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senior fit

The Case for Fitness & Healthy Aging

An important principle that has emerged throughout my writing on “healthy aging” has been the issue of fitness and the role being fit plays in preventing illness and injury, yielding a fulfilling and vibrant life – a “life well lived”. The point of healthy aging is to be in a position as we grow older “to do what we want when we want without getting hurt”. I have always believed that my level of fitness would yield positive results as I got older emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually – and so far I have been proven right in my own life. The “fitness lifestyle” is a consciousness issue just as healthy aging is as well. I make choices everyday that are designed to enhance my ability to live the way I choose. This always includes high intensity, focused training which will (hopefully) prepare me for the challenging years ahead.

Speaking, traveling, teaching, program design, consulting, writing and other activities that I wish to do in my future will require focus, high energy, inspiration, imagination, and physical stamina and endurance. The ability to train the way I am now will translate into the future actions that will yield the result I envision for audiences in the years ahead. Planning for a future that requires me to be prepared to do my work at a high level will also demand that I be as fit as I can be in order to give me the strength to help as many people as I possibly can – while I can. This is my mission – and my purpose.

This article is about something I think about EVERY day. Each of my actions, decisions, and thoughts are applied to the outcome that I seek with every step I take in becoming stronger, faster, quicker, more powerful, balanced, imaginative, flexible and skilled. My purpose is to be able to PERFORM at a high level even as I approach my 70’s and this is the point of my plan – and these articles in this series. How fit are you today for the future you envision for yourself? Does your vision inspire you to reach beyond your grasp? Does it “pull you forward” so that you will take the actions necessary to enable and empower you for the journey ahead? Only you can answer this question! Do it now!

Power, speed, quickness, strength, endurance, balance & flexibility:  the “core” of healthy aging and growing old – not old.

I think of training in terms of performance and so much of fitness today is “gimmicks” – programs designed for the “few” in America who are NOT the obese, overweight, poorly trained, seniors, and youth. The “fatting” of America does NOT include practical programming on TV, the internet – or anywhere for that matter – that appeals to the average, untrained individual struggling just to live a ‘moderately’ happy life. I see this huge “hole” in our society everyday when I go out into the world where the “connection” between being fit and “regular” people is NEVER being made. To most of the world, fitness – or becoming fit – means acquiring a gym membership with all the “hassles” that implies and THAT isn’t healthy or inspiring at ALL!

I worked in the Nautilus and Bally’s systems as a trainer for over ten years and I never once saw the effort being truly made to help people “realistically” ACHIEVE anything. The world outside the gym is a giant “blank” for over two thirds of the population. The only thing I see that is visible today is elementary lifestyle “advice” on Dr. Oz and other related sophomoric network shows that really change nothing. The other major factor in the sales “pitch” to America on fitness comes in the form of “infomercials” that literally “sucker” people into buying USELESS stuff that will never really help them – EVER! The latest gimmick is the “abdominal belt” that will ‘melt” fat away with just 10 minutes a day! This is just the latest in the same old scam – “sell them anything and make a buck in the process!” What a disgrace and a shame that we have resorted to “hucksterism” in this country in order to sell the virtues of being fit! Jack Lalanne’s legacy has almost been completely forgotten today and I want to make sure I play my role in carrying the work he started so long ago forward with me. At least he TAUGHT simple exercises to people of all ages in the 50’s and 60’s with passion AND led them every step of the way during his shows. Those days are long gone!

When we think of helping people to become fit and healthy, we must always remember to train ourselves FIRST so that we can inspire others to do the same. I will not TELL anyone anything because for each of us our understanding and perspectives are different – just as each of us is different. I will always side with “being the example of the change I wish to see in the world” – the theme of my first article in this series. How do I retain my skill level with the “seven keys” of fitness highlighted above? I maintain them – and will elevate myself to higher levels of performance in the future – through my weekly weight training program, running 40 to 50 miles a week, stretching, and meditation. This dedication to fitness will hopefully allow me to do what I want, when I want, without injury and live with joy the active future of service I am envisioning for myself. I believe that with each passing day we are ALL falling ‘behind the fitness curve’ in life – whether we are training or not – and it is imperative that we translate our passion for being fit to others through our example. If we CAN’T DO IT, WE SHOULDN’T BE TEACHING IT!

