Aging Gracefully Blog

Archive for June, 2013

Have You Got IT? Maximize the Minutes in Your Workout

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Does your workout have the IT factor?  That is IT as in Interval Training.  Here's an easy tip for getting the most out of your workout:  Add minutes of faster paced, higher intensity exercise into your cardio program.

High intensity interval training is a hot topic in the fitness world.  Several new studies suggest that a few minutes a week of strenuous exercise can improve aerobic fitness more quickly than moderate exercise does, and may improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels after several weeks.

These studies have looked at various bouts of exercise, but haven't established a definitive period of time for interval training to provide maximum health benefits.  It's especially unclear if interval workouts can help maintain weight, since these shortened sessions do not burn as many calories as longer sessions of moderate exercise.  They may not help with building muscle either.

While you may be tempted to cut your workout time by switching to hard workouts of short duration, consider this: Very good epidemiological studies support our current recommendation that 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week is associated with improved health and longevity.  Larger, longer studies need to be done to prove the benefits of short workouts.

To give your longer workouts a little juice, and burn extra calories, try interspersing some interval training.  A good rule of thumb is for every minute of pushing, rest for two minutes, then repeat.  It adds some life into your routine and may also add years to your life!

Speaking personally, it's time for summer vacation!!  We are signing off for the month of July and will be back with more in August.  Enjoy those lazy, hazy days of summer!


Which Exercise is Best for Osteoporosis?

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Over the years, many women have come to me for guidance on the best exercise for their bones. Their questions vary, asking for help in interpreting the results of their bone density test and what those numbers mean in terms of choosing safe and effective exercises. Each individual is unique but there are general guidelines that apply to all. 

One woman saw me working with my regular client in her gym and asked whether I could advise her on her personal situation. She said that in an effort to strengthen her bones she had continually increased her weights, as per the advice of her doctor.  But now she had developed shoulder, lower back and knee issues from lifting too much weight. Although the guidelines for strengthening healthy bones call for high impact, high resistance exercises, it’s counter-productive to overload the joints to the point of injury!

Another woman had been diagnosed with osteoporosis and came to me for a fitness consultation.  She was so stymied by her diagnosis that she had stopped exercising for fear of causing further damage to her fragile bones. There are many safe and effective exercises for osteoporosis, but you need to bone up on the guidelines.

Between these two extremes, there lies a perfect course for your own routine. The National Osteoporosis Foundation classifies exercises in four groups, beginning with those that are most effective for building bone and, in diminishing intensity, those that are safer options if you've been diagnosed with low bone mass, osteoporosis or are frail.

Group 1: Weight-Bearing, High- Impact, Resistance Activities

  • Weight-bearing:  standing exercises where you are resisting the force of gravity
  • High-impact:  activities where both feet are off the ground
  • Resistance:  applying resistance to the muscles using bodyweight, weight lifting tools (like free weights, stretch bands and tubes, weighted balls) and weight machines
  • Examples:  jogging or running; jumping rope; basketball; weight lifting

Group 2: Weight-Bearing, Low-Impact Activities

  • Weight-bearing:  standing exercises where you are resisting the force of gravity
  • Low-Impact:  activities where one foot is always on the ground
  • Examples:  walking and treadmill walking; cross-country skiing and ski machines; elliptical trainers; stair climbers

Group 3: Non-Impact, Balance, Functional Exercises

  • Non-impact:  activities where both feet are on the ground or you are seated
  • Balance:  exercises to reduce your risk of falls and fractures
  • Functional:  exercises similar to everyday activities
  • Examples:  Pilates and yoga (avoid forward bending postures); Tai Chi; bodyweight exercises like chair squats and heel raises

Group 4:  Non-Impact Activities, Non-Weight Bearing

  • Non-impact:  activities where both feet are on the ground or you are seated
  • Non-weight-bearing:  activities where your weight is supported
  • Examples:  bicycling and stationary bike; swimming; water aerobics; deep water walking

All of these activities enhance your health and well-being; however some are less helpful to your bones.  If you love to bike or swim, for example, try to do some cross training by adding in walking or resistance exercises for the lower body, like chair squats.  But always remember: Safety First! And be sure to check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program or becoming much more physically active. This information is not intended as medical advice.

For more about healthy exercise for your bones, please see Joan Pagano’s video program “Beat Belly Fat, Bloating, Bone Loss and the Blues:  Simple Steps to a Better You

If you have any questions about your own exercise program, connect with me here.

(c)  Copyright - Joan L. Pagano. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.


Join the Conversation: Clueless, Confused or Just Plain Concerned about Bone Health?

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

LISTEN LIVE: Dr. Radio Show

DATE: Wednesday, June 19

TIME: 8:00-9:00 am ET

LOCATION: Sirius XM Radio Channel.81

Call in with questions/comments: 877-NYU-DOCS

Fact! According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation most women over the age of 45 fail to recognize their personal risk for developing osteoporosis, the disease of "porous bones," even though the majority of women have at least two risk factors for the disease by this age.

Fact! Conflicting results of several major studies and recommendations by the US Preventive Services Task Force have put into question the benefits of supplements containing calcium to prevent bone loss.

Fact! What do experts draw from this controversy?

  • First, that better studies are needed to clarify the possible risks and benefits of calcium supplements and to whom they may apply.
  • Secondly, that the safest and most effective source of calcium is found in food choices, not supplements.
  • And finally that exercise is key to bone health, specifically weight bearing and strength training exercises.

