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walking shoes

Gait Speed… Chase It!

Walking is our freedom to GO anywhere, anytime, automatically, to get somewhere ‘on our own’ without fear or assistance.

It is the antithesis to the slipper shuffle and a key player in fall resistance, that is, staying UP. A shorter, wider stride, stiffer ankles and feet, and a hunched posture are not a function of aging per se. We CAN be spry, walk tall, with spring in our step, well into our 80’s and 90’s.


Foam Rolling: The What, Why & How

We are not as active as we once were. Our lifestyles today do not require as much movement as it once did. A perfect example of this is Giant’s Peapod (need I say anymore).  Not being active takes a toil on our bodies and sitting tends to take over our bodies main position in space. For those that are active, injuries may still occur. When a person is not active and does a lot of sitting (or sleeping in awkward positions) or when a person is active and gets injured, our bodies respond by putting our muscle tissues into overdrive. In other words, they end up working harder than they should which leads to adhesions or knots in the fascia (connective tissue found throughout our entire body). This is where foam rolling can be very helpful.

What is Foam Rolling?

Foam rolling is the concept of applying pressure to a sore or tender muscle that will send a signal to your brain to tell it to relax. If you are familiar with a massage, then, you can think of foam rolling as a self-massage.

Why Foam Rolling?

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), foam rolling is beneficial to help alleviate and correct discomfort.  For example, if a person does a lot of sitting, then most likely their hip muscles will be working overtime. Foam rolling will help the hip muscles to return to a normal state of work.  Also, since overworking muscles cause your body to compensate and have poor posture, foam rolling can help to correct bad posture too.

How Do You Foam Roll?

In order to determine what muscles on your body are working overtime, you want to consult with a corrective exercise specialist. This could be a physical therapist, personal trainer or massage therapist (to name a few). They can watch your posture and how you move to determine which muscles need foam rolling. Typical muscles that need foam rolling include one’s: calves, hips, lateral to mid-back, thighs and chest. For example, if one determines their calf muscle is working overtime, the protocol would be to sit down on their butt with the foam roller placed directly underneath their calf muscles.  The person would apply pressure by pushing their calf muscle only into the foam roller. If they feel any discomfort, they would hold that spot of discomfort for at least 30 seconds to allow the calf to relax.  If a person does foam rolling on a regular basis (I recommend 3-5 times/week for four weeks), they could accomplish significant improvement to their posture, which means less discomfort to their body.


Foam rolling is a proven technique that allows overactive muscles throughout our bodies to return to a state of normalcy. If you have muscles on your body that do not feel normal, foam rolling may be the solution to your problem.

Maurice D. Williams is an Assistant Professor of Health & Human Performance at Freed-Hardeman University, an the owner of Move Well Fitness. With almost two decades in the industry, he’s worked with a wide range of clients, including those with health challenges like diabetes, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, coronary artery disease, lower back pain, pulmonary issues, and pregnancy.

Older couple at the gym

Fitness: Establishing Your Program – Setting Your Course

I think of training, not working out. Working out is simply doing something without any identifiable purpose in mind. I believe training must be accompanied by commitment and a deep desire to accomplish something specific that is meaningful to you and worthy of sacrifice. In establishing a fitness program that will work for you and ultimately be successful you need to carefully consider many variables and understand their importance to your eventual outcome. This article will highlight some of my thoughts on this process/subject and hopefully illuminate for you the path forward so that you might enjoy a long and happy – and fit life.

Setting your course – effective goal setting

Setting goals is probably the most important aspect of designing a program since it gives focus and direction to the reasons behind the activities that you ultimately select – and that will work for you. First remember a key idea: If what you choose to do is not fun you will not find your time well spent or get the results you desire. The way to think about setting proper goals is to not to think of “cosmetic fixes” but instead to try to imagine yourself doing the things in your life that would bring you joy, pleasure, a sense of accomplishment, and the happy memories that we carry into our future.

