Should Men and Women Be Exercising the Same Way?

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: exercise is good for everyone. That’s one thing we can agree on, but we might not all agree on the best way to do that exercising. But we’re not talking about a cardio versus weights debate, we’re talking about if everyone should be exercising the same way. Should men and women’s workouts look different? picture of a man and woman standing side by side each holding a weight

What Men and Women Both Need

Go to the gym and you might find a little bit of a 7th-grade dance situation going on sometimes (ie, men on one side, women on the other). Men hit the weight machines, women hit the pilates studio and the cardio machine. Or maybe that’s just what you think you’ll find: maybe that’s just a stereotype. More and more, we’re all recognizing the benefits of all types of exercise, for everyone, especially weight training. Cardio is great for, well, cardiovascular health, but it’s weight training that really does the heavy lifting (no pun intended) of fat-burning and strength-building.

 

Workouts for men and women should include weight training.  We’ve got to just come out and say it, and not pretend that women have to include weights in different ways than men do. For example, take a look at workouts aimed at men, and at ones aimed at women. They can often be more similar than you’d think, it’s just that the terminology used to describe them is different. Workouts for men claim they’ll get you “ripped,” “strong,” and “powerful,”. Whereas similar workouts for women claim they’ll get you “tight” and “toned,” and will “shape you.”

 

Shying away from talking to women about strength training in the same way that we would talk to men just furthers that erroneous belief that doing intense and/or heavy lifting sessions will get you “bulky.” So gyms and stores put out those little pink weights for women, when in reality, women can and will benefit just as much from the same, heavier workouts that men are doing. 

 

After all, when you talk about “toning” or “shaping” certain areas of your body, what you’re really talking about is changing your muscle makeup. Muscles are what shape your body, and it stands to reason that more muscle equals more muscle tone. Wanna build something perkier on your body? Well, you’re gonna need muscle to do it.

 

That means, according to Dr. Cassandra Forsythe, co-author of “The New Rules of Lifting for Women,” many women would actually benefit from lower reps and more weight to hit muscle fibers that are only stimulated with those types of lifts.”

 

And as an added bonus, building more muscle means boosting your metabolism, and burning more fat!

 

What Women Should Do More/Less Ofillustration of a woman working out in a gym

With all of the above being said, there are a lot of things women tend to do in their workouts that could be tweaked to make things more effective. For example:

 

  • Focus less on the quads, and more on the back of the legs/glutes – Women are actually more quad-dominant than men, so they can skip the endless leg presses. Instead, they should do some compound exercises like squats and lunges. And then work their hamstrings to balance out their quad strength. Try exercises like hamstring curls, good mornings, and deadlifts.
  • Work the upper body more – Yes, women have great legs, and they tend to work them – a lot. But they shouldn’t skip upper body day – just think how great it feels to be able to do full pushups and pullups. Not to mention the improved posture, better muscular balance, and the sexy look that comes from a strong upper body.
  • Rest less – Yes, you heard us. We’ve been told that women are just, well, not as strong as men. So that often translates to they can’t do as much and need to rest. But that simply isn’t true. In fact, according to Dr. Forsythe, “Women do tend to be less powerful than men due to several factors, such as lower muscle mass, lower lung capacity, and smaller hearts. However, their ability to recover after high-intensity exercise is often greater than men’s. This means that women will often need less rest time after an exercise bout or set. And they can get back under the bar or back in the circuit sooner. So, exercise programs that prescribe significant rest periods may make a woman feel bored.”. That doesn’t mean women should be doing endless reps. But they should be challenging themselves with circuit workouts that include a variety of exercises. 
  • Re-evaluate why they do yoga/pilates – Being a dedicated yogi is great in some ways, but in some cases, women do it because they’ve been told they’ll get “longer, leaner” muscles. But there’s no such thing: muscles can’t get longer, because they’re attached to your bones. And they can’t get leaner because they don’t contain any fat, and can’t “turn” to fat. Again, yoga can be great in a lot of ways. But it also doesn’t allow you to progressively overload your muscles as weightlifting does. So don’t skip one in favor of the other.