Conclusion

My primary commitment to myself each day is to NEVER GIVE UP. If I am not sick or injured, I am training – training for my life to come and the role I have chosen for myself as “an agent of change in the world”. Each of us MUST decide what it is WE STAND FOR so that others can be inspired by our example. Jack LaLanne taught me through his example – as John Wooden did – that it is WHO WE ARE on the inside that will be the ‘key’ to inspiring and encouraging others to reach beyond their current grasp and strive for more than they ever dreamed possible. I am convinced every day by what I see in the world that what we have to offer the ‘many’ is desperately needed now more than ever. If we do not take up this challenge, who will? When will the REAL change come? It will only come when we change ourselves (on the inside – healthy aging is an inside job, remember?) and that is the greatest challenge that we will ALL face in life. It is worth fighting for this principle every day of our lives. Will you take it upon yourself TODAY and join me in this “journey of change” – and touch millions of lives in the process? I hope your answer is a resounding YES!

Article 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.

The Exercise Box Is Too Small!

How do you feel about exercise?

Is it a necessary evil?

A consuming passion?

Something you have to do so that you can eat what you want?

What box do you put exercise in?

Or do you feel like Mark Twain;
“Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes away.”

Or like this unknown author;
“I wish I loved exercise as much as I love drinking wine and eating everything.”

While exercise is gaining recognition for its role in supporting disease management and prevention, unfortunately, exercise is still primarily associated with weight-loss, bodybuilding, and sports performance. This is an unfortunately small box for exercise to occupy.

There is so much more exercise can do for improving our lives that have nothing to do with weight-loss and sports.

So, we need a bigger box.

Here are some more things to put in the exercise box:

  • Improving mood and anxiety
  • Improving hormonal balance
  • Maintaining a high quality of life
  • Improving sleep
  • Improving self-esteem
  • Reducing, and possibly even removing, unwanted musculoskeletal sensations (like pain and discomfort)

Wait a minute… what?

I thought exercise caused pain?

If done improperly it can cause pain. (In fact, that’s the dirty little secret of the exercise world – that this exercise thing people are doing to get and stay healthy is actually causing ill health and disease (orthopedic disease to be specific).

However, properly targeted, applied, and dosed exercise can help contribute to the attenuation of musculoskeletal pain and discomfort.

It’s an untapped aspect of exercise and with the overdosing of Americans on opioids and unnecessary surgeries the time has come for folks to became familiar with exercise’s role in pain and discomfort.

How can exercise have such a profound role on how people feel? How can exercise be an answer for people that couldn’t find solutions from the more common interventions like pain medication, injections, physical therapy, stretching, or massage?

How can the thing that so many people don’t like, and perhaps the thing that so many can’t do BECAUSE of their pain, be the answer?

The answer lies in the relationship it has with the control of movement and the human nervous system.

Check this out.

To exercise is to control bodily motion and position. To physically stimulate your body in order to make some change in it. While most people think they can’t move because they are in pain, we flip the script. As a Certified Muscle System Specialist, I propose that you may be hurting because you don’t move well. That begs the question, “what is responsible for us controlling our bodies?” The only thing that can move you is your muscles. So, it’s the muscles I am concerned with. More specifically, the muscle system in its entirety. The higher the quality of your muscle system, the better you move, the better you feel. The way to improve the muscle system’s quality is via exercise – putting forces on the body. Exercise’s usefulness in contributing to the removal of pain lies in the details. The amount and duration of force, the positions the person is in while receiving the force, the direction and speed they are moving, all contribute to the precise dose of interaction (exercise) the person receives. When the position, motion, and dose is right, the body responds by restoring muscle system quality. This means that the stuff that moves you – muscle – works better, so you move better and ultimately feel better.