Join us live on Sirius XM's Dr. Radio Show this Wednesday, June 19 from 8-9 am. I'll share all the insider tips that I've learned over the past 25 years as a fitness professional and address questions such as:

  • What are the major risk factors for osteoporosis?
  • What is the difference between weight-bearing and weight-training exercise?
  • How can you work these exercises into your lifestyle, no matter what your fitness level?
  • What kind of exercise is safe if you've been diagnosed with osteoporosis?

Call in with your questions and comments to 877-NYU-DOCS

Vivacious host Dr. Marina Kurian sets a lively tone in her show and engages her audience with humor and personal insight. I'm always delighted to appear with her! Catch us live this week:

LISTEN LIVE: Dr. Radio Show

DATE: Wednesday, June 19

TIME: 8:00-9:00 am ET

LOCATION: Sirius XM Radio Channel.81

Call in with questions/comments: 877-NYU-DOCS



Show Your Wrists Some Love: 3 Easy Tips for Healthy Wrists

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Do you regularly exercise your wrists? Do they serve you well? Are they healthy and strong, free from pain? Women are three times more likely to develop painful wrist conditions like carpal tunnel than men. Taking care of your wrists contributes to your quality of life in sports performance, everyday activities and business affairs.

Strong wrists improve athletic performance, especially in racquet sports and golf. Moreover it is important to maintain strength in your hands and wrists to perform your daily activities with ease, whether they include computer work, housework, or simple tasks such as being able to open a jar or lift a full tea kettle. In business a firm handshake is an important asset in making a first impression. Should you stumble, you will be able to break a fall with less risk of fracturing your wrist.

1. Strengthen your wrists with two simple exercises:

  • Wrist curl, palm down Sit up tall on a firm chair with a cushion on your lap. Position one forearm with the palm down, fingers in a loose fist. Rest the wrist of the working hand on top, holding a light weight (1-5#) with the palm down. Keeping your wrists in contact, lift the back of the hand with the weight toward the ceiling. Pause, then return to the start position and, without resting, do 12-15 reps.
  • Wrist curl, palm up Now turn the working arm over and hold the weight with the palm up. Resting the working arm on top of the support arm, curl the hand with the weight toward the ceiling and hold for a second. Return to start and repeat for all reps.

2. Stretch your wrists and forearms: Extend one arm in front of you with the palm up. With the other hand, pull back on the palm so your fingers point down. You'll feel a stretch all the way up the underside of your arm. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Now turn your arm over so the palm faces down. With your other hand, press on the back of your hand so your fingers point down. You'll feel the stretch on the topside of your forearm. Hold for 10-15 seconds.

3. Use proper alignment in exercise. Use good form in lifting weights and holding a tennis racquet or golf club. Your wrist should always be in line with your forearm when holding a dumb bell or stretch band, or using weight machines. Avoid bending your wrist in any direction and if you can't hold it straight, lighten up on the weight.

For other great tips on proper form and alignment, check out my book Strength Training for Women . Contact me here if you have questions about how to protect your wrists from everyday stresses and strain.

Which is Better for Health: Running or Walking?

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

People often ask me which is better:  running or walking? These are the most popular physical activities for American adults and new studies involving surveys of runners and walkers reveal the comparative benefits of both. Which is more effective for weight control, for maintaining good health and reducing your risk of chronic disease?

Running is Better for Weight Control

  • Comparing data from 15,237 walkers and 32,215 runners, the National Runners and Walkers Health Study found that runners were thinner than walkers at the beginning of the study and up to six years later.
  • Especially notable for aging adults, runners over age 55 maintained their body mass and waist circumferences better than their age-matched walkers.
  • Even when energy expenditure is matched (walkers burning the same number of calories in a week as runners), runners control their weight better over the long term.

Few walkers, however, match the energy expenditure of runners. According to Dr. Paul T. Williams, the lead author of the studies, to burn the same calories walking as running, you have to walk one and a half times as far, which takes about twice as long. One way to ramp up your workout is to add intervals of increased speed or jogging, if appropriate.

Walking is Better for Reducing Risk of Disease

  • Both walkers and runners have a lower risk of developing age-related cataracts compared with inactive people.
  • The runners had far less risk of high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, diabetes and heart disease than their sedentary peers. But walkers who expend the same amount of energy per day as runners reduced their risk of heart disease by more than twice the percent of runners.

Personally speaking, the combination of both running and walking is optimal. Years ago, I completed seven marathons in five years. Concern about overuse injuries and their potential long term effects, however, convinced me to return to a more moderate exercise program. Now I run for 30 minutes whenever I can, but spend far more time walking throughout the course of each day.  If you have questions about your own cardio workout, ask me here.

Flabby Arms? Shape Up and Shed the Cover Up

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Are you ready to bare your arms in summer fashions? The social season is upon us: weddings, graduations, pool parties, and weekends at the beach. Tune in to find out what Mary did about her (formerly) flabby arms and how you can get awesome arms with my expert sculpting tips.

LISTEN LIVE: The Mary Jones Show

DATE: Wednesday, June 5, 2013

TIME: 5:30 pm ET

LOCATION: Connecticut Radio Stations

WDRC-AM 1360, WSNG-AM 610, WMMW-AM 1470 and WWCO-AM 1240

Formerly the trainer to Jacqueline Onassis and Caroline Kennedy, I've specialized in strength training for women since 1988. I know how to re-shape bodies, am familiar with all the mind games and understand what motivates you to work out – whether it's to be healthier or look better in your jeans! Contact me here for information on how I can help you.