Categorized as: How To

The Best Exercises for Seniors

At Rep 1 Fitness we’ve seen our older adult clients achieve amazing health and fitness results. Perhaps the word ‘amazing’ is downplaying their achievements and we should say ‘life changing’!  

Our senior clients can be seen working on single leg balance drills, learning to lift weights or even venturing into weekend cycling races. No matter what your level of fitness is, it’s without a doubt that exercise can positively impact one’s health.  Being physically active can improve your quality of life, mental and physical well-being and can even lead to living longer.  Participating in a safe fitness program contributes to well-being at every age but is essential for older adults.  The best exercise for seniors combines 4 pillars of fitness; strength, cardiovascular, mobility and balance. 

Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, heart disease and can even slow cognitive decline.  It can help control blood pressure, cholesterol, increase circulation and maintain a healthy body weight.  Also some studies reveal that regular exercise can help reduce the risk of some diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s up to a whopping 50%!  A smart and safe exercise program can help strengthen your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones helping fight against falls and osteoporosis.  

Best of all, exercise can help you stay strong, agile and energetic so you can continue the activities that bring you the most the joy in life! 

There is no ‘one best exercise’ but an exercise program that combines strength, cardiovascular and flexibility work is the most beneficial for seniors.  Try and find an exercise routine that not only includes those but one that you enjoy the most! This way exercising will be fun and you’ll be more likely to stick to the program long term. 

What if I’m a Total Beginner?

 If you’re new to fitness or haven’t been active in a while fear not! It’s never too late to start and reap the benefits of exercise.  First and foremost, before you begin any new exercise make sure you speak to your doctor.  Ensure any existing health conditions or medications are taken into account.  Ensure you start slowly and gradually build up.  If you have no idea where to start consider working with an experienced personal trainer. They have the knowledge and abilities to work safely with all age groups.  

If you’re new to fitness start with walking. Walking is one of the best exercises for seniors. You can start with 10-15 minutes several times a week. Work your way up to being able to walk comfortably for 30 minutes. This is a great cardiovascular foundation to have.  From there you can build upon your foundation! 

Starting a Fitness Program

The good thing is that greater health and fitness can be achieved by exercising just 30 minutes most days of the week. Let’s take a closer look at what your fitness program should like in detail below:

“Older adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity…” recommends the World Health Organization.

Moderate intensity exercise includes walking, swimming and even mowing the lawn. Moderate exercise should feel somewhat hard. Physical clues will be breaking a light sweat after 10 minutes, breathing quickens but you can still hold a normal conversation. 

Vigorous intensity exercise should feel very challenging. Your breathing would be rapid, you’d break a sweat after only a few minutes of exercise and you cannot carry a conversation comfortably. 

If you’re new to vigorous exercise be careful not to overexert yourself.  If you experience any pain, feel faint or dizzy be sure to stop and rest. Then gradually build up next time.  Again, working with a certified personal trainer can be very helpful as they know how to prescribe exercise intensity for your personal level. 

The Best Exercise for Seniors:

Strength Training

From there we suggest adding in a strength training regime.  Resistance training (strength training) is another best form of exercise for seniors as it helps maintain and improve your muscular strength and endurance.  This leads to better posture, stronger bones and even contributes to your quality of life! 

As we age our bodies naturally lose muscle mass.  Humans lose 3% – 5% of muscle mass every decade after the age of 30.  This can even speed up around the age of 65 if a person remains inactive.  It is crucial to stay active and strength train as you age to help slow this process down.  Sarcopenia (muscle loss with age) can come with symptoms like loss of stamina, muscle atrophy (muscle shrinking) and weakness.  With regular resistance training woman can expect to gain 0.5-1 lbs of muscle per month and men 1-2 lbs of muscle every month. These numbers can vary greatly depending on genetics, hormone levels, age, quality of sleep and diet.  Nonetheless – we can ensure you will see and feel a difference even in the first month of regular strength training!

Daily tasks like climbing stairs and carrying groceries for example all require muscular strength. With stronger muscles you can expect to do these things with ease and confidence. 

How Much and How Often?