Written by Greg Mack, Charlie Rowe and Jay Weitzner of Physicians Fitness. Reprinted with permission.


Greg Mack is a gold-certified ACE Medical Exercise Specialist and an ACE Certified Personal Trainer. He is the founder and CEO of the corporation Fitness Opportunities. Inc. dba as Physicians Fitness and Exercise Professional Education. He is also a founding partner in the Muscle System Consortia. Greg has operated out of chiropractic clinics, outpatient physical therapy clinics, a community hospital, large gyms, and health clubs, as well operating private studios. His experience in working in such diverse venues enhanced his awareness of the wide gulf that exists between the medical community and fitness facilities, particularly for those individuals trying to recover from, and manage, a diagnosed disease. 

Charlie Rowe joined Physicians Fitness in the fall of 2007 after spending 9 years as the Senior Personal Trainer at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. He has also worked within an outpatient Physical Therapy Clinic coordinating care with the Physical Therapist since joining Physicians Fitness. Charlie has earned the Cooper Clinic’s Certified Personal Trainer, the NSCA’s Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, the American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist, Resistance Training Specialist Master Level, and American Council on Exercise Certified Orthopedic Exercise Specialist Certifications. 

Jay Weitzner, MS is a Certified Medical Exercise Specialist through the American Academy on Exercise (ACE); he holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Exercise Science/Human Performance with an emphasis on exercise physiology. Jay specializes in working with clients with musculoskeletal issues — his clients have problems or concerns about their quality of movement and their physical health.

Trainer helping senior woman exercising with a bosu balance

Creating Fit and Functional Older Adults

Beginning in the seventh grade, I became fascinated with age—specifically how our bodies’ functional capacities decrease with the passage of time. When I once shared this perception with my 98-year-old grandmother, she said, “Just wait until you’re 80.” I’m still far from 80, so I can only imagine how difficult it will be then to stand up from a chair or run around the neighborhood.

The biggest factor in the decline in physical capacity with age is level of physical activity. When your clients remain active throughout adulthood, they can retard the aging process and continue to live a life worth living. I know 70-year-olds who are fitter than 30-year-olds.

Physiology of the Older Adult

After age 30, most physiological functions decline at a rate of approximately 0.75 to 1 percent per year. Perhaps the biggest functionally-related physiological change with age is a decrease in muscle mass, called sarcopenia, which is due to a loss of motor units (a motor neuron and all the muscle fibres it connects to) and atrophy of fast-twitch muscle fibres. With the loss of motor units comes denervation of muscle fibres (a lost connection between the motor neuron and the fibres within the motor unit). This denervation causes the muscle fibres to deteriorate, resulting in a decrease in muscle mass, which significantly decreases the older adult’s muscle strength and power, making certain activities of daily living difficult.

Men and women generally attain their highest strength levels between ages 20 and 40, after which the strength of most muscle groups declines, slowly at first and then more rapidly after age 50. Muscle strength decreases approximately eight percent per decade after age 45, with greater strength losses occurring in women compared to men. In both men and women, lower body strength declines more rapidly than upper body strength.

With the loss of muscle mass also comes a loss in mitochondria, which decreases muscular and aerobic endurance. Mitochondria are unique in that they have their own specific DNA, so when older adults lose mitochondria, they also lose mitochondrial DNA. If your clients want healthy functioning muscles as they age, they need lots of healthy mitochondria.

Cardiovascular fitness also declines with age, in part due to a decrease in maximum heart rate and stroke volume (the volume of blood the heart pumps per beat). With a lower maximum heart rate and stroke volume comes a lower maximum cardiac output (the volume of blood the heart pumps per minute), a decreased ability to deliver oxygen to the muscles, and thus a lower VO2max (the maximum volume of oxygen the muscles can consume). VO2max decreases by 8 to 10 percent every 10 years after the age of 30 in healthy, sedentary adults. When maximum cardiovascular functioning declines, so does the workload that can be tolerated at a given percentage of the (lower) maximum. Decreases in VO2max with aging can be variable, particularly if your clients remain active. But if not attended to, a youthful run becomes an aged walk.

