Healthy Retirement

Do you need some help making the transition from busy worker bee to busy retiree? The journey from working to retiring is one of life’s great transitions – even if you’ve planned for it and are really looking forward to it. A time of delicate decisions and scary new possibilities, retirement can feel both exhilarating and confusing. Choices made now will reverberate through the rest of you life. Choices about fitness and nutrition may be most important of all.

How will you spend your time, and what do you want to do on a typical day? What do you want to learn, and what do you want to teach? Where and how do you want to live? Is it possible now to resurrect some of the dreams and goals you’ve deferred? As you plan the rest of your life, incorporating your beliefs, values and commitments, be sure to give proper attention to your physical well-being. If you’re in good shape, great! You’ll want to maintain that valuable condition. If not, there’s no better time to make healthy changes. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Physical activity is more important than ever.

• If you’re not interested in joining a gym or fitness center, you can stay physically active in other ways: bowling, fishing, gardening, biking, walking, or community projects.
• If you are interested in joining a gym or fitness center, find out if they offer classes and activities for seniors, especially since they may also offer discounts.
• Partner up with a fitness buddy – someone who is as serious as you about health and fitness.
• Consider making strength training a part of your exercise regime – it offers numerous benefits for seniors such as increasing energy, reducing stress and anxiety, delaying or preventing age-related disorders, and enhancing sleep, balance, endurance, and flexibility.
• Remember to stretch. Take 5 to 10 minutes a day to stretch your muscles; any time of the day is the right time.

Eat, drink and be healthy.

• Eat a variety of healthy foods.
• Avoid high-cholesterol foods and limit your total fat and saturated fat.
• Increase fiber intake, and especially if you are a woman, calcium.
• Limit your use of sugar, salt, and sodium compounds.
• Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.
• Get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.

Set out on new adventures!

• Schedule at least part of your time according to the goals you set for yourself – it’s a perverse axiom of human nature that the more time you have, the more you waste.
• Learn something new. Make a list of all the things you’ve wanted to learn or try, then go ahead a do it – no excuses, you have the time now.
• Take up a fitness activity that you can do with your better half – tennis, ballroom dancing, cooking classes. You can cook new, healthy foods together.
• Travel together and experience new adventures, walk and see the world, embrace all the beauty it holds within. Make a conscious effort to build both exercise and healthy eating into your travels. When planning an itinerary, look for ways to be active, like swimming, boating, golfing etc.
• Volunteer for worthwhile activities, particularly those closest to your heart. When you have purpose in your life, getting and staying fit becomes easier.

Clearly, it doesn’t take a lot of money or major planning to make the most of your golden years. You too can turn your retirement into a renaissance!

Reducing Stress with Exercise

You know that exercise does your body good, but you’re too busy and stressed to fit it into your routine. Hold on a second! There’s good news when it comes to exercise. Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to weightlifting, can act as a stress reliever. You can make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief and why exercise should be part of your life.
Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits. It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. It is important to get a good night’s rest so you can be more productive and alert throughout your days.
Here are some tips for sticking with a new routine or reinvigorating a tired workout:
Walk before you run. Build up your fitness level gradually. Excitement about a new program can lead to overdoing it and possibly even injury. Plus, if you begin your program slowly, chances are better you’ll stick with it. If you’re new to exercise, aim for about 20 to 30 minutes of exercise two to three days a week and increase gradually. It is also important to incorporate strength training exercises at least twice a week for an overall balanced fitness regime.

Do what you love, and love what you do. Don’t train for a marathon if you dislike running. Virtually any form of exercise or movement can increase your fitness level while decreasing your stress. The most important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy. Examples include walking, stair climbing, jogging, bicycling, yoga, tai chi, gardening, weightlifting and swimming.

Pencil it in. Although your schedule may allow a morning workout one day and an evening activity the next, carving out some time to move every day helps you make your exercise program an ongoing priority.

Starting an exercise program is just the first step.
Set some goals. It’s always a good idea to begin or modify a workout program with a goal in mind. If your primary goal is to reduce stress in your life and recharge your batteries, your specific goals might include committing to walking during your lunch hour two to three times a week or, if needed, finding a baby sitter to watch your children so that you can slip away to attend a fitness class. The point is make time for you!
Find a friend. Knowing that someone is waiting for you to show up at the gym or the park can be a powerful incentive. Working out with a friend, co-worker or family member often brings a new level of motivation and commitment to your workouts.