We suggest strength training a minimum of two days per week.  Strength training includes exercises using free weights, resistance bands, weighted balls, cables and even your own bodyweight. Again, make sure you start gradually with a weight you can safely lift for 10-15 reps.   Movements that strengthen all the major muscle groups like squats, lunges, modified push ups and rows are the best exercises for seniors.  

Below are just some of our amazing older adults at Rep 1 Fitness showing us some of the best exercises for seniors:

  1. The Wall Push Up – this is a great place to start building your upper body strength. If you haven’t done a push up in a while start with your hands on the wall to decrease the difficulty. 
  2. The Squat – This lower body exercise is excellent for building strength in the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes.  If you’re smiling and laughing like our trainee in the video it means you’re doing it right! 
  3. The Lunge – Similar to the squat, this exercise builds the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes as well as challenges balance! 

Flexibility and Mobility

Our muscles and joints lose flexibility and range of motion gradually with age.  Mobility is important for performing exercises correctly as well keeping simple daily tasks easy.  Flexibility can be improved by static stretches, holding a stretch for up to 60 seconds. A joints range of motion can be improved with dynamic stretches and specific mobility drills.  

Below is one of our favourite stretches for the hips and lower back and you can do it lying down – bonus! 

Below is one of your favourite stretches for your hamstrings. Step 1, start by lying on your back, bend one leg in towards your chest and wrap a band or strap around the bottom of your foot. Step 2, slowly begin to straighten the leg until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of the leg. Hold for 30-60 seconds. 

Step 1

Step 2

Better yet, assisted stretching therapy like the Fascial Stretch Therapy, a pain free, table-based technique can increase your flexibility.  The Fascial Stretch Therapy offered at Rep 1 can help improve flexibility and mobility, reduce muscle soreness and leave you feeling relaxed. 

Balance

The ability to balance better has to be one of the best outcomes of exercise for older adults. It is widely known that over 2 million older adults in North America fall each year resulting in injuries due to loss of balance.  The great thing about balance exercises is that they can be done almost anywhere.  Try standing and holding onto a railing, fence or sturdy chair for support, then slowly take one leg off the ground so that you’re balancing on one leg. Try and stay here for 10 seconds then take a break. Repeat 5 times on each leg. Once you feel comfortable try balancing on one leg without holding onto something. 

If you’re a seasoned fitness enthusiast or a complete beginner we encourage you to continue or start your fitness course no matter your age! You’ll be sure to see and feel the positive benefits of exercise on your mind and body. And who knows where your fitness venture will take you! 

 

How to Stay Motivated and Dedicated to your Fitness Goals.

Motivation, Dedication and Crushing your Fitness Goals!

A powerful and positive mindset if one of the key steps to keeping motivation and dedication long term!

      With New Years resolutions right around the corner it seems like everyone in Vancouver is thinking about fitness and health motivation.  How many times have you set a resolution at the beginning of the year just to watch it fade away a few weeks later?  Below you’ll find our best tips on how to stay motivated with your fitness goals…

Motivation is what pushes our lives and what pulls us to make decisions. You’ve probably experience high motivation, such as starting your new years resolutions, the first time you meet that special someone or when you notice your weight loss efforts are starting to pay off when you slip on those new skinny jeans. That can be really motivating!  You’ve most likely also experience motivation lows… when your new years resolutions starts to dwindle by mid January, your 5 times a week workouts slowly become once a week, you start hitting the snooze button more and more…

How to Stay Motivated with your Fitness Goals…

Why is motivation so extremely hard to keep? This quote from former Navy Seal and ultra endurance athlete David Goggins got me thinking… 

“Motivation is crap. Motivation comes and goes. When you’re driven, whatever is in front of you will get destroyed.” – David Goggins

With that said, it seems like motivation is much like an emotion… It comes and goes. Often without our control. You’ve probably noticed from your own experience that motivation highs make us feel really good and motivations lows make us feel less than par. 

You’ve also likely noticed that after a bought of high motivation you crash and burn only to be in the same position you were at the start.  That’s because sometimes we tend to set too huge of expectations and goals for ourselves that cannot be sustained for long periods of time. Perhaps trying to chase high motivation all of time is unrealistic.  Perhaps we should think about it in terms of staying dedicated or driven, instead of highly motivated all of the time. 