Training the Older Adult

Although many physiological factors decline with age, up to 50 percent of this decline is due to deconditioning rather than aging. With proper training, your clients can lessen the physiological effects of aging and remain fit and functional.

Arguably, cardiovascular exercise will always be more important than strength training throughout your client’s life because heart disease is the most common cause of death for both men and women. No one has ever died of a weak biceps muscle. But people die of weak hearts every day. One cannot live very well or very long without a strong heart. Since the risk of heart disease increases as people age, older adults need cardiovascular exercise just as much or even more than do younger adults. Like younger adults, older adults should do at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on most, if not all, days of the week. The more physically fit one remains, the slower the rate of cardiovascular decline. Maintaining exercise intensity, rather than a higher volume of training, is the key to minimizing the loss of aerobic fitness as your clients age.

Strength training also becomes more important as people age. Given that aging is accompanied by a decrease in muscular endurance, strength, and power, resistance training should take on greater weight (pun intended) when training an older client. I’d even go as far to say that every person over the age of fifty should strength train because that’s about the age at which people start to lose a significant amount of muscle mass. And that loss in muscle mass with age affects your client’s ability to function. If you’ve ever seen a senior citizen try to stand up from sitting in a chair or witnessed how catastrophic a fall can be to a senior, you know how much benefit strength training can have. The positive effects of strength training on bone density, muscular strength and endurance, balance and coordination (which reduces the risk of falling and fractures), functional mobility, physical aesthetics, and self-esteem cannot be denied.

Train older clients with heavier weights and fewer reps per set to target improvements in muscular strength, or with lighter weights lifted quickly to target the fast-twitch muscle fibres and improvements in muscular power. Greater strength gains occur at intensities of 80 to 90 percent of the one-rep max (the maximum weight that can be lifted just once). Although we tend to think of power training as something done to improve athletic performance, it has big implications for older adults, whose muscles lack strength and power. Research has shown power training to be very effective for strength and power development in seniors. Since it takes longer to recover from workouts as people age, give your clients more time between intense resistance and cardio workouts.

If you train older adults with higher intensity, less volume, and more recovery between workouts, not only will they be fitter and stronger, they may even be able to keep up with my 98-year-old grandmother.

From CanFitPro magazine. Sept./Oct. 2017.  Reprinted with permission from Jason R. Karp, PhD


Jason Karp, PhD, is the 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 2014 recipient of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Community Leadership award, and creator of the REVO₂LUTION RUNNING™ certification. He has more than 400 published articles in international running, coaching, and fitness magazines, is the author of eight books, including Run Your Fat Off and The Inner Runner, and speaks at fitness conferences and coaching clinics around the world. Get training programs and autographed copies of his books at run-fit.com.

couple coastline

Healthy Aging: Establishing a Vision for Your Future and Planning for Success

I have never stopped believing in the power of a vision that captures one’s imagination and fuels a deep seated passion to make a difference in life and leave legacy of contributions that is remembered long after we are gone. The idea of creating a vision that fuels my desire to live life fully forms the foundation for a life that is built on purpose and serves to open doors of opportunity for others as well.

In the context of aging healthfully we can draw from the idea that “pulling us forward’ is an inner desire to NOT live life on the “edges” but become completely engaged and energized by what it is that we do on both the professional and personal levels. I believe in the power of a vision that yields purpose and also creates a deep sense of responsibility and accountability to one’s goals. This idea of creating a vision is at the heart of how I view my life now. I have spent a lifetime making decisions about both personal and professional matters that were limiting and not empowering. When I finally created my vision I learned I had become committed to my purpose and felt free to live my dream without fear –or reservation.

