Practicing survival self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic

be lift move Apr 07, 2020

My parents were children when the Second World War broke out. They were both separated from their parents, lived through rationing, and regularly woke up to bombed-out streets. Although they didn't talk much about the hardships until we were much older, their early lives would have been considered in many ways, horrific by modern standards.

Looking back at my parent's time during the war, I know that their focus was simply on getting through the day. The battle was a signal that they were in a crisis and survival was key.

We may not be facing the same wartime violence, but the COVID-19 pandemic is a massive global change, and we are facing uncertainty, financial worries, and a growing list of causalities; there is still an enemy lurking.

We're all trying to find ways to get through this, and if you're anything like me, you might find yourself in a cycle of consuming. Consuming lots of unnecessary news feeds, way too much Netflix, and snacking on all sorts of things that wouldn't...

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Staying active at home as a woman over 50

move Mar 20, 2020

Like the rest of us, I’m assuming you’re finding yourself spending a lot of time at home. I’m encouraged to hear that many people want to use this time to try to do a little bit of extra exercise. I’m sure that you’ve likely seen a lot of information pop up on the internet about exercising from home. I want to take it one step further and introduce you to considerations for staying healthy at home for women 50+. Keep in mind that exercise is one of the best ways that we can keep our immune system healthy, which means that we should be getting creative to maintain our physical activity programs.

There are so many ways that we can keep working on our fitness from the confines of our home and community. Where I live, the authorities are still recommending that people can get outside to run, walk or cycle (as long you are not in a group).

I have a feeling that as things unfold, as they have done in other countries ahead of us in this process, the...

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Worried about catching a virus? Let’s start by strengthening your immune system.

move Feb 29, 2020

It’s hard not to worry about the threat of the coronavirus as it spreads in populations around the world. New, fast-moving diseases can have us looking a bit more closely at our own risk for developing an infectious illness.

You may have noticed that one of the higher risk groups for developing the coronavirus is in those who are over the age of 70. The immune system ages like other parts of our body, but in a process called immunosenescence - this is a complex process in which the body’s ability to fight off infection becomes reduced for several different reasons.

As with other types of ageing, immunosenescence doesn’t happen overnight, and our immunity can become compromised earlier in the ageing process. The good news, is that there is a surprising secret weapon that we can easily deploy against the ravages of an ageing immune system.

Although hard and prolonged exercise (think triathlon or marathon) can temporarily suppress the immune system, regular moderate...

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How human-powered commuting is one of the best health hacks for women.

move Feb 14, 2020

Happy Valentines Day! Although little cinnamon hearts are tasty, I'm here to talk about your real heart - the one that needs care and attention all year long. Although regular exercise is one of the best ways to improve heart health, not every woman can maintain an exercise schedule. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I’m also a big believer in getting small amounts of daily movement and breaking up sitting time. Breaking up sitting time and just moving more is a topic that is building a significant body of research to support the benefits of a less sedentary lifestyle.

A sedentary (or seated) lifestyle has it’s own health risks separate and apart from not getting regular physical activity, and health outcomes are worse even in those who do regular structured exercise but are seated for most of the rest of the day. According to the Sedentary Behaviour Research Network, “…physical inactivity is now the 2nd leading cause of death in the U.S....

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How going plant-based can help with symptoms of menopause.

eat Jan 31, 2020

If you’re a fan of the Age Sister Facebook page or you are a member of our private group, you might have noticed that I post a lot of vegetarian recipes. I spent many, many years as a vegetarian and still have a very “plant-heavy” diet. It’s because of my habit of eating more vegetarian options that I was interested to know if women who eat less meat have an easier time managing menopausal symptoms. As always, I turned to the scientific research to find out.

Vegetarian diets are usually considered to be healthier than the typical North American diet filled with processed food and lots of meat. There isn’t, however, conclusive evidence that an entirely vegetarian or vegan diet has significant benefits when compared to a plant-based, low meat diet in the general population. However, for women over 50, a vegan or vegetarian diet may make a difference in managing symptoms and weight-gain related to menopause. Here’s how:

Dealing with the internal...

