Aging Gracefully Blog

Posts Tagged ‘at-home workout’

“S.U.S”: Secret Code for Posture

Monday, July 24th, 2017

When I was growing up, my mother and I shared a secret code for posture. S.U.S. meant Joan Pagano - desk stretches"Stand Up Straight" and I seemed to need constant reminders. When my self-image finally "grew" into my height, I straightened up to claim my full 5'10 ½ inches. Now at the age when loss of height can be an issue and posture needs constant vigilance, I look for ways to stand tall and straight.

This series of at-work desk stretches can be done anytime, anywhere – you don’t have to be at work! But because we typically develop a forward posture from doing desk work, it’s the perfect opportunity to create a habit of stretching in the small moments of your day. Do them with me in the video below.

While there is nothing we can do to stop the aging process, there are a number of things we can do to stay tall, including working on posture and alignment, ensuring the health of our skeleton, and of course, stretching out our muscles.

Posture and alignment tips

When sitting, engage your core muscles instead of relying on external support. The torso will passively conform to whatever type of chair you are sitting on, and properly designed chairs are rare. Keep your weight distributed evenly across both hips. Feel the sit bones, not the tailbone, beneath you. Sit up tall, with the spine straight and with a natural curve in the lower back.

When standing, distribute your weight evenly on both feet. Soften the knees so they are not locked or hyperextended. Stack your ribs up over your hips, pelvis in neutral, i.e. not tilted forward or backward. Think of elongating the torso, stretching the space between the ribs and the hips, lengthening the spine.

Healthy skeleton

If you have lost height and/or are developing a permanent slump with rounded back or “sloping” shoulders, check with your doctor to make sure you don’t have a spinal condition like osteoporosis. A simple bone density scan can give you a report.

Spinal fractures are the most common type of fracture to occur with osteoporosis, accounting for 40% of all fractures. Vertebral fractures can cause your spine to curve forward (“kyphosis”) and may cause pain as the other muscles of the back are strained. Once your doctor approves, these simple moves can strengthen and lengthen the spine, improve mobility in the upper and middle back, and reverse the forward slump.

 Stretching muscles in your workout

Stretching is one third of a well-rounded workout (the other two being aerobic exercise and strength training). After you've been contracting the muscles repeatedly in your aerobic workout – walking, running, cycling, swimming, etc. – it's important to lengthen them out by stretching. The same principle applies to strength training: after the muscles have been contracting against resistance, they need to be stretched out to their full length. Short, bunchy muscles will never give you a long, lean line.

It's advisable to stretch every day, even on days you don't exercise. Take a lesson from your pet dog or cat and notice that they stretch periodically throughout the day. You can move your joints to help wake up in the morning and get your circulation going. Or take a few minutes at work or in the evening to relax, to counteract the demands of your day and discharge tension from the muscles.

Video:  At-Work Desk Stretches

Contact Joan for help with your posture: http://www.joanpaganofitness.com/contact.html

 

 

Juice Up Your Joints

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

Video:  Juice Up Your Joints 

Don’t let creaky joints stop you in your tracks! If you feel a bit stiffer when you wake up in the morning, it's normal. We all lose flexibility gradually with age, but just a few minutes of simple limbering exercises warm up your joints and help you ease into the demands of your day. And to make it even easier, you don’t have to get up from the bed to do them!

Being stiff is something we associate with old age since it affects the way we look, the way we feel and the way we move.  We need flexibility to perform everyday activities with ease - to get out of bed, lift children and sweep the floor. We need it to bend and lift, twist and turn, and reach overhead.  If you have limited range of motion, these movements become more restricted.

Your ability to stretch depends on genetics as well as daily habits.  Technically, flexibility is the range of motion around a joint.  It is determined by the "architecture" of the joint (the shape of the bones and cartilage) and the length of the muscles and ligaments crossing it.  If range of motion is limited so the joint can't bend or straighten, it is said to be "tight" or "stiff." 

Stiff, achy joints are also the hallmark of osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease affecting the cartilage that acts as padding between the bones of the joints.  Over time, normal wear and tear causes the cartilage to break down, reducing the cushioning in the joints and causing pain, inflammation and swelling.  It usually occurs in the weight bearing joints of the hips, knees and feet, as well as in the neck, lower spine and hands. If your hips and ankles are stiff, your stride becomes shorter and there is less natural bounce when walking, jogging or dancing.  If your hands are painful, it becomes more difficult to open a jar or lift a heavy tea kettle.

Although the tendency is to minimize movement to avoid pain, this unfortunately can lead to more pain and stiffness. These limbering movements will actually diminish the discomfort, release lubricating fluid into the joints and increase mobility.  Instead of jumping out of bed in the morning, take two minutes to do these gentle range of motion exercises on the side of your bed to ease into your day. 