Here is my vision as it is currently written: “Healthy aging is a consciousness issue. It is not merely the death of our cells but is a complex and dynamic process that is grounded in change as life unfolds for each of us. The challenge as I see it is discovering the potential that lies within each of us to become all that we were meant to be mentally, physically and spiritually. This potential can carry us to living lives of fulfillment, peace, and prosperity if we remain present during each moment of our lives – living consciously. Learning about who we are from the ‘inside –out’ while acting upon our choices in the present moment, enables and empowers us to live a life of great accomplishment. This is my vision of a world that is possible.” Implied in this statement of purpose is the idea that my health and my evolving needs as I grow in time are dependent on the present circumstances as I understand them.

Supporting this vision is what I call my ‘core beliefs’ that define WHO I am as a human being – and as a professional. Some of these beliefs are:

  • Everything that we desire in life comes through relationships.
  • The mind of man is unlimited in its potential and responds to specific demands made upon it.
  • The “Triple Win” (created by me in the 80’s); “As I help you win, we win; as we win those we touch win.”
  • The purpose of life is to discover, develop and share our natural gifts.
  • What we put out in terms of energy and actions comes back to us multiplied. (Karma)
  • The rewards in life are directly proportional to your service to others.

My values are clear. Without my health I can accomplish nothing in my life. This notion fuels my desire to train mentally, physically and spiritually each and every day in order to expand the borders of my consciousness and be of service in ever expanding ways.

I have lived in my “shell” a long time and now I feel the presence of growth in all areas of my life. These articles are helping me to clarify my message and become more than I ever dreamed possible. It is about time after all I have lived 66 years, right? The programs I develop around these ideas will form the nucleus of what it is I am here to do (including publishing my book – no excuses!). I am also going to be “pushing back” a bit against the increasing influence of technology in our lives because every moment we spend tweeting, texting, checking our iPhones and communicating constantly online pulls us away from the ‘moment’ – the present – and this is only point of power through which we can change our lives for the better.

The world is “attached” to technology now and we no longer acknowledge each other – we are just too busy!  Make the time to meditate, imagine, feel, think and enjoy your life. If prayer works – pray by all means. Making time to take the “inner journey” everyday will make a world of difference in how you view and live your life – now and in the future. This work has paid off in spades for me. I am running faster and getting stronger everyday because I have taken the time to be with “me”. I have begun to prioritize my needs as they become apparent to me so that my life continues to move forward with meaning and purpose enabling me to be able to maximize the time I have left – whatever that turns out to be. (Remember the 6 minute mile on my 80th birthday?) Be strong and know that you have something unique in you that only you can give the world. Let your light shine and see what happens!

Article 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.

doctor-health

When It Comes to Health, There Is No One Size Fits All

Have you ever wondered why a particular diet, workout routine or cleanse offers remarkable results for some people, but not others?

It’s because of bio-individuality and Metabolic Chaos®.

When it comes to health, there is no one size fits all!  Each person is unique on a cellular and metabolic level.  They have their own health strengths and weaknesses, or vital voids as Reed Davis, the founder of Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® calls them.  So, instead of treating symptoms, tests and/or assessment results, the key is to assess the specific needs of each person.

Functional lab testing is the best way to analyze a person’s specific needs on a deeper level.  The comprehensive data obtained through lab testing can be used to inform and guide a health-building program, to get real results that last a lifetime.

Reed Davis, the founder of Functional Diagnostic Nutrition®, worked for over a decade as a certified nutritional therapist and case manager perfecting lab testing and resources.  And now for over 10 years, he has been sharing his knowledge through the FDN course with a mission to empower as many people as possible to help as many people as possible to get well and stay well naturally.

After helping hundreds of clients, Reed discovered that while each was unique in their health challenges, they also had much in common – H.I.D.D.E.N. stressors.

Through clinical work, Reed identified 5 foundational lab tests essential for in-depth insights in order to uncover a client’s H.I.D.D.E.N. stressors and reveal their true healing opportunities to build their health.

