Low Carb Diets a No-No for Exercisers

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Understanding the role of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates come in three different types, simple, complex and dietary fiber. The last of these, dietary fiber releases very little energy to the body when digested so for this article we will limit the discussion to simple and complex carbs.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbs are made up of either one or two units of sugar. These are found in fruits, milk and table sugar. They can also be found in may processed foods like cakes and candy. Of course the carbs found in most processed foods come along with a lot of calories.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbs have more than 2 units of sugar. These are found in vegetables and starches like pasta, potatoes and rice.

How the body uses carbs.

Carbohydrates are converted to energy for the body. This is done in the mitochondria. Simple carbs convert faster and can give you a quick burst of energy for exercise while the complex carbs take longer to digest and turn to energy.

Following this line of thought it would stand to reason that eating plain table sugar or candy right before working out would be beneficial to physical performance . While it would boost your energy level candy and sugar also pulls water from body tissues into the intestines thus speeding dehydration which can lead to nausea. That’s where the sports drinks can play a big role in your workouts. Many of them are sweetened to give you the needed sugars and also contain sodium chloride to replace the salt your body loses while sweating.

Admittedly consuming too many carbs and not working them off will be stored as fat. A proper diet that gets 45 – 65 percent of it’s calorie from carbohydrates should work well for people that have a regular workout routine.

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Is there such a thing as too much exercise?

We all know that if you’re over 50 it’s important to avoid a lifestyle that consist of just watching TV and lying around the house. It’s really necessary to maintain a fitness routine that includes cardio and weight or resistance training, but can too much exercise be as dangerous as none at all?

As with most things in life we have to strike a balance between the two. While lack of  exercise can lead to heart disease, weight gain and loss of muscle mass or sarcopenia as we get older the risk involved with over training can be almost as debilitating.

The web site Simplicity Training list some of the risks of over training as

• Chronic muscle pain
• Fatigue
• Increased substantial heart rate
• Depressed immune system
• Insomnia
• Decrease of muscular strength
• Depression

Over training leaves us more susceptible to injuries (that could set us back in reaching our fitness goals), viruses, illness and can actually decrease our energy levels and make us weaker.

As we age we need to give ourselves a little more recovery time between work-outs if we are doing any type of strenuous training. This past year I have changed my weight lifting schedule from 4 – 6 days a week to 3 – 4 days with a day of cardio in between days as long as I’m not feeling too fatigued. My body has responded well and I am happy with the results. Not only have I maintained my desired weight but I’ve managed to actually increase my muscle mass, which at the age of 52 is one of my primary goals.

I also suggest following good form when performing an exercise or lifting weights. Perfect form makes it hard to lift more than your body can handle. If you find that you have to “cheat” to lift what you usually do then you’re probably lifting  too much or your muscles need a little more time to recover

I also suggest limiting your work out to 45 minutes to an hour. Believe it or not the greatest benefits are achieved in the first 40 minutes. I like to go all out for about 45 minutes or so and then taper of for the last 15.

 

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Should you eat before or after a workout?

Generally speaking most experts on exercise and nutrition say that it’s a matter of personal preference as long as you eat something within a one hour window either before or after your workout routine. I know some people that become nauseous  and feel ill if they try to eat before going to the gym and I know just as many people that feel light headed and weak if they don’t. But if you’re over fifty I think it’s beneficial to eat a little something before exercise and not doing so consistently may even be counter productive to achieving your fitness goals.

How the body uses fats and carbs and protiens during exercise

During exercise the body normally uses a combination of fats and carbohydrates for fuel. The ratio of this mixture varies with the intensity of the workout. Carbohydrates provide a quick source of energy and therefore while moderate to intense exercise burns more carbs than fat you must also be aware that moderate to intense exercise also burns more calories in the same amount of time as a low intensity workout would.

The body usually burns very little or no protein during exercise, protein is not a good source of quick energy. It is only during really strenuous workouts that the body may turn to protein as an energy source – or when the needed carbohydrates and fats are depleted.

