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Healthy Aging by the Decades: Your 30s and 40s

It is challenging to try to cover such a broad topic as aging over the decades. Each one of us is different and our lives reflect our own unique choices and belief systems. However, I do feel that sharing my thoughts on how to age well based on my experiences and making some of the suggestions I would make if you were my client is well worth the effort.

couple biking

How Fear Can Sabotage Your Fitness Goals: Programming for Success

Fear can do many things to us and they are almost never positive in their outcome. Being dominated by our fears is no way to live – especially when it comes to our efforts to become healthy and fit. I have sabotaged many goals and choices over the years because of my fears. Most of the time I have never been clear on just what “it” was I was afraid of but somehow fear took hold of me and I did not step boldly into a successful outcome.

I believe we are inherently capable of being great and doing great things but we can – and do – sabotage our greater “yet to be” by letting our fears control our behavior – and our choices. This is no way to live! In this article I would like to highlight of the 4 keys to overcoming our fears and become bold and tied to our successes – not our failures!

The 4 Keys To Successfully Overcoming Our Fears

VISUALIZATION

I find that when we have a clear picture in mind when setting our goals we can more easily identify with a successful outcome because we can “out-picture” not only a positive process – but a successful conclusion as well. Fear is often described as “false evidence appearing real” and it is this “reality” that our minds and hearts can be “tricked” into giving up before we can experience a result that we desire. I have felt the power of visualization when it came to many aspects of my life – especially when it concerned my running – and weightlifting – program.

Prior to beginning my training sessions I spend time in my mind “picturing” myself doing what it is I want to accomplish during that session. If I want to run a specific time I put myself in this “mental place” by running at a particular pace at a specific speed. I attach my feelings of joy to this picture and visualize me smiling and happy enjoying the process of running free and without fear. It is in my mind that I create success and I do this before I take any action in the “real world”. How long you choose to visualize your own session is up to you.

It is a discipline well worth creating and employing every time you start to address your health and fitness needs. The feeling in conjunction with the “picture” is crucial for a successful outcome. Remember to give yourself a break and start slowly. I tend to spend 10-15 minutes in support of my visual “cues” so that the session  goes as smoothly as I envisioned it. Walt Disney is one of my idols when it comes to visualization (and imagination of course) because he did not see orange groves in Anaheim – he saw Disneyland! Look how that turned out!

IMAGINATION

It is said that the true measure of intelligence is not intellect but imagination. Steve Jobs imagined a world connected by phone and in his mind he set in motion the development of the “smart phone” and he changed the world as we know it. He passed away from cancer but before he died he had the opportunity to see his vision come to life. Walt Disney died in 1966 before many of his most creative ideas were born but he did live long enough to know that his vision of a family oriented adventure and experience would eventually be fully realized. The company that bears his name is still creating in the manner he began some 80 years ago!

I believe in the power of the imagination to aid us in all manner of accomplishment in life. I imagine myself speaking and teaching all over the world as an advocate of the principles of healthy aging and living a life of purpose – on purpose – every day. I know at 70 my time is not unlimited but I do have faith in the principle “that the mind of man is unlimited in its potential – and DOES respond to specific demands made upon it”. This principle works every time we use IF we also BELIEVE not only in ourselves – but our potential to accomplish great things as well.

What is it that you want to accomplish and can this be the key to your success in developing and maintaining an active and complete fitness program? I believe the main reason we need to engage in an active and ongoing fitness program is because we are each here to accomplish something unique that only we can accomplish. I see me speaking and excited about my message because I am filled with the energy of excellent health and also because I am strong mentally and physically as a result of my successful training program. You too can do this! Just believe and do it!

AFFIRMATION

What we say – and think – we become. Never allow yourself to use “defeatist” language that signifies you are NOT capable of achieving whatever it is you have set out to do. Words have power – choose yours wisely. NEVER say what you DON’T want in your life – always affirm what you DO want in your life! If you want to increase your strength affirm: “I am strong and powerful – and grateful for every muscle in my body”. Here is another affirmation:”I am dynamic, energized, open and receptive right here and now and act in support of this instruction”.

Always place your affirmation in the present tense and never allow for anything but a positive outcome. Give yourself credit for being who you ARE and always look forward to becoming your BEST version of yourself. I say everyday: “I powerful, successful and excited to be who I am today and I KNOW I am becoming more of what I want to be with each thought I think and every action I take.

Affirmations give us the opportunity to “re-program” our subconscious minds by replacing outworn beliefs about ourselves with new and powerful thoughts and ideas that help us create the new person we want to become – mentally, physically, and spiritually. NEVER allow your words to create what you DON”T want in your life – always use them to help you become who you want to BE!

ACTIONS – BEHAVIOR

“Actions speak louder than words”. If you want someone to know you value them – even love them – it through your actions and NOT your words that the truth will eventually come out. When it comes to fitness and developing your program – actions are everything! You can’t burn calories or create muscle without taking action – you MUST move first! Everyday I KNOW I will be training because my mind and body EXPECT to do this for my health and well being. I am always aware of the idea that tomorrow is NEVER guaranteed and that TODAY is all I have so I never want to waste even one day of training.