Having access to lab testing, knowing how to properly interpret the results and use the data to guide a health building protocol is what makes certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioners so successful in getting their clients real results.

Like you, most of our FDN practitioners started off as health coaches, personal trainers, nutritionists, nurses, homemakers or were in non-health related fields and changed their career because they were inspired by their personal health journey.

No matter what their prior profession was, all of them have these 3 things in common:

  • A strong desire to help others on a deeper level
  • Willingness to walk the talk and empower others to do the same
  • A feeling as if they were missing some very important pieces to the health puzzle.

FDN’s complete methodology has empowered over 3,000 trainees in over 50 different countries to help people get well and stay well naturally.

Join Reed Davis in our upcoming webinar and learn how to get real results for you and your clients, and create a successful business doing what you love while positively impacting others.


Reed Davis is a Nutritional Therapist and has been the Health Director and Case Manager at a wellness clinic San Diego for over 15 years; he is the Founder of the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Certification Course.

Health Care Collage Words Medicine Background

How Do You Define Health?

Health can be defined in a variety of ways.

  • The absence of disease.
  • The absence of symptoms of a disease.
  • The ability to achieve a specific health goal. (Weight loss or reduced medication)
  • The ability to achieve a specific life goal. (Travel or dance at your granddaughter’s wedding)

There’s no right or wrong definition of health. It’s all what’s of most importance to you. However, unless you take a moment to reflect on and define it for yourself, you may by default be guided by your physician’s goal for your health.

Their goal is well-intended and certainly well researched, however, without the understanding what’s most meaningful to you in terms of your health, you’re likely following a standard protocol. They may get you 90% of the way to your health, not realizing it’s the last 10% beyond the standard protocol that enables you to achieve what is most meaningful to you.

As we’ve entered into a New Year when health goals are more at the forefront of our minds, it can be an inspirational time to determine what health means for us.

A vision helps you determine what you’re aiming towards.

You can then communicate a clearly defined vision with your health care providers, so they can support you in achieving your goal.

So, what does this look like?

As a nutrition coach, I always take new clients through this process.

What goal comes to mind first?

Generally speaking, the most popular answer is weight loss. But nobody wants to lose weight just to have a lower number on the scale. It’s about what they can do when they’re at that lower weight. (Walk up the stairs without being winded, not need a seatbelt extender during a plane ride or feeling comfortable in a bathing suit on your anniversary vacation.)

Because I work primarily with individuals that have autoimmune disease, the motivations are much deeper. The obvious would be less pain, more energy and increased mobility. But when truly getting to understand each person, they share that they want to regain the ability to walk down the driveway to get the mail, have enough energy to do their own grocery shopping, or reduce pain so they can sleep better at night.

The latter goals have such great detail that your care team will want to get onboard in setting you up for success.

From here, you can best determine what providers and services you need most to achieve health in your terms.

This may also prompt them to offer more options for you in achieving your goal. It could be as simple as suggesting a session with a physical therapist to a mediation app that’s been helpful to other patients in managing pain.

Bottom line, you need to first define your vision for health and then clearly communicate that vision with your healthcare team – ideally starting with your primary care physician – so you can be supported with the best path to your health success.

Join Alene for her upcoming webinar with MedFit Classroom:


Alene Brennan has been featured in USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Huffington Post and Mind Body Green. Alene overcame debilitating migraine headaches through diet and lifestyle and is now once again using a “Less Pharm, More Table” approach is managing her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Alene holds four certifications: Nutrition Coach, Yoga Instructor, Personal Trainer and Natural Food Chef. She also completed specialized training in nutrition for autoimmune disease specifically the Wahls Protocol and the Autoimmune Protocol. Since receiving her MS diagnosis and seeing first-hand the power of using diet and lifestyle to create a healing environment in the body, she dedicated her virtual nutrition coaching practice to helping people with MS and autoimmune dieseases take back control of their health. Visit her website, alenebrennan.com.