Senior HIT Weight Exercise Update

If you want to… So much follows those few words. Little partial phrases like: lose weight, feel younger, get flexible, be stronger. Well, you get the idea. This is a followup to my post, “Over Fifty? Exercise is not an Option”. You really do not have to read that post to benefit from this one. But you may want to….

In the book, “Younger Next Year” by Chris Crowley & Henry S Lodge, M.D , the authors postulate over two-thirds of, “Old Age Disease” is avoidable, and is brought on by lack of exercise. Imagine that, over seven out of ten people in a nursing home are there because they choose to be, not because they have to be.

I do not have references for this, but information should be easy to find if you search on, ‘exercise and aging’. One study I read, took ten people out of a nursing home who were wheel chair bound. After some weeks, most of them were out of their wheel chairs and could dance and enjoy lawn games outside! One man was climbing trees again! Current estimates on aging say that after sixty, almost thirty percent of your life remains! How do you wish to spend those years, living life, or getting ready to die?

A month before my post I referenced above, I had slowed way down. Bending to the floor was a process, not a movement. My shoulders and hips hurt, I had ghost pains, and I was more tired than I should be. When I wrote the post, I had about a month at the gym doing High Intensity Training with Weight Machines. I was feeling slightly sore in places I had forgotten about, and was wondering if it was all worth it as I wasn’t noticing a lot of improvement. Then the changes started!

I kept at it, and I can say it was worth every minute I have spend in the gym. I am more solid now. I have more strength and energy, and I sleep better. The only pain or discomfort I feel lately is the night of and day after the gym when some of my muscles are complain about the workout.

I am slowly working my down to failure at 5 – 8 slow repetitions using the weight machines. On most of the weight machines I have doubled or more the weight I am able to manage at the end of my first month. I thought I was done adding weights until I received a flu shot a few weeks ago. This years flu shot had me feeling less than stellar for almost a full week. Not really sick, just not good, nor energetic.

When I went back to the gym after a week of no gym, to my surprise, I almost doubled some of the weights. I think I am going to take a week off in the future every six or so weeks to let my body really recover. I think being older, real recovery takes longer. I was resting three days between HIT Weight Training, but maybe that is too fast for me just starting out. I will know more next long break.

Weight Training Machines are your Friends!

Weight Training Machines are simple to use, usually have pictures of how to use them. Stick to the basic machines, no need to try them all. Some could get you hurt, especially those that stress knee or shoulder joints should be avoided. Search youtube for weight machines to avoid for more. Start with the minimum weight, and add ten pounds only when you go through three workouts in a row with no pain or soreness.

Move slowly. Slow motion is safe motion. Do not jerk and move rapidly like most of the people you see around you in the gym. Most of them are working their way to pain or injury, and will stop going. Don’t go there! Slow and steady movements, maybe three to eight seconds each direction, and after some months, others will be looking at the amount of weight you move!

After ensuring I am loosened up, I use two leg, and one arm weight machines. Then I use a stationary bicycle for thirty to forty minutes depending on the amount of time I have, keeping my heart rate up. Next I do an ‘Ab’ crunch machine, and three upper body and arm machines. I am done in an hour or less. If I wanted to cut the time to thirty minutes, I could do weights one day, and cardio on a second or third day.

I have gained so much! I thought HIT Walking is an excellent exercise, but it doesn’t hold a candle to HIT Weights. As I mentioned I have little pain, except minor workout soreness. I have flexibility I never saw while walking, even HIT Walking. The floor is no farther away now than it was when I was twenty. Balance and body awareness is much improved! I have also lost a few pounds while watching my muscles grow.

Sleeping as I mentioned is improved. I do wake up occasionally the night of going to the gym, but it is tired muscle from exercise, and not nerves getting irritated because there is so little muscle to hold joints in place. Whether you are a Teen, Forty or Sixty Plus, you set your life direction by the amount of exercise you do each week – exercise, not work. If life in a wheel chair in a nursing home sounds good, don’t bother exercising. If you want to enjoy life as you did before you started school as a child, get out there and and play with some weight machines!

Over Fifty? Exercise is not an Option

Okay, time to come clean and do some sharing. I don’t like being old. I especially do not like feeling old. If you have read anything in any of my Diet and Exercise posts, you know I am a big fan of walking. Exercise is so important for us all and especially the over fifty crowd.

