Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good Exercises for Seniors

Who said that old age means you have to be bound to a chair? As an active senior, you are doing more good for your body than you know. Here are some ideas for the right exercises for your age.

stretchingImage via WikipediaExercising is good for us at any age. You can start right now and see the benefits in as little as a few weeks. Physical fitness can improve your balance, strength, flexibility and endurance. For a senior, this is monumental. When you are in good physical condition, you can maintain your independence and your joy of life.

Let’s talk about how to begin. Start slow but perform the appropriate exercises to bring the results you want and need.

Balance Exercises

Balance is important for many reasons. One, you will maintain a solid core which includes your abdominal muscles and your lower back muscles. You can walk up and down steps or over obstacles without wobbling or falling. Seniors are admitted to hospitals for fractured hips more often than you think. Try these exercises:

* Leg lifts – Stand next to a wall and abduct your leg (lift out to the side, away from the wall). You can also practice lifting one leg at a time while standing in the grocery line or at the bank.

* Standing – Can you stand from a seated position without using your hands? Squeeze your abs and use your legs to carry the majority of the weight.

Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises make muscles more supple and flexible. They can prevent injuries when exercising and help you recover faster. Include stretching with each activity, or just do a series of stretches daily.

* Tai chi – This type of exercise stresses smooth movements that combine stretching and balance.

* Yoga – This is not only for stretching but also to improve the mind/body connection and muscle tone.

Endurance Exercises

How much can you handle? Increasing endurance also increases cardiovascular fitness. You utilize oxygen better for improved focus and also a lower blood pressure and heart rate. Start off easy and increase your intensity incrementally to burn more calories.

* Swimming – This is good for seniors because it puts no pressure on the joints. You can still get a good workout of all the muscles and a strong core as you move through the water.

* Walking – This is one of the best overall exercises. You work your heart, lungs and all major muscle groups. Anyone can do it and you don’t need props.

* Biking – Biking can strengthen your legs. Choose a bike that supports your weight well and cushions pressure points.

Pulldown exercise, which strengthens the arms ...Image via WikipediaStrength Exercises

We naturally lose half a pound of muscle a year after age forty. To preserve and build muscle, incorporate strength training. Be careful to use light weights until you improve core strength and balance.

* Water aerobics – The water helps with core strength as you work to maintain balance. Also, use weights under water to work the muscles without joint pain.

* Dumbbell work – Use light weights with high reps for increased muscle toning. Watch your form to avoid injury.

Seniors can stay active with the right exercises. The above examples will help increase balance, endurance and strength, so your remaining years can be as healthy and happy as possible.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Benefits of Exercising Well

There are two main types of exercise that you can do - aerobic and anaerobic. The first one, aerobic, means with oxygen. Aerobic type exercise has an important distinction, it burns fat as the main fuel.

Fox and Haskell formula showing the split betw...Image via WikipediaAnaerobic on the other hand, burns sugar as the main source of fuel. Despite common myths, exercise doesn't have to be drastic in any way to provide massive benefits. Even if you choose light exercise, you will still burn fat.

Light exercise will clear out lactic acid, which is a waste product that accumulates in your muscles, and stimulate your cells to regenerate. To be sure that you are burning fat rather than sugar, it's very important to make sure that you are doing several things as you exercise.

The most important thing you can do as you exercise is breathe deep. You should always breathe in deep into your stomach through your nose, hold it for a few seconds and then exhale hard through your mouth.

Second, you should make sure that you exercise at a comfortable level. You should exercise at a level of 7 out of 10, and still be able to carry on a normal conversation while you exercise. You should do this for 45 minutes or so each day, then you'll begin to notice just how much your energy will explode.

Even if you don't think you have the time to exercise, rest assured that there is always time. If you have to, use some of the time that you would normally spend sleeping. When you exercise regularly, you'll have more energy and will actually need less sleep than before.

You can also use the time of your lunch break to exercise as well. The increase in productivity will have you more on the ball, and you can save your time through the dramatic increase in your overall productivity.

Cellularise, or rebounding, is one of the best forms of aerobic exercise there is. If you have access to a rebounder, you shouldn't hesitate to use it. Use any break you have at work to engage in some type of movement and deep breathing.

