This winter and spring I’ve gotten this question quite a bit. I’m feeling as if I’ve done far too much research on the topic this cold and flu season for my tastes. As it is I have suspicions that a little mold and stress around the home front has contributed to my 3rd bout of sick in about 8 weeks!
Here’s the low down on whether or not to exercise when you’re sick.
“Moderate exercise has no effect on the duration or severity of the common cold.”
That came out of a study done at Ball State University. Researchers concluded that if you’re symptoms are neck up – things like sinus and nasal congestion, sore throat – exercise neither helps or hurts.
But wait a minute.
Have I influenced you enough yet? Are you asking whether that’s research that was done on peri-menopausal, menopause, or post-menopausal women? Who tend to do too much and push and push until they drop?
Well, it wasn’t. It was on male subjects average age 29.
Still, there may still be some truth to the fact that moderate- I repeat, moderate– exercise can be helpful if you just have a cold.
You may do well with short HIIT when you’re well. That isn’t necessarily what will help you get well though. It’s only moderate exercise-induced that increases in stress hormones reduce excess local inflammation. In doing that you may improve your recovery from a viral infection.
Very intense exercise, including prolonged exercise, on the other hand – like HIIT or marathon running – can briefly suppress immune function. Marathon running, by the way is relative. If it feels long for you, then it’s too much.
Trying to do your long slow routine or your HIIT workout sick is more likely to prolong your illness and or weaken your immune system further. If you’re frequently sick – or injured for that matter – and you’ve been exercising a lot or increased significantly, you may have evidence you’re doing more than your body can handle.
Definitely if you have the flu or fever or congestion in your chest, exercise is a bad idea. So you can let go of that guilt or thinking that you’re getting “behind” if you miss a workout.
Essentially, your body isdoing a workout. It needs to be able to dedicate all systems to that. Your immune system is working overtime to fight the infection. That is physical enough stress.
Should you sweat it out when you’re sick?
Some have the idea that they should sweat it out. Not so much. Not with exercise, nor with the sauna. A small shot of increased body temperature can help get you over a common cold but more than that could lay you flat again.
For women in midlife, already more susceptible to the negative effects of stress, exercise while sick can lead to chronic or adrenal fatigue. That kind of long-term damage lasts months or years.
If you feel weak, muscles ache, or have a fever it’s time to rest and give your body a chance to fight the infection.
Definitely not exercising can be a hard pill to swallow for some. Try to reconcile that as much as your mind may want to your body may really not have that much interest.
Once you are a week past fever and chills be smart. Don’t resume where you left off.
You want to ease back into it with walks, and progress to moderate workouts. Test yourself. Know that though it may be good to do a little, your endorphins may take over and inspire you to do so much you’ll regret it.
Getting some fresh air and daily walks can be good to boost your mood and get your strength back even while you’re not fully back to yourself. Just be easy on your personal expectations!
What might help speed your recovery is Vitamin C. One study showed that even in subjects already taking a supplement, therapeutic doses at the onset of a cold, chills, and achy muscles helps the body resist inflammation and it’s also hormone regulating. Doses of 4 – 8 grams were used during the first days of illness in the studies. Increase your dose carefully.
“I don’t know if I should really be here or not.”
Said the middle aged woman checking in a Planet Fitness when I was traveling last week. Bless the young staff woman behind the desk that said what we were all thinking, “Don’t make me sick.” Exactly! If you wonder, stay home. At the least do damage to just you. Don’t spread it around.
This is just a how-to-make-friends and prevent-enemies tip. No one wants to be next to someone coughing, or endlessly blowing her nose at the gym. Then holding the same weights or the same elliptical. No thanks. So while you may feel ready for a sweat session, no one around you is ready to get their sneeze on.
The first and only strength training program for hormones balance during menopause so you can boost metabolism is open for enrollment. With questions coming from so many our our Flipping 50 community members on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and even our Flipping 50 email subscribers who get the inside scoop and chance at the first seats in the program I wanted to answer your questions – somewhat personally – in as many places as possible.
You may be one of the women that I’ve been able to respond to personally. You may be on of the women I haven’t yet had a chance to answer individually. I thank you all for your questions! My team and I are working our way through all the questions as quickly as we can.
My mission is simple. I want the right people to get registered – as early as possible so you can take advantage of the best rate and perks – and that message includes wanting to be sure if the program is not right for you that you know that right away too.
So let’s dive in… but first me poking fun at … well, me.
There are some truths we live by at Flipping 50. They are:
That’s not an all-inclusive list. It is the most relevant of our list for our exercise programs.
Flipping 50 does not believe in:
You should know that a mere 39% of all exercise and sport science research features female subjects. A fraction of that is female subjects in perimenopause, menopause, and beyond.
Yet, that is the only research that as a woman in peri-menopause or beyond can trust as being practical for your own application. A strength training program for hormones should be based on the hormone changes you’re experiencing.
That research is all I use to design programs, coach women, and create content on this site. We do you, all day, every day. That’s it. Sure, research on other subjects is of interest and if there’s any way it might be relatable, I’ll share it, but never without telling you that it’s outside the research usually shared.
Q. Are the videos in STRONGER II the same as STRONGER I?
A. Great question! No. Every product I create uses unique videos created solely for an intended purpose. Rest assured all videos are unique.
Q. Are these downloadable videos?
A. No. The program grants you access to a private members-only area where you view the videos during the 12 week program. After the program you’re enrolled in your login access will end. You will have all the written content including any cheat sheets for workouts, the quick start guides for sample schedules, quick starts to cardio support (STRONGER I), and exercise nutrition or cellulite nutrition support (STRONGER I and II, respectively).
Q. So I don’t have access to the videos after for ongoing use?
A. That’s correct. There is a method to the madness. It’s about 35 years of observations and human psychology. With a limited time access, and with a clear start and stop, more people are successful at staying on track. While seemingly amazing to have “lifetime” access, results and even completion drop by more than 50%. If there’s no reason to use them, no urgency, no continued support, there’s usually no or at least much lower compliance. My goal is to get you active and consistent with the regularity that gets results.