As my Doctor saw I turned fifty he said, “The good times are over, get used to it.” I was devastated. He must be joking. I’m only fifty, I am not getting ready to go make my funeral arrangements. Once the shock of what he told me wore off, I started investigating.

It does seem around fifty is when, if we allow it we start to degrade and fall apart. It gets worse. How fast we degrade and fall apart is totally dependent on how little or much we do to keep body in good condition. It like what the caption on one of my diet and exercise cartoon posts:

“What fits your busy schedule better, exercising one hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?” – Randy Glasbergen February 20, 1957 – August 11, 2015

I didn’t believe it then, but I am a member of the choir now. Simply put, enough can not be said about the importance of real exercise for everyone, especially for people over fifty. Think about how you feel. Everything is getting a little harder, a little more frustrating?

Standing in a static position used to be a non issue, suddenly after thirty seconds something starts to hurt? After a minute, it really gets painful! Yard work that used to be so relaxing, has taken on the proportions of a mammoth undertaking? No pun intended, but if it is strenuous yard work you are doing, you may start to feel feel you are on the way to the undertaker.

When did all this happen? Where did these pains, creaks, and cracks come from? They started the day you sat or laid down on the couch instead of going out and doing something! Little by little we tone down our activities from the mostly physical, to couch surfing.

What I have read many times in books is true. Up until the last hundred years, we had to work for our food. We had to hunt and gather. We had to walk miles and carry heavy pieces of meat back home. We had to carry all our gathered fruits and vegetables, sometimes miles back to our home. After a few days lounging around, we had to do it again.

As we grew older, we aged little – on the inside. Not like today, where it is acceptable too slowly degrade to a cane, a wheel chair, a hospital bed, and death. A few generations ago, if we did not hunt and gather, we didn’t live long enough to get old. We exercised as a life style, not for something to do.

For some people growing weak and decrepit is acceptable. That’s what their folks did, so it must be normal. In just a few generations we have forgotten, what it’s like to live a full life until almost the end and then fall apart quickly. Why anyone would want to live the life of someone in there late eighties for the last twenty years of their life is beyond me!

The More you exercise, the better life you live!

I know from repeated personal experience, if you want to feel twenty years younger in a few weeks, start walking three to four miles every day, and/or join a gym and use it. It is amazing how those painful joints, creaks, and cracks go away in a few weeks of exercise. Those heavy boxes, suddenly are twenty pounds lighter. Yard work is no longer punishment. Wow.

In short the joy in life is back! All it takes is a three week start on a life long plan of getting as much exercise as you can manage. You may feel like you have been hit by a truck when you start. If so, take two aspirin, and slow down. It took all your life to get in this bad of shape, take a few months of going slowly but steadily to get your body back a healthy state.

Find things you like to do that can be counted as real exercise. Mix weights with some walking, rowing, hiking, anything that gets your heart beating faster for more than a few seconds.

While you are doing all this, you may want to think about foods you are putting in your mouth. Just like the old computer saying, “Garbage in, Garbage out”, the food you eat effects you more now than it ever did.

I used to have pizza and beer some days for lunch and dinner, but those days are long gone. As Clint Eastwood said in one of his movies, “A Man has got to know his limits.” This applies especially with eating. I like feeling my heart beat.

Women, until menopause, it is thought (or was) have a somewhat natural immunity to bad diet and lifestyle. Men never did, it just gets worse faster over fifty. Sitting at a desk all day, typing, does need the calorie intake of a day laborer. You do not need a doughnut to start your morning. On the other hand, a day laborer over forty, should find something healthier to eat than burgers and fries.

So back to me, my come clean and share. This spring, I was walking over fifteen miles a week, and doing HIT – running and walking, feeling really good. That lasted until about the end of May. Then it started getting really hot on the walking path. Then it got hotter. A few days later, it became no fun. Baking in the sun, feeling the hot asphalt through my tennis shoes. I stopped walking because I didn’t want to be up at five to do it. – Like I couldn’t go out at eight or nine. What a sad excuse…

The end of May, June, and July came and went. By the end of July, I was starting to feel old. I hurt, the couch hurt, the bed hurt, my knees hurt. One shoulder and ankle joints were occasionally cracking as I moved. I was really feeling old. I was falling apart fast.