What Men Should Do More/Less ofillustration of a man on a work out bench lifting weights above his head

So now we’re looking at you, guys. And you probably know what we’re going to say, since a lot of it will be the opposite end of the spectrum to women’s issues with workouts. Guys should think about:

 

  • Working their upper body more effectively – We don’t want to keep perpetuating stereotypes, but it seems like a lot of men like to focus on those upper body muscles that get noticed first: biceps/triceps and chest. But they shouldn’t ignore their mid/upper back. Since those muscles will give them better muscular balance, healthier shoulders, and better posture – and make their upper body look even more awesome, we promise.
  • Resting a little more – Just as women will probably get more out of their workout if they vary it more, and keep moving through lots of circuits/exercises, men will probably have a more effective and enjoyable workout if they do longer, slower workouts that involve putting all their effort into a single move, and then rest before moving on.
  • Adding in a little yoga – Guys could really benefit from varying their workouts, including adding in something like yoga, which would help them with their range of motion, not to mention help their muscles recover from those intense lifting sessions.

Bonus: Does When Men and Women Exercise Matter?

When it comes to all of the above, the bottom line is that yes, there are a few things that men and women could be doing differently to get the most out of their precious workout time. But in the end, there are no exercises “for men” or “for women.”. Ah, but when it comes to that precious “time” part, there might be a difference.

 

In fact, a study from this past summer found that men and women might actually have different optimal times of day for exercising, especially when it comes to the mood-boosting effects of working out. Just check this out: according to Dr. Asad R. Siddiqi, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Weill Cornell Medicine in NYC, “The men studied had greater improvement in perceived mood state than women. Exercise seemed to decrease tension, depression, and anger substantially in men regardless of the time of day, whereas improvements in tension and depression were only seen in women who exercised at night.”

 

a clock drawn on a chalkboardBut there were other pretty fascinating differences, as well. For example: 

  • Women who exercised in the morning reduced more total fat and abdominal fat, lowered their blood pressure to a greater degree, and increased lower body muscle power.
  • Women who exercised in the evening saw more improvement in their upper body muscle strength, mood, and satiety.
  • Men who exercised at either time of day improved their physical performance.
  • Men who exercised in the evening saw benefits in heart and metabolic health, as well as lower fatigue.

 

The purpose of the study was not actually to make comparisons between the sexes. And it’s not completely clear why men and women differ in these ways. Or why men and women got different results at different times of the day. But the findings could certainly be worth testing in your own life! 

 

We’d love to hear from both women and men out there on your exercise habits. If the time of day is important to you, and if you feel like you need to work out differently from the opposite sex. Until then, remember, whoever you are. Getting fitter and stronger is always a great goal, however you choose to do it! 

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

Is Low Impact Exercise Effective?

Newsflash: 31 million older Americans are not getting enough exercise! Are you one of them? Well if you are, you’re not alone. The CDC warns that inactivity increases risk for falls, broken bones, serious disease, and early death, but you have the power to turn things around. Getting the motivation to start moving is tough but hopefully one of these low impact exercises will click and get you into a routine to keep you moving for years to come. 

workout gear
Low impact exercise refers to activities that do not place increased stress on your joints.

What is low impact exercise?

Low impact exercise slowly gets your heart rate up and causes less pressure on your joints than high impact exercise. Low impact exercise can help you achieve your exercise goals without aggravating an existing injury or causing a new one. Low impact exercise also helps maintain and build muscle mass that decreases as you get older. When you have more muscle tissue, your body can continue burning calories even while you’re resting.

walking along water
A 20-minute walk, or about 2,000 steps, equal a mile.

Walking

Walking is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of low impact exercises. Probably because it’s one of the easiest. Anywhere you go, you can take a walk. It’s easy to take a nice leisurely stroll or kick it up a notch and do a high intense power walk so the effort you want to exert is really up to you. Walking is not only great for your physical health but it’s great for your mental health as well. If you want to catch up with a friend, take a walk. If you move and find yourself in a new town or neighborhood, and meet some neighbors. No matter how short or long your walk is, just remember it’s better than sitting down and not doing anything!

Swimming

swimming
An hour of swimming burns almost as many calories as running, without all the impact on your bones and joints.

You don’t have to be Michael Phelps to get a safe, effective workout in the water. Swimming is a great low impact workout because it’s friendly on your joints and gives you a weightless feeling. When you’re in the water the stress on your bones and joints is reduced, making it great if you have arthritis or are recovering from an injury. Grab a kickboard, lay on it, and use your arms. Or if you want to just work your legs, hang onto the edge of the kickboard and just kick. Because the majority of pools are outside in direct sunlight, don’t forget to apply your sunscreen. The combination of air temperature, water temperature, and humidity can quickly dehydrate you so just remember to hydrate regularly.

