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Here you will find useful articles on health and fitness

Don’t forget to Hydrate!

It is officially Summer and the hot weather is here! With the warmer weather it is important to increase your water intake. 

Staying hydrated is important for everyone but as we age it becomes more important and some times more of a challenge.

As we age we start to lose our sense of appetite and thirst so we may not be aware we are thirsty/needing water.

Medications can also increase risk of dehydration so ask your doctor or a pharmacist if you are unsure.

Your body composition also changes as you age which causes less water to be in our bodies.

Being hydrated helps your joints stay lubricated to move smoothly and with more ease which can decrease stiffness, aches and pains.

Other benefits of drinking more water include improved cognition, increased energy, improved digestion and better body temperature regulation.

How to tell if you are dehydrated: if you are not going to the bathroom much and if urine is dark colored and more concentrated

Symptoms of dehydration include: fatigue, feeling weak, dizziness, headaches, muscle cramps, confusion, dry mouth

These symptoms of dehydration call also increase your risk of falling and or injuring yourself.

If it is a challenge for you to drink water throughout the day or you just don’t like water you can of course try flavored water but you could also try smoothies or eat foods that have high water content such as watermelon, grapes, apples, strawberries, cantelope, tomatoes and cucumbers. 

If you aren’t sure how much water you are drinking, it may be beneficial to choose a water bottle that measures how many ounces you should be drinking and fill it up each morning to be sure you drink throughout the day or catch up if you are behind. This can also be helpful if you have a hard time remembering to drink water, this water bottle can be with you all day so you see it and it reminds you to drink. 

Get into a routine of always drinking water at the same time each day, one glass as soon as you wake up or one glass of water with every meal, one glass of water after exercise etc. 

There are also free apps for your phone you can use to track how much you are drinking and can remind you when you need to drink water.

Also try to ease into exercising or being active out in the heat to give your body time to adjust to the warmer temperatures. 

There is no one right answer for how much water to drink because there are so many individual factors to consider but if you feel energized and your urine is light colored or clear that is a good sign!

Happy Summer!

Contact A to Z Personal Wellness for a summer time exercise program that can be done indoors or outdoors.

Ways to Make Exercise a Daily Habit

Have you tried to get into a routine of exercising and it only lasts a few days? Here are some ideas to make exercise a daily habit. 

One way to make exercise a habit is to do it right after a habit that you already have established. An example would be, after I wake up and brush my teeth I will exercise. Another example would be after I take off my work clothes I will put on my exercise clothes. Stacking your habits can make them stick better. You can think or write out all of your current daily habits and see where exercise could best fit in and then do that daily. This will also help create consistency and can make it become automatic. 

If you are exercising at home, create a space for it and have that be where you exercise every time. If you are going to the gym, set out a gym bag and outfit before bed or if you are going after work, have it in your car ready to go.

It is also important to make adding a habit appealing, so you could tell yourself after I exercise for 10 minutes I will read a book or check the news/social media or watch a TV show. Try to add your habit that you need to do (exercise) with a habit you want to do ( read, watch TV, etc). 

You could also make it more appealing by listening to music that you love while you exercise, or watching a TV show while you exercise. Challenge yourself by saying you will only watch a certain show while you are exercising to make it something you look forward to.

View exercise, in a positive way, instead of thinking of it as something hard, tiring or dreadful. Think positively by saying, this will make me stronger so I have more strength to play with my grandkids. This will increase my endurance so I will have more endurance to go shopping. This will increase my confidence so I will feel more comfortable and confident when traveling or hiking.

Habits form based on repetition. If you exercise everyday for 30 days, it is more likely to become a habit compared to if you only exercised twice over those 30 days. Repetition is key, it doesn’t matter how long you exercise for, it is just about making sure you do it.

It is also important to start small. So starting with 2-5 minutes of exercise may sound strange but once you have created the habit of doing 2-5 minutes then you can improve it/ increase the time. 

If you are someone that likes to make lists and cross things out, put exercise on your to do list and cross it off once you complete it. Or you could put an x or check mark on a calendar or piece of paper to track your progress and have the satisfying feeling of checking it off and also of seeing how far you have come. Try not to miss more than 1 day in a row. Even if you don’t feel like it or you don’t have much time, go back to at least doing 2-5 minutes so you can keep maintaining progress and stay on track.