An example in my own life is the wonderful time I had in Japan on four different occasions visiting my daughter Lisa. I took many journeys while there and enjoyed all of them immensely because I was free to explore and spend time among the temples of Kyoto and other historic and wonderful places. I walked for hours without ever getting tired because I am so fit from years of running.  Every trip while there was an incredible experience, filled with wonder and beauty. Going forward I hope to have many more adventures and create many wonderful memories I can share with my grandson and Lisa too.

Take your time when evaluating what it is you want to achieve and consider carefully what you want to do to accomplish your goals – and make them performance based. Losing weight is never a sustainable goal because there is no real payoff at the end and one never reaches a happy outcome simply from losing weight. I was taught a simple yet effective method for setting goals and it is called the RAMS method: Reasonable, achievable, measurable, and specific. My goal of running a 6 minute mile on my 80th birthday is already an accomplished fact since I can do it now. If I am alive and well on that birthday I plan on doing that mile!


Consider this a four step process:

  1. Evaluate and investigate your options
  2. Make your choices – cardio, resistance, stretching, nutrition etc.
  3. Implement your choices on a schedule
  4. Evaluate and measure your progress (record keeping)

Cardiovascular conditioning

Consider this your “core activity” since it is the one that will consume more of your time. Options include running (my love), walking (the most common option), cycling (indoors and outdoors), swimming, cross country skiing (high calories burning among the options – includes running), and many endurance activities tied to sports related training. There are many ways to train your heart but the most important fact is that to train it effectively you must do something to it over time, at higher intensities that allow your heart to work at higher levels than normal. Establishing those levels will take professional input so do ask for the proper assistance from a qualified professional.

 There are target heart rates, stroke volumes, cardiac output, breathing, monitoring fatigue, getting proper rest and recovery and much more to consider. I will cover this and other subjects more directly in later articles. Suffice it to say that if you don’t enjoy your chosen activity you won’t keep doing it. Quitting is quite common in the world and I don’t believe quitting ever solved anything! The most common question fitness professionals get is: Which exercise is the best one? My answer is always the same: The one that you will do! Approximately two thirds of your time should be dedicated to training your heart – it is the organ that will ultimately carry you to your future!

Resistance Training

Resistance training builds lean muscle mass and creates a higher resting metabolic rate (the rate at which the body burns calories at rest). As we age we lose muscle mass at the rate of 2-5 pounds per decade after 20. If you want a body that works efficiently, feels strong, helps you accomplish the tasks of life, and supports your skeletal system and organs without getting injured or sick getting strong is a must. Lean muscle mass is directly tied to burning sugar and eliminating the threat posed by diabetes.

Resistance training strengthens the connective tissue (ligaments, tendons), protects the joints and creates symmetry between the inner and outer processes of the body. If you want to become lean – create a resistance training program (again professional help is recommended) that supports what you want to do in life. For me – weight training is primarily designed to keep me running for years to come. I focus all my energy twice a week building all my major muscle groups and monitor my results in writing (I do this for my running sessions as well). After the age of forty I recommend an increased volume of resistance training because loss of lean muscle mass accelerates as a result of the aging process.


Flexibility protects the joints from damage by balancing the loads place upon them and is a key to aging well. Older people tend to get stiff and bent as they age and weakness in the legs is a constant reminder that falling is a major cause of death among the elderly. Breaking a hip in a fall can be something the older individual does not recover from and could have been avoided with a proper stretching and balance program.

With my older clients I always dedicated at least 20-30 percent of their sessions to balance and flexibility work to insure that they were comfortable just moving. I monitored their gait, posture, balance and other variables for possible negative outcomes. Changing behaviors and attitudes as we age is challenging. I find this true in my own case as I face my own challenges going forward but as one of my favorite teachers said years ago: “Change is the only constant in the natural order” and its corollary: “The mind of man is unlimited in its potential and responds to the specific demands made upon it”. I try to remember that there is always a way to change – we just have to be flexible in our thinking and our behavior to make the necessary changes that could ultimately save our lives.

