Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Strength Training Benefits As You Age

Sometimes it feels like the number of things that stop working in your body directly correlates to the number candles on your birthday cake.

But you can regain some control in a number of ways — and improving your strength is one of them.

Muscle strength is important for bone health, balance and just being strong enough for daily activities, such as climbing stairs or carrying groceries. Regular muscle strengthening has also been shown to help you manage blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels, as well as prevent and control heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Research also shows it's good for your brain

There is evidence that both improvements in cognitive function and depressive symptoms in older adults are linked to the amount of strength gains or intensity of the strength training.

Why it's downhill from 30
Each decade from the age of 30 we lose 3 to 5 per cent of the muscle mass we naturally carry, which causes us to lose muscle function — a condition called sarcopenia.  But this doesn't mean you necessarily end up frail, there are studies on men in their 70s who'd been lifting weight for 15 to 20 years and their muscles looked identical to that of 20-year-old men in terms of size and strength.

The really good news — it's never too late to get started, even if you've never picked up a weight in your life.  There are muscle biopsies of people over 100 years old and you can see changes in their muscle cells, even at that age.
Size matters - but strength matters more

While having big muscles might hold some appeal for some of us, it's your strength that really matters when it comes to functioning well in old age. And if you're training right, getting stronger is relatively easy, even if your body type doesn't build muscle easily.

So what's the right kind of training? That depends on your fitness and health goals.
High-intensity resistance training is the best way to increase and maintain muscle function. The best results come from high-intensity interval training, which is lifting weight that's 80 per cent or more of the maximum amount you can physically do. Two, preferably three, sessions a week is ideal and the most important thing is intensity and progression — so increasing the amount of weight you're lifting once it stops feeling hard to lift. If you can tolerate it, increase your power as well as strength by performing high-velocity, high-intensity movements. An example of that would be lifting a heavy weight really fast (concentric phase), then slowly lowering it down (eccentric phase). If you don't have arthritis or other joint problems, adding high-impact movements, like jumping, improves bone density, can help to prevent osteoporosis.

Weight machines good for older people
It is important to get guidance from an experienced trainer, especially if you're new to lifting weights, have injuries or suffer any other health issues, cannot be underestimated. Training the older person needs to have a double-barrelled perspective. It's not just sarcopenia, you also want to prevent falls. So there needs to be two styles of programming: increasing strength and muscle mass safely, and preventing falls.  Machines are a great option for working on strength because they do all the stability work. The machine controls your movement which is great, especially if you haven't trained before and have poor body awareness — you can work hard with good control.

Adding in stability work will help to prevent falls, so include exercises like banded walks, single-leg balancing and woodchops on the cable machine.
Aerobic exercise still important

Despite all the benefits of strength training, it's not going to give you all the health benefits you need. So you still need to make the effort to get some regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming or cycling.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Importance of Shoulder Health

The shoulder is a very complex and important joint. Not only is it important to your training, but it is important in everyday life. Your shoulders play a part in just about every single upper body movement. Your shoulder can move in multiple planes of motion and perform multiple functions so any sort of limitation can be potentially dangerous and may even cause injury. But what makes shoulder mobility so important? How can you tell if your shoulders are adequately mobile and how do you address it if they aren't?

First, let’s talk about the general importance of shoulder mobility. One thing that needs to be understood when addressing shoulder mobility is that shoulder mobility itself also requires adequate stability of the scapula. Without a stable scapula, impingement can occur and your shoulder mobility and health could be compromised. But if your shoulders have too much stability, it can restrict your range of motion, affecting your ability to perform a wide variety of common movements in and outside of the gym. Speaking in terms of a gym setting, any overhead movement is going to be compromised by poor shoulder mobility. If you cannot get into a proper pressing position with your shoulders, you run the risk of putting unwanted stress on your shoulders in that position. This leaves a large amount of the shoulder structure susceptible to injury. Similarly, poor shoulder mobility can also affect your squat even though it’s a lower body movement. Hand placement in the squat will not only affect placement of the bar but also tension on your shoulders. The narrower your hands are on the bar in your squat, the better shelf you will have to place the bar comfortably; however, your shoulders need to be mobile enough for this narrow hand placement. Lacking that shoulder mobility can also potentially cause pain in the shoulders, regardless of hand placement. The list of movements affected by poor shoulder mobility can go on and on, but the idea is that you NEED proper shoulder mobility to safely and effectively perform a large majority of weight bearing exercises.

How do you know if your shoulder mobility is good enough? One of the most common tests performed to check for adequate shoulder mobility is called the reach test. To perform this, you will start with one arm high overhead and the other arm low at your side. Then you will bend each of your elbows in an attempt to have both of your hands meet in the middle of your back. You should repeat this on both sides. The goal is for your hands to be able to touch one another. If this is the case, your shoulder mobility should be considered good or even great if you can overlap your fingers. If your hands cannot touch, measure the distance in between your fingertips. If there is more than 2 inches between your fingers, you have some work to do to increase your shoulder mobility. 

If you discovered you have poor shoulder mobility, it should be made priority in your training to increase your shoulder mobility. But how do you improve it? Here are a few ways to improve your shoulder mobility that I've personally found to be helpful and I hope they work for you too!