Make sure the exercise fits you, if you have never liked running don’t try it now, if you have always enjoyed walking focus on that. You could try something new like a dance class or pickleball. Find something that works for you, your body, and your personality. 

If you need help getting started or finding an exercise routine that works for you contact A to Z Personal Wellness.

Benefits of Small Group Training

Meeting with a personal trainer one-on-one may be intimidating to some people. It can also be intimidating to start a group fitness class that has a lot of participants. If either of these sound like you, you might benefit from small group training. 

There are many benefits to small group training, such as:

  • Exercise programs are designed by a personal trainer to meet your individual needs and goals
  • The small group allows for camaraderie which can also increase motivation, accountability and make it more fun 
  • The personal trainer is able to build a connection with each individual and give proper attention to each participant’s form and other needs which prevents injury, increases safety and effectiveness of exercises
  • Trainer can offer more personalized attention for modifications or progressions of exercises
  • You can meet new people or sign up with a small group of friends 
  • Some group fitness classes may be too easy or too hard but a small group training class will be just the right challenge for you
  • It can be more financially friendly which is always a welcome perk

If you have any questions or would like to know more about small group training offerings contact A to Z Personal Wellness.

Why Posture Matters

Did your mother ever tell you to stand up tall or sit up straight? Well, she was right if she did nag you about your posture. Posture matters!

Poor posture can lead to neck, shoulder, and back pain. Exercising with poor posture can increase risk of injury and cause more harm than good. Poor posture can also decrease your balance and increase risk of falling.

Good posture allows you to stay active longer, have a more youthful appearance, increases your energy level and improves balance. It also decreases risk of falling, strengthens core muscles, improves blood flow, increases confidence and improves your ability to breathe deeply.

If you are unsure of your posture, I would recommend looking in a mirror, both front and sideways, or taking a picture of yourself.

When you are sitting, you want your head, and specifically your ears, over your shoulders and your shoulders stacked over your pelvis. It is also best to sit with feet flat on the floor and hips above your knees.

Our bodies were designed to move, so even if you are sitting, it is important to change positions frequently. Set a timer or reminder on your phone or computer to take movement breaks throughout the day to avoid staying in one position for too long.

With so much time spent sitting at a computer, watching TV or using tablets and phones it is easy to get into a habit of slouching or rounding your shoulders and looking down. Holding your phone at eye level can help improve posture, and making sure to adjust your computer monitor so that you can look at the screen at eye level can also help.

It takes 3 weeks (but usually longer) to change a behavior, so be mindful of your posture and practice the exercises below frequently to make a positive change.

Standing Posture Exercise to try:

  • Stand with your heels approximately 12 inches from the wall and lean back so that your buttock and shoulders touch the wall. 
  • Try to get your head to touch the wall too, but if it doesn’t, make sure to look straight ahead and keep your ears over shoulders. If you are able to do this, try to move your heels closer to the wall.
  • Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and repeat 10 times

Seated Posture Exercise to try:

  • Sit at the edge of a chair and lift your chest up and shoulders back, with your ears being aligned over your shoulders. 
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds and then relax back down to your resting posture. – – Repeat this 10 times and try to hold this position for longer if you can.

If you have questions about your posture or would like more guidance on postural exercises contact A to Z Personal Wellness.

Scenic Walking Paths Around Rochester

It is a great time to get outside and go for a walk. I thought I would share some of our favorite walking paths around the Rochester area. I have put together a list of paths that are mostly flat, paved and have benches to rest and enjoy the scenery.  These paths also happen to be very toddler and stroller friendly, if you are looking for a nice place to walk and explore with grandkids! 

There are so many benefits to walking, even if it is only 10 minutes a day. Let’s start with the fact that it is free and you can do it anywhere! Walking helps strengthen muscles, reduces joint pain, improves quality of sleep, improves cognition, reduces anxiety and depression, reduces blood pressure and risk of heart disease, diabetes and more! If those weren’t enough reasons to take a walk, take advantage of the weather, make it fun and call a friend to join you! 

Also make sure to start small if you have been hibernating all winter. Slowly increase your walking time/distance. 