I always try to remember that the gift I have been given to train for all these decades can be taken away in an instant so I always approach my own training each day with an attitude of deep gratitude and never forget to say thank each day for these gifts. I am grateful every day and never try to forget that an open mind and open heart will get me through almost anything in life. Everything that happens to me is an opportunity for me to learn something new about myself. I will always be a student – I will never know everything and this thought frees me to explore my potential every time I set my sights on new goals and dreams – like this one writing for you.

The FITT Formula

Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your body. Changing variables one at a time will allow you the chance to see how your body – and mind – responds to the stimuli you are providing it by your training activities. The FITT formula is something to keep in mind. The letters stand for frequency – how often you do something, intensity – how hard you do something, time – the amount of time you schedule for training activity, and type – the mode or vehicle you select to train. I believe change comes most effectively in “baby steps”. Never ask your body to do more than it can for it will grow as fast as it can, plateau, and then grow some more.

 Rest and recovery are crucial to this process – allow time for your body to heal and rest. Overtraining is just as bad – or worse – than undertraining. Go slowly toward goals as your patience will be rewarded with renewed energy, stamina, and happiness in the results you are seeing from your efforts. Reward yourself as you reach new levels and never forget to be grateful for everything and anything that you accomplish. This “consciousness” will serve you well over the years to come!

Nutrition and Weight Management

I won’t speak here on this subject in detail since it is way too complicated for our purposes at this time. Suffice it to say “you are what you eat, you are what you think, you are what you believe, you are what you do and you are your expectations.” What you think about, comes about (Walt Disney – one of my favorite creative geniuses), what you see is what you get and so much more. Eating well yields a truly flexible, strong and happy body. I will say this: Eat a salad, drink water and take a walk”.  Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds and beans and healthy protein – and drink lots of water. More on this later. Please remember that everything you eat creates – or destroys – your future health.

Conclusion and Tips

Be aware of your life as it is today. DO see your doctor for an evaluation for your readiness to train and engage in prolonged physical activity. Ask yourself the tough questions that only you can answer. Be considerate and forgiving of yourself so that you can move forward without guilt or recrimination. Become flexible in mind and body. Start now – don’t wait – because tomorrow is never guaranteed and life is very fragile. Take each step and listen attentively – both inside and outside – to those who want to assist you along the way. Take everything with a “grain of salt” because there are no absolutes when it comes to your own needs, wants, and dreams. Change is constantly influencing the events and circumstances of our lives so no one truly “knows” what is best for you – only you can determine this. Be smart and critical in your thinking and question what you don’t understand. I learn something new every day and I am certainly not ashamed to share with you that I consider myself a “student of running” even though I have been running for 52 years! Travel well!

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.

new year

Fitness New Year’s Resolution Tips

The holidays were here and there was plenty of running around and parties to attend. As we said goodbye to this year, we are ready to take on the new year. Many individuals have decided to make fitness a resolution and made the commitment with themselves to get into better shape.

Many individuals do not plan for this transition and end up stopping within three months. There are some things you can do to be successful if fitness is on your list of resolutions.

The first thing you want to do is to choose a fitness facility where you feel comfortable. By comfortable I mean, do you like the atmosphere? Is the gym to big or small for you? When you look into fitness facilities, make sure they’re not too far from your home. If the gym is too far, you’re less likely to go consistently. Try to plan for when the best time would be to go. Decide if morning, afternoon or evening works better for you and your schedule.

When you find your gym and figure out a time, make an appointment for an assessment and consultation. There are some people who decide to do this after a couple months of joining. Try to see a fitness professional within the first two weeks. We are able to help you figure out a plan for your workout and keep you on track. Some fitness centers call new members after the first week to see how everything is going.

It’s also important to not have an “all or nothing” mentality. If you decide to go to the gym three days a week, but sometimes fall short, it’s OK! Just get back to your schedule the following week. It will take about three months to adapt to your new transition.