Q. What’s the refund policy?
A. In line with my response above, once you’re in the program and have access to any of the materials you will need to go through the program, show you’ve done the homework, participated actively, and reached out for help before you request a refund. In 35 years I’ve experienced many times people quitting because it’s not convenient, not buying the membership or the personal training, and then getting stuck with a diagnosis or health scare that rocks them to the core. Never once has someone who started – at any age – ever come back and regretted it. It’s too easy to stop, it’s never convenient to get sweaty, do laundry, get up earlier, eat later. But exercise is really not optional. It’s lifesaving at least and quality of life enhancing at best. That’s an investment in you I’d like to hold you accountable to.
A. Both programs are created for the apparently healthy women going through hormone change or who’s already gone through changes. There are not specific modifications given for specific conditions. That said be cautious. Know your limits. If you know which exercises you can and can’t do or know what your personal range of motion is, you may make this work. If you’re unsure, I would first follow a program like Knee-Friendly 5 Day Flip. Movement between exercises is not slow, though exercise is performed with cueing and caution so you feel it where you should and not where you shouldn’t. You may do best working with a private trainer one-on-one, whether virtually with me (an upgrade to private coaching could support your needs).
Q. Can you explain what comes with the programs?
A. Yes! STRONGER I is 12 weeks of workouts, one new video each week that you’ll do twice. You’ll also receive the quick start to cardio, schedule samples, and exercise nutrition. STRONGER II is 12 weeks including a variety of spot specific (cellulite) warm up, cardio, strength, massage, and cool down videos. You’ll receive the in depth guid to cellulite and how to reduce the appearance through not only the exercise but nutrition, and lifestyle habits that are proven to help. You’ll get a guide to how you can mix and match videos for your time constraints and your cellulite spot-specific needs.
Q. How long are the workouts?
A. The STRONGER I workouts can be done in less than 90 minutes a week – (2) 30-40 minute workouts. STRONGER II workouts are a bit longer and you want to complete all components at the same session. Allow 60-70 minutes for workouts 2x a week. You will be including strength and cardio in each workout so you’ll have a lot done in a short amount of time.
Ready ? If one of these programs is right for you start now! Visit STRONGER I(STRONGER II and III are now inside the Flipping 50 membership site, and STRONGER IV will be too by Dec 2019! That’s the wise decision for over $800 in exercise programs alone! and so much more!)
In the gym and in the kitchen you’ve got a dozen ways to make menopause better. Your trip through menopause can be easy and enjoyable. Here’s how the exercise you do can make menopause so much more pleasant!
Let’s face it there are so many ways stress – and the cortisol that comes from it – creep into life during menopause. It also happens to be a time when women are at a peek in their careers, or in a transition to a new career. The same can be said for relationships. Children can be in kindergarten or graduating college. If you’re an American family, maybe both! You may have aging parents or relatives who depend on you too. Exercise can help offset those stressors.
Short, high intensity exercise, done infrequently (not daily), can reduce negative effects of cortisol. Long outdoor nature walks/hikes/rides can reduce cortisol. Yoga (as long as you love it and don’t go for hot, power yoga that puts you over the edge) can reduce stress levels.
Weight training makes you strong in many ways beyond muscle. Women report confidence, resilience, a difference in the way they carry themselves when they’re strength training.
Serotonin production along with the well-known endorphins produced after exercise can change chemistry. While non-exercisers during menopause often report greater tendency toward depression, weight training is known to help decrease anxiety and depression both. Make menopause better by feeling better both physically and emotionally.
Exercise in menopause can boost your testosterone levels directly, provided you choose less and more intense exercise when you do it. Long endurance activity kills testosterone and therefore your romantic Saturday night. But short hits of intervals a couple times a week along with a weight training routine that really works (put the pink dumbbells down) will support testosterone levels.
Exercise enhances sleep, which in turn improves cortisol, testosterone, and growth hormone. If you feel less stressed there’s more chance you can feel amorous. No one feels sexy when the wheels are falling off the bus. If you’re handling it well though, maybe.
You may be more inclined to leave the lights on. Strength training can help you feel better naked and boost your libido. Strength training, faster than any other form of exercise, will change your body shape and proportions. You’ll feel it faster, too, than trying to spend hours doing cardio which will leave you wiped out rather than feeling like a little black dress.
It takes as little as 10 minutes of exercise a day to improve self-reports of sleep quality by 33%. You can do a full body strength training routine in 10 minutes!
Exercise in menopause can reduce hot flashes intensity, frequency or both. In fact, the occurrence of hot flashes is reduced by about 21% in exercising women. It is dependent on the type and timing of your exercise so if you’re shaking your head no, it’s not working for me, then a change in your exercise is the answer.
The exercise has to be both vigorous enough to change your vasomotor control (aka, your heating and cooling system) and regular enough.
Flip:“Intense” and “vigorous” are two words that can cause concern but they needn’t. High intensity exercise has been used for decades even with those who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and asthma. Safe forms of exercise can help you reach the intensity you need to get results without risk of injury.
Resistance exercise can prevent bone and muscle loss that’s going to accelerate during menopause. Bone losses increase to up to 3-5% a year during menopause (from 1-3% losses pre and post menopause). Weight training with a bone density-increasing protocol should be mandatory for women in midlife! This tip not only helps you make menopause better but makes post- menopause better and reduces your risk of falling.
Use a weight that causes you to reach fatigue in 10 or fewer repetitions, or use power with slightly lighter weights. Both have been most closely related to the best bone benefits. Minimal bone benefits come from doing more repetitions of light weights or taking more steps per day. There needs to be a Minimal Effective Stress (MES) applied to gain the most bone benefits.
Where you have co-existing issues like arthritis preventing heavy weights, do the heaviest you can without complications and focus on balance to prevent falls. There are specific other habits you’ll want to do to optimize your bone health.
Flip: All too often you’ll find resources suggesting walking or light weights, even yoga increases bone density. These activities do exist on a continuum from sedentary-inactive to very specific optimal bone density activity. They will only reap rewards for a period of time as your body adapts. Once you’ve become a regular walker or done yoga, you will no longer continue to gain benefits doing the same activity over and over without overload.
Do the best you can for your personal conditions and if you’re apparently healthy, weight training to the point of muscular fatigue at 10 or fewer repetitions or using power with approximately 12-15 repetitions will get the best bone-specific results.
