Exercise, Stretching, Training and More
As we have stated throughout this site, at Thin for Life and The Center we are concerned about all aspects of your life-emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual, relational, and nutritional. The following information is to help you develop intellectually and improve your body physically. Which will also improve your emotional life.
Yes, in order to be Thin for Life/Thin Over 40 you will need to exercise. Any weight loss/dieting program that tells you that you do not need to exercise to lose weight or to maintain weight loss is only trying to get your money. Exercise and increased physical movement help ratchet up your metabolic rates. You increase your lean muscle mass, reduce excess fat, look and feel better. Both men and women benefit from an increase in physical activity. Because both menopause and andropause result in a loss of lean muscle, metabolism can decrease. Cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, jogging, biking or swimming, helps promote higher metabolic levels. So even if your older, your body needs exercise.
If you don’t exercise, the muscle you do have will be replaced on your body with fat. For women and men, more muscle means a higher metabolism, a firmer, toned body, greater strength for daily activities. For men, physical exercise is an important component in testosterone production, and not just for younger men. Testosterone levels in middle aged men are shown to elevate after exercise.
First thing in the morning you should get up out of bed and stretch. Just do a couple of minutes of moving, bending, and stretching your body, while taking deep breaths. You’re basically telling your body it’s time to wake up and get in gear. For many of us, we’ve forgotten what our bodies feel like when we move and stretch. Remember, your body is not your enemy. Part of this stretching is to re-acquaint you with your body, to regain an appreciation so you’ll be motivated to continue with these and other healthy choices. Stretch your arms, back, legs. Your torso. Allow your muscles and joints to achieve gentle full extension, while increasing blood flow to all parts of your body. This will help you wake up and get set for the day.
For every single one of you who is able, we want you to get out every morning – yes, every morning, rain or shine – drink a glass of water and take at least a 15 minute walk. But I can’t walk that long, you may say. Well, try 15 minutes. If you can’t go that long, go as long as you can. The goal is for you to gradually increase your physical activity and walking is a wonderful way to get outside and move! Breathe deeply, taking measured full-lung breaths. Use a radio headset or portable CD player, if you like. Walk as briskly as you can, knowing you’ll be able to increase the speed and the duration over the next several weeks. Above all, don’t concern yourself with what you can’t do, concentrate instead on taking advantage of what you can.
Commit to doing this each day in the morning. If you want to take an additional walk or exercise in the afternoon or evening, that’s great! You still need to get up and move, and get out and walk, each morning. Moving in the morning triggers an increase in metabolism that lasts into the day. This movement also improves your mood through the release of endorphins, your body’s natural opiates.
There is also another kind of exercise that is very beneficial. It is often called strength training. This exercise is not primarily cardiovascular in nature, but rather builds lean muscle mass. Strength training specifically targets the addition of muscle tissue through resistance work. It places stress on your muscles, which respond by strengthening themselves and increasing in size.
Strength training doesn’t necessarily need to happen in a gym. Working around the house or yard can turn into strength training if you’re using your muscles. You want to make sure to work all muscle groups, like your back, arms, and chest. Walking is especially good for the buttocks and legs.
In order to safeguard the muscle you have and gain more, you need to engage in activities that use them –hence the warning “use it or lose it.” In order to keep your metabolism up, you need to engage in strength training and cardiovascular activity. If all of this seems like a bother and a waste of time, remember it is our time-saving propensity that has factored out these types of normal daily activities. These used to be a part of life, until we became efficient at eliminating them. Whether we like it or not, we’re going to have to intentionally integrate more physicality into our routines! Our bodies were meant to move and stretch, bend and reach, walk and breathe.
You should obtain a set of low-weight barbells. You are going to begin integrating the use of these barbells during your time of stretching in the morning. Go ahead and continue to do your normal stretching but use these barbells to add some load to what you are asking your muscles to do. Remember to stretch and extend slowly and completely, paying attention to how your muscles are feeling. When walking, you are use your lower body muscles. By adding these weights, you’ll be working your upper body – arms, back, and shoulders.
