How to Prevent Strength Training Injuries

In the Tivity Health Silver Sneaker newsletter, Lou Schuler shared that with a few simple precautions, you can get the results you want without taking unnecessary risks.

He write that the kid flying around the gym was in fantastic shape, no doubt about it. After lifting, jumping onto a stack of boxes, and running sprints while pushing a weighted sled, he barely looked like he was breathing hard. I’d guess he was 20, one-third my age, and as I watched him, all I could think of was how many parts of my body would explode if I attempted his workout.

It’s a lesson I learned the hard way—several times. All it took was a knee injury from jumping, pulled muscles from sprints, an injured elbow from lifting fast, and worst of all, a back injury from the time I continued lifting heavy weights even though I knew something was off that day.

You can learn from my mistakes, and from the advice of my friend Chad Waterbury, D.P.T., a physical therapist and veteran personal trainer based in Santa Monica, California.

“Any injury is avoidable,” Waterbury says. The trick, as I know all too well, is to understand what not to do before you do it.

Start by checking with your doctor before beginning a new fitness program. Then, follow these tips to ensure that avoidable injuries are actually avoided.

Watch Your Back and Shoulders

These are your two most vulnerable areas, Waterbury says, but for different reasons.

Lower-back injuries often arise from a lack of strength in the muscles of your hips and pelvis. “An older person might do the leg press to strengthen the glutes,” he says. But that movement only develops one function of the muscles: straightening your hips when they’re bent. The glutes also are responsible for pulling your legs away from your torso and outwardly rotating your thigh bone.

The best exercise for those functions, Waterbury says, is the side step with a miniband. Put the band around your thighs, just above your knees, and take long steps to the side. He recommends doing band walks for a minute or two twice per day, making sure to do the same number of steps in each direction.

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4 Genius Hacks to Ease the Burdens of Aging

technology designed to ease the burdens of aging. While problems with motor skills may seem like minor inconveniences, when they affect your ability to maintain your health, eat, or use the bathroom, they attack not just your quality of life, but also your dignity, Hougan says.
“I’ve really started looking at an idea of designing for dignity,” he says. “It encompasses both the functional issue and the aesthetics.”

The problem with a lot of existing technology geared toward older adults is that, while attractive, it can seem too advanced and be left unused, says Leslie Kernisan, M.D., M.P.H., a geriatrician in San Francisco and founder of That’s what happened when she tried a Wi-Fi-enabled blood pressure cuff with her patients.

Lower-tech solutions that are well designed are often much more useful in addressing real needs, Dr. Kernisan says. For example, if you have any concerns about falls in the home, many people know that the ideal solution is to put up grab bars, especially near the tub.

“That’s great, but it can take a little effort to do,” she says. “It turns out there are these small grab handles that work with suction cups, and a lot of people say this has worked very well for them—they put it in the bathroom or take it when they travel,” she says. “One woman said she was also using it to lift up a window more easily.”

Simple products like these that solve everyday problems can be a big help. And they often involve off-label uses, like the window-opening trick. Experts call them product hacks. Here are four that can help ease some of the small burdens associated with aging.

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How to Lift Weights to Lose Weight

Writer and editor CINNAMON JANZER posted on My Fitness Pal that most people think you have to spend hours on the treadmill to lose weight, but more research is showing that building muscle through strength training is the way to go. “It’s a really well ingrained myth that running at a low intensity for long periods of time is the way to lose weight,” explains Amber Ellison Walker, a NASM certified personal trainer at I Think I Can Fitness in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “I used to work at a gym and that’s exactly what we were supposed to tell people, but now there’s research that shows that burning fat is about using energy and the most efficient way to use energy is to strength train,” Walker notes.

Some of the research she’s talking about is Bill Evans’ work. A professor in the Department of Medicine at Duke University and the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology at UC Berkeley, Evans explains that strength training is key to losing weight because it builds muscle mass. “As our muscles get bigger, they trigger protein synthesis, which requires calories. The result is a sustained burning of calories and an increased metabolic rate,” Evans explains. “During aerobic exercise, we use more calories while exercising, but quickly return to our base metabolic rates afterwards,” he adds.


Even if you haven’t been a weightlifter before, Evans’ work on sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass associated with aging) proves it’s never too late to start. “Our research demonstrateshow resilient muscle is even in 50- and 60-year-olds and beyond, and that muscle is astonishingly responsive to exercise,” he notes.

It turns out that strength training is ideal for people with busy schedules or people who aren’t inspired to work out more than a couple of times a week, because that’s all you need. Many of Evans’ studies have participants strength training just three days per week because “muscles need time to recover — you don’t need to exercise them every day,” he explains. This study, focusing on women, required just two days per week, concluding that the routine is “behaviorally feasible for busy midlife women.”