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Changing the way you walk may help you to live longer.

move Jan 18, 2020

You might be surprised to know that the speed that you walk can be reflective of how long you will live. As we age, walking speed tends to decrease. Your ability to walk is your key to independence; we likely all know someone who lost their independence concurrently with the loss of their mobility.

Walking is, in my nerdy opinion, an almost magical feat. We need millions of neurons, most of our skeletal muscles, and an assortment of small and large bones to all work in unison in order to take a single step. Add in energy systems and perceptual input, and you start to get a picture of how complex human movement really is.

When there is a change (or damage occurs) in any of the systems related to walking (like the changes that arise from a stroke or a hip fracture), the speed of walking can slow. Age-related decline (e.g., loss of muscle) can also cause you to slow your pace. Slowed walking speed in older women and ill health or reduced function are so closely related that some...

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Want to be successful with your fitness resolution? Here's how.

Uncategorized Jan 03, 2020

This January, you may plan to be part of the enthusiastic masses that flood the local gyms in the pursuit of better fitness. Unfortunately, the odds are that by mid-February, your interest in pumping iron or sweating out your “toxins” in a spin class will have likely waned.

As a modern population, we are a highly inactive bunch. If you’re a woman over 50, the probability that you are sedentary is higher than most. Unfortunately, as women age, activity levels take a steep downward slide, and our resultant chronic disease risk climbs. Add in the health impacts related to being post-menopausal and we have a perfect storm for ill health.

And yet we all know that we need to exercise to reduce these risks. When you are active for 150 minutes a week, your risk of cardiovascular disease, many types of cancer, and dementia all decrease dramatically. There’s good evidence that your bone health, mental health, and sleep quality also improve.

If we all know that being...

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Shopping for the post-holiday deals? Think of these nine points before buying winter workout gear.

move Dec 28, 2019

At this time of year, many of us are browsing online or in stores to find those post-holiday deals. If you intend to buy exercise gear, there are some things that you may want to consider before you pull out your Visa. Here are some ideas to help you narrow down your purchases.

I get asked a lot about what kind of shoes are best, what clothes are needed to get started in an exercise program, and what gear is necessary. The underlying question is really, “What do I need to purchase to get fit?” Like most answers that are health-related, I would say, “It depends.” It’s important to think not only about cost but also about which items are really worth the outlay.

If you are new to exercise, you may want to begin by reading my blog post about increasing your safety when starting a program. Otherwise, here is a list of some general things to think about when buying winter-specific exercise gear:

  1. Cotton is meant for towels only. There’s a reason that...
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Six ways to stay motivated to exercise in the new year.

lift move Dec 14, 2019

As the days get shorter and the holidays are now almost in full swing, I understand how hard it is to get motivated to exercise. It’s likely, however, that in January, many women will find themselves wanting a fresh start. The new year is always a great time to get back to an active lifestyle.

If you’re one of the people trying to make a change, I want you to be successful. Last week I talked about ways that you can deal with the issue of not having enough time in your schedule for physical activity. Today, I want to help you get over the second most-cited barrier to exercise; lack of motivation.

In a really interesting study looking at women who adhere to exercise long-term versus those who don’t, the researchers found some impressive results. The first issue for those who didn’t stick with exercise was attributed to them not having good enough fitness classes to attend. When researchers looked at why the classes might be an issue, they found that classes...

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Nine ways to change your relationship with time for exercise.

move Dec 06, 2019

My mother used to say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Nothing could be more accurate than for those trying to exercise regularly. All of us can put exercise on the backburner; I have a fantastic gym in my home, and I have days when I tell myself that I don’t have enough time to spend 45 minutes working out. Seriously.

 

If someone like me who promotes exercise for a living has problems dragging herself to a workout, what hope is there for those with less experience? The short answer is plenty. Here’s the thing - if I miss a workout, I know that I have a well-established program and an exercise habit that will have me out again tomorrow and the next day. I also usually do something to make up for a missed workout, like an extra walk or taking a few more sets of stairs.

 

For the women just starting who struggle to find time to exercise, take heart. Lack of time to exercise is the number one reason that most people cite when asked...

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