Protein – The key to avoiding muscle loss over 50

In a previous article I wrote about the importance of resistance training over 50 in combating sarcopenia or muscle loss that is a natural part of aging. I explained how after the age of 40 most of us will experience a slow but definite decrease of muscle tissue in our bodies that will only accelerate over time and make us feel and look old.

In addition to resistance training we can also fight this with proper nutrition. One of the most important nutrients in this battle is protein. I’m sure you’ve heard it before “proteins are the building blocks of muscle”

Since proteins are so important for building and maintaining muscle tissue that is so critical to keep a youthful appearance it is necessary that we guard against burning these proteins as much as possible while we exercise, more so than when we were younger and still able to build and maintain muscle easily.

Fueling up before exercise helps prevents loss of protein and muscle

A snack an hour or so before your workout should provide you plenty of energy to fuel your exercise routine without the danger of burning muscle. If you’re following most of the fitness experts suggestions and eating 5 or 6 small meals a day instead of the traditional 3 big meals than your’re probably never on “empty” and should be ready to workout any time during the day. I normally exercise in the morning within an hour after I awake and have found the liquid protein shakes to be the thing for me. Since they’re liquid they deliver energy within 20 or 30 minutes and they not only give me the needed carbs to fuel my workout but provide a little extra protein to my diet to help me recoup after the routine.

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I know that for some people including a partner in their work-out routine can make it a little more fun and possibly make the time pass faster. When done the right way and both people stay engaged and in constant motion it can be a good thing.

The problem that I see when I look around most gyms though is that usually when one person is working a set or routine the other is often standing around waiting to use the same equipment or perform the same routine. This essentially cuts your productive time in the gym in half and also makes it difficult to maintain the intensity and heart rate that is necessary for a beneficial work-out.

Most studies show that for the best fitness results we need to maintain an elevated level of intensity for 30 – 40 minutes per work-out 3 – 5 times a week. If you are just starting a fitness program you can probably achieve this while including a partner but after a month or two if you’re really sticking to it you’ll find it takes more effort and increased intensity to get to the same heart rate. This is a good thing, it means your body is able to do more with less excursion. Your cardiovascular system, heart and lungs are improving. The flip side to this is that you will have to step up your program to get greater gains, this means either spending more time in the gym or being more productive with the time that you’re already spending there. I prefer the latter.

Interval training is my solution. Interval training involves staying in constant motion during your work-out, alternating between low and high intensity routines. This can be done with a partner or group but it would require the use of two or more pieces of fitness equipment at the same time. This can be difficult to arrange if the gym is crowded unless you’re participating in a class that has the equipment reserved for an hour or so.

Working out alone you can easily move from machine to machine and get a great interval workout in 30 minutes. Some studies show that 15 minutes of interval is just as effective as 45 minutes of a normal workout that includes rest periods between exercises.

So you see while training with a partner is a good way to get started on the road to better health it might be a good idea at some point to cut the cord and go solo. Are you ready?

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If you’re over fifty when determining how often and how much you should workout there are a few things that have to be taken into consideration.
The first thing to think about is your present physical condition. If you’ve been leading a fairly sedentary lifestyle for years or have existing medical or health conditions I strongly suggest that before beginning any fitness routine that you see a health care professional first to find out if you need to take any precautions or avoid any particular exercises. In fact if you’re over 50 and haven’t been to see a doctor in a couple of years or so then it may be a good idea to go anyway, just to get a clean bill of health and believe me it’ll put your mind at ease.
If you have been fairly inactive for a long time then I recommend taking in slow and easy in the beginning. I’ve seen a lot of people start out with too much intensity in the beginning only to be derailed by injury or loss of interest because it becomes a stresser instead of a way to relieve stress and even have a little fun.
For the previously inactive you should probably  try two or three days a week at first.
The LEAST amount of resistance training recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine is 8 to 12 repetitions of 8 to 10 exercises, at a medium level of intensity, twice weekly.  What is medium intensity? You should be somewhat winded while performing the exercises but still able to talk and hold a conversation.
Of course you can get added gains if you increase your intensity or frequency but as you progress you will become more in tune with your body and know when it’s time to up the ante.
Sessions should last no more than and hour.
Examples of some basic resistance and strength training exersises are:
Squat
Lat Pulldown
Overhead Press
Bench Press
Bicep Curl
Tricep Pulldown
Leg Extension
Leg Curl
Abdominal Crunch
Generally speaking, each muscle that you train should be rested one to two days before being exercised again in order for them to recoupe and rebuild.

