The Exercise Illusion: It’s Not About Burning Fat!

The amount of time, money, effort and disappointment that go toward attempting to ‘burn fat’ must be enormous. Perhaps if generators were attached to all the treadmills, stationary bikes and rowing machines, we could make a fair contribution to clean energy production.

I have chosen to make exercise an important part of my lifestyle because I enjoy it and the health benefits are irreplaceable; incapable of being achieved as well by any other means.

As an added benefit, the more energy you expend physically, the more calories you burn, right? So you keep chasing ‘The Ultimate Fat Burner’ workout, thinking that you simply haven’t found it yet.

That notion, I’m sure, factors mightily in the billions of dollars generated selling the prospect of a beautiful body.

Diet and exercise are always mentioned together when it comes to losing weight. One does compliment and enhance the effectiveness of the other; but diet is, by far, the most important component of weight loss and maintenance.

If your goal is to lose weight and the major focus is not on the quantity of food you are eating, your efforts are directed at lesser effective issues.

Multiple times weekly an important component of my exercise routine centers on cardiovascular/respiratory fitness. Using the stair step machine, I elevate my heart rate and respiratory tempo to the desired levels for twenty minutes. This type of exercise rejuvenates the body at the cellular level. That’s my purpose with this activity.

A side benefit is that it takes about 200 extra calories during the session to achieve my goal.

ONLY 200 calories?

Obviously, it makes much more sense to avoid the two cookies for desert that I can consume in about 30 seconds if my goal is to reduce calories.

If you don’t catch the significance; or you’re simply not willing to change your eating habits, you will always be on the unfortunate side of the equation.

There is not enough time in the day to work off calories that can be so quickly consumed in excess if you’re careless.

Focus On the Basics,

Steven
UPDATE: http://www.m.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20160128/exercise-diet-calories-weight?src=RSS_PUBLIC

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Your Retirement Account: How Much Is Your Good Health Worth?

You plan diligently for your financial future. You’ve calculated many different scenarios knowing exactly how it will unfold when you retire. Sometimes, however, you still worry about it.

Not only do these concerns naturally occupy our thinking, our perceptions have been unavoidably shaped by the many years of ads that have been poured into our daily existence.

Money is important…very important.

Most Important?

If you have everything, but lack the capacity to enjoy it, what have you accomplished?

Balance and moderation offer a different direction than excess and extreme.

Life is not ‘one size fits all’ because we all thrive on different stimuli. And we each have our own tempo along the way.

The ability to achieve it–whatever it happens to be; and enjoy it, greatly depend on your good health.

That makes it priceless, then, doesn’t it?

That’s really the reason, deep down inside, that you made those resolutions.

To Your Good Health,

Steven

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

Exercise Form: Why Attention To Detail Matters…

image

It’s the January Effect at the gym – – “Gympocalypse” as someone has described it, and I love the word–which means it’s the perfect time to remind beginners and old timers, as well, that form matters.

Good Form Matters Greatly!
To categorize it simply, your form of movement is either helping you or hurting you.

Let’s understand why…

1. Proper form and a full and safe range of motion produce maximum results.
Let’s talk about the ever popular barbell curl. Watch how many times guys load up the bar and turn it into a back exercise to handle more weight by jerking backwards. Many will perform a partial range of motion for the same reason. Hint: If you extend the arms all the way down, you can probably skip the set of preacher-bench curls. Proper form is more difficult to do… but isn’t that why you’re there? Isn’t that what your goal is… maximum workout per time spent?

2. Proper form means a safer workout.
This is a particularly important point for my Senior fitness friends. Whether you’re new to training or not, aging brings a heightened respect for the possibilities and consequences of injury. But don’t think, at any age, that sloppy movements can’t injure you… especially if you’re handling too much weight. This is the primary culprit. Give yourself the time you need to grow, and respect your body’s signals along the way.

3. Proper form takes discipline and effort to learn.
Although it appears a simple matter to pick up weights and move them around, those of you who train understand that even a slight change in grip can change the dynamic of the effect. As in any sport, you need to be a student, first and always. There are many details such as a grip change, elbow orientation on a triceps exercise, or angle of the feet on a squat, that won’t be a part of what you notice when you first step into the gym, but you need to learn about such things. How you learn them is up to you, but be sure to set your ego aside when necessary so that you can move forward faster.

You Already Train Hard; Keep It Safe, Too!

Steven

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

“Squat, Seniors… Squat!”

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Interested in continued mobility? Would you like to improve your odds of surviving an increasingly likely fall?

Let me make my case for you regarding the overwhelming importance of strengthening your hips.

And as you can see from the title, the best exercise to make sure your Senior years are safer is the squat.