I saved the best for last. What would make menopause better for many women is avoiding the weight gain that can happen. Hormone changes can sabotage your tried-and-true habits and cause weight gain. They don’t HAVE to, however. It’s not “NORMAL” for that to happen, and it’s certainly not mandatory.
In fact, worldwide menopause and weight gain don’t have a correlation. Here in the states however, it’s common.
Weight training benefits within the first four weeks, provided you do a protocol that overloads your muscles, results in typically a 4 lb fat loss and 3 lb. muscle gain. The net weight loss is not significant but the change in body composition is and that positively influences metabolism. Those results can be expected within the first 12 weeks of a strength training program, or an existing one in which you make significant changes. For more information about Flipping 50’s new 12-week STRONGER program and the enrollment period, join for email announcements that first go to our subscribers.
A “traditional” protocol of using major muscle groups to fatigue optimizes lean muscle. A few minutes of random exercise following a cardio class or a bootcamp movement course moving quickly and getting tired, but never reaching muscle fatigue, will not have the same effect on long term metabolism.
You can make menopause better physically and psychologically with minutes a week. It doesn’t take a lot and you can do it conveniently at home, it doesn’t require a lot of equipment.
How does faster fitness after 50 sound? That’s what I’m serving up today. We so often focus on the sessions, the workouts, the exercises. We often don’t pay enough attention to what happens between workouts that boosts your fitness level. As a fitness instructor, trainer and trainer of trainers for 34 years, I’ve witnessed that only focusing on 1-3 hours of exercise won’t get results – no matter how good it is! That simple statement is amplified for older adults.
This dozen between workouts tips will help you optimize your results. Comment below after reading and let me know how many out of these 12 you’re doing!
Wait 60 minutes then eat a high protein meal or smoothie
There is a blunting effect on muscle protein synthesis in older adults after exercise. It subsides after about 60 minutes. Eating a high protein meal is best timed 60-120 minutes after high intensity workouts. There’s no change in what you should eat for low or moderate exercise. Just don’t overcompensate!
High protein after 50 is higher than it was when you were 20
Older adult men who consumed 40 grams of protein (in a smoothie) following strength training reaped far more benefits – comparable to that of young men – than did subjects who consumed 20 grams of protein post-exercise. This change in protein intake aids the recovery process (decrease muscles soreness, breakdown, and readies you for another good workout sooner).
You need more than your younger self in order to combat the muscle wasting that happens with aging. Exercise alone is not enough, it takes the combination of correct exercise and addition of protein. An estimated 40% of older adults don’t get the amount needed.
If you’re attempting to lose weight, increasing dietary protein helps weight loss be fat rather than muscle loss that is otherwise a significant part of weight loss. Losing muscle comes back to bit you by slowing your metabolism and making regain inevitable.
Drink a ridiculous amount of water
You can overdo water intake but for most older adults this is not the case. Check your skin and your urine both. Staying well hydrated by drinking ounces equivalent to half your weight (in pounds) will aid digestion, muscle, and every cell in your body. If you’re suffering from fatigue, check in with your water intake.
If you find you’re dizzy, especially when you’re exercising or after exercise, and you drink copious amounts of water that exceed half your body weight (ounces of water compared to pounds of weight) then, yes slow down. You’re watering down your electrolytes and your micronutrients may not be absorbed.
Let your muscles rest
Exercise enhances your muscle protein synthesis. You take advantage of that benefit by resting between vigorous exercise sessions (and stressful life events). This together with a higher amount of protein (compared to younger people) pre or post exercise (and both for those who struggle to gain lean muscle) will support more energy, strength, endurance and slow the atrophy so-common in prior generations with aging.
Get in the water
Water supports recovery. Whether you decide to swim in your tub in Epsom salt or you find your way to a salt-water pool (less toxic than a chlorinated one), or you’re lucky enough to access the ocean (call me – I’ll be right over!) or hot springs, water is an effective recovery method. There are athletes that swear by regular immersion after tough workouts as a means of injury prevention.
Moving in the water, whether swimming, walking or suspended jogging is better than passive bathing. Active recovery always wins over passive. You do want to move. Get a big tub.
Sleep like a boss
If you can’t right now, your first step is to realize there are ways you can manipulate your exercise, food, and habits to improve sleep. You’re not a victim. Sleep is the gatekeeper of all things hormones. That means, sleep dictates your metabolism. You can exercise all you want (not recommended) and eat as little as you want (also not recommended) and if your hormones are not balanced you will not lose weight and potentially will increase your fat stores and make it harder than ever to lose fat. If you’re struggling to sleep, this is your first primary goal.
Stretch and roll
You want to have strong but supple, mobile, muscles and regularly stretching, not just right after exercise, but more frequently potentially than you did when you were younger is the way to get them.
If not stretching on your own, yoga or Pilates can both enhance mobility and flexibility so you can move through your personal range of motion. Strength without this can actually lead you to muscle imbalance. Foam rolling before stretching can make it more effective.
Listen to injuries and illness
You get a few chances to listen to your body at a whisper level. Then it begins to talk louder, with more pain, or more severe damage. When it’s small it’s much easier and faster to fix. Increased injuries and illnesses tell you that you’re immune system is depleted, you’re pushing the accelerator with nothing in the tank and you need to pay better attention.
Reduce your stress level
It’s not going to go away. Meaningful lives are full of people and things we love that cause us stress. You can balance it however with both the way you think about it and with your personal stress toolkit. You need different answers to different sources of stress. It may be a walk in nature is good for some stress, and a nap or a sitcom is good for another. Fill your life with regular hits of your favorite activities and your stress won’t go away but your perception of it will improve.
Get a massage
Self care is a part of recovery. If it takes booking an appointment and paying for it to get you to lay down and relax, then do! Athletes do it regularly and we all live like corporate athletes running through our lives.
You’ll move better when you release muscle tension. You’ll relax and sleep better too. You may not be able to do this between every workout (darn!) but do schedule it. It’s a bit like hydration, when you feel thinned to do it, you’ve probably gone too long between massages. An entire chapter in You Still Got It, Girl! is dedicated to the hormone balance that happens with recovery.
Low intensity exercise has been left behind. Even yoga sessions are hot, or power, or hot and power as often as they are gentle and restorative. Low intensity movement is missing from our contemporary lives. It’s hormone-balancing and if a state of constant tired is true of you, then low activity may be better – and even promote weight loss best – for you. Low intensity exercise is recovery while high intensity exercise requires recovery.