Contact Joan for more information about a stretching program:  joan@joanpaganofitness.com

 

 

 

 

10 Easy Steps to Home Fitness

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

Home fitness is the easy way to reach your goals this year and get real results. Get your mind set and body ready to make fitness a daily habit with ten easy steps.  The secret of your success is found in your everyday routines. Day by day your choices shape your actions:  Small, smart, manageable choices will become permanent habits with practice.  Consistency is the key to building and maintaining momentum.

1)  Consistency is more important than intensity. Each day you should eat and exercise in such a way today that you can face doing it again tomorrow. This is how to gradually establish healthy habits that will serve you throughout life and that you will revert to when life becomes hectic.

2)  Get in the habit of exercise to overcome weak willpower.  Habits persist even when we're at low energy and weak self-control. Studies show that we tend to default to a habit when we lack the mental capability to make a choice, for example if we are deliberating about whether or not to exercise. Read more:  http://www.joanpaganofitness.com/blog/2013/10/26/get-in-the-habit-of-exercise-to-overcome-weak-willpower/

3)  Accumulate 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most (at least 5) days of the week.  Exercise accumulated in short bouts of 10 or 15 minutes offers weight loss and aerobic fitness benefits comparable to those achieved in longer workouts.  Think "activity" instead of "workout."    Walk to work, take the steps, lift and carry your groceries, do housekeeping chores energetically.  It all counts!

4)  Count your steps with your smart phone, pedometer or other tracking device.  See how many steps you average and then build on them.  Try to add 1000 steps per day every week until you hit 10,000 in a day!  People who keep a track record tend to achieve their goals. Read more:  http://www.joanpaganofitness.com/blog/2013/11/17/the-quantified-self-health-and-fitness-self-monitoring/

5)  Learn to do a proper squat, the #1 functional exercise for life.  It’s the movement that we need to get up from a seated position - from a chair, toilet or bathtub.  While working the large muscles of the lower body, the squat creates strength and stability to reduce the risk of falling.  As a bonus, it helps lift and firm the bottom line!

6)  Combat the negative effects of prolonged sitting.  Extended sitting slows the body’s metabolism and creates a “lazy biology” raising the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart, kidney and liver disease, and certain kinds of cancers, even if you work out!  For every hour you're sitting, get up and move around for five minutes.  Read more:  http://www.joanpaganofitness.com/blog/2013/02/18/are-you-at-risk-for-the-new-silent-disease/

7)  Practice perfect posture.  Train yourself to stand up straight:  lift the chest, lengthen the torso, roll your shoulders down and back.  “Zip up” your abs by drawing your navel back toward your spine.  Take a deep breath and notice how good it feels to fill your lungs with air!

8)  Wake up your cardio workout.  If you are doing the same kind of steady pace cardio routine over and over, say walking or jogging for 30 minutes most days of the week, your body will stop improving because it has adapted to that level of exercise. Add intervals of high intensity or “bursts” to improve fitness levels and burn more calories. Read more:  http://www.joanpaganofitness.com/blog/2016/09/05/beat-belly-fat-with-burst-training/

9)  Stay supple with stretching.  Relieve morning stiffness and joint pain.  Just a few minutes of daily stretching helps maintain flexibility, which in turn keeps the muscles supple and counteracts the wear and tear of everyday life, allowing you to maintain a youthful appearance and active lifestyle.  http://www.joanpaganofitness.com/blog/2015/10/04/stay-supple-with-stretching/

10)  Be thankful!  Science finds that the practice of gratitude improves your health. Studies show it can relieve stress, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, improve heart rhythms, boost your immune system and reduce the effects of aging on the brain.

Pick a couple of these fitness tips and begin to incorporate them daily. Then add two more as you work down the list. Don’t be discouraged that things aren’t happening faster. It doesn’t mean you won’t get there. As you are developing a new mindset, it takes time for the brain to adjust and program the changes until they become automatic.

Get simple strategies to enhance daily life with more energy, a better mood and less stress.  Call Joan today:  212-722-8116.

 © Copyright – Joan L. Pagano.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

10 Top Holiday Fitness Tips

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

The holiday season can wreak havoc with your best intentions to stay in shape. It's easy to get de-railed with parties, slice of pumpkin pie with whipped toppingtravel and general disruption to your normal routines.  Be proactive: Plan your strategy now to maintain your fitness when life gets hectic. Use these 10 TIPS to keep on track for the New Year. 

1)  Make movement a daily habit. The secret of your success is found in your everyday routines. Consistency is the key to building and maintaining momentum. 

2)  Think "activity" instead of "workout." Find opportunities to be active during the course of your day. Walk to work, take the steps, lift and carry your groceries, do housekeeping chores energetically. It all counts!

3)  Accumulate 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most (at least 5) days of the week.  Studies show that exercise accumulated in short bouts of 10 or 15 minutes offers weight loss and aerobic fitness benefits comparable to those achieved in longer workouts. Take 2 or 3 shorter walks every day. 

4)  Simple exercises provide a mini full-body workout, no equipment needed. Do 10 to 15 repetitions of body weight exercises like pushups, squats, and crunches every other day for your muscle work. Too easy? Add another set of each.