All the following statements in bold print are quotes from the CDC website:

In 2010, there were 258,000 hospital admissions for hip fractures among people aged 65 and older.

More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, most often by falling sideways onto the hip.

One out of five hip fracture patients dies within a year of their injury.

One in three adults who lived independently before their hip fracture remains in a nursing home for at least a year after their injury.

In both men and women, hip fracture rates increase exponentially with age.

People 85 and older are 10 to 15 times more likely to sustain hip fractures than are those aged 60 to 65.

To help prevent falls, older adults can:
Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, AND THAT THEY GET MORE CHALLENGING OVER TIME.

The emphasis in the last point is mine, not in the original.

Here’s its importance: bones become denser in response to increasing stress loads, and lose density if not stressed. There’s no middle ground here; even the best drugs for treating Osteoporosis cannot do what weight bearing exercise can do.

Click on this YouTube link to see how it’s done:
How to do a Perfect Squat: http://youtu.be/zaC133_Frj0

Don’t waste another minute. Get it done!

Steven

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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If You’re Not Wearing Merrells, You’re Not Using Your Feet!

image “The human foot was made for running.”

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Thus concludes an analysis of runners during 64 days covering 4,500 kilometers- – hit the link below:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151130084002.htm

Your feet are mechanical marvels that deserve more respect.

Aside from keeping you upright, feet do fascinating things just getting you back and forth all the time.

I maintain, however, that when you box them up in layers of foam, fabric, and the latest shock absorbing technology, there are significant trade offs. Feet become more like immovable platforms hinged at the ankle than the magnificent transformers of energy that the forefoot allows them to be.

And this spring in the step is not just important to runners. It deserves your attention, as well, Seniors. “…older people, when they walk, take shorter steps than younger walkers, and rely less on the muscles around their ankles and more on the muscles around their hips to complete each stride than do younger walkers.”

A trained clinician can learn a lot about you simply by observing your gait.

A recent study concluded,
“To lessen the chance of such injuries (Achilles tendon) and potentially also maintain more of our speed as the years pass, he said, we probably should consider strengthening our calf and ankle flexor muscles. (The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends a variety of such exercises online.)
“Why Runners Slow With Age (And How Strength Training Can Help)”

http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/well/2015/09/09/why-runners-get-slower-with-age-and-how-strength-training-may-help/?

Last summer I posted about my experience becoming accustomed to the minimalist design of the Merrell Vapor Glove 2. There’s no endorsement connection here, just the honest revelation that wearing these shoes has significantly increased the strength of all aspects of my foot/ankle movement.
As mentioned before, it takes time to get used to being nearly barefoot and learning to step more intentionally.

But there is no doubt that you will accomplish exactly what the study recommends–stronger ankle flexor and calf muscles–simply by giving your feet the opportunity to function as they should!

Alright; I exaggerated somewhat in the title of this post…barefoot also qualifies as ‘using your feet’.

Important note: I am not suggesting that a forefoot landing is a better running style. There exists a never-ending debate regarding the significance of heel versus forefoot landing in real world running.

Either way, my point still remains; that using the feet every day as closely as possible to the feel of being barefoot strengthens all the supporting structures in a safe and very significant way.

Just what the doctor ordered!

To Your Functional Feet,

Steven

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

The 3 Most Important Additions To Your Exercise Program:

You’ve committed to making 2016 a pivotal year and have formulated and begun the perfect program.

Congratulations!

Now let’s get real about the most important additional ingredients that you might be neglecting. Don’t.

1. Sleep

You’ll die without sleep sooner than you’ll die without food. Obviously, I’ve never put that claim to the test, but the source is deemed reliable. Sleep deprivation has, for many years, been used as a form of torture. Are you getting the picture about the importance of sleep?  Those of you who think that your body and mind can do without enough of it have already given evidence that you’re not getting enough sleep.

When you’re stressing out the body with intense workouts, giving it sufficient time to recuperate is paramount. Ignore the stress long enough and your body will let you know unequivocally that rest is necessary.

2. Diet and Nutrition
It is much more efficient and effective to refrain from eating too many calories than to eat too much, figuring that you’re going to ‘burn it off’ later. Here’s why that mentality will sink your ship: those cookies that you ate for a snack in three minutes will take you at least forty-five strenuous minutes on the stair machine to break even.

Exercise increases the need for certain nutritional components, especially protein. It’s not necessary to go crazy over this because you only need what is sufficient. The same is true of other vital nutrients. What is not needed by the body is eliminated (or stored as fat if it has caloric value). Under certain circumstances, such as non water soluble vitamins, too much can be dangerous.