Never ignore fatigue
Don’t ignore fatigue during a workout when you want to reach muscle fatigue nor the chronic, tired all the time kind of fatigue. Less exercise with more purpose, bookended by quality recovery is the key to fitness. If you’re flirting with adrenal fatigue you can’t out-discipline or out-willpower it.
How are you doing with your recovery? How many of these are you already doing? Anything you need to buff up to buff up?
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The truth and science about doing a 4 or 7-minute workout is coming right up. Improvements in fitness can be reached in as little as 4 minutes total exercise time. However, you need to read the fine print. The intensities required to do that have to be equivalent to greater than 100% of VO2 max.
What is that?
Uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. I often use a 0-10 scale with clients to define their “feels like” perception of exercise. Clients don’t usually reach a “10” whichis exhaustion. Working at an intensity greater than 100% feels like vomiting. That’s when you see athletes at the end of a race leaning over the side of the track. Few of us want to exercise there or want to repeat it, which is the whole point of finding exercise you love.
Still, there’s hope for adapting the protocol that works so well in science with young, fit men, to the needs of women in midlife. [Thus far there is no research on protocols featuring 100% intensities on women in peri-menopause and beyond]. So I’m exploring it here.
The research on these 4-minute workouts of a newer type show they aren’t as exhausting as those Tabata intervals done to 110% intensity. They involve exercise targeting Nitric Oxide (NO) release. NO release improves immune function, mitochondrial health and brain health.
Encouraging NO release requires high intensity exercise, but nothing like the original HIIT studies, at least featured in recent videos by the popular and respected Dr. Mercola, and Dr. Zach Bush, who Mercola credits for initiating his routine. Bush’s routine features four sets of four exercises done ten times.
Mercola’s spin on things:
I have a few concerns as Mercoloa demonstrates with poor form (head coming forward, back arching). Had he had better form, it’s a doable, routine most of us can fit into a day no matter what. You’ve got to get up from that chair at some point! You can find other ways to activate muscles that will be more joint-friendly. Keep in mind any of the videos in this post are not the only way. Mercoloa (and Bush) suggest you repeat again three times during the day with at least two hours between. (6am/10/6pm)
Thankfully, Mercola does say, his 3-4 minute exercise – doesn’t replace weight training or stretches/yoga. But according to Mercola, may replace cardio. I’d suggest that a base of cardio endurance is important. We build a more intense exercise program on top of (not instead of). If you’ve got significant weight to lose, you also want to find movement that helps you feel good doing it.
What is Nitrate Oxide? (NO)
It’s stored in blood vessels and when you run out of oxygen in the muscles you release NO. You rebuild it every couple hours. It feeds the muscles for growth.
The goal is to run out of oxygen at the muscle groups (to fatigue).
Think back to some of your early exercise sessions when you heard:
“feel the burn”and you did 100 of every (tiny little) move. Those classes are back and a part of their often short-lived success may be this phenomena. (Short-lived because often overuse injuries began to occur when repetitive movements required to work muscles caused injury to joints).
Consider why people swear by their sit-ups and crunches even with mounting research that lumbar and cervical (lower back and neck) injuries are directly correlated with performance of sit-ups and crunches.
Having more nitrate oxide makes muscles more efficient requiring less oxygen to work out at higher intensities.
Our NO levels dip as early as age 25 right around the time muscles peak and then begin to drop (unless you’re consciously doing something about it, aka lifting weights, ingesting adequate protein, and getting your sleep).
Cardio revs heart rate and blood flow. A 30-minute session (of adequate intensity) regularly will increase your body’s daily production of NO. When you don’t even have 30 minutes? I’ve got you covered with a 7-minute workout below.
Beet juice flies off the shelves where endurance athletes live. I’ve seen trainers of world champions hand their athlete a bottle of beet juice after a session. Other foods like spinach also gives you a NO edge. Studies show there was an immediate performance boost after drinking 5-9 ounces of beet juice then cycling among elite athletes.
Rotate this pre or post beet smoothie (from the You Still Got It, Girl fat burning breakfast smoothie book) into your routine and enjoy the health benefits along with potential performance benefits. Combine it with an NO producing 7-minute workout
Now, “the performance gains aren’t as big for amateur athletes, but the nutrients certainly won’t hurt, especially since beets have a lot of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” stated primary researchers.
A study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology said 20 minutes of sunlight (UVA rays) increased NO and decrease blood pressure. It’s not an easy fix (we’d all love one). You need to focus on the rest of your diet and lifestyle. The bottom line is you do have to exercise. You just don’t have to feel guilty about not being able to get in an hour. And on those days or weeks when you can barely get 10 or 20 minutes? It’s OK as long as you stay consistent and use that time wisely.
There could be some small benefits to exercising short, outdoors, and following it with NO rich foods. Every little bit counts.
You’ve really got to make the exercise anaerobic. It makes me question whether “air-pumping” arms to the ceiling for 30 seconds will take your muscles to the point that you have no more oxygen available to them. If you’re fitness level is extremely low, it might. But if you’re here reading this my, guess is that your fitness level is higher and you’ll require a little more taxing exercise.
In High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) there’s an alternating play of high intensity and very low intensity exercise allowing recovery. You’re able to work at much higher capacity for a short duration than you could ordinarily so long as you actually do take the recovery. If you’re someone who finds it hard to rest and begin too soon, or don’t actually rest between, your ability to exercise at the level intensity during work phase will be reduced and the entire activity becomes blurry. It’s potentially more risky than beneficial, as you get tired, sloppy, and lose form without recovery and fail to reach the high intensity you need to reap the physical benefit of the HIIT exercise.
In this High Intensity Circuit Training (HICT) there’s a one-and-done type strategy. You don’t have to repeat it. You’re going to take very little rest between but you are going to rotate through a variety of major muscle group exercises. This is not the high intensity of a 30 second interval. However, that could be good. The oxidative stress of HIIT means a “more is better” approach stops giving you more benefits and starts breaking down through oxidation. This short-form workout fits research findings that moderate-to-high, not low intensity, and not extreme high intensity has a sweet spot in small doses.