Heart diagram with labels in English. Blue com...Image via WikipediaAny type of exercise you do will strongly benefit your heart. It will make it a stronger and larger organ. Deep breathing will help your lungs become stronger and larger as well. There is research now that links exercise to helping prevent almost each and every type of disease or ailment.

Movement of the joints will promote proper blood flow and create energy, as sitting down all day will rob your body of much needed energy. If you spend most of the day sitting down at your job or in school, it's very important that you promote blood flow, circulation, energy, brain flow, and the strength of your heart. With just a little bit of your time devoted to exercise, you'll find yourself healthier than you have ever been in the past.

For some fun exercise tips and ideas to keep you motivated and exercising regularly, visit
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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Video - Basic Yoga Workout for Beginners - Parts 5 & 6

Here are the final two poses in the beginners yoga series (we also included Part 6, which is just the final ending and credits, but Part 5 cuts off rather abruptly).

We hope you  have enjoyed this free yoga video series!  As she mentions at the end, even just practicing one or two poses per day can be beneficial, and that's why this was broken up into so many pieces - so if you only have time for a few poses, you can just do a couple of them at a time. However, if you would like the whole series in order, check back next weekend, when we will post links to the entire series, so you can go through the whole thing in order if you like.


01 Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies Part 5
Part 5

01 Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies Part 6
Part 6

Want more Yoga? Check out the Basic Online Yoga Trainer Course, for a Uniquely Fun Yoga Experience!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stomach Exercises for the Lower Abs

An important and sometimes neglected step in stomach exercise routines is isolating particular muscles within the abdominal group. One such set of muscles which needs isolation in order to be exercised properly are the muscles in the lower stomach. There are a number of stomach exercises which isolate and work these muscles. As with any workout routine, be sure to consult a professional before beginning and always warm up properly to avoid injury.
Crunchless Crunch
This first exercise is fairly simple but can also be fairly difficult. Essentially, it involves trying to pull the belly button in towards the spine. This can be tricky, as it involves using muscles which you may not be used to activating. To start, either lie or on your stomach or kneel. You might want to try both ways and see which helps you feel the exercise better. Relax your body as much as possible, then try to use only the lower abdominals to move your belly button toward your spine. Hold for ten seconds. If holding for ten seconds feels easy, hold for a longer period. The goal is to hold the contraction until you either cannot feel it, or you feel other muscles working harder than the transverse abdominus. When you feel this, let the contraction out.
Alternating Toe Touch
You will need to lie on a flat surface for this stomach exercise. The floor works best, using a mat or towel to cushion the spine. Lie on the floor and put your feet straight up in the air. Extend your right arm and use your lower abdominals to lift your shoulders off the floor. Touch your left toes with your right hand, then lower yourself back down. Switch hands and repeat. Keep your knees straight throughout and maintain a space between your chin and chest. (Note: This one can be a bit hard on the lower back, so if you have back problems skip this one at least until you are stronger.)

Reverse Crunch
While you are still on the floor, try this stomach exercise. Bring your knees in towards the chest, and cross your ankles. Place a pillow or ball behind your knees, and grip with your calves to hold it in place. Relax your arms at your sides. Using your lower abdominals, roll your hips up off the floor, as though trying to touch your knees to your chin. Roll back down until your tailbone touches the floor, but be sure not to let your lower back arch off the floor. Repeat 10-20 times, then switch ankles and repeat. It seems like such a simple and easy move, but you will really start to feel it in your lower abs! And it's much easier on your low back than some other ab exercises.
Lower Back Flatten
Lie on your back on the floor, knees bent, feet flat. Let your lower back lift off the floor in its natural curve, and relax your upper body. In this exercise, you want to use your lower abdominals to push your lower back toward the floor and eliminate the space. Try to focus on pushing with only your lower abdominals and not your legs. Your pelvis will rotate slightly, which is fine so long as the lower abdominals are doing the work. Once you have got your back flat to the floor, hold the contraction for ten seconds. Again, you should continue to build on this time as your stomach muscles gain strength and endurance.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Aquasize For A Flatter Stomach

Well, summer is coming to an end, but if you've still got a few warm days to get some time in at the pool, why not use them to keep that tummy nice and flat?

backyard swimming poolImage via Wikipedia"Aquasizing" is a popular exercise form nowadays - particularly in the summer, but many YMCAs feature indoor pools, so you can have fun in the water and stay fit year-round. Water provides natural resistance, making the pool a great place to do stomach exercises to flatten out that tummy. Despite the greater resistance water has than air, aquasizing is low-impact, meaning less strain on joints. Try out these exercises next time you take a trip down to your pool. Remember, consult your doctor before beginning a new workout routine, and always warm up properly to prevent injury.