Water aerobics

pool
Water aerobics are great for people who have injuries to reduce the impact on injured joints and body parts.

If you’re not into swimming laps, you can still jump in the water and take advantage of the buoyancy and weightlessness it offers. Water aerobics can help ease tension in the joints just like swimming. If you decide that water aerobics is the low impact workout that’s right for you, there are 2 pieces of equipment you can invest in to up your water aerobics game: water dumbbells and pool noodles. Just head to your local dollar store and you can find a pool noodle. If you want something with a little more weight (pun intended), try a sporting goods store for water dumbbells. They both provide resistance to give your water workout a little boost and help develop muscle strength. 

Cycling

indoor bike
Cycling is non weight bearing and low impact which prevents putting undue stress on your joints.

Get ready to put your bike pedals to the metal and help your heart in the process. Cycling is a great cardiovascular, low impact exercise. It reduces blood pressure, improves blood flow, and can reduce blockage of small arteries, all while taking it easy on your joints. Try an indoor stationary bike, get outside on a road bicycle, or hop on a cruiser and pedal along the boardwalk. Your joints and heart will thank you!

No matter what exercise you choose, start small. Just because it’s low impact doesn’t make it ineffective. You’re still going to burn calories, build muscle, and stay active. Low impact exercise can make a big impact on your physical, mental, and emotional health so get out and try something new today!

 

14 Sneaky Ways to Get Your Healthy On

Getting healthier. It can sound so…hard. You might feel like you have to completely overhaul your whole lifestyle, find time for an epic workout every day, throw out everything delicious in your kitchen, and slave away at chopping and cooking weeks of healthy meals (and add kale to everything, right?). When you put it that way, sure, getting healthier sounds totally overwhelming and inaccessible, like a life full of sacrifice and discipline. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way! In fact, it shouldn’t be, especially when you’re just getting started on a journey to improve your health and fitness. No, the best way to get started is not to dive in at the deep end and go all out (which could set you up for failure), but rather to start off gradually, by tweaking your daily routine with some simple hacks. So let’s get started – now! This week! And by the end of even the next seven days, you’ll probably be feeling much healthier (no slaving away or overdosing on kale required). 

1. Downsize Your Plates and Bowlsplate with a small portion of food on it

Want to start really gently? If overeating is a problem for you, try this simple hack: change to smaller plates and bowls. Sound silly, or like it won’t do anything for you? Consider this: in one study, scientists found that people who ate from large serving bowls ate 56% (142 calories) more food than people who ate from smaller bowls, and in an analysis of 72 studies, scientists found that people consistently ate more food when offered larger portions and plates. So it might be time to try tricking yourself with the illusion that you’re eating more, and you’ll most likely be just as full at the end of your meal. And while you’re at it, slow down when you eat: this gives your brain the chance to get the signal that you’re full, so you’re less likely to overeat. And if you take it slow, you’re more likely to think about what you’re eating and make sensible, healthy choices.  

2. Take Time for Yourself and Others

We live a lot of our lives online these days, and we’ve also just spent the last few years in periods of isolation, but now is the time to get back to some good old-fashioned time spent with others. And you know what? It’s not about how many people you know, or what you do with them, it’s really just about making connections. It’s these real connections that will make you happier, healthier, and more productive, so go ahead and get some real face time with someone you care about.

3. Have a Little Drink

And when we say “little,” we mean “little.” Too much alcohol will offset the benefits of a daily glass of wine, but that little tipple can actually be good for your heart health, your stress levels, and even your sex life. And you know what else is good for your health? Good sex! Sex boosts your endorphins, improving your mood and reducing stress levels, and can also help with your heart health and lower your blood pressure, among other many other benefits, so sounds like a wild weekend is in store. Ok, not too wild – stick to that one drink (or two for men)!

4. Be Smart about Fatsavocados, one cut open in half

You might think you know what we’re about to say: cut the fat out of your diet. Nope! What you do need to do is bone up on your fats, and know which ones are actually good for you. Trans fats, which are added to processed foods, are your enemy, but some fat (from dairy, whole eggs, fish, avocado, or nuts, for example) is good for you as part of a balanced diet. And high-fat dairy may even help you lose weight better than low fat, possibly because the fat satisfies your hunger better than other calories. 

