Hey, Did You Forget Something?

What is one of the best ways to care for your body? Working out. What’s needed for a great workout? Shoes, check. Water bottle, check. Headphones, check. Motivation, check. What’s missing in this list? Stretching.

Those of us who have been going to the gym for a long time have our regular routines, often missing this important element for getting the maximum benefits of the workout.

Flexibility plays a key role in functioning muscles and balance.

Are your muscles feeling a little crankier than they did a few years ago? Gentle stretching will warm up muscles and increase flexibility to get the full benefit of your workout. It doesn’t have to take a long time, it doesn’t have to be hard or complicated.

There are all sorts of ways to stretch. I prefer to start with the foam roller to get the kinks out of my back, neck, and arms. It gets blood moving through my muscles. Others like to do a quick warm-up on a cardio machine and then head for the area allocated for stretching in the gym. Yes, it’s such an integral part of exercising that gyms actually create space and provide mats, foam rollers and balls to encourage good movement.

Stretches for increased flexibility and mobility shouldn’t be difficult or hurt. Which ones are best for you depends on your fitness level and what exercises you’ll be doing. Ask one of the trainers if you’re not sure what the best actions are for you. There are lots of websites and videos on the internet that can be helpful, too.

I love the classes offered at BAC. The instructors do warm-up exercises at the beginning and cool down stretches at the end of the class. However, their time is limited to focus on this part. My recommendation is to get to class early, or stay late, and do some of your own stretching exercises.

Don’t forget to stretch before or after your workout. It’s worth the time because your flexibility will improve, you’ll get more out of exercising and feel better when you’re done.

 

Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design
Susie is a consultant for Aging in Place. Contact her if you have questions about adding safety and comfort solutions to your home.

Your Health Beyond the Gym

May is one of the busiest health observance months I know about. Here are some of the awareness programs that can have an effect on all of us. Most of this information comes from Welcoa, the Wellness Council of America. These are a few of all of the important health awareness events for May. Visit Welcoa for more.

May 6 – 12 is National Nurses Week. If you missed the celebration, its never too late to thank your nurse!

ALS Awareness Month, The ALS Association
Better Sleep Month, Better Sleep Council
Bike Month, The Communications League of American Bicyclists
Healthy Vision Month
High Blood Pressure Education Month, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Lupus Awareness, Lupus Foundation of America
Mental Health Month, Mental Health America –
Melanoma / Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, The American Academy of Dermatology
Stroke Month, American Stroke Association

Regular health, vision and dental check-ups are important. Don’t forget to get yours!

Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design

Stay Young and Fit in the Pool

I was swimming in the Atlantic last week and it was delightful. It reminded me of what a great exercise it is for the young and young at heart. Here are some reasons why you should get into the water.

Heart and lung strength; Swimming is an aerobic exercise that can strengthen the heart and lungs with less stress on the body than other sports do. The mechanics of breathing in the water work like this; “You breathe in quickly and deeply, and then let the air trickle out. Because your head is underwater when you swim, these breathing adjustments are vital, and they may improve the strength of your respiratory muscles,” reports David Tanner. Livestrong has an excellent article on the benefits.

Strength training; Because water is heavier than air it provides resistance so that the body can be working harder than out of water training. Using kickboards and floats help work on specific muscle groups.

Flexibility and core work; Heated water can help relax muscles for good stretching exercises. The body is working with many muscles at the same time, improving core strength and balance.

Cross training; Swimming is a full body workout, using lots of muscles at the same time. Consistent swimming, or using the pool to mix-up your workout is an excellent program for everyone. Utilizing many of the muscles doing the one exercise. It can be an important part of physical therapy, too.

Do your own workout; Fitness Magazine has some suggestions for movements to include in your pool session.

Be social: Water aerobics is a great way to get your exercise in, too.Classes include leg and arm strength movements. Working out to music and friends makes it fun. I’ve been to a few classes and the instructors are motivating and can be challenging.

Are you a little rusty on technique, or never learned to swim? Take a refresher class to remind your body what to do. Make sure that you get the kids in the water – swimming is an important skill to learn and can be a lifelong way to workout.

BAC has a great pool in the Cordata Club. It’s indoors which is a plus for the winter months. There are water aerobics classes, lap times and lessons available. The pool opens at 5:30 am and follows the gym’s hours.

Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design

The Benefits of Fitness Trackers

I’ve been wearing a fitness tracker for years. I started with a Polar watch that measured my heart rate with a band worn around my chest. It was accurate but a bit of a hassle. Now I wear one on my wrist. These days, there’s a wide variety of trackers that monitor different things depending on what you’re trying to measure. Trackers are useful for staying connected with your progress and committed to your goals.

Here’s a review of some popular models.

Polar has lots of trackers to choose from and a support page to help pick the right one for you. The A370 is their every day/all day model. It tracks heart rate, sleep and activity. The standouts for this model is it’s waterproof for swimmers and has GPS for runners, at a reasonable price point. Polar has the reputation of having the most accurate feedback of all trackers, important for the serious athlete. This model is $179.95.

Fitbit has a variety of models. I’ve been wearing the Fitbit Charge HR for the last year or so. It tracks my activities, monitors my sleep and heart rate. Its smaller than the referenced Polar unit, but isn’t waterproof. The stand out for this Fitbit is that I can get texts and notifications on the screen. $149.95 Fitbit has recently come out with the Iconic at $299.95. The Iconic rivals the Apple watch with options like adding available apps, making payments and has a customizable clock face. Although it is a contender with the Apple Watch, it’s a fitness tracker at heart. Standout feature – the battery life is around 4 days. The Apple Watch needs to get charged every day.

The Apple Watch Series 3 starts at $329.95 (what is with the .95?). It has all of the benefits that the other trackers do including activity and sleep tracking, GPS, and connects with online coaching. The Watch has unique options such as cellular service without bringing your phone (for an additional $70), connects with Siri and can be used for swimming. Apple has teamed up with Nike for some training prompts and information that runners will want. There are many accessory options, and of course, the Apple Watch has the cool factor.

There are many more trackers on the market. Most work with apps that will capture and store your activity information. They’ve got inspiring stories, interesting tips for improvement and some have online workout classes in case you can’t make it to the gym. Many of them have a community you can connect to and challenge other people going for similar goals, Each one has a slightly different use, appearance and comfort level.

Trackers help keep you committed to attaining your goals. The information can be as minimal as steps taken each day, to the more technical options of precise heart rate and activity monitor. They’re particularly useful if you’ve got goals and want to make sure that you’re on track. Go try one on and see the benefits right away.

Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design

3 Motivators to Bring Your Friend to the Gym

Congratulations – you’ve chosen to be a member of an athletic club. You have committed to staying healthy and fit. 3 or 4 visits a week with a workout plan will improve your mood, attitude and appearance. Often, the greatest obstacle in the way of success is just getting to the gym. Even those of us who are regulars know the challenges of motivation. It’s easier to skip a day, then a week or worse, a month. Sometimes we all need a little push from a friend.

I’ve got 3 motivators to help you and your friend get to the gym.

Renew Your Resolutions – This is an excellent time to review and renew your goals. Maybe you aimed too high and need to adjust the plan so you can be successful. I like to goal set in quarters; a 3 month commitment is easier to achieve than a 12 month plan. Is there someone you know that might be in a similar situation? Go get a cup of coffee together and set reasonable goals that you’re likely to achieve.

Accountability – Regularly meeting a friend at the gym is a win-win. You get to check in with your friend and get a workout too. When you know someone is waiting for you, you’re more likely to show up.

Beat Isolation – Do you know someone that isn’t getting out enough, can’t drive or has the winter blues? Maybe you’re feeling that way, too. Loneliness, depression and isolation are serious health problems. Working out boosts one’s physical and mental health. Give your friend a call and an invitation to join you for a workout. Provide transportation and the encouragement to improve their attitude, strength and mobility.

I couldn’t drive for 6 months for medical reasons. My friends organized a carpool and got me to the gym regularly. I am so thankful to them for their efforts. I believe that their companionship and energy helped me heal faster.

Working out is important to our physical and mental health. You know that already. Help yourself and your friend get to the gym, achieve goals and have fun at the same time!

Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design

Leg Strength Supports Aging in Place

A key component of staying in your home is based on your overall fitness and health. The daily chores of laundry, groceries and vacuuming require strength and balance. Gardening, washing cars and mowing the lawn take endurance. The better fit you are, the more likely you’ll be able to continue to do the things you love for a long time.

