Let's all take a deep breath...

be connect smoking Sep 13, 2019

Every year, I sit in a little booth while a technician coaches me to expand my lungs as much a possible. “Big breath in! And blow out as hard as you can”, she coaches, as she tests my lungs for overall function and capacity.

The exercise physiologist in me knows that a childhood of constant indoor exposure to secondhand smoke, working in smoke-filled pubs when I was young, along with my genetics, has likely led to my more delicate lungs in adulthood. When you work in health promotion, it feels quite humbling to manage your own chronic health problem, but I’m luckier than most asthmatics in that my condition has remained stable for the last 15 years.

My own experience (and those of loved ones) led me to an interest chronic disease prevention. We know unequivocally that some of the biggest killers and illness-producers (e.g., heart disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes) can be managed and/or prevented with reducing lifestyle- related risks. Twenty-five years ago, I...

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Is intermittent fasting the best route to weight loss?

be eat Sep 06, 2019

Don’t you love that feeling of new beginnings that happens as we start September? Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of time in school, or maybe it’s from watching the transition every year with my own kids, but September always feels like an opportunity to start fresh and get back on track. The fall is the time of year that many of my fellow Age Sisters think about making some changes to live a healthier life. As women, sometimes the change we tend to focus on most often is diet.

I’m asked a lot these days about my view on the latest diet trend, intermittent fasting. Let me start by saying that many of the modern diet approaches have some merit, especially if you are eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, thinking about more variety, or being more thoughtful about when you eat. But the thought of intermittent fasting always causes some tension in my psyche. Here’s why…

Growing up in the era of the grapefruit diet, the lemon-juice and cayenne...

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This week's top stories about women, health, and aging

connect eat move Aug 16, 2019

It’s hard not to feel a little down about the news of the world these days. There seems to be nothing but stories about gloom and doom. So, this week, I’m hoping to lighten things up with some good news stories about healthy living and aging. I’m writing about three studies that provide some good news about the power of healthy living for women over 50. Read on about how to reduce your risk of dementia with lifestyle, how working might actually be good for your cognitive health, and new way to manage that stubborn post-menopausal weight gain.

Healthy Lifestyle Offsets Genetic Risk for Dementia

Until recently, it seemed that there was not much you could do if you had a genetic risk of dementia. A new study is challenging this idea; it turns out that all the same things that lower your risk for chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer can also lower your risk of developing dementia – even if you are at risk genetically.

In the...

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A little heart to heart from your sister in health

be heart disease lift move Aug 09, 2019

OK sisters, it’s time to get serious for a moment. Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women worldwide, and that more women lose their lives to heart disease every year than all cancers combined?[1] Women have different issues with heart disease than men, and our experiences with related illness are complex. Some tough love here: one of the biggest reasons that we are not more effectively reducing our risks, is that we seem to know less about heart disease than we think we do.

Women involved in a study at the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre (CWHHC) showed low levels of awareness about heart disease in general, symptoms unique to women, personal risk factors, and the major lifestyle risks. This tells me that we need to get some facts sorted. Here’s what you need to know:

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of premature death of women

-Women who have a heart attack are more likely to die when compared to men

-Half as...

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Why we could all use self-compassion for kinder self-care

Do you know one of those women who is so kind and lovely, that with every encounter you vow to be more that way yourself? That’s the case with my friend and colleague, Erica Bennett.

Erica graciously made some time in her schedule recently to share her thoughts on the topic of some her doctoral and post-doctoral research, self-compassion in older adults. Self-compassion can be defined as, “…being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.

So, what does self-compassion look like exactly? Self-compassion has three components:

1. Mindfulness – which means when you are having difficulties, recognizing that those difficulties will feel tough in the moment.
2. Common humanity – to remember that when we’re suffering, we’re not alone.
3. Self kindness – to be kind to oneself in the face of suffering or challenges.

Erica...