The first set of exercises to try is called the jump and dig. There are two moves in this set, one for the upper body and one for the lower body. The former is great for your obliques, and the latter works on your abdominals. To start, stand in water that is between your belly button and chest. To work the lower body (including your abdominals), put your feet a wide distance apart, then jump so your knees come up to the surface of the water and back down. Picture a frog as you do it; this will help you get the form right. Next, to work the upper body, begin by making a scoop with both hands at the surface of the water. Bring your hand scoop below the surface, then scoop up and to one side. Alternate sides to work the obliques on both sides. Start by doing the two moves separately for three minutes each. Once you have mastered the form, do them at the same time to exercise both sets of stomach muscles at once.

As you build strength and endurance, you can add water gloves to increase resistance. You can also do the exercises faster, packing more reps into each three minute period. Form is key, though. Do not sacrifice form for the sake of speed. It is better to do it properly than quickly. Also remember to set fitness goals and work toward them at a gradual pace. Do not push yourself too hard, too fast. You may want to see results fast, but an injury will seriously delay your workout goals. Start small, know your limits, and build gradually.

An aqua aerobics class.Image via WikipediaThese exercises are for your midsection, but here are a few additional tips for overall good results in your exercise routine.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Video - Basic Yoga Workout for Beginners - Part 4

Here is the next video in our beginners yoga series (notice we don't use the word "dummies," - this yoga set is definitely for real - it's just very well explained and demonstrated in a thorough way. Plus, you're not a dummy if you haven't gotten around to trying yoga yet - you just haven't yet discovered what you're missing!)

Today's section finishes up Downward Dog, and moves through some great back stretches and exercises such as Cobra pose, Child's Pose, and the Seated Spine Twist. These exercises relieve stress and strain in the back, strengthen your back muscles, and improve posture. Try these, and you may want to watch the demonstration once through first, as she does a lot of great explanation and demo of proper breathing, positioning, and technique.  Enjoy!

01 Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies Part 4
Part 4

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Aerospeed Hyperperformance Jump Rope

If you liked Tuesday's post and workout idea, here is a great resource for you. Depending on how seriously you take rope jumping and where you want to go with it, the type of jump rope you invest in makes a difference. There are many ropes on the market with different price ranges.

Aero Speed Hyperformance Jump RopeThe Aerospeed Hyperperformance Jump Rope is one in the higher price range, with Buddy Lee (the Olympian) having been the co-inventor and patent holder. What you get is one powerful rope. The cord is adjustable and is suitable for people up to 6’5". The rope cord is made from high quality synthetic material, but is very thin (about 1/8") to allow for perfect aerodynamics and exceptional speed (after many hours of training). The handles are made of aluminum and are covered with black neoprene sleeves for easy grip. The jumping rope also has a patented swivel bearing system that allows you to jump really quickly and smoothly.

Overall, this is a top notch jumping rope for the more serious and advanced jumper.

Where to buy: (you can find less fancy jump ropes here as well)
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review - Jump Rope Training for Weight Loss and Toning

Have you tried jumping rope recently? As a child, jumping rope was effortless, we all just did it. Now, jumping rope is hard work and I can feel every jump. I am fairly fit, but rope jumping really gets your heart racing and your muscles in your legs screaming. But like everything, the more you do it, the easier it gets - and it really starts to feel like so much fun, just like when you were 10 years old! And jumping rope is a perfect fitness workout to tone your body, increase your performance in other sports and strengthen your muscles, in addition to shedding some body weight. And why not make this a family affair? Grab a couple of ropes, and join your kids for some great exercise fun!