Being FIT is a habit with me that I cultivated over decades of my life. I act in support of my fitness goals every day because I never wanted to grow old – just older. It is not the number of years we are alive that matters – it is the life in our years that counts the most. I work on speed, power, strength, balance, endurance, flexibility and strength because I want my body to be able to hold up for whatever years I have left in my life. I also want to be able to accomplish my mission by contributing my message and voice to life before it ends. I need a fit body to serve as an example of what is possible through hard work and dedication to my purpose.

Conclusion

Take time to reflect on your journey to date and ask yourself one simple question: “Have I come close to reaching my potential or am I letting fear sabotage my ability to create a life of meaning and purpose?” Take time to answer this question and address the needs you need to fulfill physically, mentally and spiritually in order to set in motion your journey to success – and fulfillment. Life is always lived from the “inner to the outer” – not the other way around. We can never access our “greater good” by FOLLOWING others. We CAN serve as examples of what is possible but each of us must find our own path to pursue and this path is not mine – it is YOURS.

Love your uniqueness and praise your gifts and never allow yourself to stay in negative thinking. “Get over yourself” and remember we are here to accomplish something great for others. We are here to SERVE and we cannot do our part if we are weak and scared. I can say I am 70 but I am 30 in my mind – and in body and spirit as well – because I have trained without failure. I started running in 1964 at Syracuse University as a freshman and am in my 53rd year – and counting, Over that time I have accumulated over 60,000 miles and am going to run as long as I can maintain my current level of fitness. When it comes to being fit I will ALWAYS want to serve as an example of what is possible because it is all that matters to me! It should also matter to you too!

Originally printed on HealthyNewAge.com. Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop.


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

running-sunrise

Healthy Aging by the decades: Your youth

I believe that when we celebrate our birthdays, we get to reflect on what we have accomplished in our life so far – and have become – as a result of the choices we have made over the years. Fitness for me was always a choice that was a “given” – one that I am truly grateful I never had to think about making because it was “who I was” on the inside.

heart-graphic

The Best Exercise for Your Heart: Here’s Why You Should Do Cardio

The heart is the key to life as we know it. If it fails we die. Cardiovascular exercise is a life affirming activity because it is focused on the heart. The idea of cardiovascular training is to stress the heart and cardiovascular system so that we bring oxygen and nutrients to all the tissues of the body and strengthen the heart muscle itself. The process whereby the arteries that transport the oxygenated blood from the heart to the muscles also give us the ability to accomplish the normal activities of daily life.

A cardio training session is characterized by continuous movement over time at a specified rate of speed. Walking for an extended period of time would qualify as a form of cardio exercise. Playing tennis does not qualify as a cardio activity because it does not consist in continuous movement, just as a round of golf doesn’t. Other types of cardio exercise are cycling, swimming laps, hiking, running, cross country skiing and other such activities that require one to work overtime and involve a constant effort to maintain muscular involvement of all the major muscle groups on the body.

Understanding Heart Rates

1. RESTING HEART RATE: This is measured in the morning before you get out of bed. It is done by placing two fingers on the wrist (radial artery) or neck (carotid artery) for 60 seconds and counting the number of beats. This number can also be found by counting for 15 seconds and multiplying by four. Your resting heart rate is used in calculating training heart rates and will be an indicator of improvement resulting from cardio training. My resting heart rate has been as low as 40 beats per minute (the average is 72 bpm).

2. TARGET HEART RATE: The idea of establishing a target heart rate is to “find your starting place” and determining the intensity during your training session. Each bout of cardio can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or more – depending upon your fitness goals and preparedness. The more conditioned one is, the more “work” one can do in a shorter period of time – burning more calories as a result – and strengthening the heart as well. To determine your target hear rate, take 220 minus your age and that will give you a rough “maximum heart rate”. Multiply that result by 50-85% to establish the range for your heart rate. In my case, I’ll be 70 in August, so:

220 – 70 = 150 (maximum hear rate)

150 x .5 = 75 beats per minute (low end)

150 x .85 = 127 beats per minute (upper limit)

Knowing these two parameters is important – for both success – and safety. The less conditioned you are, the lower the intensity you should start from. The more conditioned you are, the more intensity you can bring to your chosen activity. Intensity is determined during and after the activity by counting the number of beats in a 6 second count and multiplied by ten.

If you have questions do seek the assistance of a fitness professional in guiding you to your own individualized program. Do consult a medical professional before beginning ANY exercise program requiring an understating of your current fitness levels while discovering any personal limitations that may have such as joint issues, heart issues, blood pressure issues, medications and other potential “red flags”.

The Benefits of Cardiovascular Training

Being aware of the many benefits of cardio training and reminding yourself about them is crucial to ensuring that you remain committed to your fitness and health goals.