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The best technology hacks for healthy living

Uncategorized Jul 26, 2019

Remember the days when the only access to health information was your family doctor and women’s magazines? Unless you are one of my very supportive friends or family members (thank you all, by the way ), you likely learned about the Age Sister website by way of a computer, mobile phone, or tablet. The use of technology for health has come a long way, baby.

Typically using the internet is the main focus of technology in healthy living, but there are so many more devices and applications that you can use to help take better care of your health. Just to be clear this blog post is not a promotion of any specific product, and I have no affiliate relationships with any of the companies listed below.

Built-in phone features  

Remember last week’s blog post on habits? Habits and cues go together. You can use technology to provide some of those cues for you.  One of the very simple phone features that can help you to stay on track is the “reminders”...

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Why little habits are the key to good health

be eat move Jul 19, 2019

Do you ever wonder how someone you know manages to be so consistent with their healthy habits? You know the type – someone who seems to always eat healthily and exercises consistently. Do they just have amazing willpower and strength? The answer is no. Those folks who are so consistent with diet and activity have just formed little habits that allow them to not have to rely on motivation.

In this post, I want to talk about why establishing small habits is the key to a healthy lifestyle. I also want to debunk the myth that regular exercise, healthy diet, good mental health practices and so on are only for those people who having amazing willpower. All of us can lead a healthier lifestyle – we just need to come at it the right way.

Why do habits matter?

Habits, motivation, and willpower can sometimes seem like the same thing. I like to think of it this way: motivation and willpower get you started, but habits keep you going. Think about your local gym in January.

For...

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The 10 best ways to travel like a true Age Sister

lift move Jul 11, 2019

Way back in the year 2000, I had a crazy idea (one of many, it turns out). I said to a girlfriend, “Wouldn’t it be great if you could go on a guided running tour when you were away on vacation?” Her response? “You should build that service.” A year later, and after several meetings with a somewhat perplexed loans officer at the bank, the first guided running tour company in the world was born.

Ultimately, we offered in-bound (tours of the city on foot) and outbound (tours for groups to different countries) travel services. What that great little business taught me the most was the importance of keeping up your health routine while on vacation. So, what did I learn from all those folks who stayed consistent while travelling? They planned for their health in the same way that they planned for things like meals, tours of museums, and transportation.

Habits for health

I know, I know, vacations are meant to be relaxing. Typically, holidays are several...

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More good news from the physical activity and aging front lines

lift move Jul 05, 2019

I have pre-empted the blog post I had planned for this week to talk about two very important pieces of recently released research. I wanted to write about these two studies in the same post because the results show a really important health trend in the course of aging. Warning: here comes a little more evangelizing on the merits of physical activity. 

A study of more movement in middle age

The first study was done on a large group of people in the UK, who were between the ages of 49-70 [1]. The research began in 1993 and concluded in 2016. These were folks from all walks of life with differing lifestyles and health conditions. Unlike other many other studies in physical activity, those who had existing heart disease and cancer were included in the project. The study team also controlled (meaning they accounted for) the known health impacts of age, sex, smoking, drinking alcohol, education, social class, diet, weight, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.

Regardless of...

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How to integrate strength-training into your life

lift move strength Jun 29, 2019

Well sisters, I’m once again feeling compelled to write about the important topic of strength-training. In my last post on this subject, I introduced you to the idea of sarcopenia and how strength-training can help to reverse the effects. If you didn’t read the previous post, I have included this brief synopsis: 

A normal (but avoidable) part of aging is a process called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the progression of our muscles becoming smaller over time. The longer you live, the smaller the circumference of your muscles become, if you do nothing to reverse the process. 

Hormonal changes, individual protein requirements, and inactive lifestyles can also make some women much more susceptible to the changes that occur as a result of sarcopenia. Because of muscle loss, women tend to lose strength in their hips and legs, and with reduced strength in these areas comes slow and insidious changes in mobility and balance, which can eventually pose a risk for...

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