Jump Rope Training For Weight Loss And Toning With Buddy LeeJump Rope Training for Weight Loss and Toning with Buddy Lee is a DVD that'll teach you jump techniques to achieve the best workout. Only 5 to 10 minutes a day will get you fit - you will lose weight and feel great and more toned. It starts at a beginner level and works its way up to advanced jumpers, increasing your jumping skills. However, this DVD is not a structured workout you can follow like other workout DVDs. It is more like Buddy Lee giving instructions on how to jump. This might not appeal to everybody.

Overall, if you want to learn the tricks of jumping rope and take it to the next level, Buddy Lee passes on his knowledge on the DVD. If, on the other hand, you are looking to follow a set workout, then this probably wouldn't be the right video for you.

Where to buy:
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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Video - Basic Yoga Workout for Beginners - Part 3

Here is part 3 in the beginners yoga workout video series. From Tree Pose up through Downward Facing Dog, this great video offers easy through advanced versions of the poses, and at a nice pace.


01 Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies Part 3
Part 3

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Weight Training - Free Weights vs. Machines

Something you need to keep in mind when exercising is that you are training for life. You may spend an hour a day in the gym, but that will still leave another 23 hours or so for your muscles to function without using any fancy equipment.

A dumbbell (Hantel)Image via WikipediaWhenever you do any type of exercise, the movement of your body during the exercise is known as the range of motion. The more difficult the range of motion is, the more effective the exercise will be, because your body has to work harder to perform the movement.

Most of the time, when using machine weights, you will always be limited in both your range of motion, and what type of exercise you can perform. Unlike free weights, machine weights offer a certain degree of resistance which you set via the machine.

One of the best thing about using a weight machine is the fact that you just move a little chuck around to select the weight you want to use. Instead of dragging a weight over to your exercise area, you simply select it on the machine. When you are tired during a workout, this can be a blessing.

The weight stack from a Cable machine: each pl...Image via WikipediaA lot of people argue in the fact that free weights are the best for your body. While this is normally true, many people out there prefer machine weights. There are pros and cons with both techniques, although free weights have been around a lot longer and have been proven time after time to achieve dramatic results.

Body builders for example, have used free weights over the years to build very impressive bodies. If you ask most of them about machine weights, they would probably laugh at you and tell you that you need to quit joking around.

In a nutshell, free weights will use more of your muscles than the machines do, which makes them more effective overall. This doesn't mean that the machines are a waste of use, as they offer some great advantages. In some cases, it is best to stabilize the muscles that are being used in a movement, which is where machines are the best to use.

The decision on which to use for you should be based on what you hope to achieve with lifting weights, and where you plan to use the equipment, such as home or at a gym. Both systems can be beneficial, but in general, free weights are best to use if you want the best possible workout for both your bones and muscles.
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A Few Weight Training Tools:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Building Strong Bones through Exercise

If you want to strengthen your bones for life, start exercising. Certain activities work on the bone and make it denser.  This can benefit you now and in the future.

Bone growth source: http://training.seer.cance...Image via Wikipedia
Bones are hard on the outside and contain a yellow substance inside called marrow. Red blood cells are created in the marrow of the bone. But, the hard bone itself is made up of a matrix of cells that are continually breaking down and building back up for a stronger framework to your body.

Even in older age, you don’t have to be resigned to the fact that you are going to lose bone density and muscle mass. Preserve the bone you have and prevent loss of bone by starting an exercise program. As with any program, start slow and work your way up for success.

How to Build Strong Bones

Here are a few types of exercise to build stronger bones. When you use your bones, cells called osteoblasts build more bone. Other cells called osteoclasts break down damaged bone to make way for the new stronger bone.

* Use strength training – Many people think that weights are just for body builders. Everyone, no matter what their age, needs to add strength training to their exercise routine at least once or twice a week. While the muscle fibers are being broken down and built up stronger, the bone is also benefiting from lifting weight against gravity. You can use your own weight or add weights using a barbell or dumbbells.

* Work out at a higher intensity – The benefit of exercise comes when you increase your intensity over time. It increases your cardiovascular health but also the density of your bones. If you are starting out slowly with a mild workout, that’s fine. Your body will work to adjust and that will build bone as well. Stepping up your routine every week or two will put more work on the bones to perform, and that strengthens them.