Another tip is to have fun! Look at class schedules and try new classes. If you are new to classes, don’t worry about keeping up with everyone else. I always suggest that clients show up to class ten minutes early. This enables you to speak with the instructor about any injuries or concerns you may have. You can also leave class early if you need to. Some new students may only be able to do a warm up and have to leave. Remember that everyone in the class was in the same boat as you at some point.

It may seem tough to add fitness to your life at first, but it will get easier. You will start to feel better overall. Many people are able to sleep much better, bring down their blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce stress, and prevent osteoporosis. The benefits are really endless! The best thing is that you are setting the stage for a healthy lifestyle as you get older. You will be able to do more and live independently longer.

Good luck to everyone this year who has fitness as one of their resolutions. You will be able succeed if you keep positive and plan for success. Have a happy and healthy new year!

Robyn Kade is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 20 years of experience in medical-based fitness. 


Understanding Health Coaching – Letting the Client Lead

Health Coaches are trained to take an interesting approach in implementing a plan to help their clients. Successful Health Coaching programs have designs within that let the client set their own path to better health. That’s right. The client is often the one to determine which actions to take in obtaining, or retaining, the next level of better health that they hope to achieve. 

Does this sound crazy? Well, if you think about the way things work in the world of sports, it makes great sense. Coaches coach and players play. The “player” in this instance is the client and the client is playing the game of life. It is their life. It is the client’s game to play. A coach’s role is to prepare the player (or person with the desire to improve their health) for action. A coach is there to guide. A great coach is one that asks the right questions; questions that bring awareness to the client’s needs and ultimately provide answers which will empower the client to proclaim their own path forward.

This is not to say a coach does not have a philosophy to which they adhere, or a knowledge base used to guide their clients. Nor does it mean that a coach will not step in and offer a more sensical path if the client chooses a step that clearly is not beneficial, or worse, potentially harmful. It simply means that the client can take the lead in determining the direction of their greatest gift, their own health. Instead of leaning on the coach like a crutch for support, the “player” stands on their own two feet.

Being told what to do and how to act is not a very effective way for making wholesale lifestyle and/or behavioral changes. The growth must come from within. The client must see and feel the importance of each step for themselves. Empowering the client to be aware enough to see the next possible, available, or achievable step is rewarding and the key to long-term growth.  

It is common for a Health Coach, especially at the very beginning of the coach’s and client’s time together, to ask the client to simply observe their own behavior. As the great Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.” Seems simple, right? It is simple. The path to better health does not need to be complicated.

Pay attention to your own behavior and make note of what you observe. Or better yet, write down what you observe.

  • What do you see in your own life?
  • How well do you eat?
  • When do you eat?
  • What do you eat?
  • Do you snack?
  • What do you snack on?
  • When do cravings occur?
  • Do you notice your food when you eat (pay attention to how you see, smell, and chew your food)?
  • How well do you sleep?
  • What is your energy level like throughout the day?
  • Do you notice any sort of “crash” during the day?
  • How often does your mind drift?
  • Are your thoughts generally positive or negative?
  • Do you reach for technology often?
  • What are your relationships like?
  • What is your level of physical activity?
  • How does this activity make you feel – before, during and after?

…And on and on. These are just a few observable daily occurrences that a coach may suggest keeping an eye on to prime the pump, so to speak. 

Asking a client to be a witness to their own life, their actions and how it relates to their current state of health, to be a detective and gather evidence on their own behalf is a sure-fire way to have the client detect their own tendencies, positive and negative, invest in their own progress and unturn areas that can propel them towards improved health. 

Brian Prendergast is the Founder and Head Coach of High Five Health and Fitness, and Co-Creator/Co-Host of The Two Fit Crazies and a Microphone Podcast. Brian is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Certified Personal Fitness Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, and USA Track and Field (USATF) Level 1 Coach and Competitive Masters Runner.

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


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!


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!


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 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.


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.


Step up to Better Balance

When we are young we take our balance and coordination for granted. Yet as we progress through the years sometimes our muscles get weaker and joints get tighter and our posture changes all contributing to decreases in balance skills.