Three weeks ago, I had enough. I joined a gym for the whopping fee of $13.00 a month! Weight machines, stationary bicycles, treadmills, rowing machines and a shower to boot! In just a little over twenty-one days, I can’t say I feel like I am twenty. I can say I feel like I am forty again.

If I hadn’t been walking all these years, I would have thought how I was feeling was normal. Thankfully, due in part to my old doctor and his doom and gloom statement, I knew it was a small matter of exercise to knock off a few decades of how I feel.

I am working on what exactly is the best plan for the gym. Should I do cardio one trip and weights the next, or do them both on the same visit? I am not sure yet. I do know that in a month from now, I will have refined what I do and how I do it.

I want to have fun and feel young again. I want to have a low pulse rate, be as flexible as is reasonable, and be able to pick and move heavy items when I need to. In wrapping up, at any age, you define your own health and fitness. They are a package deal. The older you get the more important they become. Once you reach or drive by fifty, you have two choices.

You can choose to keep as fit and by default as healthy as you can be, or you can develop age and sedentary related problems as you slowly fall apart, living in pain while you wait to die.

While I wrote this for anyone over fifty, it applies to the younger crowd as well. Do you want to live your best live, or just survive? The choice is yours.

Simple, Fast, Anywhere, Whole Body Exercise

Walking is not enough. Walking and jogging or running are great for our cardiovascular system. Walking, jogging or running does not quite do it for Total Body Health. Total Body Health is being able to do what you want to need to do without fear of injury or pain the next day.

Exercise that uses as many of the muscles as possible leads to better overall health and fitness. If you are older like me, total body health makes the difference between getting through each day and looking forward to doing something that needs to be done each day. Tasks that used to be painful, become simple. Waking up sore because you pulled a few weeds yesterday ceases to becomes a painful reminder.

Only thing is, I, like many people do not like to exercise. Exercise is boring, and in itself brings no satisfaction. I want to get my exercise over quickly and get the most benefit in the least amount of time. I think most people prefer less time spent exercising and more time doing what they want to do.

Same as my previous post about my experience with High Intensity Interval Training, there are ways to exercise that maximize gain with minimal time spent doing them. And you do not need a gym. I again researched the internet and books to find what exercises are most common for giving the most return for the least amount of time.

I listed these out and picked out a few that were the most common and proven to be the most effective exercises to use as many muscles as possible while doing each exercise. I think these few exercises do just that. Of course they can be broken down into two or more individual exercises but this would take more time. These exercises take less than five minutes, and if you are just starting out, I suggest you spend less than two minutes on all of them to find out what your muscles think of them.

Exercise is like cooking, you can always add more. One main reason people stop exercising is because it becomes painful. You should think past this and realize it was not painful to get to the point where exercise is painful, so you should start out slow and increase your exercise time as your body is ready for it. There is no need to be sore and have your muscles hurt. We are all looking for a level of fitness, not joining an elite fighting organization.

I found this Ab Wheel in the pic in a thrift store for a few dollars. It is like new condition. When I bought it, I thought how hard can it be? I saw the infomercials, and it looked easy enough. One movement to the right, one to the center and one stretch to the left. I went through the movements when I brought home for about two minutes. The Ab Wheel afterward didn’t feel like I had done anything. The next day when I went to do a plank, I felt every strained and pained muscle in my abdomen tell me what I did yesterday. Starting slow is starting smarter.

Two minutes using this tells you your core fitness level

Here are the exercises I condensed down that most of the material I read agrees are the best whole body movements. You can look on web if you are not familiar with them as they are explained much better than I would explain them

1. Jumping Jacks – regular and side to side ~ Goal for one minute, thirty seconds or less starting out.

2. Squats ~ Goal for one minute, plan on ten seconds starting out.

3. Plank with palms down ~ Goal for thirty seconds, plan on about ten seconds starting out.

4. Plank with hands clenched ~ Goal for thirty seconds, plan on about ten seconds starting out.

5. Left and Right Side Planks ~ Goal for thirty plus seconds each, plan on about ten seconds or less for each side starting out.