I’ve created a HICT set that mimics one I posted a couple years ago during “travel season.” I was off to a conference and getting ready to go, being there, and returning make a two-day trip like seven days of limited time to exercise. I can flip, trip, and fit my workouts in fast and easy anywhere, living room to hotel room when I don’t have time to get to a gym.
You don’t need equipment, other than what’s nearby. A chair, counter, or ottoman will be the only prop you need. If you have knee or shoulder issues you do have to be a bit more careful. You have a few less options since body weight exercises are limited. To modify the exercises, you can go for the less stressful version or eliminate some exercises altogether and substitute the ones that do work for you.
I alternate upper and lower body exercises for two reasons:
The goals of this short 7-Minute workout:
I’ve made this as knee-friendly as possible using body weight only. There are some exercises that could be too much for your knees, or shoulders and wrists. Modify or substitute another exercise, preferably that uses the same body part.
Spend approximately 30-40 seconds doing each exercise and 10 seconds in recovery as you transition to the next.
7-Minute workout set I
7-Minute workout set II
I love to throw this workout alternative in to a reset week (I’m doing one right now) or a recovery week (for me or for a private client) that might also include conscious altered eating. Occasionally, I take an entire month and shift way down into no more than 20 minutes a day of exercise except for additional yoga (not power, not hot, for you type A’s reading). During that month I increase my vegetable intake and consciously support gut health with green smoothies, pre and probiotics, as well as plenty of rest. I don’t ignore protein but give my body a digestive break by lightening up with mostly soups, smoothies, and increased amount of plant-based* protein.[*I know by personal testing that a purely plant-based diet does not work for me. It feels amazing for a month or so. The initial weight loss is so tantalizing. But muscle loss and weakness show up significantly during month two for me and by month three it’s noticeable not only to me but everyone. It’s temporarily sexy… we boomers (women for that matter) love a good diet right? We love those, “you look like you’ve lost weight” comments. Until we don’t. Slowing metabolism long term is not the answer, it’s part of the problem. Skinny jeans now, elastic waistband later. There isn’t a short cut.]
Is a 7-minute workout all you need ever? No. It’s a fair trade though on busy days, on recovery weeks, or days when you’re just thinking, “I’m not feeling it,” because moving a little may convince you otherwise. You will change your brain chemistry within seconds of starting exercise and you will feel a little more “badass” for having done it, and staying consistent.
That is what a #youstillgotitgirl does.
Use these hormone balancing exercise reminders for naturally supporting your best energy and wellness. Exercise matters most when it’s supported by the type, timing, and the lifestyle habits that result in fitness. Exercise provides the opportunity for fitness. The rest of your life determines how effective it will be.
Work with cortisol rather than against it. Cortisol, your energy hormone, is rising in the morning. Short sprints of activity alternated with recovery time will boost your metabolism the rest of the day. Shorter sessions are smarter both for your fat and your brain.
Increase testosterone and growth hormone, two hormones that help you build and maintain lean muscle tissue as you age, with the right type of exercise. Hormone balancing exercise after 50 includes intense weight training, whether heavy or light, to fatigue. This will boost lean muscle while tons of repetition will potentially be muscle wasting.
If you’re doing hours of classes every week and elevating your cortisol level due to the volume it will be hard to improve your lean tissue. Even if you once got away with this during hormone changes and compounded by other life stressors you’ll be doing more harm than good.
Hormones not calories control weight. Positively stimulating hormones is about quality exercise not quantity. You can lose weight with a little exercise but you can store fat with a lot of exercise.
When hormone balancing exercise is the goal more of a good thing is not just more, it is more imbalance. Less duration, less intensity, and less frequency especially if you’re fatigued in the morning and can’t get going is usually better.
Older female athletes training for endurance events have to keep this in mind too. The goal for you may be the endurance and stamina and not hormone balancing exercise. You’ll sabotage yourself by increasing cortisol and muscle wasting if you’re doing repeated long slow training sessions.
Even in my Ironman training experience last fall, I reduced the volume of training significantly by increasing the interval type of work, continuing weight training, and scheduled training strategically. By doing so, my hormones were better in December than in June before training began!
(Stay tuned! I am testing what happens this year without bioidentical hormones during training).
It’s not just your hormones or your thyroid. There are habits that may be making it worse. If you’re not prioritizing sleep and nutrition, start there. If you don’t know which foods and supplements you may be using that hurt you or aren’t using that would help, it’s time to get help.
Follow through is important. Even while you might be suffering from brain fog, make getting the right answers, following through on them, your number one. Feel good so you can feel better. Too many women think undue fatigue or soreness constantly is normal and time will take care of it. You can start the right habits yourself. Stay consistent with them and track results. If within reasonable time you don’t feel better a lab test or a functional doctor.
You will reduce your cortisol levels and stimulate more serotonin and endorphins walking in green spaces than you will slogging away on the dreadmill or walking city streets. As days get longer try to get outdoors or if weekdays are out of the question, take advantage of the weekends.
A 30 or 60-minute workout doesn’t overcome 23 hours of sedentary activity. Start thinking of yourself as an active person and game this all day every day. Find an excuse to get up and deliver a message. Walk to the mailbox or take the dog out again. Cue up three favorite songs and dance in the living room for 10 minutes. Clean the house. Start a garden. Take up golf.
Your daily movement is directly tied to your risk of overweight and obesity regardless of your exercise habits. Women who are moving throughout their day whether they exercise or not seem to be best examples of hormone balancing exercise – it’s not about calories in and out.
Wait an hour after moderate to vigorous exercise. If you’re tempted to try intermittent fasting (IF), use the continuum of IF and start at the bottom. If you’re stressed and haven’t got a healthy relationship with food to come back to, IF can wreak havoc with old binge-purge history. If you’re struggling with what to eat, this new Cooking for Hormone Balance Cookbook is an amazing resource.
Eating between meals gives your body immediate access to everything it wants. Why would it ever have to dip into fat stores if you do that? It won’t. If you’ve fallen for the BIG myth that eating more small meals a day will boost your metabolism, you’ve been duped. There is zero evidence this is true and there is research that shows the opposite: snacking and small meals actually increases your ability to store fat.
Snacking is the exact opposite of Intermittent Fasting. How ironic that both of these concepts exist as either lingering or emerging trends in 2018. The big “aha” here is that we’re still looking for a short cut. If you just take a short time to identify your personal blueprint for eating well there is no starving and no binging, there’s just good food that fuels a strong sexy body and hormone balancing exercise.