Here are 7 places to try:

  1. Cobbs Hill Reservoir – a .7 mile paved loop with places to stop and rest
  1. North Ponds Park – 1 mile loop around both ponds, paved path with benches to rest, does have a few inclines
  1. Penfield Veterans Memorial Park – paved paths but also has a nature trail, fairy houses, a playground and a a few other things for grandkids to enjoy
  1. Butterfly Nature Trail – .25 mile, can be down and back or you can also do a loop, flat trail
  1. Fellows Rd park – 1 mile paved path loop that has benches to rest
  1. The canal path in the Village of Fairport and Thomas Creek Wetlands Walk – wetland walk is on a boardwalk off of the canal path
  1. Brickyard Trail at Sandra L. Frankel Nature park – .8 miles, flat trail with sitting area

If you have concerns about going for a walk outside or would like to improve your walking, contact A to Z Personal Wellness.

Gardening Tips

The change in season brings a change of activities. Gardening and yard work are a great way to be physically active and enjoy the Spring weather. I do not have a green thumb and the deer are a major issue but the change in weather really helps get me motivated to attempt to make my yard look nice and it is a great reason to get outside! 

Here are some helpful tips to make sure you are staying safe, pain free and enjoying gardening and working in your yard this Spring:

  • Before starting out, make sure to check your yard for uneven ground, roots sticking out, loose rocks, branches/sticks that may be in your way, to avoid tripping or falling. 
  • Gardening can be a strenuous activity, so it is a good idea to take a few minutes to stretch/warm up before starting.
  • Take frequent breaks and remember to hydrate.
  • If you can, I would recommend raised plant beds and potted plants so that you do not have to be on the ground or bending over as much.
  • If you are working from the ground, I recommend using a pad to kneel on and using a half kneel position to keep your back in a more upright position and changing legs frequently.
  • Work in small areas so that you are not over reaching which could cause discomfort in your back, neck or shoulders or cause you to lose your balance. 
  • While you are gardening or doing yard work try to engage your core to help support your low back. Engage your core by pulling your belly button in towards your spine and tightening.
  • If you are raking be sure to switch arms to avoid overworking one side of your body. Rake when it is dry, wet leaves are heavier and also more slippery. Your body will thank you 🙂
  • Remember to bend at your knees and hips, and lift with your legs, not your back. Lifting lighter loads, more frequently is better than trying to fill up or lift as much as you can at one time. When lifting and carrying hold objects as close to your body and centered if possible.
  • If you need to use a ladder, make sure someone is near by and aware.

Contact A to Z Personal Wellness if you are feeling unsteady or want to improve your strength to make your yard work easier and more enjoyable!

Get Balanced, Stay Balanced, Be Balanced

Most of the time we don’t think about our balance until we feel unsteady or until we have a fall. However our balance starts to decline as early as our 30’s. The good news is that we can improve it with exercise! There are many factors that contribute to decreased balance as we age such as vision loss, medication side effects, decreased muscle strength, other health conditions, fear of falling, not getting enough sleep and the list goes on. 

Training static and dynamic balance can increase your coordination, better your reaction time, increase you mobility and agility, reduce fitness related or other injuries and allow you to perform better in your daily life. Falling is NOT a normal part of aging! Be proactive and prevent a fall. Even if you don’t feel old or are not concerned about your balance, focusing on these exercises can help you improve your tennis or golf game. 

Personal training is beneficial to determine what area or areas of balance you need to work on. Do you need to train to increase muscle strength, or train one of your sensory systems? A balance assessment can determine what areas need work and what exercises to focus on.

You may have heard about practicing standing on one leg as you brush your teeth or as you are in the kitchen waiting for your coffee and thought why do I need to do that? Well, it is important to practice single leg balance because we are on one leg during walking, climbing stairs, getting in a car, and stepping into a shower or tub. Try to do single leg balance at a counter top 2x/day and hold up to 1 min on each leg with as little or no hand support if possible. 

Another exercise to try at home:

Stand with your feet as close together as possible and hold for 30 seconds if you can, if that is too hard you can separate your feet a bit. If it is too easy try with your eyes closed. Another way to make it more challenging is to try it while standing on a pillow. Do this exercise in a corner and with a chair in front of you for safety.

Contact A to Z Personal Wellness for a balance assessment!

What is a Functional Aging Specialist and What is Functional Fitness?

