Aging Gracefully Blog

Archive for October, 2010

Running through My Mind

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Running has always helped me go forward, literally and figuratively.  When I started running years ago little did I know that it was just the first step on a path that was unfolding before me, one that would lead to more personal growth and a blossoming career.

A sound body and a sound mind go hand in hand.  I've been in training this past month in more ways than one. While I've been participating in a training course to prepare me to be media-ready, I've simultaneously been training my body to look and feel my best.  Next week is the big event, the National Publicity Summit, where I'll have the opportunity to meet major TV and radio producers and journalists.  I need to look good and have the stamina to stay sharp on demand for three long days. 

Being fit translates to other areas of life.  A positive body image gives us confidence, builds self-esteem and makes us attractive to others.  I'm proud of myself for sticking with my program and being ready for the race!

Awesome Arms: Shoulder Fan

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

The beauty of the Shoulder Fan exercise is that it's both graceful and efficient, targeting two aspects of the deltoid muscle in one fluid movement.  As it strengthens the front and sides of your shoulders, it creates a sculpted effect that looks great in strappy tops and makes a perfect "hanger" for clothing.

Stand with your feet parallel, hip width apart, knees soft.  Hold a 3-5# free weight in each hand, arms by your sides, palms facing back.  Squeeze your shoulder blades down and together, then raise both arms to the front to shoulder height.  Keeping your arms at shoulder level, slowly move your arms out to the sides until they are directly in line with your shoulders.  Pause, then lower them down to your sides and return to the starting position.  Repeat 12-15 times.

Trainer Tips:

  • Keep your arms straight but not stiff
  • To keep tension out of your neck and upper back, avoid lifting your arms above shoulder height
  • Engage your abdominals to stabilize your torso and maintain neutral spine alignment, allowing the small curve in the lower back without arching it
  • For the toning effect, keep the weights light and slow the movement 

Shoulder stretch:  To stretch the front of the shoulder, put one arm behind you and take it by the wrist with your other hand.  Gently pull the back arm across the back of your waist until you feel the stretch in the front of the shoulder.  Hold for 10 seconds on each side.

Your sculpted arms will look great under skinny knits for the fall season and give you a head start for the party dresses of the holidays.

Awesome Arms: Wacky Biceps Curl

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

Have a little fun as you sculpt your arms with the Wacky Biceps Curl.  This unique version of a classic exercise recruits the muscle in an asymmetric pattern, combining two different methods of strength training and targeting two different aspects of the muscle.

Stand with your feet parallel, hip-width apart, knees soft.  Hold a 5-8# free weight in each hand, your right arm straight by your side with the palm facing in and your left arm bent at the elbow to 90 degrees, with the palm facing up.  Keep the left arm stationary, holding the weight isometrically. With the right arm perform a "hammer curl": palm facing in, lift the weight toward your shoulder, then lower it slowly for 12-15 repetitions.  Switch sides and repeat.

Rotating the position of your arms - palm in, then palm up - works two different aspects of the biceps muscle.  At the same time, you are stimulating the muscle with diverse patterns of stress by combining an isometric contraction (where the muscle length is unchanged) and an isotonic (muscle lengthens and shortens) contraction.  It's a four-way stimulus package!!

Trainer Tips:

  • Keep your elbows close to your sides, but avoid "pinching" them into your waist
  • Be sure to keep your wrists aligned with your forearms, i.e. don't bend the wrist in any direction
  • Stabilize your shoulder blades down and together before you start to move
  • Use core strength to keep your torso still as you work your arms.  If your trunk begins to sway back and forth to help lift the weights, you are "cheating" by using momentum.  Stop the exercise or lighten up the weights

Biceps stretch:  You should always stretch the muscle you've worked.  This is also a great stretch to do at your desk because it stretches both the forearm as well as the biceps.  Extend one arm in front of you with the palm up.  With the other hand, pull back on your fingers.  You'll feel a stretch all the way up the underside of your arm to the biceps. Hold for 10 seconds on each side.

Next week, watch for Part 3 of Awesome Arms:  Shoulder Fan