Enrollment is open right now!
There’s no shortage of exercise tips on the internet. However, did you know that only 39% of all sport and exercise research feature women? And guess what? Even fewer have featured women in peri and post menopause. Our body composition, hormones, metabolism, and socialization are all so different that studies done on young, fit males can hardly apply.
Ironically, those differences are among the arguments for not including more women in studies. We’re unpredictable and that seems to be irritating or distracting for researchers! At least it was until 1993 when there was supposed to have been a mandate to make things more equal. Science may b a little slow I’d say in making that happen. It’s not just sports and exercise research, its heart disease, depression and dementia and more. Heart disease is the number one killer of women and yet more studies still feature men. Women are two times more likely to suffer from depression than men. Come on science, we need you.
So while we wait, know this. I consider it my job and mission to share studies on women, in peri menopause to post menopause (‘til death do us part, basicially). I provide exercise tips, specific to YOU. I make it clear to you when studies are across genders and ages so that you and I can co-collaborate to decide whether a study is applicable to you and how I would interpret it for me, my sister who is closer to 70, and my mom who is 91 as I write this. I’ve got you covered uniquely with a background as a Strength & Conditioning Coach who will choose the smartest exercises for your training; a Medical Exercise Specialist who will take into account special joint issues – common injuries – and conditions that influence how you can do certain exercises best, and an Exercise & Sports Psychology trained life coach who can focus on the behavior and habit change or resistance knowing you are a WHOLE person not just a physical body.
Let’s take a look at these 5 exercise tips that can change your next workout for the better today.
Perform all your repetitions with just one arm or one leg before you move on to the other side. This is an obvious change is from doing both arms (bilateral) or legs at the same time, or from alternating limbs.
The benefit is enhanced awareness of what’s happening in your body. You can only keenly become aware of a significant difference when you’re doing then separately.
This is about balance but not in the way that you can stand on one leg. This is about creating a balanced body or correcting one that’s not. Most often it’s the latter! You’re never completely symmetrical. That’s OK, provided you don’t let it get too far out of balance.
This can be done using cables, tubing, free weights dumbbells, or machines. You’ll either simply drop the other arm or you’ll hold a dumbbell in it but not move it (such that you’re stabilizing that side) while you perform the reps on one side. With legs you’ll need to stand on one leg or if using a leg press, for instance, you’ll lighten the weight, leave the other leg resting on the platform, while you perform each of your repetitions.
Balance has minimal improvement from simply increasing strength alone. You do have to spend a little extra time training balance specifically. The good news is, that’s really all it takes, a little extra time. A few minutes a day dedicated to a progressive balance training will reap you plenty of results.
Dedicated balance training is a step-by-step training. It’s more than just standing on one leg eye open or eyes closed. You may start there, improving your static balance, but then you want to progress to dynamic balance, and each of these should include predictable perturbed (say, I throw a ball to you and have you throw it back while you’re in a toe-to-heel stance) and then unpredictable perturbed (you don’t expect the ball or it comes at you anywhere from your right knee or above your left shoulder).
If you’re attending yoga involving balance poses, definitely that’s helping. It’s helping most with static unperturbed balance though once you know what’s coming in the sequence. You don’t need to react to anyone else. So use that foundation and begin adding little predictable perturbed conditions by changing your gaze for instance, or if the instructor walks around the room and takes your focus from one point to different ones. A partner who might touch your leg, or shoulder, becomes a little unpredictable if you know it’s coming but don’t know where it’s coming.
The time is now to train this one even if it feels good now. Proprioception, or righting yourself and knowing where you are in space and responding, is going to be affected by reduction of sight and hearing. Feeling young and athletic isn’t a good gage of whether you need balance training. If you’ve joined that club of bifocal-wearing babes, for instance the getting-used-to-them period can make you prone to falls. I was on a canyon trail a few weeks ago and looked up as someone politely opened the gate 10 feet ahead. My gaze went up and everything else went down when my toe caught a rock. I was seriously 5 minutes from done with a 3-hour hike. Are you kidding? I took my embarrassed self and bloody knee back to the car, irritated at the polite guy who opened the gate in order to cover my own disgust at looking up! I’d told myself to keep my eyes on the path for the last 2:45 and that darn courteous upbringing…
Generic exercise tips that suggest standing on one leg reach just one dimension of balance and very possibly not the one that will most help you either avoid falls or return that serve and win the match.
Move with speed during both strength training and cardio regularly. Bursts of interval training, particularly those that involve jumping (called plyometrics) can improve power, which in turn increases your fast twitch muscle fibers. I wrote about losing fast twitch muscle fibers twice as fast as slow twitch muscle fibers as we age in You Still Got It Girl, and Navigating Fitness After 50.
And I’m still talking about it in Hot, Not Bothered, the brain new “99 daily flips” book out in October of 2017 (and on pre-order now in kindle version for 99 cents). The reason is simple: more and more proof that less exercise of the right kind pays off. Power is the right kind of exercise. Since these fast twitch fibers are the ones we call on when we need to react quickly, and certain life moments usually require it, adding power to your workout a couple times a week is wise.
It doesn’t have to increase your exercise time. Simply substitute power for your usual strength work after you have a solid couple months’ foundation of regular training. Lift the weight quickly and lower slowly.
Adding plyometrics to your cardio can be a more risky if you’re vulnerable due to an injury, arthritis, or osteoporosis. If those describe you, leave power to your strength sessions. If you’re healthy, however, do small jumps onto a step and step back down repeatedly for 30 seconds to a minute a few times once you’re well warmed up. As far as exercise tips go, if you enjoy keeping things short, and you can safely add power, the intensity can reduce the time you need to spend exercising.
This is an unapologetic plug for The Whole Flip. If you’re unsure of how to add each of these you’ll get some support right here in The Whole Flip dvds. From power, plyometrics (small scale and joint-safe), support planning your work and rest days, and one-sided work; I’ve incorporated many of these components into the workouts.
Take two days off between your tougher workouts. This is particularly helpful if you’re reading it and resisting it! What? Yes, busted! If you love to exercise (I get you!) and yet you’re feeling a little stiff, or sore, even as you begin your next workout… or you are feeling overall tired and find yourself complaining about the workout you did instead of enjoying the life you’re living because of the workout this may be the most important of exercise tips.