“Another thing we’ve seen is that previously weak people become more active when they get stronger because they’re able to do things like climb stairs more easily,” Evans adds. Read more

Keep your baby sleeping safely

Amita Health Adventist Medical Center GlenOaks recently attained the Gold Safe Sleep Champion Certification for demonstrating a commitment to reducing infant sleep-related deaths by promoting best safe sleep practices and by educating parents and providers on infant sleep safety.

eanne Mitchell, BSN, RNC, director of obstetrical services at Amita Health Adventist Medical Center GlenOaks, shares these important tips to keep your baby sleeping safely:

• Always place your baby alone, on his or her back, in a crib for every sleep time.

• Use a firm, flat sleep surface. A crib, bassinet, or portable crib/play yard that conforms to the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission is recommended.

Parents and providers should check to make sure that the product has not been recalled. Cribs with missing hardware should not be used, and the parent or provider should not attempt to fix broken components of a crib, because many deaths are associated with cribs that are broken or have missing parts (including those that have presumably been fixed).

• Because there is no evidence that bumper pads or similar products that attach to crib slats or sides prevent injury in young infants, and because there is the potential for suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation, these products are not recommended. Read more

Tender Exercises for Arthritis Sufferers

Roger Sims from shares that arthritis sufferers experience joint pain that can make some physical movements difficult. You may worry that exercising with arthritis will only intensify your pain and possibly cause more joint damage.

Research shows that staying active and engaging in exercise can be helpful for maintaining mobility and managing pain. During exercise, there may be some initial mild pain that will recede as you start to improve your muscle strength, joint lubrication, circulation, and range of motion.

If you have arthritis and plan to use exercise as part of your wellness plan, participate in activities that will still be gentle on your joints.

As you use exercise to manage arthritis, start with the more gentle options and increase your activity over time to check your limits. If you experience moderate or severe pain, take a break from exercise and possibly consult with your doctor.

This guide highlights some of the best exercises for arthritis sufferers.

Flexibility Exercises

Exercises for flexibility allow arthritis sufferers to maintain or extend their range of motion. These gentle stretching movements can help ensure your joints will extend through their full motion. Stretching also helps to keep joints lubricated, which further enhances your range of motion.

Flexibility exercises are recommended for daily use. If you are using an exercise routine, stretching is a necessary warm-up.

During a stretching session, start with dynamic or active movements. Dynamic movements mimic those in particular sports activities. For example, if you intend to go running, practice some lunging movements as part of your warm-up.

Use gentle and rhythmic movements as part of a dynamic warm-up stretching session. These dynamic movements will prepare the body for activity by increasing blood flow and muscle temperature. Practice stretch and hold movements only after an initial five-to-ten-minute active warm-up.

Stretching at the end of an exercise session will also be helpful for flexibility. During this time, your muscles are still actively ready for this type of motion.

One great flexibility exercise is yoga. This is slow and gentle. It can help to increase your range of motion and does not place much stress or pressure on your joints. You may also find it emotionally relaxing, which also provides great body benefits. Read more

Tired all the time?

Samir Undevia, MD, a Specialist in Medical Oncology, wrote for Edards-Elmhurst Health writes that if you are  feeling colder than usual, getting tired more easily or dealing with drier-than-normal skin, these are all symptoms of hypothyroidism. Almost 5 out of 100 Americans have hypothyroidism. It’s a common medical condition yet millions of people are currently hypothyroid and don’t know it.

The thyroid gland — the small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck — releases hormones that control your metabolism and the way your body uses energy. Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone to meet your body’s needs.

When your thyroid hormone levels are too low, your body starts slowing down. Symptoms of hypothyroidism are often subtle and not specific, and may include:

  • A decreased appetite
  • Dry skin, hair loss
  • Sleepiness
  • Muscle pain or joint pain
  • Depression
  • Mood changes, mental impairment or forgetfulness
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision, decreased hearing
  • Fullness in the throat, hoarseness

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5 Clever Exercises to Do from Your Wheelchair

Roger Sims from shares that continuing to exercise into your senior years can be a challenge, as the aging process can naturally make you less energetic and less mobile. This is particularly true for wheelchair users, as this further limits your options for exercise and other physical activities.

However, this does not mean you must resign yourself to a sedentary lifestyle, as there are many exercises that are both beneficial for your health and suitable for those with impaired mobility.

The benefits of staying active into your senior years are enormous, helping to combat many medical conditions and diseases, such as muscle wasting, osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, and dementia. Staying as fit as possible is also beneficial for improving mental health and maintaining independence, as well as boosting your immune system, vitality, and energy levels.