It Starts With the Legs
Healthy legs are what keeps you mobile. The stronger your legs are, the easier it is to do just about everything. Healthy leg muscles makes it easier to do cardio work, from walking to working out on the elliptical machine. Leg strengthening exercises help to build endurance. Strengthening and improving endurance will help you have a healthier heart and overall fitness.

Good balance is essential to safety. Falls are the leading cause of injury for the 65 + group in the USA. Developing your core muscles help improve balance. Increasing your fitness, particularly leg strength and balance, will help prevent falls.

Leg Strength and Brain Health
Studies at the Kings College London have found that leg muscle strength is a significant indicator of a healthy brain. This 10 year study of twins found that the twin who had stronger legs had less age related brain changes than the other. Good fitness promotes mental well being and increases your ability to be independent.

How to Build Leg Muscles
Lunges and squats are some of the most efficient exercises to build leg muscles. Here are some more ideas: Hip extension, Knee Extensions, Calf raises, Ankle circles.
*Check with your doctor before you start any sort of fitness routine

Leg Strength and Overall Health
We all know that physical fitness is essential to a healthy life. Exercise can keep the heart stay healthy, keeps many diseases at bay and is essential to overall well-being. Strength training is important for every part of your body, and the first place to start is with the legs.
Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design

Making Your Home Safe for The Holidays

The Holidays are always a special time for friends and family getting together. However, they are also an excellent time for accidents in the home to happen. Taking family members to the ER has become something of a family tradition.

Take precautions and keep the opportunities for accidents to a minimum. Important things to remember are; be vigilant, a chair is not a ladder, and flameless candles are very attractive. Here are more tips ~

The Kitchen

  • Use a timer when cooking, fires can start from burning foods
  • Don’t leave cooking food unattended
  • Keep oven mitts, towels and aprons away from heat sources
  • Consider making a 3 ft. kid and pet free zone to prevent accidental burns
  • If you’ve got young children visiting, consider placemats in place of tablecloths that might get yanked, breaking china or worse, tipping over lit candles
  • Provide a highchair for young visitors, and make sure that it is properly secure

 

The Tree

Fresh trees

  • Check for brown needles, a dry tree can be a fire hazards
  • Check for spiders and other pests before bringing the tree indoors
  • Secure the tree to prevent it tipping over

 

Artificial trees

  • Make sure it is fire resistant and lead free.
  • Keep away from the fireplace and candles
  • If an artificial tree comes with lights installed, look for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) seal of approval to indicate that the proper wiring was used.

 

Decorations

  • Keep glass ball and other breakable ornaments on higher branches, away from a child’s reach
  • Before using, check lights for frayed cord and damaged sockets
  • Indoor lights stay indoors
  • Use a step ladder, not a chair, to get to the high spots
  • One and Done extension cords – don’t plug two extension cords together
  • Keep the tree skirt close to the tree to avoid tripping opportunities or skip it all together
  • Make sure that furniture is well spaced out to reduce tripping accidents

 

Wrapping Paper and Packages

  • Pick up clutter, wrapping paper can hide tripping hazards
  • Packaging popcorn and plastic can be choking hazards
  • Don’t put wrapping paper in the fireplace, sudden fire flashes can be dangerous
  • Small toys and lithium batteries can be choking hazards, make sure they are out of small children’s reach
  • Use the right tool for the job when opening presents, and putting together new gifts

 

Other Rooms

  • Small rugs can cause tripping, best to avoid all together, but if you must, use grip tape
  • Add slip resistant treads or decals to the tub and shower floors for overnight guests
  • Provide plenty of lighting. Night lights are helpful.
  • Check to make sure you have anti-scald fixtures on faucet, 120° is the hottest the water should be
  • Keep doors closed to keep children out
  • Add handrails in halls or grab bars in the bathroom to help older visitors

 

Be Prepared

  • Check that smoke alarms are working and fire extinguishers are fresh
  • A complete first aid kit is easily accessed
  • Keep a few flashlights with fresh batteries available
  • Keep front walks and entries clear of tripping hazards or ice
  • Make sure that your house numbers can be seen easily from the street in case the Fire     Department needs to find you (as if the billowing smoke isn’t enough)

 

Making your home safe for visitors isn’t difficult. It just takes a little planning ahead, and paying attention to the possible trouble spots.

I hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday season.

Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design