I am a Certified Personal Trainer, a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, as well as a Functional Aging Specialist. Let me share with you what a Functional Aging Specialist is and what functional fitness can do for you. This certification is specifically for training those 55 and over. As part of the natural aging process our bodies and minds change. It focuses on the natural aging processes and how exercise can help minimize the changes of aging or even reverse it with exercise. Functional aging exercises are necessary to maintain a high quality of life and prevent aches, pains and injuries during day to day activities as we age. This knowledge allows me to create a program to increase balance, mobility and strength as you age in a safe and healthy way to achieve your goals and for you to continue to live your best life!

Functional fitness is exercise that can be done anywhere to strengthen your muscles in the same way you would need them to perform certain tasks or  everyday activities. Functional fitness can benefit active agers and those that are more sedentary. If your goal is to age in place, remain independent, keep doing all of the activities you love for as long as possible and have a high quality of life, then functional fitness is important to include in your routine. Even if you don’t like to exercise, think about movement being your medicine for maintaining a high quality of life. Functional fitness is a way for you to keep up with your grandkids, be able to clean your house, garden, continue to play golf, dance at family weddings or simply age with less aches and pains. Functional fitness doesn’t require fancy equipment and it is not about losing weight or developing large muscles, it is about strengthening the muscles you need strengthened to enjoy everyday life and to help improve your balance, mobility and prevent falls. 

For a FUNctional fitness program contact A to Z Personal Wellness

Spring Cleaning Tips

The weather is changing and I am feeling energized and excited for Spring! I do not love cleaning but at this time of year I do get a small urge to organize and deep clean my house. If you are in the mood to Spring clean here are some tips to help make it productive, healthy, and not a dreaded experience. 

First, remember that there is no real benefit of rushing through the cleaning process and getting it all done as fast as possible. It is important for your body to take frequent breaks or to pick a few tasks to tackle each day instead of doing it all at once. Try doing one room a day. Doing too much in a day can cause aches and pains or even injury. 

Using good body mechanics is key, if you don’t your body will let you know later on. Here are some tips to help with that:

If you are vacuuming, keep the vacuum handle at your side and walk with it instead of reaching out with your body. Walking with the vacuum allows you to maintain better posture to avoid low back or shoulder discomfort. 

If you are mopping or sweeping, try to avoid stooping/leaning too far forward by moving your legs back and forth and working in a small area at a time. Also, if mopping try using a spray bottle for cleaner and clean water to avoid dealing with a large bucket.

Use a secure step ladder or step stool to wash windows or paint to help keep your body level with the area you are working on. This will allow you to avoid straining, twisting, pulling or over-reaching which can sometimes cause pain to the low back, neck or shoulders. 

If you are carrying containers, laundry baskets or other heavy or large objects keep them close to your body – at your center of gravity. Remember to bend at the knees and hips when lifting so that you don’t strain your back. 

Spring cleaning can be a great way to be active and feel good afterward. For an added bonus and to make you feel even better after try to keep your core muscle activated as you clean.

If you are having trouble or feeling out of shape doing any of these activities contact A to Z Personal Wellness to design an exercise program to make cleaning easier for you and get you ready to enjoy the rest of Spring!

Muscle Power and Why It Is Important as we Age

You probably already know that muscle strength starts to decline as you age, but did you know the rate of decline accelerates after age 65, and that lower body strength decreases faster than upper body strength? Muscle power declines faster than muscle strength, but the good news is we can incorporate both muscle power and muscle strength into a personalized training program.

You may be thinking what is muscle power and why does it matter as I age? Muscle power is the ability to generate force rapidly. The loss of fast twitch muscle fibers as we age impacts the muscles ability to generate the necessary force for functional tasks. It is important for active agers to train to increase muscle power for functional activities such as getting up from a chair or climbing stairs. Muscle power plays a crucial role to preserving your independence later in life.

Power training may sound intimidating but it doesn’t have to be! Exercises like sit to stands, step ups, or walking with a focus on quick starting and stopping/accelerating and decelerating, can all improve muscle power. Progressions and regressions can be made to the above exercises depending on fitness level.

Sit to stands can be done with various seat heights, with resistance and/or rising up from the chair quickly and slowly returning to seated position.

Step ups can be done with different height steps, while practicing carrying an object, and varying your speed.

Contact A to Z Personal Wellness if you would like to increase your muscle power!