In choosing the weights, think lighter rather than heavier. Your goal is not to choose the heaviest weight you can pick up. Instead, you want a lighter weight so you’ll be able to do a greater number of repetitions. Low weight – lots of reps.
Again, the goal is not to look like a body-builder but to build up your body and increase the amount of muscle tissue you have. Muscle tissue acts as a furnace for burning calories. The more muscle tissue you have, the higher your metabolic rate, even when you’re resting.
Stress and Exercise
Stress is a real drag on metabolism. When we’re stressed, we tend to eat to cope. This excess weight slows us down and reduces our metabolism. Stress also makes us weary, with some of us too tired to even move out of our easy chairs or off of the couch when we get home at the end of the day. Stress saps our strength, our energy, our enthusiasm for life. It can also produce significant health problems that slow us down further.
One of the fundamental changes you need to make is in how you deal with the stress in your life. We would like to offer increased physical movement as a healthy, realistic coping mechanism. Consider replacing “moving time” for “food time” as your downtime. What that means is making sure that you engage in some level of physical activity at the end of your day, as a healthy way to unwind and de-stress. This doesn’t mean going out and jogging after dinner. What it does mean is making sure that you aren’t just sitting down from the time you scoot your chair in after dinner to the time you get up to go to bed in the evening. For most people, this span of time can be anywhere from three to five hours. A few minutes relaxing is great but a pattern of sedentary behavior night after night, after a full day of sitting or minimal activity at work, does nothing to reverse your body’s natural tendency to slow down your metabolism as you age. Early evening needs to return to a time of family, friends, and meaningful activities instead of reclining in your chair waiting to go to bed. Here are a few suggestions of things you can do in the evening to increase your physical activity level and make the most of this time. (You will probably have better long-term results if you choose a variety of activities to engage in.):
- Take a walk with a family member, friend, or your dog.
- Take a weekly class at a community center, community college, or activity center, such as ballroom dancing, square dancing, yoga, even belly dancing!
- Plan a date night with your spouse to meet for dinner and then a walk around a favorite neighborhood, park, or along a beach or lake.
- Play an outdoor game with your children, either in your yard, a park, or a school playfield. Go to the local community pool. Many have specific water exercise classes you can take in the evening. Water acts as a cushion, especially for those with joint difficulties.
- Join a club tailored to your fitness level, where you can go a couple of times a week to engage in exercises designed to strengthen and work needed areas, such as knees, backs, or arms. Please realize that not every fitness center is meant for slim singles. Check with your city recreation center. Many have exercise facilities factored with all ages and ability levels in mind. You should be able to pay per visit, as opposed to having to buy a membership like at for-profit fitness clubs, if finances are an issue for you.
- Get outside and do a little work in your yard or garden.
Physical Movement and Endorphins
Endorphins are neurotransmitters (they help brains cells talk to each other) that reduce the amount of pain we feel. Endorphins have been called the body’s natural opiates. They may be familiar to you, in reference to exercise, or the “runner’s high.” These natural painkillers are produced through prolonged, sustained exercise. They produce not only a reduction in pain sensation but also increased feelings of euphoria, a reduction in appetite, and release of sex hormones. Along with exercise, endorphins are released through laughter, stress, and sexual activity.
As you look for ways to relax and experience joy in life, don’t overlook what you can do for yourself through your own endorphins. When you exercise for a sustained period of time, your body responds to this stress with the release of endorphins. You may not be a runner, but you can still experience a feeling of well-being through exercise. Walking or exercising to music and swimming are also excellent ways to trigger endorphin production. Your objective is not to elicit pain but rather put just the right amount of stress on your body. You’re looking for well-being not stiff, sore muscles and pain.
If you find that you’ve overdone on your exercise, however, you can still stimulate endorphins through massage. If you have never experienced a therapeutic or deep-muscle massage, we encourage you to do so! Working your muscles in this way will cause your body to release endorphins and allow for increased relaxation. (Be aware that deep tissue massages, while wonderful, can produce slight headaches or nausea as the body deals with the toxins released through the massage process. This is not a reason to avoid massages, but rather be wise and make sure to drink lots of water to help flush your system of these toxins.)