Read on to Find out 7 Key Steps on how to Stay Motivated and Finally Accomplish your Goals.

1) Baby Steps.

I’m a big believer in setting small baby step goals that won’t flip your current life completely upside down! Think small attainable goals that can fit nicely into your lifestyle.  This may sound meek but I promise that taking small steps can lead to big sustainable changes.  I’ve seen it work firsthand with all of my personal training clients!

Choose no more than two goals to stay dedicated to at a time.  When that becomes a natural part of your weekly routine or more of a habit then you can tackle another ‘baby step goal’. For example, if improving your health and wellness is a goal then your ‘baby step’ would be to drink 8 glasses of water/day until it becomes habitual.  Once that is a constant you can take on a new baby step goal and turn that one into a habit.  Then keep going and going until you become a super human!! 

“Motivation is what gets you started habit is what keeps you going”. – Jim Ryun, American Track and Field Olympian.

2) Create a Vision. 

“…unless you create a vision, see the person you want to be in your mind, your life will remain the same. You need to see the future ahead of yourself, how you want to live. Keep in touch with that vision every single day.”  David Goggin

Take a minute to envision just how it would feel to achieve your goal. How would you feel physically and mentally if in two months you reached your final weight loss goal, or finally completed that 10 km charity run?  Staying in contact with your vision and thinking of it often will result in more consistent motivation.. or should we say dedication? Whatever the word is – just keep your eyes on the prize!  

3) Find Your “Why” and Write it Down.

Having a goal is one thing but knowing why you want to achieve that goal is what will help fuel it. If losing weight is your goal you need to clearly define your reason for having that goal. Maybe you want to lose weight to prevent heart disease, reduce joint pain, look good for a big event coming up or to keep up with your kids.  We suggest writing your goal down and then beside it the “why’s” and reading through it daily.  Or better yet write it on a sticky note and post it to your mirror where you’ll see it every morning. 

4) Positive Self Talk. 

When it comes to achieving any goal your mind set and mental toughness play a highly important role. 

Elaine Mead Bsc of Positive Psychology  explains the research agrees that positive self talk can have a crucial impact on behaviour change as well as other benefits like reducing stress, easing anxiety and increasing self confidence.  From my experience as a personal trainer and competitive gymnastics coach I have found that individuals who have a positive outlook on their goals and their abilities to achieve them will succeed significantly more than someone with a negative outlook.

Examples of positive self talk may sound like:

  • “I have the power to change and I will”
  • “I am resilient and I will give it my all to make it work”
  • “With the lessons learned from this week – next week will be even better”

Positive self talk may sound cheesy, and you might feel a bit silly at first but I challenge you to come up with your own statement and recite it often especially when you’re faced with a challenge or a set back. 

5) Build a Process Goal. 

Focusing on the final outcome of a goal can often feel distant, overwhelming and leave you feeling uninspired. For example if your goal is lose weight, that’s great but it’s too general. Let’s come up with a specific number and create some small steps to get you there. 

I always encourage my personal training clients to make S.M.A.R.T goals: 

Specific:  To lose 10 lbs

Measurable: We’ll use a scale and take measurements with a measuring tape.

Achievable:  I know that from current weight, height and age, 10 lbs is a realistic and healthy amount to lose. 

Realistic: Losing 10 lbs is relevant to me and this is the right time in my life to focus on this.

Timed: Set a deadline. Since we know losing 1-2 lbs a week is healthy set that deadline accordingly. 

Now that we have some specifics let’s write down some action-oriented goals. Remember to keep them small and easily attainable.  Baby Steps!

Examples include:

  • I will walk for 30 minutes everyday this week.
  • To eat at least 4 servings of vegetables each day
  • Save the wine for Saturday night only 
  • Commit to my personal trainer twice a week
  • Bring lunch to work 3 times this week instead of eating out everyday

6) Make it Public.

Consider making your goal into a public statement. Notify friends, family, colleagues of your goal or even post it on social media (don’t forget to tag us @rep1_fitness_inc!) Social support and positive feedback from others will help keep you accountable. Consider finding a friend with a similar goal, if it’s fitness – find a workout buddy and make an exercise schedule you can both commit to. 

