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Monthly Archives: May 2015

5 Ways to Get Fit After 55

As a certified personal trainer, 51 year-old Rob Flores is fit and active. But he also knows the challenges that come with age: in recent years, he’s had major knee and shoulder surgery. “I understand the challenges of not being able to get around and do the things that we took for granted when we were younger.”

So as a fitness specialist who focuses on seniors, Rob has become a big believer in keeping workouts simple. “Boot camps and Cross Fit have become really popular, but I’m against all that stuff. Slow and steady wins the race. If you can do a little bit every day, that adds up.”

The other tenet he preaches: Make it enjoyable. “When you do, your success rate goes up tremendously. Do things you enjoy and try to make it fun.”

So with “slow and steady” and “making it fun” as a guide, here are five exercises recommended by Rob and other health experts for those of us over 55. (Remember, always talk to your doctor before you start on a new fitness plan.)

1. Walking

One of Bonnie’s favorites, the New Year’s challenge Rob handed out to all of his clients was to walk more. “I didn’t care if they walked the dog or parked the car further away in the parking lot, I wanted them to do something every day so they were moving.” Walking is a great way to start on the road to being fit. Rob recommends starting with a 10 minute walk every day and adding 5 minutes every week. Scheduling the walk and making it as habitual as brushing your teeth is one way to guarantee success. Walking with a friend (Golden Girls housemates are perfect!) makes the time fly by. “With just that ten minutes a day, you will be amazed at what a difference it makes in your life,” Rob said.

2. Stretching and Yoga

Teri J. Deal is a physical therapist who specializes in balance disorders, and her main goal is to keep seniors moving so they can stay in their homes. And we’re all for anything that allows for aging in place! Balance is a big part of moving, and stretching is a big part of maintaining that balance. For those who are beginning to shuffle and lose their mobility, Teri recommends simple stretches like tracing the alphabet with the foot and heel raises. On the other end of the spectrum is yoga, which has been shown to have health benefits for seniors as long as it’s done right. A recent Washington Post article said that observing a yoga class, making sure the instructor gives clear instruction, and listening to your body are ways to ensure that yoga is beneficial and not too strenuous.

3. Tai Chi

Teri recommends tai chi as a good middle ground between simple stretching and the intensity of yoga. Tai chi’s low-impact, slow-motion movements originated from Chinese martial arts and focus on creating a mind-body connection that help you stay aware of your body while you exercise. Its circular movements are praised for not stressing the body – allowing the muscles, joints and connective tissues to stay relaxed – while increasing a person’s flexibility, balance and muscle strength, according to a 2006 study. Tai chi is a common exercise class at senior centers or you can look online to find an instructor near you. 

4. Water Exercises

Whether you’re swimming laps, taking water aerobics, or walking in the water, a pool is a great place to exercise. Exercising in water takes pressure off the joints, allowing a person to work on balance and flexibility, and creating a safe and pain-free environment for those with osteoporosis. The Arthritis Foundation recommends exercising in water because of its ability to support the joints and warm the muscle, allowing a person to exercise with less tension and pain. And you get more bang for your buck exercising in the water: It’s 12 times more resistant than air.

5. Weight Training

Resistant weight training can help increase bone density and muscle mass and can raise testosterone levels in men, said personal trainer Rob. “But I’m not talking about hitting the gym two hours a day,” he cautions. “Form is so, so important, and if you’ve never done exercise like this before, it’s best to have someone guide you.” A good trainer, Rob said, will build a program for your needs and activity level and will assess you — checking your strengths, weaknesses, compensations, medical history, blood pressure and heart rate before you begin. Ask the fitness director at the gym or look around on the web for a trainer in your area who works with your age group. “Guys always have this thing where they want to be lifting a lot of weight, but that’s not important, especially at our age,” Rob said. “When you do things correctly, you are going to get stronger.”

7 Ways to Keep Loving Your Job Past 55

Perhaps you once dreamt about an early retirement, but now that dream is no longer a financial reality. Or perhaps you’re happy to be working until 65 or beyond, but find elements of the same ol’ job growing stale. With 60 percent of us 65 and older still working full-time jobs, many of us will work longer than our parents and be happy to be do so. For many of us, retiring and playing endless rounds of golf is just not as enticing. But how do you stay energized by your career and excited about heading out of your Golden Girls home and to work every morning? We spoke to two midlife career coaches, Candy Spitz and Diane Howell Topkis, to get some expert advice on loving your job past 55.


  1. Feel unhappy? Take your unhappiness in hand. Candy Spitz recommends starting with simply starting the process of brainstorming solutions to job dissatisfaction, as it can provide empowerment and mitigate feelings of being “trapped.” Candy is a member of the Life Planning Network, a group of professionals who espouse positive aging and who help people navigate and optimize the second half of their lives. A principal philosophy of LPN is “purposeful and proactive” planning, so she encourages proactively addressing job unhappiness and working toward making the most of the “bonus” years.


  1. Define the meaning of your job. Many people at our age wonder, “What am I working for?” said Diane Howell Topkis. The meaning inherent in making a paycheck when a person was younger – such as paying off a mortgage and supporting a family – may no longer be there. So Diane recommends defining your goals, values and mission statements to understand why you’re working and what you’re working toward. If the principal driving factor of your job is putting away money for retirement, there can be clarity – and happiness – in figuring that out. “Sometimes, when you understand that, it makes the job more meaningful. You can tweak your perception of it.”


  1. Be healthy. It’s difficult to be happy in your job if you’re physically, emotionally or mentally unhealthy, said Candy. So take advantage of whatever support systems your workplace has to be your best self, and listen to your body. Everyone does have a tipping point. “If work is so stressful that it’s making you sick, it may be time for a change,” she said.


  1. Create the right mindset. Once you’ve discovered the meaning of your job, it can require an attitude adjustment to change your perception of it, said Diane. That doesn’t mean you’re required to re-jigger your brain and be excited about going into work the very next day. Instead, go through the process of studying what energizes you and drains you of energy in your job, and then work to bring more of the positive aspects into your workplace.


  1. Understand your values, strengths, talents and skills. Understanding what you bring to the table in your workplace can help you focus your energies so you’re contributing more of the positive. Diane recommends a simple exercise: Ask 3-5 people what they admire about you. “We never get enough affirmation,” she said. “We start believing in our strengths when we hear about them from someone else.” Take that positive portrait of yourself and use it to define you as you go into a meeting. You probably have been contributing all along, but now you can ensure you’re contributing the best aspects of what you have to offer.


  1. Develop a rich personal life. It’s an often-repeated reminder but one that is always true, no matter the age: All of your joy and purpose does not have to come from your job. “Sometimes we have to develop our curiosity again,” said Candy. “We have to remember to ask ourselves, ‘What am I interested in? What am I curious about?’” Exploring the opportunities as a volunteer, hobbyist or student outside of work can help divert the pressure from the job as the place that must be the end-all, be-all of your mental and emotional well-being. Your Golden Girls roommates can be great partners in these activities!


  1. Be open to redefining your role. There are many opportunities in the workplace to take on new roles or learn from those around if you are open to them. Offer yourself as a mentor at your workplace so others can learn from your institutional knowledge. And Candy advocates “midternships,” when older employees shadow those younger in the company to learn a new skill. “Stick your neck out and ask what opportunities are out there for you.”