Change up your routine. If you’ve always been a competitive runner, take a look at other less competitive options that may help with stress reduction, such as Pilates or yoga classes. As an added bonus, these kinder, gentler workouts may enhance your running while also decreasing your stress.

Whatever you do, don’t think of exercise as just one more thing on your to-do list. Find an activity you enjoy, whether it’s an active tennis match or a meditative meander down to a local park and back, and make it part of your regular routine. Any form of physical activity can help you unwind and become an important part of your approach to easing stress in your daily life.

Hidden Causes of Weight Gain

Several things should be considered if you are gaining weight while watching calories and being physically active. More than likely, it’s a variety of things working together that have resulted in the weight gain.

Here are four factors that can cause the scale to creep up when you least expect it:

1) You May Be Gaining Weight Because of Lack of Sleep

The body functions best when well rested. When you’re tired, you also don’t handle stress as well, so you may reach for food as a coping mechanism. Furthermore, you may be taking in extra calories from late-night snacking. Some people think eating might help them get back to sleep, but all it really does is add more calories to their daily total. When you develop good sleeping rituals and get regular exercise, you will eventually sleep better.

2) You May Be Gaining Weight Because of Stress

We live in a society that demands we do more, and achieve more. Stress moves us
forward and helps us cope with life’s demands, but is also affects our mood and
emotions. Many people reach for food to help ease the stress. But, of course, this doesn’t work in the long run. Food is a temporary fix because it does not deal with the real stressors that must be addressed in order to reduce the trigger for eating and
fix the problem. Try relaxation techniques as well as exercise, which also burns
calories and provides other health benefits.

3) You May Be Gaining Weight Because of Medications

Some prescription drugs may cause weight gain, from a modest amount to as much as 10 pounds. For example, some steroids, hormone replacement therapy, and even oral contraceptives may cause gradual weight gain. Even if your medications are the cause of your weight gain, you still need to be mindful of eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. If you think medication may be a cause of your weight gain it is a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider for options.

4) You May Be Gaining Weight Because of Menopause

Women reach menopause at a range of ages, most are in midlife and are often less physically active than when they were younger. Along with aging comes a natural slowing of metabolism. Because of this, fat is more likely to be deposited in the midsection. The key to avoiding this extra belly fat is to maintain and increase the amount of lean body mass, which will, in turn, increase your metabolism or calorie burning rate. Women need to understand how important weight lifting and strength training is to their health. Exercise also helps offset bone loss that can come with menopause. A combination of exercise and a healthy calorie-controlled eating regime is the answer to thwarting weight gain.

“People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.”

Carol White, Personal Fitness Specialist

Fitness for a Lifetime

Fitness isn’t just about vanity – it’s a necessity for maintaining an active, independent lifestyle in one’s elder years. To maintain health and vitality, every individual should implement a plan of exercise. Specifically for elderly individuals, fitness can help prevent a variety of symptoms of aging, as it can help boost both physical and cognitive performance. A few hours dedicated to fitness a week can help senior citizens live healthier, longer lives. As muscles in the body strengthen, the body can move more easily. Since seniors often experience joint pain, problems with mobility and lack of general flexibility, exercise can be a welcome addition to their lifestyle. Working these muscles through a regular workout program can help prevent, abate, or even cure these issues.

Regular exercise can help individuals of all age groups providing seemingly endless benefits. Examples of these benefits include improvements in conditions such as osteoarthritis, blood pressure, diabetes, memory, balance, stress and osteoporosis. In order to engage in a beneficial fitness program, elderly individuals should strive to maintain a specific routine that includes three specific components:

Aerobic Exercise – Aerobic exercise includes activities such as walking, jogging, swimming, biking and optional cardiovascular exercises. Cardiovascular exercise helps make everyday tasks easier by building your endurance and stamina. To experience benefits, people should strive to engage in aerobic activities approximately three to five times a week.