It ‘s time to rest a little more and workout, not with less intensity necessarily, but with less frequency. Add another recovery day – when you can still be active – but you aren’t tearing down muscles again that aren’t fully recovered from the last workout.
Older adults (over 50 in this case) often increase their fitness (and ability to work harder during workouts) by recovering for a slightly longer period of time. Here’s a tip that is good for anyone in your household or in your workout group, though: we each recover with varying times. The differences can be dramatic if you’ve done extreme exercise. So, test your fitness and fatigue scales and experiment with a tough day, two days of recovery, a tough day and two days of recovery, instead of that every other day schedule.
The absolute biggest mistake you make impeding your fitness is intense exercise day after day. If you would rate an exercise session at or higher than a 7 out of 0-10 scale rest is the key to making that workout payoff. It reduces fitness, increases muscle breakdown and increases stress and inflammation on the body.
Without the fatigue at the end of your weight training set (everyone, not just the last) there is little over-compensation from your body. It’s that overcompensation that occurs when the body is adequately stressed that increases fitness.
This principle of “overload” is a basic component of fitness. When you do reach the I-can’t-do-one-more with good form level, you’re done. When you prefer light weights because you’re doing a more functional workout, or because arthritis, fibromyalgia, or something else makes that a smart choice, or you have progressed to heavy, you have to get to fatigue.
I’m so often asked, what weight should I use. My answer is seemingly illusive but right on target in reality to allow you to choose for your personal need. For light weights – you choose a weight that you can do no more than 28 times. For moderate weight as you progress, a repetition range of 15+/- 3, and for heavy weight, that’s a weight you can lift 10 or fewer times.
Each of those repetition ranges have an optimal purpose. Heavy weight training is most related to weight loss and bone density. Moderate weight is a bit more functional and when you add power can support more energy expenditure. And light weights help with gait and specific small muscle work best.
Take these exercise tips and incorporate one or two into your next workout. You don’t have to flip your usual routine upside down, just make small shifts and you’ll improve your results short and long term.
Making mistakes? It’s not too late to fix them. Enrollment is open for the 90 Day New Year coaching special. If you are a professional women, ready to privately coach and have an exercise schedule designed for you, nutrition coaching for your busy schedule and personal needs, and lifestyle habits along with life coaching so we don’t ignore what’s getting in the way of you being where you want to. Here’s what to do:
Step 1: if now is the time to budget time, money, and energy in YOU set up an appointment
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Note: very recently I included much of the content of this article in a post for Prime Women. Yoga is attracting so many older adults. I’ve included some additional notes and resources here for you today. Please add your comment to the bottom of the post and let me know what your yoga status is:
Yoga is certainly not new. At over 7000 years old, it has proven staying power. There are an increasing number of reasons why you may want to try it whether you’re 50, 60, 70, or beyond. You may have chosen it already for tone, stress reduction, or the promise of “yoga butt.” Your doctor may have recommended it for blood pressure and wellbeing. But more and more yoga is connected to brain health that may be the start of all benefits.
Older adults are increasingly the subjects of interest in studies about yoga’s brain boosting benefits. The news is uplifting. If you have concerns about Alzheimer’s Disease due to family history, or forgetfulness plagues you more than you lie, go dust off your mat.
It’s well known older adults are at greater risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Lesser, but annoying concerns, like forgetting whether you locked the front door and forgetting where you put your cell phone, are likely a factor of our increasingly stressful lives.
It’s well known that brain exposure to high levels of cortisol is a contributing factor to cognitive deficits as we age. It’s a cumulative effect. If you’ve lived with perceived high stress for long periods of time you’re more susceptible to cognitive decline or dementia.
Would you practice yoga one hour a week and meditate 20 minutes a day to prevent Alzheimers? A study at UCLA proved that it might be time well spent. Subjects who did Kundalini yoga for an hour just once a week along with meditation 20 minutes a day minimized cognitive impairments that precede Alzheimers better than memory enhancement exercises.
If your time is limited you may want to turn off Luminosity brain games and find a mat if you want to reduce risk of brain decline.
Do you forget your children’s names? Do you catch yourself in the middle of telling a story and have to ask if you’ve told it before? Have you forgotten important things both present and past? Again, you might want to strike a yoga pose.
The results in another small study showed that your memory recall could be just as good following a once weekly yoga class and a few minutes a day of meditation as if you performed weekly memory enhancement training. So if you’re looking to keep your body and your brain nimble, yoga may be the prescription you get.
In case you’re wondering if another activity would do, the answer so far is, no. Even considering the most closely related activity, stretching, yoga emerges as the winner.
Yoga has an effect that other traditional exercise may not in terms of cognitive health. At least one study proved this. The study explored the benefits of yoga by comparing subjects practicing yoga to subjects stretching for the same amount of time weekly for 8 weeks.
Subjects assigned to the yoga group improved in their cognitive function and decreased cortisol while the stretching group declined in cognitive function and increased in cortisol. Hands down (on a mat) yoga wins that one.
Yet another study showed yoga caused improvements in attention and processing speed. Say you’re having trouble staying focused at work or finishing a book. You can’t remember what you read. You can condition your brain through yoga just like you would your body through weight training. Yoga that includes poses, or asanas, as well as movement, and meditation seems to offer the most brain benefits.
Tip: If you’re new to yoga, look for a Hatha yoga class. That would include all the components of brain enhancing yoga used in the studies. You should be able to find a beginner class or one that is done using props or even in chairs if you need accommodations for joints or other conditions. There are a wide variety of dvds and live streaming video programs available online as well as your local fitness studios. If you need special assistance you can find a yoga therapist who similar to a personal trainer used to working with specific medical conditions, can focus on your specific needs.
For some simple flowing series, broken down into short segments, watch this free YouTube video playlist. These do involved weight on the wrists and shoulders and inversions (head below the heart) in some poses. Check with a doctor first, before starting any new activity.
Now it’s time for your flip. I love hearing from you. Let me know if you’ve got a special condition, be it balance, joint or muscular complications, that make exercise a challenge.
Then watch for future posts specific to your condition.