The amount of blood pumped by the heart in one contraction is called stroke volume (SV). Stroke volume improves as a consequence of cardio training resulting in decreased blood sugar levels, improved lipid profile (circulating fat called triglycerides), improved stress responses, a calming of the mind, and increased energy levels to mention just a few. Here’s a more detailed list of the benefits of cardio training:

Improved respiratory function:

  • Increased maximal ventilation – deeper breaths.
  • Increased lung diffusion capacity – more oxygen available through each breath.

Improved heart function:

  • Lowered blood pressure.
  • Decreased resting heart rate.
  • Increased heart volume – more oxygenated blood available for work.
  • Increased resting and maximum stroke volume.
  • Increased maximum cardiac output.
  • Increased capillary density and blood flow to the active muscles and tissues.
  • Increased total blood volume.

Increased fitness level:

  • Increased aerobic (exercise with oxygen) work capacity.
  • Increased lactate threshold (higher intensity capability).
  • Increased maximum oxygen consumption – meaning longer exercise times.

Improved metabolism:

  • Increased HDL cholesterol – (“good”) cholesterol that helps “strip” away LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
  • Decreased total cholesterol.
  • Increased mobilization and utilization of stored fat.
  • Decreased body fat storage.
  • Reduction in glucose (sugar) – stimulated insulin secretion.

Increased overall wellness:

  • Reduction of all causes of mortality.
  • Decreased incidence of some cancers.
  • Reduction in mortality in post myocardial infarction (heart attack) patients.
  • Decreased clinical symptoms of anxiety, tension and depression: the “runner’s high”, as an example, it is real!

The many gifts of cardio training are known but the key to this process is the body’s increased ability to burn calories. Weight management, maintenance – and indeed weight loss – is a known benefit of cardio exercise. If we train our bodies to anticipate a period of heightened calorie burning each day we will establish the greatest result of all: a higher resting metabolic rate that supports all levels of health for us.

These benefits are valid reasons for embracing cardio training on higher and more challenging levels and should motivate you to incorporate some form of this training into your daily life.

Exercise tips and cautions

  • Be flexible and adaptable in your thinking when planning your exercise program.
  • Allow for recovery days.
  • Cross train. Include a variety of exercises that can complement your primary activity. In my case, cycling complements running and weight training supports my cardiovascular activity. I train with weights to keep running. Make sure you do both cardio and weight training.
  • Consider doing interval training, or other forms of high intensity training, as in spite of being challenging, they are incredibly satisfying.
  • HAVE FUN! Find which form of exercise would make you happy and then go for it. This might involve trying different things out. If the activity you chose is not fun – you won’t continue doing it.
  • Decide on a schedule and stick to it. Be mentally tough and don’t give in to the temptation to quit. Remember: “Winners never quite and quitters never win!”
  • Make preparations for all activity by stretching and mentally preparing for your challenge.
  • Check whether you re working at the right intensity. The “talk test” will tell you. For example, if you decide to walk on a treadmill to warm up, then have someone talk with you and see if you can respond. If you can, you are working at the right intensity.
  • Learn your basic heart rates – they will serve you well.
  • Keep monitoring your heart rates. As you get to a more highly conditioned state, you will be able to perform at varying intensities and get closer to your fitness ideal.
  • List any personal or environmental information that reduces the risk of injury or that may compromise exercise safety.
  • Do not exercise for at least 90 minutes after a meal.
  • Avoid continuing exercise with chest discomfort, light headedness or dizziness.
  • Reduce exercise intensity in response to very hot or humid environments or to high altitude training.
  • Avoid exercise with tenderness in a joint (ex. In a knee or foot) that tends to worsen with activity.
  • Avoid continuous aerobic exercise during viral infections such as the flu or upper respiratory tract infections.

My experience…

I started running to relieve the stress of homesickness during my freshman year at Syracuse University and fortunately for me it developed into a lifestyle that I carried into the next decades of my life. When I think of the years I have been a runner, I am so grateful I found something so healthy for my body, mind, spirit – and heart. I am convinced that running saved my life.

Due to injury to my feet these past few months (inflammation and pain), I reduced the running and started riding a stationary bike to allow my injuries to heal. It took time, but it has worked and I am running pain free now (with the help of new shoes and inserts). I am now incorporating cycling sessions into my training routine to minimize the risk of additional plantar fascia injury. This is what I mean by being flexible and listening to your body.

I love running fast and will for as long as I can. It is the way I love to run as I enter my 70’s. Jogging was never for me so I “play” with each program I do and challenge myself daily to improve – or reach for higher goals. It energizes me – and it will do the same for you as well.

Originally posted on healthynewage.com. Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop. 


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

healthy middle aged man workout at the beach

The 7 Keys to Fitness: How to Account for Them in Your Life BEFORE You Become Old

In our youth we all have power – power of thought, anticipation, joy, action, mystery, imagination and so much more. As we get older, we lose our wonder of the power of our own life. This term also refers to our physical power. I know that when I am doing my weight training I am addressing my power and physically: it is made very clear to me while I am bench pressing 250 pounds 20 times.