5)  Combat the negative effects of prolonged sitting. For every hour you're sitting, get up and move around for five minutes.

6)  Count your steps with your smartphone, pedometer, or other tracking device.  See how many steps you average and then build on them. Try to add 1000 steps per day every week until you hit 10,000 in a day!

7)  Use the small moments of your day to do a few minutes of exercise while you're standing at the kitchen sink, sitting at your desk, relaxing on the couch. Visit the Daily Video Tool Kit  for free video clips of different exercises.

8)  Stand on one leg while brushing your teeth to improve balance.

9)  Do range of motion exercises in the shower. The warm, moist air is perfect for limbering up stiff hands and fingers.

10)  Stretch your muscles at the end of the day to discharge tension and get a better night's sleep. Stretch every day for best results but at minimum 2 or 3 times a week. See the End-of-Day Couch Stretches in the Daily Video Tool Kit.

Get simple strategies to enhance daily life with more energy, a better mood and less stress. Call Joan today:  212-722-8116.

© Copyright – Joan L. Pagano.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Stay Supple with Stretching

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

Inevitably with time, things change. You feel a bit stiffer in the mornings; your joints are a little creaky; a glimpsed reflection in a Cat stretchingwindow reveals you're not as straight as you thought.  Decreased flexibility may be a common aspect of aging, but it is one that you can do something about, no matter what your age. 

Just a few minutes of daily stretching can help maintain flexibility, which in turn keeps the muscles supple and counteracts the wear and tear of everyday life, allowing you to maintain a youthful appearance and active lifestyle. By enhancing your mobility, stretching increases your efficiency in all activities so that they require less effort and leave you feeling less tired.

Your ability to stretch depends on genetics as well as your daily habits.  The unique structure of bones and the length of the soft tissue (muscles, tendons and ligaments) surrounding them determine the joints' range of movement.  Some joints, like those affected by arthritis, may be "stiff" or restricted; others like those of a contortionist, "loose" or hypermobile.

The constant downward pull of gravity and gradual dehydration of the body's tissues cause us literally to shrink over time, but stretching can help by lengthening the muscles.  There is a natural tendency for some muscles to be short and tight, while others are prone to being long and weak.

Stretching can help offset this imbalance and improve the alignment, as in the "forward slouch." This is a typical posture of aging:  upper back rounded, shoulders hunched, and the head forward of the body. The remedy is to stretch the chest and shoulders and re-align the head by strengthening the neck and back muscles.

Poor posture and alignment can cause pain when the muscles become chronically tired and strained and more prone to injury. Headache, neck and shoulder tension, sciatica, low back, hip and knee pain can all be symptoms of this. In addition, shortened muscles are more at risk for injury caused by simple movements. 

Here are easy stretches you can do throughout the day:

Gentle Morning Limbering:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0cYeDANUwk

At-Work Desk Stretches:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XE-uuiZnChM

End-of-Day Couch Stretches  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prLmMmObous

See more simple exercises you can do around the house in my Daily Video Tool Kit.

Exercise Smarter, Not Harder

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Exercise smarter not harder

Take a creative approach to exercise.  Not only is it fun to find innovative ways to shake up your normal routine, but all the body’s systems need to be surprised with diverse patterns of stress in order to continue to improve.  Use these simple tips to become more resourceful in your every day activities and watch your body redistribute as you shape up. 

Instead of doing the same old route when you're out for your usual walk/run, look for inclines to power up, stairs to hop down and places to throw in 20 jumping jacks.  By adding intervals of varying intensity, you are simultaneously building bone, tuning up your cardiovascular system and burning extra calories.

If your program is stale and needs rejuvenating, try something new.   Intervals of high intensity work can be adapted to resistance training as well as to cardio activity.  Try interspersing one minute of heart-pumping cardio into your strength training exercises.  You can use exercises like jumping rope, step-ups or running in place to keep your heart rate elevated. 

Use compound movements in your strength training. Combine upper and lower body actions to target 8-10 muscle groups for efficient toning and calorie expenditure.  For example, try combining a front lunge with a lat row, a squat with a biceps curl and calf raise, a plie with a shoulder raise. You improve your coordination and core stabilization in addition to getting a full-body workout in a shorter period of time.

Invent time-saving ways to fit exercise into your day-to-day.  If life intervenes and you can’t do your normal weight training session, at least do some exercises using your body weight, like push ups, squats, crunches and planks.  Do two sets of diagonal push ups after your walk/run, using a railing or back of a park bench for support. Practice balance by standing on one leg while brushing your teeth for two minutes.  Sit on a stability ball at your desk to add some core training as the muscles of the trunk work to keep you upright.

Ramp up your daily activities by becoming more creative in how you choose to exercise.  As you develop an active lifestyle in your daily routines, your body will thank you by becoming healthier and more energetic.  And the changes will be reflected in the way you wear your skinny jeans!

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