5. Get Sweaty in the Morning, Take a Walk in the Evening

It might sound like a lot, but remember that studies have shown you don’t have to do a long workout all at once to get the benefits of exercise. So if it works for you, try doing a morning strength routine and then take a walk in the evening. There are benefits to be gained from both. For example, a study conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that a.m. workouts can lead to better sleep, which is an important weight loss factor, and according to a study in PLOS ONE, being exposed to direct sunlight before noon reduces your risk of weight gain, as well. But taking a stroll in the evening is great for you, too, and you’re probably more likely to do that than to do an intense workout after work. An evening stroll will also promote better sleep, as well as keep you away from the temptation to snack while watching TV, and allow you to connect with a friend or loved one if you invite them along!

6. Make Things Easy on Yourself

We started out by saying that a lot of people don’t make the effort to get healthier because it seems like just that – a big effort. But if you make things easy on yourself, you’re more likely to stick to your goals and get healthier in the process. We suggest making friends with your microwave (and no, we don’t mean with frozen meals): try things like one-minute quiche in a mug, cinnamon breakfast quinoa, or even a flaky salmon dinner made in a silicone microwave steamer. Not a microwave fan? There are lots of other ways to make healthy meals and snacks with minimal effort: think overnight oats, using a crockpot or instant pot, and making simple swaps like whole grain options for refined carbs. And remember, your healthy meals don’t have to be complicated. You can make amazing 3-ingredient meals, like stuffed sweet potatoes, banana oat pancakes, chili, etc – just remember to combine protein and complex carbs and you’ll be setting yourself up to feel healthier without changing the amount of time and effort you put into eating.

7. Pump Some Iron (and Protein)

Yep, protein is super important, and you should try to include it in every meal, to keep you feeling satisfied, and to help with muscle repair. But you know what else you shouldn’t be skimping on? Iron! In fact, protein is important for muscle strength, but you also have to pump yourself full of iron in order to go pump some iron effectively. Iron boosts muscle strength, making it that much easier to get through the workday and your workout. And not eating enough iron can cause fatigue and even depression, so keep your energy levels high by eating oatmeal, lentils, and lean meats. 

8. Get Preppedsalads in 2 containers

Some people groan at the thought of meal prepping, but we’re big proponents of it to keep you on track with healthy eating, and to save precious time on weeknights. But even if you don’t want to go all-out with meal prep, you can still do simple things like making ready-to-blend bags of smoothie ingredients, including fruits and veggies (and while you’re at it, add fruit and veggies to anything you can!), or having emergency healthy snacks on hand. Remember, snacking is ok (in fact, it can keep you from getting too hungry and losing your ability to control what you’re eating), you just need to do it right. Have fruit sliced and stored, individual portions of nuts pre-packed, or cut up cheese ready to go when hunger hits.

9. Make the Most of Your TV Time

We’re totally not judging if you want to spend part of your evenings with some TV time to wind down, but we’ve got a few suggestions to sneak a little healthy even into this part of your day. First of all, it might be time to ditch the binging while binge watching habit. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition linked distracted eating to a long-term food consumption increase. You’ll be better served by doing a quick workout, or even just yoga or stretches, while you fire up the Netflix, and if you stick to this for a few weeks, you’ll soon find that you’ve broken yourself of the habit of mindlessly snacking (and hopefully replacing it with something healthier, even if it’s just going to sleep a little earlier)!

10. Make the Most of Your Workout Time

Some people really enjoy a long workout, and others – not so much. Or maybe you want to get a really intense workout in, but you just don’t have the time. Don’t let either of those things stop you from working out, just rethink what a workout looks like for you. Try interval training, with short bursts of high-intensity activity, which can often be more effective than other types of workouts in a much shorter amount of time, even as little as 20 minutes.

11. Hydrate Before You Die-drate!

Forgetting to sip water throughout the day? While you don’t necessarily need to drink a set amount of water every day, you should hydrate as much as possible. Studies show hydration is important to maintaining proper health and cognition, reducing kidney stone risk, and managing a healthy weight.

12. Ditch Sugary Drinks, and Switch to Green Tea

Yes, we’ve all heard it: stop with the sugary drinks! And we’re here to remind you of that. There is nothing to be gained from drinking sugary drinks (even juices, since you won’t be getting the benefit of the fruit’s fiber), and lots of damage that can be done, including the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Looking for a new drink? Try green tea! It can help to reduce stress, and some studies have even found that it can help with weight loss.

