Article – Bring Out Your Inner Super Hero!
This past weekend, as I watched a back to school commercial in which different kids take on the persona of all of the superheroes brought to life in the theatres this summer by wearing clothes representing them, I started thinking about heart health and this article. Okay, those of you who know me well understand that I’m thinking about stuff like that pretty much all of the time! But in this instance I was particularly keen on how we could all be super heroes when it comes to our heart health. What if we could reveal our insides as if our bodies were the costume? What would we see? Aside from blood and guts I would hope to see a robust heart with excellent pumping ability, highly oxygenated blood, and no signs of excessive blood glucose or plaque buildup of any kind. In this article, I plan to provide all of us a formula for producing this very “costume”. I’m going to start first by sharing some typical changes that occur to our cardiorespiratory systems with age. Then we’re going to take a look at how those standard changes compare to present day past 45 superheroes, the master’s athletes. This will be fun because you will recognize that typical change does not mean mandatory change. Finally I will wrap up with some tangible examples of what an exercise program would look like to bring out your own inner super hero!
I don’t need to tell you that we all age. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you’re frightened by the prospect of being a vampire like me) some of us age much more rapidly due to our lifestyle choices than others. That’s right, lifestyle choices. You know things like staying up way past when your body has requested permission to shut off for the night or choosing to ignore every label and commercial against smoking and choosing to still light up. But did you know that the intensity of your cardiovascular exercise can also have an effect on the rate at which you age? You see, with advancing age we’re already primed to decline in heart function as well as vascular function. What does that have to do with advancing the aging process? Lots! Declining heart function leads to a lower maximum heart rate (the maximum beats per minute your heart can reach) a lower stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped out of your left ventricle every beat) and decreased cardiac output (how much blood your heart chambers, namely ventricles, can pump out in a minute) leaving you with less wind essentially. And if you have less wind, you will be less inclined to do activities that leave you “winded” thus negating any opportunity for improvement and reinforcing a more inactive lifestyle. And, I did also mention declining vascular function. That is primarily the result of your aorta and its major branches stiffening up due to a more sedentary lifestyle. This void in intensity causes devastating changes like increased blood pressure, stiffening of your chest wall causing your expiratory muscles to get weaker and the work of simply breathing to become increasingly difficult. And, as a secondary adaptation to less wind, our alveoli (Alveoli are tiny sacs within the lungs where the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen take place) see a reduction in their surface area causing a reduction in our ability to realize oxygen. Here’s the sobering moment. With decreased heart and vascular function in full bloom you will have less oxygen available to support your muscles so they will also decline, dramatically. In turn, with less strength comes less confidence with navigating once simple obstacles such as steps, curbs, and rocky paths. Less becomes less and mobility declines followed by balance. Fall risk increases and when it happens is unfortunately the leading cause of injury and death among those who are 65 and older1.
Hopefully by now you understand that keeping your heart strong is an integral part of aging on your terms. I know you don’t want to suffer some kind of life altering event simply because you ignored lifestyle factors that you had the control of changing. Now I’d like to share with you the potential you have. And the best way to do this is to revisit heart and vascular function as it relates to the real superheroes, the master’s athletes. Generally speaking master’s athletes have the ability to maintain their physical performance capability quite well to the 7th decade of life and even further so long as joint integrity and mobility are maintained. A look at their training reveals several keys to why this is so. For one, they are very consistent about sticking to their exercise programs. Whether they’re at home or away their routine is a part of life and it gets done no matter what. Master’s athletes are also specific about how they approach their routines. They have a plan for improving their fitness rather than simply going for a walk or pushing start on the treadmill. They train with measured intensity. They also support their physical pursuits with a lifestyle that includes adequate rest, solid nutrition, and lots of social interaction.
Are you feeling inspired? I hope so. You have the choice to realize super hero status or remain as you are. And, if you read this and recognize that you are already a super hero, celebrate! That is awesome and unfortunately not the norm for a greater than 50 year old person. Wherever you are at this point in our discussion, I’m now going to provide you some information for how you can improve your heart’s function. We’ll start basic and build.
Consistency is the gold standard when it comes to keeping your heart strong. So, if you are someone who is off and on from one week for any number of reasons, STOP! Instead commit to this foundational exercise plan that will improve your heart health measurably. For 16 weeks complete at least 3 and up to 5 cardio sessions of 20 minutes each at an intensity of >60% VO2 max. (Click the link to find your VO2 max) http://www.shapesense.com/fitness-exercise/calculators/vo2max-calculator.aspx
If you are already consistent at 3 or more times each week, you are ready to step it up and find out how amazing your heart really is. Now, I will tell you that you are going to get out of breath. Don’t be alarmed. In order to get stronger you have to challenge your ability beyond what is comfortable. You will use a scale of perceived effort called the Borg Scale as a tool to measure how much you’re exerting. (Click the link for the Borg Scale) http://www.ivyrehab.com/lifestyle/tag/borg-scale/. We call it raising your ceiling at BodyBasics. So, with that said, give this style of training a go. On at least 2 and up to 3 days each week challenge yourself to be in the green (12 – 16 on the scale) for the majority of your workout. This can be a traditional cardio workout such as a recumbent bike, treadmill, running/walking outside, hiking…or non-traditional in the form of a circuit training workout such as the ones we do at BodyBasics. You choose. Just be consistent about it each week and adjust your intensity based on your perceived effort. It is important to also bring up that you will do best to ebb and flow your intensity on other days so that mentally and physically you get an opportunity to calm down.