Strength Training – To improve posture, bone density, muscle mass and stamina, strength training should be implemented into everyone’s exercise regime. Strength training can be achieved by lifting weights and/or working with resistance bands and machines. Strive for weights that allow you to feel challenged, but that also allow for a full range of motion, as this will help build muscle and strength safely and efficiently.

Balance and Flexibility – The focus on balance and flexibility will help individuals gain core strength with reduced pain and injury. Research shows that stretching helps boost flexibility as it simultaneously helps prevent specific exercise-related injuries. For guided help in this area of focus, one can also participate in a Yoga or Pilate’s class. Yoga focuses on teaching movements that incorporate fluid balance and core strength. Similar to Yoga, Pilates also focuses on balance, core strength, and flexibility.

Make fitness a life choice, no matter what age you are, it is never too late to start… So what are you waiting for?

Your Health… Your Investment

By now you know that exercise is good for you, and that you should do something on a regular basis. When is the best time to exercise? Anytime! Make time to stay healthy. Exercise is the best thing you can do for yourself. Is one time better than another to exercise? It’s really up to you. You can exercise in the morning, afternoon or evening. Lunch breaks offer an excellent opportunity to get out of the office and exercise. Use your coffee break to take a short walk around the office or outside around the block. Get rid of the day’s stress by fitting exercise in after work. Whatever time you chose, make sure you stick with it. For some people it is easier to stay with an exercise program when you do it with a friend, partner or co-worker. Accountability is very important!

Once you decide that exercise is an important time in you life, you need to figure out how to make it happen. An important part of maintaining a fitness program is to recognize that you can exercise anywhere and anytime.

Here are a few ways you can exercise without even knowing it:

1) Park your car farther away. The more steps you take during the day, the more exercise you’re getting.

2) Go dancing. You would be surprised how many calories dancing can burn.

3) Participate in a charity walk or bike ride. There are several here in the Black Hills and most cater to all fitness levels.

4) Play with your kids. Trying to keep up with them is sure to burn calories while having fun!

5) Take the stairs. If possible, walk up the stairs at work or your home.

6) Stretch. Take five to ten minutes a day to stretch. Stretching relieves stress and burns fat.

7) Do some chores. Shoveling snow, working in the garden, raking leaves, cleaning your car… these kinds of activities may not be vigorous exercise, but they can keep you moving while getting your life in order.

Finally – reap the benefits of making some time for fitness. Maintaining your fitness routine will allow you a bit of time for yourself. Even 20-30 minutes of exercise a day will help remind you that your health and well-being is important, and that YOU are important.

Remember: Your health is truly priceless…so don’t stop investing in it!

It’s all about YOU!

Do you find yourself saying “Stop the merry-go-round, I want to get off!” You’re not alone. All the stuff going on and the things you are looking after are not you. They are not your life; they are in your life. They may be important and a priority, but when push comes to shove, they are not your life.

If putting yourself first sounds too selfish or too hard, try something simpler. Put yourself on equal footing with those you love, care about and tend to. Do you insist that they get enough sleep? Start doing it for yourself too. Do you give them time for fun and socializing with friends? Then do the same! Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Human beings must meet their basic needs before they can move on to higher-level goals.

Since most of us already know that we should take care of ourselves—but often have trouble figuring out how to do it—here are some guidelines for getting there:

• Preserve your physical health with adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
• Kill one bird with two stones, combining family time with exercise, which benefits everyone involved.
• Value your emotional health as much as the physical, with a support system of friends and family.
• Schedule fun activities on a regular basis. It is as important to plan pleasure, as it is to plan work.
• Identify “busy behaviors” (or people) that drain your time and energy but aren’t really important and minimize their hold on you.
• Learn to say “NO!” Your “yes” is valuable and should not be automatic. Instead, reserve it for the things that are most important to you.
• Don’t try to change every problem area in your life all at once. Start with one or two items and then expand as you get things under control.

Your life should be like a checking account, balancing out on a regular basis so that you always have assets to draw upon. By making even small deposits—taking care of yourself with a 10-minute walk or a nutritious meal—you’ll be amazed at the interest you’ll reap.

Take a look at how you are seeing yourself and the things that you need to do to be healthy and happy. You matter, simple as that, A LOT!

Carol A. White
Personal Fitness Specialist