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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Can a woman in her 50's build muscle? Hell yes.

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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Eight Easy Ways to Get Better Sleep

be move Jun 13, 2019

As summer temperatures settle in, many of us are more restless in bed. If you’re over 50, sleep is likely not as restorative as it once was, and as most of us know, with age sleep tends to be more problematic (unless you’re my husband who can still sleep like a teenager). 

Most of us are fighting to get more sleep and yet sleeping seems to be the healthy living effort that falls off the map. I know many people who are meticulous in taking excellent care of other aspects of their health but still never get enough sleep. 

Women in mid to later life have a unique set of circumstances hampering their ability to get restful sleep; overall, women have more sleep problems than men, and symptoms during menopause can make sleep worse.

In fact, about 30% of the general population have trouble with sleeping but this number skyrockets to 50% in peri and postmenopausal women. Changes in estrogen impact both the normal sleep cycle and natural melatonin release, while...

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How to Build a Better Pelvic Floor

balance lift move Jun 06, 2019

What’s the most important strengthening exercise for women over 50? The squat? The dead-lift? Hip strengthening? These are all great exercises for functional strength, but I would argue that exercises of equal importance (and ones that can be done concurrently with other activities) are the ones that nobody will ever see you doing – pelvic floor strengthening.

The pelvic floor is an extremely important group of muscles that acts like a sling or hammock to support the uterus, bladder, and bowel. The pelvic floor muscles also have an important role in controlling bladder and bowel functions and are a key player in pleasure during sex.

Painful sex is one of the biggest complaints of peri and post-menopausal women. In some studies, almost 60% of post-menopausal women reported pain during sex. Although the pain is typically attributed to lowering levels of estrogen, it can also be related to changes in pelvic floor function.

Researchers believe that painful sex for many...

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The ultimate guide to the Mediterranean diet for women over 50

be connect eat May 29, 2019

When you think about the word diet, what images come to mind? Is it of the young, enthusiastic face telling you that their new magic supplement is going to help you shed 20 pounds? Or the less-than-appealing plate filled with portion-controlled servings? Endless days of cayenne and lemon juice fasting? I’m here to suggest that what you should be more likely envisioning is a long table in Spain peppered with celebration and filled with delicious food.

 

I’ve written a lot about healthy eating habits on the Age Sister blog site, but so far have been hesitant to recommend a specific diet. Lately, many readers have told me that they would feel better if they had a framework to follow when it comes to better eating. The idea of providing a better recommendation has led me to develop this post about what I consider to be the best eating pattern for older women – the Mediterranean diet.

 

Unlike many of the popular diet trends, research on the...

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Eleven ways to take better care of your brain health

be eat move May 24, 2019

In my last blog post I talked about how low mood, anxiety, and rigid thinking can creep into our lives around menopause and the years following. Many women in later mid-life also complain about problems with memory loss. If you are feeling like your brain is not as sharp as it once was you are not alone; when surveyed, the majority of women over 50 reported feeling like their memory and concentration had gotten worse in mid-life.

It’s normal to worry that problems remembering or issues with concentration might be the early signs of cognitive decline, or God forbid, dementia. The good news is that your risk for dementia is relatively low in later mid-life and the risk of developing dementia doesn’t start to increase increase until you are older than 65.

What contributes to changes in memory?

 Although some researchers suggest that dropping estrogen levels may be responsible for cognitive problems in mid-life women, it doesn’t appear that memory issues...

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Brain health in women: What’s really going on as you age?

be move May 17, 2019

I was recently at a conference on healthy aging where one of the speakers, a researcher who studies the impact of aging on the brain, admitted that the question she gets asked the most often is, “Is this normal?” Apparently, many women are worried about what their brains are up to as they age.

One of the biggest concerns is memory loss, along with the feeling that mid-life brains aren’t as sharp as they were in the past. Some women also worry that being forgetful might be an early sign of cognitive deterioration. The researcher used this example to put memory loss in perspective. She said, “Forgetting where you put your keys, even multiple times, is normal – standing at a bus stop in the rain without a coat, and not knowing how you got there is not.”

Changes in aging

Overall brain health has been the biggest topic request that I have had from Age Sister readers, so I am setting out to write two posts about cognitive health in aging over the...

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How to love a city through movement

move May 10, 2019

I love cities. In fact, given the choice, I would always take a bustling, noisy, chaotic city vacation over lying on a beach. I love cities for their arts and culture and overall crazy personalities, but through my work in health promotion, I have also come to love cities for their impact on how (and how much) we move.

Cities can be good and bad for health. Of course, if you are living in one of the cities in the world that has significant levels of air pollution, your chronic disease risk is higher than your suburban neighbours. There is also the issue of the impact of city living on mental health. Some studies indicate that those living in urban environments have less access to protective mental health factors (such as opportunities to be in nature, more privacy, less noise, and better sleeping conditions) than their rural counterparts. We also can’t ignore the fact that cities can be inherently more stress-inducing because of the issues related to working and living so...

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What is forest bathing?

be connect move May 03, 2019

Shinrin-yoku is defined as “taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing”, and is a mix of mindfulness, physical activity and group experience. Although it sounds like you might end up in a body of water, forest bathing is instead just the art of fully immersing yourself in the experience of being in the woods. Shinrin-yoku is different from just taking a walk in the forest and is attracting a serious following.

Why is being in the woods so appealing to some people? Turns out that we are either “biophilic”, those outdoorsy types who are drawn to camping and hiking, or “biophobic”, those who see the outdoors as a somewhat threatening place, filled with unsavoury bugs and critters.

I must admit, I have a serious love affair with the forest. I’m not picky – if there are trees and something that resembles a path, I’m in. I have spent a huge amount of time in the woods in the past few years while trail-running. Sometimes I run...

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Why social wellness is so important in aging

be connect Apr 26, 2019

Having interpersonal relationships is one of the main ways that humans have evolved and endured. As people got older in early civilizations, supportive relationships were vital to their long-term survival.

You might be surprised to know that the importance of social connectedness has stubbornly persisted in to our modern life, and in fact, has one of the most profound impacts on our disease and mortality rates in aging. For women, social wellness is especially important because (bummer alert) we tend to outlive our partners.

Social wellness has its own field of study and has come to the forefront in healthy aging research and policy in the past decade. This week, I will help you explore the ways that improving your social connections can impact your health, and will offer five important tips for improving your social connections long-term.

Why is Social Wellness Important?

Typically, preventative health is focused on physical behaviours like quitting smoking, eating better,...

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