catastrophic form of cardiac arrest–a bit too late, by this time, to make good on intentions to start effective exercise solutions. And the imperceptible changes taking place in the structure of your bones due to neglect doesn’t hit home until the doctor describes your skeleton as “brittle.” This can be a devastating word when you contemplate its implications.

Starting on the road to pain relieving medications is always a complicated journey.

I’ve shared my experience of being hospitalized from the effects of NSAIDS:

Every chemical that you put in the body– even simple over the counter medications–changes the body chemistry. Sometimes, especially with continued use, there are unintended results that are not recognized until years later. You can only make the best choices for yourself by trying to learn and understand these consequences. Undoubtedly, you will need to make these choices regarding your well being which always have the tradeoff issues of potential benefits vs side effects. Do not ignore this dynamic. If it’s recommended that you need a CT scan, for instance, you’re trading off your body’s exposure to harmful radiation – – sometimes hundreds of times the exposure of an X ray–for the information gleaned from the greater detail revealed in the CT scan. Is that tradeoff worth it? Don’t surrender the analysis to your doctor. Healthcare is a business and the CT scanners generate income – – that’s life (and death)! See this from Consumer Reports:

Individual differences regarding the perception of pain and the functional solutions available vary enormously.

I say this to highlight the fact that the answers to the complications of aging are going to be different for everyone. Pain is an intense and personal experience that will drive us each to our own individual coping techniques. Indeed, there is no doubt that movement–however you accomplish it – – is much more than mobility… it is life itself!

To Your Health and Fitness,


The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Join me on the G+ Community ‘Senior Fitness Issues and Ideas’

The Myth of ‘Senior Fitness’: It’s Simply Business As Usual!


You’d think that given the title of my site, I’d be revealing all the ‘secrets’ regarding golden years goodness.

No Secrets.

Same page, different day, as they say.

Lest you’re tempted to cut it short because I have no secrets to reveal, keep reading, my friend, because you need this.

Here are a couple of observations from this writer who has exercised consistently for five decades and wants you to ‘get it’:

1. You’ve always needed what exercise does for the human body, but now you seriously need it!
You may remember that just a few years ago you were able to do things that you can’t do now; or are now accomplished with a much greater degree of difficulty. We learned back in the 60’s (you’ll never forget that decade) how quickly the body changes without being exercised when studies were done to determine the effects of inactivity on potential astronauts. We were astounded by how quickly even a top flight athlete could be weakened by being confined to a bed for extended periods. Nothing’s changed since then, except the size of the American waistline and the incidence of diabetes for lack of activity and bad eating habits. Muscles, bones, the brain and your heart still respond positively to the positive stresses of exercise. Don’t fret over what you didn’t do; but by all means, don’t continue to make the same mistake of the sedentary killer lifestyle. ‘Use or Lose’ has never changed and it will not during the course of your lifetime.

2. It wasn’t easy then, and it’s certainly not easy now!
After all these years of frequenting major health clubs, I can authoritatively say that Seniors are, and always have been, conspicuously absent. Sad, because we are the ones most in need of stronger bones and muscles simply from a standpoint of personal survival! If you can’t perform the ‘Activities of Daily Living’ you’re not capable of living independently. Simple and scary. What are you waiting for? Now you’ve got to deal with the feelings of fear and self consciousness of ‘not fitting in’. But those were the same issues that have always kept you on the sidelines, right? Find a friend or a group that will finally help you take the important first fitness step!

Please Do It Now,


The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Join me on the G+ Community ‘Senior Fitness Issues and Ideas’

If We’re Admitting Now That Cholesterol Isn’t Bad, Why Are We Cheering The New Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs?


I will give you the answer to that question with another question: What else can drug companies do after investing so much money in research and development on cholesterol-lowering drugs?

Economics 101: Sunk costs are irrelevant…if you’re an economist, that is.

The only way to recover costs is from a fantastic marketing and sales blitz, right? You’ve got it!

Title of article:

“New cholesterol drugs from Amgen, Sanofi cut heart risks in half.”

Paragraph five in article:

“Neither study was designed to prove conclusively how the drugs affect heart disease risk, Nissen said. Definitive studies, under way for both drugs and expected to conclude in the next few years, may not yield as dramatic a benefit, he said.”

Does this make marketing sense to you? I’m sorry, I mean, does this appear to be common sense to you? A bold claim regarding the efficacy of a drug– enabling FDA approval that, in reality, won’t be scientifically validated for years to come (if ever).

Read the news release for yourself:

Let’s see… but we’ve just found out that all those studies we trusted years ago were questionable– and the conclusions drawn from them are now understood to be false.

But let’s get one thing straight if we’re going to keep aggressively trying to lower cholesterol in the face of our latest admission of catastrophic information failure: SHOW ME REAL DATA FROM UNBIASED TRUSTED SOURCES this time…with logical conclusions, please.

That’s not too much to ask after cajoling the public into consuming billions of dollars of pharmaceuticals to solve a problem that didn’t exist in the first place.

You knew the real data all along, didn’t you?

Tell It To Me Like It REALLY Is,

UPDATE 3/17 The stock prices rise on profit expectations on these new drugs…exactly as planned:
PS Sometimes drugs are found to have a particular utility by accident. Viagra was developed after noticing a very useful common side effect among males during the testing of the drug as a possible heart medication. So, maybe there are marketable ‘side effect’ possibilities for these cholesterol hopefuls. Stay tuned.

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Join me on the G+ Community ‘Senior Fitness Issues and Ideas’