For specific examples of how to create a program for you, call us and make an appointment. We’ll evaluate your heart function as it stands now through a cardiorespiratory tool and then produce the right start point for you.
Whatever you decide, make it a choice that positions you for success. Don’t succumb to the “my fitness is declining because I’m getting older” lie. It is simply not true. Instead, challenge yourself to stretch beyond what is comfortable. I promise you that once you do you will also find out that you too are a superhero!
1. What was the reason you decided to go to a trainer?
I was in physical therapy after my hip replacement surgery and then for my paralyzed leg. When I was told there was nothing more they could do for me they recommended I work with a personal trainer who had experience with challenging clients. I worked with one fellow for a while, but when he became unavailable I looked for someone new.
2. Did you consider or participate in any other form of treatment for your reason before seeking a trainer? Examples: physical therapist, acupuncturist, medication
As I mentioned above I was in physical therapy before seeking a trainer.
3. How did you hear about BodyBasics?
I called one of the physical therapists and she recommended you, Chris and by extension Body Basics. She told me they were referring clients.
4. Did you evaluate other gyms or trainers before deciding on coming to us? If yes, what were other places missing that BodyBasics was able to provide?
5. Ultimately, why did you choose BodyBasics over other options?
Because you were recommended so highly and then when I worked with you for a bit I thought it was a good fit. Primarily it is that you listen, you take what I say seriously and do not intimidate me or make me feel that I have to do anything I am uncomfortable doing or simply cannot do.
6. What goals did you have when you started at BodyBasics?
My goals were pretty basic – to be able to function well in my day-to-day living, to get stronger/strengthen my leg and to begin to replace all of the muscle mass I had lost from disuse.
7. How long have you been training at BodyBasics and what specifically have you achieved over that interval?
I think I have been with Body Basics 3-4 years and I believe I have exceeded the goals I set for myself when I started. As I became stronger my goals evolved. I keep working to improve the functioning of my body to keep it at its best: my leg, my posture, my balance,my range of motion.
8. What current goals are you pursuing with your trainers at BodyBasics?
To maintain my functioning and not lose any ground and slowly improve what I do have – within my body’s limitations.
Welcome New and Returning Clients
The greatest compliment we can receive is a referral from one of our clients or allied health network!
Vasya Pincus ~ referred by past client Rebecca Pincus
Ted Jennison ~ referred by Dr. Griffin
Matthew Prybyla ~ found us doing a Google search
Allison Sinner ~ referred by husband and existing client Gregg Sinner
Mike Blaze ~ referred by Dr. Tait, owner of Rejuv Medical Southwest
Michael Brower ~ referred by acquaintance of our one and only Coach Kristian
Julie Morton ~ referred by past client Faye Morse
Don Morton ~ referred by wife Julie Morton
Jennifer Suriano ~ referred by existing client Linda Loomis
Shout outs are about us voicing victories we witness you all having at BodyBasics. We’ll keep it to our top 5 each month.
Bobbie Raine ~ for continuing to master her squat form, recently sharing how she can now get up from the toilet hands free!
Susan King ~ for showing such dedication to her exercise program that she bought travel-friendly exercise tubing to take with her overseas to use while on vacation!
Kelly Frost ~ for experiencing her best hiking tour in 6 years of doing so since starting her training sessions at BodyBasics!
Chuck Warren ~ for his silent example of persistence as he dedicates time before and after each workout to do what can be hard to do, spend focused time improving areas less developed!
Cameron Foss ~ for nearly touching the studio ceiling with a box jump of 54 inches!
Recipe – Curry Turkey Lettuce Wraps
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
2-3 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
1 inch piece fresh ginger
4 stalks celery
1 ¼ pounds ground organic turkey
2 tablespoons curry powder
¼-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
Romaine lettuce leaves, or Swiss chard leaves or kale leaves
Radishes, bell pepper and cucumbers
Sriracha sauce (hot sauce)
1. Dice onion. Place in skillet.
2. Mince garlic and ginger. Place in skillet.
3. Drizzle olive oil over onion, garlic and ginger. Place over medium heat.
Stir around as it begins to sizzle.
4. Dice celery and carrots. Add to the skillet. Mix around.
5. After about 5-7 minutes, the vegetables will be softened. Add the ground
turkey. Break the turkey apart with a spatula and combine with
6. Add the curry powder, salt and pepper. Combine thoroughly. Add a little
more olive oil if needed to prevent sticking.
7. While the filling for the lettuce wraps cooks, get the lettuce leaves ready.
Lettuce doesn’t need much prep. Swiss chard or kale leaves may roll
easily or you can steam them to prevent breaking.
8. Slice radishes, bell pepper and cucumbers to accompany lettuce wraps.
To make a quick salad you could dice the veggies and mix with roasted
sesame oil, rice vinegar and salt.
9. Serve lettuce wraps with veggies and hot sauce (if desired).
Recipe provided by Nourishing Results, visit their full website at www.nourishingresults.com
Exercise Video of the Month – 3 Part Standing Balance Series
Chris, Kris, Myrya, Kristian, Lance, Rachel, Mike, and Ben