5. Mountain Climber (partial Burpee movement) ~ Goal for one minute, less than thirty seconds starting out.

6. Lunge ~ Goal for one minute, less than thirty seconds starting out.

If you do these in succession, not only do they go fast, but you will be breathing harder than when when you started. If it is two hard, relax for a bit between exercises until you get used to them. You will be waking up any number of weak dormant muscles, so start slowly. I think doing these exercises every other or every third day is a good starting point. They only take a few minutes, but work a lot of muscles.

Of course check with your doctor to ensure these are exercises you can do. If you have not exercised in a while, perform these exercises ten seconds each. You will wake the next day and your body will let you know you did something different the day before. A little sore isn’t bad, really sore makes you want to not do it again.

I find simply standing with my arms at my sides for a few minutes after I am done with these exercises feels really good. I think it lets the muscles relax and form into the shape they should be in rather than the lazy way I have stretched and contorted them with my bad habits. Let me know how this works for you.

High Intensity Interval Training, My One Month Observations

I have been reading a lot about exercise lately. I joined a gym, and had an hour with an instructor. The hour turned out to be more of a sales pitch than anything else, but there may be a few seeds of knowledge in what I heard. The instructor holds a Masters Degree in Human Physiology, so I believe most of what he said. He lost me at the $400.00 per month trainer cost to get me looking like an American Ninja competitor in six months. I thought six months was too quick, maybe if he said seven months I would have signed up….

Between, the instructor, books and the web, I have learned exercise has changed a lot over the years. Smarter exercise is better exercise. Longer exercise times are not always smarter or better. Science seems to show almost everyone can get themselves in reasonable physical condition in as little as thirty minutes a week, as quickly as a few months.

The idea of High Intensity Interval Training is simple, once it is understood. It seems our bodies may not made for trotting all day alongside a herd of Antelope waiting for our chance to strike. The newer exercise science seems to declare we are made for reasonable movement mixed with all out spurts of action or movement mixed in.

Translated into something I understand, all out spurts of action means as little as one minute of cycling, running, swimming, cross country skiing, or performing any total body activity at the fastest possible speed. This all out action is repeated three times after warmup, with intervals of slower or recovery movement in between the all out portions.

Here is my plan using the ideas from High Intensity Interval Training:

1. Warm up. Perhaps a minute of jumping jacks followed by two minutes of walking, or simply walking about three minutes at a moderate pace.

2. Run as fast as I am able, with a goal of running all out for a full minute.

3. Slow to a walk for two to three minutes of recovery (catching my breath).

4. Run as fast as I am able, with a goal of running for a full minute.

5. Slow to a walk for two to three minutes of recovery (catching my breath).

6. Run as fast as I am able, with a goal of running for a full minute.

7. Slow to a walk for final recovery.

Exercise and feel younger, Exercise and feel better

I started using this High Intensity Interval Training exercise idea about a month ago, I could only run my fastest for about ten seconds. Muscles in my hips and upper thigh complained loudly and painfully. I thought at first I would not be able to do this as the pain was so quick and pronounced.

The pain remained for some days. The exercise reward seemed non-existent. I went through my cycles with a goal of this exercise plan every other day, or three times a week.

It is now a month or so later, and I am up to all out running all out for about thirty to forty seconds. No pain. My Recovery Walk lasts two to four minutes instead of ten or twelve. High Intensity Interval Training has a lot going for it after all. I confess I am a converted skeptic about High Intensity Interval Training.

As a baseline, I want to mention, I walk a lot. When the weather and other things cooperate, I walk somewhere around 15 miles or more a week. Running however is a whole different animal.

I do not remember having as much as jogged in the last twenty years. After 40, running was thought to cause joint problems. Initially running was where my major pain came from. I discovered I had several smaller unused or little used muscles around my lower hips and  hip joint.

Which brings me to something the instructor salesman told me which may or may not be true. As we sail past about fifty years of age, we become much more efficient at the things we do. If we are going to get up, we do two or more things because we are up.

Our body also starts to quit using non essential muscles, and even some muscles that are useful, but not mandatory in our lifestyle. Muscles start to deteriorate because we do not use them.

Setting my skepticism aside, I am sold on High Intensity Interval Training as the most productive use of limited exercise time. If you are like me and have not moved faster than a fast walk for some years, you may want to buy a bottle of your preferred pain reliever first.

Of course always check with your doctor, and read what you can find about High Intensity Interval Training to determine if this is the right exercise for you. I find I enjoy High Intensity Interval Training and the gains are fast – once the pain goes away.