During this time in quarantine, I have been missing my physiotherapist. As an aging long-distance runner, let’s just say that in some weeks I see my physio more than my friends. I had come to the point that I looked forward to IMS treatments (a super painful acupuncture needling technique that releases tight muscles) as much as I looked forward to a good latte. But I had to suddenly give up my love affair with physio when, like other elective health services, my access to treatment vanished overnight.
Being a pragmatic sort, I decided to take on a yoga program in an effort to replace the treatments that had previously been keeping me moving. Although I have done a lot of yoga over the past 20 years, I had virtually given it up after developing a chronic hip injury almost two years ago.
When you’re an endurance athlete, you tend to approach any form of exercise as a long-term commitment. So, of course, I took on the 30-day yoga challenge. A month of yoga has always felt...
Have you found yourself more “snacky” in quarantine? Are you reaching for all sorts of foods that you usually wouldn’t eat? If so, take heart in the fact that you’re not alone - it seems that most people I’ve talked to have had a significant change in their eating and drinking habits while in lockdown.
Before I go on, I need to point out that I am not a trained mental health professional or dietician and that those with problematic or disordered eating should seek out professional help. I also need to recognize and acknowledge the sometimes negative impact that my industry has had on the eating habits and body image of women. What I can offer is observations from a lengthy career in healthy living, which has included examining many food and diet fads.
I would have to write for days to outline all of the dieting trends that I have seen come and go, but here’s the hard truth – none of them tend to work long-term for most of the population.
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...
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...
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...
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....
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...
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...
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...
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:
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