13. Move Throughout the Day

We all probably spend a lot more time being sedentary than we think, and many people think that because they do a workout at some point in the day, they’re doing enough. But that’s not always the case, unfortunately. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who exercise and then sit all day after are at risk of the same negative health issues as people who aren’t hitting the gym at all. Stinks, right? But that just means you need to get up and move any chance you get throughout the day! Take an extra lap when headed to the bathroom, do some yoga poses at lunch time, run up and down the stairs, park further away – whatever you can do to get more movement into your day. 

14. Be Positive!happy sad and medium faces on a board with a check mark nextto happy

Think a positive outlook only impacts your mental health (as if that weren’t reason enough to think positively!)? Researchers are finding more and more that having a positive outlook actually affects your physical health, as well: according to the World Health Organization, “a happy engaged and fulfilling psychological and social life is not just a consequence of good health, it is what leads people to live a healthy and long life.” In fact, Johns Hopkins researchers have found, for example, that among people with a family history of heart disease, people with a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within 5 to 25 years, when compared to those with a more negative outlook. So when you find negativity creeping in, try to find ways to switch to a positive mindset, and you’ll be feeling better in both body and mind.

There are a lot of things in life that are hard, but making healthy changes to your lifestyle doesn’t have to be one of them. By sneaking in a few little changes, and tweaking a few of your routines, you can be on the road to better health in no time!

Weighing in on Fitness Trackers and Weight Loss Apps

Things are starting to look up out there! You might even be putting on pants again, which means you might also be scrutinizing how all of your pre-pandemic clothes are fitting you these days. If you’re stressing about gaining the “Covid 19,” you’re certainly not alone: according to a recent American Psychological Association survey of more than 3,000 people, 61% of Americans reported undesired weight gain during the pandemic. 

Pandemic-related comfort eating, lack of gym access, and extra cocktails aside, issues with weight are nothing new in this country, and neither is the search for ways to effectively lose weight. Digital tools, like wearable fitness trackers and weight loss apps, on the other hand, are  relatively new in the world of fitness and weight loss. In the last few years, digital fitness/weight loss tools have become so popular that 19% of Americans, or nearly 1 in 5 of us, now use them. But is strapping that fitness tracker on your wrist or downloading that app the best way to reach your goals? There have been multiple studies done on these digitals tools, and it turns out the results are very mixed – and, unsurprisingly, it all depends on what you’re using and how you’re using it.

Fitness Trackers5 fitness trackers in different colors

Fitness trackers, in theory, are great little devices. You strap them to your wrist, and they measure things like how many steps you take in a day, your heart rate, how much sitting and standing you do, how many calories you’ve burned, even the quality of your sleep. For some people, simply having an easy way to track their movements, and seeing the amount of activity they’re doing (or not doing) can be a big boost to their fitness goals. As Dr Seth Martin, a cardiologist at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, says “[Having a record of physical activity] gives people information and empowers them to start making changes. And often, their activity level was not something they were paying attention to before they started tracking.” 

But, for others, fitness trackers simply don’t do much when they’re used on their own, and they’re certainly not some sort of magic bullet for weight loss. “Trackers are a reliable measurement of our activity, but we can’t rely on them completely,” says Andrew Lane, professor of sport psychology at the University of Wolverhampton. “We can’t expect just to buy one and that’s it – some of the responsibility sits with us too. We still have to get off that sofa and complete those 10,000 steps a day.”

So, for the people who have these gadgets, the question is, are they doing the work and, more importantly, benefitting from using them? Unfortunately, many studies seem to say no. One large-scale study at the University of Pittsburgh, for example, investigated whether using wearable technology helped people lose more weight than other people who followed standard weight-loss programs. All of the participants were asked to diet and advised to increase their physical activity, but only half were given a fitness tracker, six months into the study.

At the end of the trial, the participants who were given fitness trackers lost an average of 7.7 pounds, while those who didn’t have fitness trackers lost an average of 13 pounds.

In another study, participants received the same weight-loss counseling (diet, exercise and support) for six months and lost similar amounts of weight. After the initial six months, all participants received telephone counseling, text message prompts and access to online weight-loss information. Some participants also received wearable fitness trackers and access to an accompanying website to monitor physical activity and diet. Both groups were able to maintain weight loss up to 24 months. However, the group with the wearable technology lost 2-3% less weight over the course of the study.different progress circle percentagesThese results seem puzzling. Why would people using fitness trackers lose less weight than those not using them? There’s no definitive answer to that question, but some experts have weighed in, suggesting a few possibilities. For example, it’s possible that seeing your progress could actually backfire: knowing that you burned 400 calories, or that you went over your 10,000 steps, might lead you to “reward” yourself with dessert or some other extra treat. Or, as Andrew Lane suggests, using a fitness tracker could actually have a negative psychological effect: “What if we start consistently not reaching goals set for us by them? Ultimately, it would lead to us feeling demotivated – the opposite effect they are supposed to have.”