Dumbbell deadlift.Image via Wikipedia* Challenge the body – When you perform the same exercise each day, over time you will stop seeing results and that includes bone strength. When you begin a new type of exercise, the body is challenged to learn a new routine and use new muscle groups. That also works the bones attached to the muscles. (And you will also have more fun!)

* Use your body weight – Exercises that involve your body weight include step aerobics, jumping rope, running and tennis. That constant pounding is mixing movement with the downward pull of gravity to build stronger bone in response to the new demands.

Are you looking to build stronger bones? One of the best ways to do that is to exercise. Choose the right physical activity that will maximize bone growth, and which you will enjoy at the same time. (For a great example, be sure to check back next week when we will share a really fun bone-strengthening exercise that both you and the kids will love!)
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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Video - Yoga Workout for Beginners - Part 2

Here is the next installment in the free beginners yoga workout video series. This one includes variations on Mountain Pose and the Standing Forward Bend, as well as the Lunge. Pay attention to the modifications for beginners, as well as the more challenging tips for more advanced yoga practitioners. I've been doing yoga regularly for over a year, and I still really like this workout!

01 Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies Part 2
Part 2

Want to see the full Tree Pose? Check back next week for the next segment!

Or visit for more fun exercise ideas.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Exercise Ideas for Weight Loss

There are all kinds of ways you can work exercise into your life. You can workout anywhere doing all sorts of things.

Playing with children, for example is a great way to get some exercise. When you get down on the floor and play “horsey”, you are giving yourself a heck of a workout – and it is fun for the kids!

Throw a ball around in the backyard and really get into it! Jump on a trampoline, or just play tag! Exercise like this not only give you the physical benefits, it can remind you of the joy of youth and put a real smile on your face!

At work, take the stairs instead of the elevator. When you park in a parking lot, park as far away from the door as possible so you have to walk further.

Use your imagination and you will find ways to exercise almost anywhere!

Supervised physical therapy may be helpful to ...Image via WikipediaMany people love the idea of being in a gym surrounded by sweaty people who are lifting weights and using the stair-stepping machine. If this is what you like, by all means, get into a gym.

Weight training gives you the opportunity to sculpt your body by pushing your muscles toward working harder than they normally would. You will also boost your metabolism by adding more muscle (muscle fibers burn calories - even at rest!).

We suggest that you get the advice of someone in the gym like the trainer or owner to give you some exercises to start out with. They will be the experts in the field for you and will know what works when you’re just beginning a weight training program. They can also help guide you when it’s time for you to “step up” your regimen.

Aerobics classes are another great way to get a terrific workout. You can find classes like these in many, many places, but mostly in gyms and workout studios. Keep in mind that there will be a fee to take these classes, but it might very well be worth it to have the camaraderie that comes with other people sweating along with you!

We highly recommend looking into taking water aerobics. Exercising in the water has so many benefits. You have less stress and strain on your joints, plus the natural resistance of the water will work your muscles more than if you were taking a class “on land”.

Water aerobics can be done by just about anyone – young and old alike. It’s a great alternative to strength training and you won’t have the problem of excessive sweating that many of us just hate! You’ll get an amazing workout and it’ll be fun too!

Pilates at a Gym Category:Pilates Category:Fit...Image via WikipediaMany people – the Hollywood elite included – are beginning to advocate Pilates as a very effective weight loss method. This exercise regimen was developed in the early 20th century, but has just now come to global popularity - and it's definitely one of our favorites!

Pilates is more than exercise program, it is based on the principles of many different types of movements. It takes some of its movements from yoga, acrobats, stretching, and more. Plus, Pilates concentrates a lot on the mind as an exercise tool.

We can’t tell you how to do Pilates because it’s so involved, but there are many helpful tools out there that can help you with a Pilates program if you think that the route you want to go. Our favorite Pilates book is The Pilates Body, by Brooke Siler. But you can also look for web sites, videos, and classes in your area. Once you learn the basic movements, you can then practice them on your own!

A Few Good Pilates Resources:
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