7) Reward Yourself. 

Everybody loves a good reward! If for example your big goal is weight loss and you’ve hit your “baby step” goal of walking for 30 minutes every day this week then reward your excellent efforts with something not food related. You could plan a fun day with friends, a movie out, a pedicure or a new pair of runners! 

With these key steps to keep your motivation high and practical ways to stay dedicated to your goals there’s no stopping how far you’ll go! Remember to celebrate the small successes and ask for help when needed.  Here’s to a happy and healthy new year and staying motivated with your fitness goals! 

How to start Running – for the complete beginner!

Running for the Newbie

If you’re a looking to add more cardio into your weekly fitness regime,  you’ve been persuaded by co-workers to join their annual charity run, or if you’re a complete beginner and the mere thought of running exhausts you, then this beginner’s running guide is for you!

Running is an excellent form of exercise and has plenty of health benefits such as weight loss, cardiovascular health and mental health.  Ancient humans evolved running and it is one of the most basic human movement patterns. It is also thought to be the oldest ‘sport’ dating back to the very first Olympic Games. Today there are thousands of marathons and running events held each year in North America and millions of people who participate all over the world.

Running never interested me until this year when I was seeking to revamp my regular fitness program and needed some sort of athletic challenge again. I decided to join the Rep 1 Fitness trainers and clients at their annual 5 Peaks Trail run in Golden Ears Provincial Park earlier this year.

I was never a runner or a natural long distance cardio athlete. I tried running a handful of times but stopped well before any note worthy distance. Growing up a competitive gymnast I thought with the power in my legs and a good fitness background I would be able to run no problem. Think again! Long steady-state cardio like running was never part of our conditioning program in gymnastics and I soon found out I had to lose the ‘over confidence’ and learn how to run from scratch… 

Tips for the running beginner! 

  • Start Small and Build Up

The worst thing you can do for your body never-mind your confidence is to start off trying to run too much too soon.  If you’ve never run before we recommend starting with two days per week with at least two rest days in between. Start slowly and monitor how you feel. You should be able to breath comfortably while running as if you were able to carry on a normal conversation. If you find your breathing is out of control, slow down or walk for a few minutes. The key is consistency! Consistent weekly runs will add up to longer distances, faster pace and superhero status in no time! Check out our sample program below! 

  • Posture Posture Posture! 

When you’re running think upright posture, shoulders relaxed and a slight forward lean. A slight forward tilt will place your centre of mass on the front part of your foot and avoid the heel striking first. This allows the foot and ankle to use its proper spring mechanic. Core should be strong and stable. Elbows in, arms gliding close to your sides – lets please avoid the dreaded chicken-wing-elbows-flailing-out-to-the-side technique! 

Have a personal trainer at Rep 1 look at your form and running gait! 

  • Use a Fitness Tracker 

Use a fitness tracker app (there are literally hundreds to choose from!) on your phone or invest in a smart watch to track stats such as distance, pace, heart rate and calories burned. 

Apps We Like:  

Strava App 

Map my Run App

Run Keeper App

  • Follow a Consistent Program

Below you’ll find a sample running program that gradually builds up from a 2 km run to a 1o km run.  If you’re new to exercise visit your health care provider first to get cleared for running. If you’ve never run before we suggest building up your strength, endurance and running fitness base first. This can be done with walk/runs, alternating between walking and jogging intervals for 20 minutes a couple times a week. Specific strength training in the gym can also help build your running base and prevent injuries. 

Sample 8 Week 10 Km Running Program 

Cross Training (CT) refers to exercise like swimming, elliptical trainer or strength training. Remember running is the main goal here so do not exhaust yourself with overly intense cross training, it should be moderate and no longer than an hour. Make sure to always warm up first and cool down by walking and stretching after.  After your first ‘big’ run your body will want to rest and recover for a few days, read our article on rest and recovery here.