And remember, NO PAIN – NO GAIN IS A MYTH. It’s normal to feel a little tightness and strain for the first ten minutes or so of a workout. If you continue to feel it after getting into the routine and have warmed up then STOP – move on to something else. Our bodies sometimes have a way of telling us what not to do. It could be just a temporary thing that last only a day or two or it could be more serious. You will learn how to listen to your body for clues.

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Exercise for Over 50 – Make it Personal

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Defining Fitness Over Fifty

The over 50 workout routine that will serve you best depends a lot on your own definition of just what is fitness over 50.

For some it may be simply being able to ensure the ability to remain independent and mobile well into our 60′s, 70′s and 80′s. That’s a REAL goal for many and the 50′s are a great place to start.

Others may even go as far as to become competitive athletes in their fifties, competing in basketball leagues, marathons, iron man competitions and all kinds of other activities.

Whatever your desires are keep in mind that there is no “One size fits all” plan and way to achieve your personal fitness over fifty goals.

Sure there are somethings that are to be used as guidelines in any fitness program. Proper diet, enough sleep, aerobic and resistance training, but the way that you mix and match these components should be based on what you want to achieve.

You also want to include some variety and change in any fitness routine. I never go through a 3 month span with out changing my work-out routines almost entirely. A little here, a little there, and by the end of three months my routine looks nothing like it did when I started it. This keeps it fresh and it keeps my body and muscles from anticipating the next move that I’m going to make. The body has a way of making short cuts when it gets into a routine of knowing what’s next.

So my advice is to first sit down and put on paper what YOUR goals are. Keep it real but make it a challenge. Then determine how you’re going to get there. make it fit for YOU!

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Flabby Upper Arms? Try Chair Dips

Toning upper arms is one of the quickest and easiest ways to reverse the appearance of aging . One of the best exercises to tighten up those flabby upper arms is the bench dip. Because this series of exercises are for beginners and one of the requirements was to find work out routines that can be done in the comfort of your own home with little or no additional equipment other than what can be found around the house we have substituted using a bench with a simple straight back chair.

Here are the steps:

  • Begin by sitting on the edge of a chair.
  • Lay your hands on the chair next to  your bottom and grab the edge.
  • Feet flat on the floor 2 feet in front of you knees bent.
  • Lift off the chair so you are supported by your arms and hands.
  • Bend elbows, dropping (dipping) your body towards the floor. Dip as far as you feel comfortable.
  • Push back up, squeezing the muscles in the back of the arms.
  • You want to maintain a position with your back as close to the chair as possible to reduce shoulder strain.

Chair Dips

My suggestion is to start out doing as many as you can in one minute. Try to work yourself up to 3 one minute repetitions 3 times a week, you’ll be amazed at the results in a month or so, the triceps respond to resistance training fairly fast.

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Fiber reduces risk of deathHigh Fiber intake reduces death risk by 23 percent.

A scientific analysis of a nine year study conducted by the National Institutes of Health and AARP has found a meaningful link  between high fiber intake and longevity.

The analysis studied the results of over 400,000 people over fifty. The participants between 50 and 71 years old had  fiber intake that ranged from 12.6 to 29.4 grams per day in men and from 10.8 to 25.8 grams per day in women.

The average dietary fiber for most Americans is about 12 grams a day, current US dietary guidelines recommend 28 grams for the average person eating a 2,000 calorie a day diet.  This would suggest that the people in this study of people over 50 with the highest fiber intake are simply in line with the recommendations. The study excluded people with extremely high fiber intake.