Whatever the case, the verdict on fitness trackers seems to be that they are not all that helpful when used on their own. But, on the other hand, they can still be useful tools when used in conjunction with other types of digital aids. 

Weight Loss Apps

Now, one of the caveats about many of the studies conducted on fitness trackers is that they often used devices that simply tracked data, and many people now use their fitness trackers to link their information to weight loss apps. And, when looking at many new studies, it seems that using a variety of digital tools, especially weight loss apps, could be an effective way to lose weight, at least in the short-term. 

illustration of a hand holding a cell phone
Weight loss apps can be effective, depending on how consistent you are with them.

For example, researchers at Stanford University recently looked at almost 40 clinical trials that followed more than 8,000 adults using digital self-monitoring tools, such as apps, to lose weight, and they found that those who consistently used them lost weight 74% of the time. According to Michele Patel, PhD, the lead study author, “At the end of the day, any form of recording can help people lose weight. However, we found that digital tools like apps and websites often keep people engaged for longer, which often translates to more weight loss.”

Other older studies from the mid-2010s also found that participants lost weight, at least in the short-term, when they used digital tracking tools like apps for three or six months. One group lost an average of 2.3 pounds more than a group who didn’t use apps. In another study that focused on whether consistently using an app influenced weight loss, participants reduced their body mass index (BMI) by 1.9 points on average, and each 10% increase in adherence to the tracking tool was associated with an additional 2.6-point reduction in BMI.

So it seems that, as with the fitness trackers, the key here is the word “consistent.” The people who lost weight 74% of the time, and the people who decreased their BMIs, were the ones who used digital tools more frequently to monitor themselves than those who self-monitored less frequently with weight loss apps. And not all of the studies were so positive: some found no difference in weight loss between groups who used apps and those who didn’t, and some found that participants only lost weight if the app use was paired with in-person coaching or phone calls. 

The verdict? Weight loss apps and other similar digital tools can be very effective helpers in your weight loss journey, but, as with most things in life, it’s all about what you put into them. Having the drive to use them consistently seems to be the deciding factor in whether you’ll get anything out of them. 

Can You Make Them Work for You?

Nobody is advocating that you put all your trust into fitness trackers or weight loss apps, just as we’re definitely not saying you should discount them. It’s all about finding the right ones for you and using them in a way that makes sense in your life. For example, when looking for weight loss apps, download a bunch of free ones and sift through them to find one that seems most user-friendly to you, instead of going on recommendations from friends. 

Look for apps with features you’re most likely to use. For example, if you cook most of your meals at home, try an app that makes it easy to upload and save your favorite recipes for easier tracking. Or if you eat a lot of prepared foods, you may want to look for an app with a barcode scanner to make it simple to track these items; some apps even allow users to take a picture of their meal and upload it, and the app does the rest of the calorie-counting work. If you’re the competitive type or enjoy making a game out of things, you can look at apps that allow for networking or provide engaging visual cues to show how close you are to your goals. 

hands piled on top of each other with a network around it
Having a community of fellow dieters can help keep you more accountable.

Accountability is also important, so look for apps that:

  • Feature a community of fellow dieters
  • Offer daily reminders that pop up on your phone
  • Have personalized professional support

And, if you want to ramp things up and wear a fitness tracker to get some accurate data on your movement and calories burnt, here are some tips to make your device work for – and not against – your weight loss goals:

  • Use your fitness tracker as a motivational tool that encourages you to move, and a way to see your movement history – but if you have a bad day, look back and see it as one day among many good days, instead of looking at fitness as an “all or nothing” scenario. Sometimes “all or something” is a better way to look at things!
  • Take the useful data from your fitness tracker and use it to keep yourself on track, but don’t use that data as permission to throw good eating habits out the window! If rewarding yourself is a way to keep yourself on track, great! Just do it with something that isn’t food.
  • Consider those 10,000 steps that everyone is always talking about as just a baseline for your daily movement. Set a goal that is 2-3,000 steps more, or think of it as separate from your workout. 

