Sarcopenia is the decline of skeletal muscle tissue, or muscle mass, as we age. The loss of this muscle progressively impairs the strength and balance of older adults until they can no longer perform daily activities independently.
You can prevent or reverse sarcopenia by staying physically active, particularly with resistance training and weight-bearing exercises. Resistance training (using resistance bands or lifting weights) has shown the best results for building and maintaining muscle. However, other weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, dancing, or tennis, are beneficial as well.
The more we use our muscles, the bigger they grow! It’s never too early—or too late—to start strengthening our muscles to stay independent for life. To find out more, download “Stay Independent, Prevent Sarcopenia”.
Each year, Iowans celebrate RAGBRAI in July. Iowa cities and towns hold mini festivals for the bicycle riders—complete with food stands, entertainment, and displays of Iowa culture. However, the focus is still on the cyclists.
Live longer by bicycling. Getting 30 minutes of physical activity daily contributes to longevity. By making physical activity a regular habit, one can greatly reduce blood pressure, control blood sugar, improve cholesterol levels, and prevent sarcopenia (muscle wasting) in older age.
Bicycling is ideal for any fitness level, and there are different types of bikes to fit one’s style (road, mountain, and hybrid). Has it been several years since you enjoyed this activity? The American College of Sports Medicine provides recommendations for beginning a bicycling routine. You can also order a map of bike trails through the Iowa DOT.
The Cardio Pyramid, created by Colorado State University, is a fun, upbeat workout that you can do at home. Instructional videos are available that break down each move in the pyramid, including warm-up and strength-building exercises, into simple steps so that you can learn the proper form necessary to complete each move.
To do the Cardio Pyramid, do the exercises in this order:
- March in place, 2 counts of 8
- Step touch, 2 counts of 8
- Hamstring curls, 2 counts of 8
- V-step, 2 counts of 8
- High knees, 2 counts of 8
- March in place, 3 counts of 8
Then repeat the exercises in the opposite order. To access the instructional videos to learn how to do each exercise, go to this eating smart being active website.
The claims sound believable, so it can be tempting to try the latest diet you hear about. While a diet plan may sound tempting, an eating plan should be the goal. To manage your weight and maintain a healthy nutritional status, it would be wise to consider these questions:
QUESTION: Does the plan promise weight loss without exercise?
For most healthy adults, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends the following exercise guidelines:
- Aerobic activity – Get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity.
- Muscle-strengthening exercises – Two or more days per week.
Keep activity exciting by doing different things you enjoy.
QUESTION: Are there particular foods, or food groups, excluded or consumed excessively?
Use MyPlate (www.choosemyplate.gov) to guide your food intake. All food groups are important.
QUESTION: Does the plan require you to purchase pills, bars, or shakes?
A sustainable eating pattern is based on food readily available in grocery stores and farmers markets.
QUESTION: Does the plan promise weight loss of more than 1–2 pounds per week?
Losing 1–2 pounds or less a week is gradual, healthy weight loss. Weight lost more rapidly than this tends to be regained even faster.
QUESTION: Does the plan sound too good to be true?
If it does, it probably is.
April is National Garden Month, and if you garden, you probably have experienced many of the benefits. Gardening not only provides nutritious food, it also provides a great cardio and strengthening workout. Spending time connecting with nature can also relieve stress. The regular physical activity gardening provides helps prevent heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The strength gained (think carrying watering cans full of water or pushing a wheelbarrow) helps prevent osteoporosis as well. As with any physical activity, it is important to check with your doctor if you have concerns. Consider starting a garden this year. It does not have to be big, even a window box or a few containers provide many benefits. Learn more about the benefits of growing your own produce.
Source: University of Illinois Extension
We’re often told, “Just get up and move. Get the blood flowing.” Sound advice, but how much movement will counteract the effects of prolonged sitting? What types of movements are best? How often should I get up from my chair?
Researchers investigated the health benefits of reducing the amount of time spent sedentary to improve cardio-metabolic health in middle aged and older adults. Thirteen participants who were active middle-aged and older adults with six or more hours a day of sedentary behavior and had one or more cardiometabolic disorders (high cholesterol, high fasting blood glucose, and elevated blood pressure) participated in the study.