Men with the highest fiber intakes had a 23% reduction in the risk of dying while women experienced a 10% reduction when compared to those eating the least amount of fiber.

It’s important to point out that the greatest benefits came from particular sources of fiber, whole grains and beans. While vegetable fiber had a small impact on longevity fruits showed no effect at all.

Fiber is a Natural Anti-Inflammatory

Most researchers believe that the anti-inflammatory effects of eating more fiber is possibly part of the reason for lower numbers  in cardiovascular, respiratory, and infectious disease death.

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Over 50 Beginners Workout Routine – Lunges

lunges

Lunges – Great at Home Exercise for Beginners

The third exercise of this series concentrates once again on the lower body. The lunge involves all the big muscles below the waist – quads, hamstrings and glutes.
This exercise is even easier in some respects than the squat because it copies a very natural, everyday aspect of life. Walking!
Having said that though don’t be fooled. It is a more advanced move than the squat because it not only works and strengthens your lower body but it also will improve your balance.
Okay here’s how they’re done.
From a neutral standing position take a big step forward, keeping your back straight but not rigid and bend your knee to about 90 degrees (make sure your front knee doesn’t go beyond your toes). While steppping forward drop your back knee towards the floor.
That’s it. Really simple and can be done just about anywhere.
I suggest doing as many of these as you can in 30 seconds at first and over time increasing the time intervals to 60 and then 90 seconds.
You can improve our everday mobility and flexibilty by changing this exercise sometimes to stepping either backwards or to the side.

The third exercise of this series concentrates once again on the lower body. The lunge involves all the big muscles below the waist – quads, hamstrings and glutes.
This exercise is even easier in some respects than the squat because it copies a very natural, everyday aspect of life. Walking!
Having said that though don’t be fooled. It is a more advanced move than the squat because it not only works and strengthens your lower body but it also will improve your balance.
Okay here’s how they’re done.
From a neutral standing position take a big step forward, keeping your back straight but not rigid and bend your knee to about 90 degrees (make sure your front knee doesn’t go beyond your toes). While steppping forward drop your back knee towards the floor.
That’s it. Really simple and can be done just about anywhere.
I suggest doing as many of these as you can in 30 seconds at first and over time increasing the time intervals to 60 and then 90 seconds.
You can improve our everday mobility and flexibilty by changing this exercise sometimes to stepping either backwards or to the side.

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Over 50 Beginners Work Out – Wall Push Ups

Over 50 - Wall Push Up

In the first of this series on beginners exercises for over fifty we featured squats for the lower body, today we will show you a really easy way to strengthen the upper body doing wall push ups.

We begin with these two exercises because they both engage large muscle groups and strengthen areas of the body that are used in every day activities.

The push up works the chest, back and arms. When done correctly it also helps strengthen the core. While I’ll admit that the regular way of doing push ups is challenging and I still find it difficult to do more than 15 or 20 at a time (on a good day) I will show you an easy way to get similar benefits that almost anyone can do.

  1. Stand 2 – 3 feet from the wall – Feet about shoulder width apart, knees straight but not locked.
  2. Hands flat against the wall – Just a little wider than shoulder width, arms straight.
  3. Now bend your arms - Bend until your nose is about 1″ from the wall.
  4. Push Back - Return to starting position.

That’s all there is to it. The level of difficulty and resistance increases the further you place your feet from the wall. Find a position that allows you to complete 12 – 15 repetitions. Perform these 10 – 15 reps 2 to 3 times about twice a week and you should see improved upper body strength within 6 weeks.

One of the great things about this exercise is that it’s so portable. You can do it at work on your break, while out walking around the park, while away from home on a trip or vacation, just about any where!

Remember muscles need increased resistance as they get stronger to maintain the same level of fitness so increase your distance away from the wall as your strength improves. Eventually you can move from the wall to using a chair or bench for support thus lowering you body closer to the floor and creating even more body weight resistance – but that’s all for later. Start out with these beginner wall push ups and trust me you’ll get there!

Exercise Over 50 – Beginners Routines

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