Monday  Tuesday  Wednesday Thursday  Friday  Saturday Sunday
Rest 2 km walk/run Cross Train or Rest 2 km walk/run Rest 2.5 km walk/run 20 minute run or cross train
Rest 2.5 km walk/run  CT or Rest 3 km walk/run Rest 3 km run 25-30 min run or cross train
Rest 3.5 km run CT or Rest 4 km walk/run Rest 4.5 km run 30-35 minute run
Rest 4 km run CT or Rest 4.8 km run Rest 5 km run 35 minute run
Rest 5 km run CT or Rest 5.5 km run Rest 6 km run 35-40 minute run
Rest 5 km run CT or Rest 5.5 km run Rest 7 km run 40 minute run
Rest 5.5 km run CT or Rest 6 km run Rest 8 km run 40-45 minute run
Rest 5 km run CT or Rest 3 km run Rest Rest 10 km run!

If you begin to enjoy running like I did and decide to do a trail run like the the 5 Peaks or one for charity like the family friendly CIBC Run for the Cure make sure you know the race course. If it includes any hills for example ensure to add some hills into your training runs. 

Enough reading – let’s get running! Throw on some good running shoes, stay safe and happy running! 

Fun times with friends and co-workers at the annual 5 Peaks Trail Run!

Do I need a fitness tracker?

 

           Fitness tracking is not new!  ‘Back in the day’ there were books you could buy that supplied programs (for running, weightlifting, cycling, etc) and gave you charts to track your progress… with a pen!!!  But as we moved out of the era of the chisel and stone and into the 2010+ years, fitness everything can be tracked with the touch of a button, or even by just walking with a watch on your wrist.  What do you actually need to follow, or track, when it comes to personal exercise? Why is it important… or not?

           Consistency is the key to your exercise program.  Good days, bad days and in-between days are all important for you to show up and do something!  Tracking your activity/intensity level is another way to keep that consistency going. This just isn’t for fat loss but also for strength training.   

           Some people just track ‘steps’, and if they workout in a gym that day it usually helps increase their step number.  This is your base level of tracking but should not be discounted; hit your numbers every day and see results! Remember this will give you results for your aerobic exercise.  

DO MORE THAN JUST RECORD YOUR STEPS:

 

           But those ‘steps’ are just one piece of the puzzle… how hard did you workout that day?  A heart rate monitor combined with a step, or kms, tracker will also show you how many calories you are ripping through when you are doing a heavy sweat.  The HARDER you work, or the longer the duration, the more you burn fat! So, whether it is steady state, intensity intervals or even group fitness, the heart rate monitor will reflect what you are burning.  This calorie count, along with your step count will give you some very satisfying numbers to add to your daily life.  Blazing through 750 calories and 8,000 steps is a solid justification for that glass of wine!  (life is about balance people!)

          Working with a certified personal trainer is the ultimate fitness tracker!!!  This is a person who goes through all your peaks and valleys with you and they see the progress.  Your fitness coach will know your initial struggles and the victories that you have had along the way.  There should be a fitness assessment and record of your initial fitness values. Whether is range of motion, cardio, or strength you will know ‘where you came from’ when it comes to working in the fitness centre.  If you are in Vancouver and looking for personal training please stop by our fitness facility if you want your progress charted!

         Fitness tracking is here to stay!  There is not a bike ride I go on without tracking my km’s, my average speed, and even the wattage I am pushing into the pedals.  There is not a workout that my personal trainers haven’t designed for my needs and goals. I’m addicted to the numbers and if you are into fitness you should be too!  It will keep you honest and give you the consistency you need to keep progressing. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Getting better!

How To: Ring Muscle Up

Curious what the proper form looks like during a Ring Muscle Up? Jamiel shows us his technique! Now that is impressive… #FocusFriday #FlexFriday

How To: Increase Pull Up Strength

If you’re like trainer Krista, and looking to increase your pull-up strength, try focusing on the slow eccentric (negative) portion of the movement. Avoiding swinging or bouncing during the exercise helps prevent injury and strengthen the connective tissue around the joints involved in the movement. #FocusFriday #FlexFriday

How To: Lunge W/ Single Leg Deadlift

Krista from Rep1 recommends this combination of a lunge, right into a single leg deadlift to fire up the backside and challenge your balance! 10-15 reps, then switch legs. #FocusFriday