Researchers had participants stand up every one to two hours and do low- to moderate-intensity activities for five to ten minutes. They wanted to determine how often and how long participants needed to be active in order to see changes in cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Results showed that HDL (“good”) cholesterol increased while triglycerides and blood glucose concentration decreased most favorably when participants stood up every hour and were active for five minutes. The benefits of these short activity bouts were reversed after participants returned to normal sedentary behavior habits for one week. With behavior change, consistency is essential. Even small repeated behaviors make a huge difference over time.
Bottom line: low-intensity movement interruptions are an effective means of combating sedentary behavior. If a person is capable and willing to get up and move once per hour, five minutes of activities such as washing dishes, folding laundry, or taking out the trash is sufficient to improve HDL, triglycerides, and blood glucose.
What’s more striking is the fact that regular exercise programs don’t always lead to positive results to the extent seen in this research. These study results do not mean that regular, structured exercise is unimportant for better health. Rather, focus on both regular exercise and reduced sitting time.
Source: American Council on Exercise,
Strength training is just as important as aerobic exercise. Luckily, you don’t need to buy expensive fitness equipment or gym memberships. Here are some no-cost ways to increase your strength:
- Lift can or bottle weights. You can use unopened soup cans from your cupboard, or plastic milk, water, or detergent jugs filled with water or sand.
- Scoot on paper plates. Doing lunges on paper plates placed on a carpet helps sculpt the body.
- Do push-ups. Push-ups can be done anywhere, anytime. It’s helpful for beginners to use counter tops for assistance by placing both hands on the counter and placing the feet behind from an angle.
- Use old pantyhose as resistance bands. Anything you can do with resistance bands you can do with pantyhose (squats, curls, and other moves).
- Conquer the stairs. Skip escalators and elevators whenever you can. Stair climbing strengthens the legs and exercises the heart.
Visit www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/videos/ for how-to videos on muscle-strengthening exercises you can do at home.
Source: Move It Monday
Anyone can have a difficult time making exercise part of their routine. Often it comes down to motivation! Try these tricks to reach your fitness goals:
- Become an early bird. Many individuals get in their workouts in the morning, when willpower is at a maximum level and before it dwindles throughout the day.
- Get other people involved. Think of kid- friendly activities that your children will enjoy with you or find a friend who likes the same things you do, like running or spinning.
- Set smaller goals. It is much easier to fit ten minutes of movement into your day every few hours than to find a larger chunk of time in your schedule. Take one bag of groceries in at a time from the car, do sets of 10 squats or push-ups in between loads of laundry, or take stairs two at a time to get your heart rate up.
- Keep equipment front and center. Sometimes a simple thing, like putting your workout gear in your living room, can be key to feeling more motivated.
Winter months can be a challenge for daily physical activity because the need does not change in cold weather. Adults can ensure children (and they) are moving and developing their muscles by providing large muscle play opportunities. Action rhymes are a great way to get everyone moving. What are action rhymes? These are songs or poems set to motion that tell a story. Some classic action rhymes include “Row Your Boat,” “Ring Around the Rosy,” and “Head and Shoulder, Knees and Toes.”
When winter weather will allow, walking in the snow is a workout in itself; make it more interesting by searching for animal tracks. Pretending to be those animals when there is snow on the ground is a fun new game. Old-time favorite activities like creating a snow angel, dancing the “Hokey Pokey,” or playing the game “Duck, Duck Goose” are also a workout in the snow. Throwing snowballs at a target (a red circle in the snow made using food coloring) will satisfy the throwing urge and no one gets hurt. Following the leader or marching in a circle lifting those legs as high as they can go and swinging arms gets many muscles working.
Source: Posted on December 24, 2012, by Shannon Lindquist, Michigan State University Extension.
Fall is upon us. Out with the humid scorchers and in with the crisp fall air. Fall is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the weather with some fun seasonal activities. Being active increases your ability to prevent simple infections, just in time for cold and flu season! As you enjoy fall and prepare for winter, give these seasonal fitness activities a try.
• Plan a backyard holiday football game.
• Sign up for a 5k walk or run.
• Grab a friend or family member and go for a brisk walk.
Don’t like the cold? Explore some inside activity options like a spin (cycling) class or a new aerobics class at your local fitness center.
For more information, visit Healthy for Good.