Train your back muscles as much, if not more than your chest muscles. This will help prevent over-tightness of the chest which can cause forward rolled shoulders leading t poor positioning and a lack of mobility. I would argue that neglecting this is one of the primary causes of poor shoulder mobility and also one of the easiest ones to address.

Wall extension. For this, you will want your heels and back flat against the wall, the back of your hands to the wall and your elbows at a 90 degree angle. From there, try to reach up as far as you can while also keeping your arms pinned against the wall. This is an easily repeatable movement that you can do almost everywhere.

Door stretch. For this, you will walk through a doorway and grab each side of the doorway, walking forward so that your hands are behind you. You'll take a bit of a forward lean until you feel a good stretch in your chest and anterior shoulder.

“L-Arm Stretch”. For this movement, you will begin lying on your stomach with one arm crossed over your chest (you will be lying on your arm). From there, you will want to flatten your chest toward the floor to get a good stretch in the outside of the shoulder. Make sure to move in and out of this position a few times prior to holding the stretch.

Each of these movements should help improve your shoulder mobility. Continue to assess and monitor your improvements!

There needs to be a balance of stability and strength within your shoulder. Having both will help improve your movement quality and comfort as well as help keep you from getting injured when exercising. You also must be sure to assess your shoulder mobility. Do not make assumptions on your mobility just based on how you perceive you move, as you can potentially not notice poor mobility patterns if you have nothing else to compare it to. Whether you have low or high mobility, you should consistently monitor this. Poor mobility needs to be improved, while great mobility should be maintained!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Remedies For Dry Itchy Skin

1. Coconut oil
Coconut oil has emollient properties  
Emollients fill the spaces between skin cells, creating a smooth surface. That’s why the saturated fatty acids that occur naturally in coconut oil can hydrate and smooth the skin.
You can use coconut oil daily on even the most sensitive parts of your body. These include the area underneath your eyes and around your mouth. Another advantage of coconut oil is that you don’t need to mix it with anything. Coconut is gentle enough for substantial everyday use.

2. Petroleum jelly
According to a study petroleum jelly products can heal skin in older adults. Petroleum jelly, also known as mineral oil, covers the skin in a protective layer. It traps moisture underneath. This helps heal dry, irritated skin patches.

3. Oatmeal baths
Oatmeal is common folk remedy for irritated skin. A 2015 study showed why grandmothers and great-grandmothers have been recommending this home remedy for centuries: It works.
Colloidal oatmeal has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that soothe irritation. This remedy is especially effective if you’re seeking to relieve itching. After you’ve taken an oatmeal bath, make sure you moisturize your skin to lock in the barrier.
You can make an oatmeal bath at home. Use a food processor to chop oatmeal into a fine powder, then stir it into warm water. You can also try one of the many commercial products available to make an oatmeal soak.

4. Antioxidants and omega-3s
When your skin is dry, it means you’re exposing it to elements that are damaging skin cells faster than your body can repair them. There are some foods that can help your skin appear healthier, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Foods rich in antioxidants can minimize damage from toxins and help your body make healthy cells. Some of the foods that contribute to skin health include:
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, may also contribute to a glowing-skin diet.

5. Gloves
Hands tend to experience the most direct contact with environmental irritants. These include dish soap and laundry detergent.
Get in the habit of wearing gloves when your hands are in water. Your hands also take a lot of abuse when temperatures drop and you’re working outside in the cold.
Wearing insulated gloves while doing household chores, or when you’re outside in extreme temperatures can cut down on dry, irritated skin.

6. Adjust your shower temperature
The American Academy of Dermatology notes that relieving dry skin is sometimes as simple as changing your shower routine. While most people tend to take hot showers, these can scald the skin and cause damage.
And some soaps that claim to moisturize and repair the skin can cause the opposite effect. They can trigger allergic reactions and make the skin thinner with harsh chemicals.
Take short showers with water that’s warm, not hot. And look for soaps that are fragrance-free and gentler on skin than traditional soaps.

7. Use a humidifier
Keeping a humidifier in your home can help minimize the dryness caused by home heating systems. Though gas and electric heat strip moisture from the air, a humidifier set to 60 percent is enough to offset this effect, according to the Harvard Medical School. 

8. Avoid allergens and irritants
A sudden occurrence of dry skin might be connected to the clothes you’re wearing or what you’ve exposed your skin to.
Sitting by the fireplace, spending time in chlorinated or chemically-treated water, or even wearing wool clothing can all irritate your skin and make it feel dry. Check what you’re putting your skin through, and try to treat it gently.

It’s important to preserve healthy skin. Your skin is the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses. When your skin is compromised by itching, an infection can occur. You may want to incorporate a good moisturizer into your daily routine, even when your skin isn’t bothering you.
In fact, maintaining a healthy skin barrier daily is one of the best ways to prevent outbreaks of dry skin. Another essential skincare tip is to use a moisturizing sunscreen every day to prevent skin damage and dryness.
Make sure to wear loose-fitting, cotton clothing that draws sweat away from the skin when you’re exposed to high temperatures or skin-irritating conditions.
Remember that extremely dry skin can be an indication of a more serious condition. If home remedies aren’t helping, you may need to see a doctor to get a prescription treatment to relieve your dry skin.