Fitness trackers and weight loss apps can be effective, and even fun, ways to boost your weight loss and reach your fitness goals, as long as you’re willing to use them consistently, and to find the ones that are right for you. And, remember, your own desire to make changes and improve your health are always the best motivational tools!

Are These Habits Aging You?

There’s no denying it: we’re all getting older. Aging is not something that any of us can avoid – and hey, it’s not so bad, considering the alternative! But that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to age well. Whether you’re thinking about looking your best, feeling your best, or both, there are certain lifestyle habits that could be keeping you from living your best life, now and later on. Know what they are so you can make the healthiest choices possible, and consider adding in some positive habits, so you can shine on for years to come!

1. Not Getting in Your Zzzz’s

young caucasian woman sitting down in front of a computer at night with coffee in her hand.
Not getting the proper amount of sleep, whether due to working late or being a night owl, is not good for you.

Your later years are certainly not the time to skip out on your beauty sleep. You might think that you need less sleep as you age, but that’s actually not true. Your sleep patterns might change, but you still need to shoot for a good 7 or 8 hours a night. Not getting enough sleep can keep you from being at your best during the day, can cause unnecessary stress and begin to affect your mental and physical health. 

To get more sleep, first rule out any medical concerns with your doctor. Then, try solutions like sticking to a bedtime schedule, limiting naps, getting more exercise, and keeping screens out of your bedroom.

2. Stressing Out

Stress is everyone’s enemy, young and old. But did you know that studies show stress can actually change your brain function? These studies suggest that letting go of stress can help you avoid cognitive impairment and keep your mind younger and fresher for longer. How to lighten some of the load? Try some simple relaxation techniques, including listening to music, doing a few easy yoga poses, journaling, talking to a friend, practicing mindful meditation (not sure how? Try an app like Headspace or Calm), or even just sitting quietly and closing your eyes (add in a stress ball or fidget spinner if you like!). 

3. Forgetting to Forgive

caucasian woman standing with her back to the young african american woman sitting on the floor looking away from her with her hands crossed.
Holding a grudge can affect your overall health, including giving you high blood pressure and heart issues.

It may surprise you to know that studies have actually been done on how the ability to forgive others affects us physically, as well as psychologically. And the results are in: the benefits of forgiveness include lower blood pressure, less depression, less stress, and less anxiety. Forgiving can also help you let go of unhealthy anger, which can contribute to muscle tension, heart problems, and decreased immune function. Not only that, but when you let bygones be bygones, you can go back to living a more productive life – and you’ll probably end up with fewer frown lines!

Where do you start with forgiveness? Well, start by forgiving the small things. Then, when it comes to the bigger hurts, talk them through with someone, and try to find ways to look on the bright side. Instead of stewing with resentment, work towards your own happiness and focus on the good in your life. 

4. Passing on Fruits and Veggies

You might need fewer calories as you age, but where you get those calories still matters! Being a junk food addict or a strictly meat and potatoes person is not going to cut it when it comes to keeping you looking and feeling your best. Want a healthy glow as you age, as well as a healthy gut and heart? Remember to eat your rainbow (lots of colorful fruits and veggies), as well as heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and fiber-rich whole grains. 

5. Sneaking Out for a Smoke

This one might be both the easiest and hardest habit on the list – the easiest to identify as extremely unhealthy, but the hardest to quit. But there are plenty of reasons to look for a way to kick the butts, both for health reasons and aesthetic reasons. Studies show that in addition to shortening your life by increasing your risk for heart and lung disease, as well as cancer, smoking can activate enzymes that break down the elasticity of your skin, giving you a more wrinkled and pasty appearance. Hey, we won’t judge: whatever reason motivates you to quit is a good one! Remember, quitting can be very difficult, and might take a few tries. Talk to your doctor, try nicotine gum or patches, go to a support group – just don’t give up.

6. Hitting the Bottle Too Hard

caucasian woman with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.
Smoking and drinking too much can lead to health issues such as cognitive decline and loss of elasticity of your skin.

This is a tough one. We’re often told conflicting things, like “drink at least one glass of red wine a day” and “stay away from alcohol completely for optimum health.” A moderate amount of alcohol (especially red wine) might have some benefits in moderation, but the real issue is that what is “moderate” changes as you age. According to the American Geriatrics Society, more than one drink a day for an older man and half of one for an older woman can be too much. Drinking too much can lead to cognitive decline, and could contribute to dangerous falls. Remember also that alcohol can interfere with certain medications, so be sure to talk to your doctor about whether it’s ok for you to indulge now and again.