Women don’t have enough testosterone when they’re young to bulk easily, let alone now. However, there are three body types. If you’re a mesomorph who gains muscle easily you could see results faster than someone else doing the same routine.
When we learned to strength train back in the day, most of us were given a 3 x 10 protocol, which is a bulk building protocol. Lifting light or lifting heavy, and actually a combination of the two is most ideal if you fear bulk.
You simply can’t. You can spot tone. Targeting an area to tone muscles will make those muscles stronger and firmer. You will still need to lose fat in order to see the tone and definition. Fat doesn’t go away on your belly for instance, because you do core exercises. You’ll tone the muscles underlying fat but still need a combination of dietary change and an exercise program that includes some cardio, weight training for major muscle groups
You can change your proportions with weight training better than you ever will with any cardio exercise alone.
Science has put this old myth to the test. It isn’t at rest yet, unfortunately. Your hormones control your weight management. Exercise all you want and slash your caloric intake and you still won’t lose weight if you’re hormones are not balanced.
Essentially your body needs a healthy environment in which to thrive. When you create it and not one where you’re stressed due to too little or too much exercise, too much or too little food, and too little sleep your body naturally wants to be at ideal weight. You’re not a math problem.
That’s the immediate response to a lack of results. You can lose weight without any exercise at all. It takes a small dose of the right exercise in order to help optimize hormones and wellbeing so your body can naturally become a fat burning machine. The media memes that tell you to work harder may in fact push a body out of balance further out and away from your goal.
The reverse of this very old school message is your new truth. Eat more of the right foods, and exercise less by doing the right exercise at the right time. These are the variables that determine your success. If you’re still trying to eat less and exercise more, you’re slowing your body down then telling it to speed up and the response will be nothing. A body under stress will hold weight and fat to protect you.
You’re 50 or beyond, you’re not broken.
This is true for those joints that you’ve injured or for special conditions like arthritis that may require special allowances. Otherwise, the older you are the more you want to retain strength and keep or increase your lean muscle. You’ll need some heavier weights to do that.
That said, always start light. A progressive exercise program will help you get safely to a heavier weight you can lift 10 or fewer times. You don’t need a lot of repetitions or more than two weight training sessions a week. They might only last 10 minutes in order to target all your major muscle groups.
Sweating means your heating and cooling system is working. In fact, an early onset of sweat is something to be proud of. Sometimes failure to sweat is an indication that you haven’t done an adequate warm up. A good warm up increases your core temperature as well as your respiration and circulation. The better you warm up the more energy you will expend and it will seem more comfortable for you.
We know now that it all counts. Being active at all is better than sitting. Non-Exercise Activity Time (NEAT) is credited by researchers for having more positive impact on reducing obesity than formal exercise sessions.
That means walking to lunch instead of driving or sitting at your desk to eat it counts. It also means if you have 10 minutes and you can do a very brief exercise session (somewhat lighter since you won’t have a long warm up) of intervals that alternate minutes or 30 seconds, you’ll boost your metabolism.
Though metabolism is often our key focus, you do so much good for your cognitive process too. You’ll concentrate, problem solve, and be more creative in the hours that follow these short energy bursts.
If you’re coming off the couch and into a yoga session that includes a lot of down dog you may experience a small increase in bone density. That said, once those initial gains are made you won’t make further gains in bone density. The science we know about increased bone density suggests that it requires overload that results in fatigue of a muscle group. Light weights can create that fatigue and a recent study suggests for the first six months at least a weight training newbie will reap bone building benefit.
Then the stimulus needs to increase. A Minimal Effective Stress (MES) must be met in order to have the remodeling effect on bone. You’ll want to increase your weights while using major muscle groups so you load the spine, hips, and wrists with weight you can lift 10 or fewer times once you have a good base foundation of strength. That is of course, provided you can do so without risk and in consideration of any special conditions.
You want to be better not tired thanks to exercise. The goal of exercise is to be better at life, not at exercise. If you enjoy hiking, skiing, and bike riding and by exercising you are able to do more of these types of activities then yes the statement holds true.
Simply adding more minutes, miles, another day of exercise or more exercises to a strength training routine will not create more fitness. Rest and recovery are a forgotten component of fitness. We’re a society of more. Too often, especially in the second half, we who love exercise (I hear you) need to remember that it isn’t the quantity of exercise it’s the quality that matters. Planning a variety of hard, moderate, and light exercise along with rest and recovery days will result in the best fitness. You should be recovering by playing more in life activities you love, not on the couch.
Crunches use the abdominal muscles in a way that may help you feel you’re working those muscles, but aren’t the best way to flat. I don’t recommend crunches. In fact, I recommend most people stop doing crunches in exchange for other core exercises that both target the muscles better without risk of injury and that help build in rather than out.
Think about it. Doing a crunch creates a muscle in the core that comes out, not goes in. The risk of injury to the neck, and lower back are not worth the minimal results a crunch provides.
You are stuck only with the genetic predisposition for cellulite. You can change two other factors that lead to cellulite: nutrition and exercise.
The reason cellulite becomes a greater problem as we age is thinning skin and dehydrated almost scar-like connective tissue (fascia). If you’re also gaining fat and skip a few more workouts that you should, this combination things will increase the appearance of cellulite. You can target the areas where you have cellulite with exercise, and massage (self or other), along with stretching in a 4-step strategy that I teach. (You can get it in the Muscles in Minutes guide!) It helps you see results in about eight weeks.
I’d love to hear from you! Which one is the hardest myth to let go of?
The lack of disclosure is not because he or she is intentionally keeping truths from you. Many of the problem solving skills that come with training come from covering sciences that include not just kinesiology, and physiology but also the endocrine system, nutrition, immunity, and much of it comes from life experience as well as a long history of either research or first-hand experience.
When I present educational content to trainers about how to help during hormone transition I have to share that with some signs and symptoms the solution is temporarily not exercising and focusing on restoring energy. Inevitably at least one trainer will resist the idea because arguably most of us are too inactive. Truth. But the trainer that encourages someone in adrenal fatigue or cortisol burnout to exercise more or harder, is going to make a problem worse. Eventually, the adrenals can be restored. They’ll bounce back and in less time with the right kind of attention to lifestyle habits. Finding the right trainer is key to boosting your results and getting going in the right direction from the beginning. You’re not a text book. A text book answer isn’t going to work.