If you’re serious about fitness, you must be serious about nutrition; but not to extremes. Educate yourself as you go. Disregard all advice that leads you to think that you can ‘rapidly melt fat away’ or anything similar. Your metabolism simply does not work that way. Period.

3. A Supportive and Knowledgeable Training Partner
You can purchase one at your local gym in the form of a personal trainer but if you have a friend that fits that description, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many times I have shared my enthusiasm for fitness with friends by getting them started with the basics. Some gyms are sensitive about people in their facility instructing others, but I haven’t encountered any problems. Just to be clear, I am not a personal trainer and have only trained with friends and family who have asked.

During this past year I have benefited greatly by training together with a great friend who is accomplished in other areas of fitness, including Parkour. The opportunity to have a spotter for safety reasons, a coach correcting my form, and a friend encouraging me was critical to my improvement.

Keep It Going,

Steven

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

Your Fitness Goals for 2016–The Big 3 Should Be:

Let me help you prioritize your fitness goals for 2016.

To do this, I need to clarify some basic but critical assumptions. Given that my posts are directed at Seniors, I am going to speak bluntly about maintaining and strengthening that which aging is taking away from us. This is a very different mindset than pumping up the arms to edify the male ego as in younger years. Vanity has given way to functionality in the future which, statistically, is a rather large number of years; even for those of us in our sixties. These are years that we want to have the capacity to enjoy and not simply be held captive by bodies that are weak and decrepit. You can’t stop aging, but there’s nothing that can turn back the clock like fitness. Interested?

These goals are the clear winners because they involve the most critical body systems in order of priority–and their function responds dramatically to exercise.

1. Improve Cardiovascular Fitness
If the cardiac muscle doesn’t function, everything else is secondary, right?
An aerobic workout is the beginning of every one of my exercise sessions–elevating the heart rate for twenty minutes. For me, the machine of choice is the stair step machine using the constantly moving steps. It gets the heart rate up with no joint impact. (Your workouts will be much more intense if you refrain from leaning on the side rails, but be careful). This also functions to warm up the entire body efficiently, lessening the possibility of injury from my weight training that follows. Some will debate about whether or not you burn more calories by doing cardio first; or whether strength is diminished in lifting weights following cardio–these are trivial issues compared to the overall objective here.

At the same time you’re improving cardiovascular fitness, your respiratory system is being challenged to become more efficient, as well.

http://wp.me/p45KYd-fo

Even your brain is benefiting from the increased delivery of oxygen and nutrients.

http://m.fastcompany.com/3054847/work-smart/can-exercise-really-make-you-grow-new-brain-cells?partner=rss&utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=webfeeds

2. Increase Muscular Strength (Which, At The Same Time, Increases Bone Density)

Aging brings with it a natural loss of muscle mass and bone density. When inactivity is added to the equation, it adds up to a potentially dangerous time ahead. For Seniors, the likelihood of slip and fall incidents, as well as their catastrophic results, increases dramatically as we age. This, alone, is important enough to place progressive resistance exercise right after Aerobic fitness in the hierarchy of importance. It also greatly increases the likelihood of you maintaining your ability to walk and enjoy your independence. Beyond any doubt, the most important exercise you can do to maintain your hip and leg strength is the squat.
http://theseniorhealthandfitnessblog.com/2014/09/15/squat-seniors-squat/

3. Maintain/Increase Range of Motion

Stretching is a very confusing topic because it’s frequently viewed and studied in the context of how it effects muscular performance. Forget that. We’re interested in your range of motion because life becomes more dangerous as your ability to move diminishes. I’m talking about what happens when an elderly person, while navigating the stairs, and due to limited strength and range of motion, missteps with horrible consequences.

There’s a syndrome called’ frozen shoulder’ which, some theories suggest, has as a cause simply the lack of using the normal range of motion of which the shoulder is capable.

When you lack the ability to reach overhead into the cupboard, it’s not simply inconvenient, it can also become dangerous.

Increasing your range of motion through stretching exercises is best done when the muscles are warmed up from sufficient movement. I incorporate it at the end of my routine, making it a ‘calming down’ experience, as well.

The most important points:
Hold a constant tension for about 30 seconds. Switch sides, then repeat–slightly increasing the range as you repeat.
All movement is smooth and fluid–no bouncing or quick movements.
Let the muscles relax between sets.
Use the slow moves as a time to focus on breathing and relaxing as you stretch.

These goals can all be accomplished successfully in about forty minutes done three times weekly. There are many activities that you can enjoy and, at the same time, increase your level of fitness.

Whatever activity you choose, use this simple list of important fitness factors to see if you might benefit from an additional activity to fully achieve your important anti-aging activities!

To Your 2016 Fitness Goals,

Steven

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