7. Settling into That Groove in Your Couch

Listen up, couch potatoes! Think you should slow down as you age to prevent injury and accidents? Definitely not – in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. According to the Centers for Disease Control, physical activity can help control arthritis and maintain healthy bones, stamina, and muscle strength, all of which help prevent falls. It also reduces the risk of dying from heart disease, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Not only that, but, according to a study by the National Institute on Aging, exercise might even improve your memory. How much more could you ask for as you age than staying healthy, mobile, independent and sharp?

It’s easy to add more movement into your day. The CDC recommends fitting in 150 hours a week, which you can break down into 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week, or you can try “fitness snacking,” which means scattering a few minutes of exercise throughout the day. The most important thing is to find something you enjoy: try strolling with a friend, going for a swim, taking a leisurely bike ride, or following along with an online yoga class. Even a session of dancing around the house with your sweetie counts!

Aging happens to the best of us. We can’t turn back time, and our bodies and brains are going to inevitably change – we can’t control that. But what we can control is how we approach aging, and how we treat our bodies as we get older. With a little tweaking of our daily habits, we can continue on a path to a long and healthy life. 

Managing Hemophilia As You Get Older

In the past, when a person had hemophilia, it meant they had a very short life expectancy, around 20-30 years. Thanks to research, over the past 7 decades, the life expectancy has increased almost 10-fold. Unfortunately, as hemophiliacs get older, other health issues are more likely to arise such as hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. In light of March being Hemophilia Awareness Month, it is important to discuss how the elderly can manage this condition to avoid further issues.

two red ribbons

What Is Hemophilia?

Hemophilia is a rare medical condition in which the ability to blood clot and coagulate is reduced. A person with this condition will bleed out severely if they are injured. Normally, a person who does not have this condition, the blood will begin to coagulate (thick and clot) in order to reduce blood from leaving the body when injured. 

Symptoms

It is hereditary, and caused by a mutation in the gene for factor VIII. The blood lacks sufficient blood-clotting proteins. Symptoms vary depending on the level of clotting factors. They include:

  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Nosebleeds without a known cause
  • Large or deep bruises
  • Pain or swelling in joints
  • Excessive bleeding from cuts or injuries

Other Health Issues Associated With Hemophilia

blood pressure cuff and machine with high numbers on it and pill container on a white table.
People with hemophilia are twice as likely to have abnormally high blood pressure. 

Hemophilia can be very dangerous as you age, especially if you get an injury on your head. This rare condition can be associated with pregnancy, autoimmune conditions, cancer, and multiple sclerosis. Other conditions associated with the condition are:

  • Viral infections like HIV & Hepatitis– the antiviral drugs for these conditions can affect the person’s kidneys and liver.
  • Liver disease– The leading cause of liver disease in people with hemophilia are those infected with Hepatitis C. The risk of cirrhosis increases over time.
  • High Blood Pressure– People with hemophilia are twice as likely to have abnormally high blood pressure. 
  • Cardiovascular disease– risk factors such as hypertension, high blood pressure, and being overweight can all lead to heart disease. 
  • Musculoskeletal issues– loss of joint and muscle function is common in people with hemophilia. This puts them at a high risk for osteoporosis
  • Kidney disease– this causes hypertension which could increase brain hemmorage.

Tips To Manage Hemophilia

In order to stay on top of hemophilia as you get older, it is important to stay as healthy as possible. You should:

two elderly people riding bikes
Remain active and take vitamins in order to help manage hemophilia.
  1. Stay active
  2. Check your blood pressure regularly to keep it on point
  3. Take calcium and vitamin D supplements to prevent osteoporosis
  4. Do not take daily aspirin to prevent heart issues, because aspirin thins out your blood more.
  5. Lower your cholesterol
  6. Check blood sugar levels in order to prevent diabetes, or keep it under control.
  7. Keep a healthy weight and diet to improve your quality of life and prevent heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues.

Hemophilia, if extreme, can cause death. As you age, the more you are at risk for serious complications, especially if you have other health conditions such as hypertension. Seek emergency care, or your doctor if you have an injury that won’t stop bleeding, or have joints that are hot to the tough and painful to bend. Practice the tips provided in order to help manage hemophilia, so you can live a longer, healthier life.