Regular exercise can improve your quality of life in many ways, keeping you healthier, happier, and more energetic well into your later years. Although wheelchair users have fewer opportunities for participating in physical activity, there are several ways to overcome the hurdle of limited mobility and achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Mobility equipment can be of great use to wheelchair users with some leg function, as it can make walking short distances and performing exercises from a standing position possible. However, there are also many highly effective exercises that can be performed from a seated position.

Here are five clever exercises to do from your wheelchair, which can all be of great help in strengthening your body and boosting your health.

Seated Cardio Workout

Cardio is a great exercise for burning calories and getting the blood pumping, promoting a healthy cardiovascular system, and helping to prevent illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. You may think that an effective cardio workout requires a high level of mobility, but there are plenty of ways to raise your heart rate from a seated position.

Experiment with exercises such as “picking fruit,” in which you raise alternating arms one at a time over your head, “chair marching,” where you raise one arm in time with the opposite leg before switching sides, as though you were marching in place, and rowing motions.

These are all great actions for an effective cardiovascular exercise routine and should be performed daily. Starting off small by dedicating ten minutes each day to cardio is a great way to begin, and you can increase the time you spend doing it as your fitness grows.

There are several excellent seated exercise videos available online which are easy to follow, and developed by personal trainers to deliver the best and most effective cardio workout from a seated position. Read more

4 Ways to Promote Healthy Living as You Age

Roger Sims from shared that people are living longer, and the aging process can present some challenges to people who do not nourish and look after themselves well.

Aging has been associated with a decline in mental and physical health. This fear comes from losing independence, becoming a burden on family, and needing long-term care. However, there are many positive ways to look after yourself as you age and live a good quality of life.

Healthy Eating – The goal of eating is to nourish your body well so you can maintain your mobility and activities of daily living. Healthy eating supports a good quality of life.

Healthy eating is all about finding balance with your eating behaviors. Most people know about the dietary guidelines, yet have difficulty with eating well.

The dietary guidelines recommend people eat whole foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables, protein foods, and dairy to maintain and improve health. Eating well can also prevent certain health conditions.

Eating intuitively is an important strategy to eat the foods your body needs. Overall, intuitive eating helps you to eat when you are hungry, stop when you are mostly full, and choose foods you feel like. Therefore, intuitive eating is key to meeting your nutrition requirements.

As you age, life’s circumstances can change and may affect your ability to source a variety of food, prepare it, and eat it.

Poor or reduced appetite is a common challenge experienced, especially in people who are not well. A decrease in appetite can be a problem. Without adequate awareness of appetite, food intake tends to decrease. If left untreated, a decrease in dietary intake can lead to unintentional weight loss and subsequent loss of muscle mass. This loss of muscle mass affects mobility and, therefore, activities of daily living and quality of life.

There are key nutrients that the aging population needs to be aware of to support their health.


Energy is essential for regulating normal physiological processes maintaining life. Energy in food gives you the energy to do activities of daily living and helps you to feel less tired in the process.

  • Protein is important for maintaining muscle mass.
  • Calcium helps to maintain bone health.
  • Bone health and immune system require vitamin D.
  • Fiber helps to maintain bowel health and regularity.

Eating enough energy foods and getting enough protein are the most important activities when loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss is experienced. Energy foods and protein help you to prevent or treat malnutrition. Malnutrition is a frequent cause of death in the older population living in the community and in residential aged-care facilities.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is showing promising signs in delaying premature aging with its antioxidant properties. Supplementing the diet with vitamin C appears to extend life and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Read more

Does your teen want a tattoo?

Lisa Black wrote for the American Academy of Pediatrics that like them or not, tattoos and piercings have entered the mainstream as a fashion phenomenon.

Children can spot them on celebrities, sports heroes, their baby sitters and baristas, so it is no surprise that teenagers might start thinking about making their own personal statement through ink or piercing.

Before they make that decision, young people are encouraged to talk with their doctor to review the possible consequences and potential risks associated with permanent tattoos, piercings and other body modifications.

That recommendation comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which published its first clinical report on tattoos in September.

Pediatricians recognized the popularity of body art and the need for doctors — and their patients — to understand the health and social ramifications.

“Tattooing is much more accepted than it was 15 to 20 years ago,” said Dr. Cora C. Breuner, an adolescent medicine specialist and chair of the AAP Committee on Adolescence, and the lead author of the AAP report. “These services have come a long way, safety-wise, but it’s best to proceed with caution.”

When counseling teens, Dr. Breuner urges her patients to do some research, to think hard about why they want a tattoo, and where on their body they want it.

While societal acceptance of tattoos and piercings has increased, there may still be repercussions. In a 2014 survey, 76 percent of 2,700 people interviewed said they believed that a tattoo or piercing had hurt their chances of getting a job.

Each state’s tattooing laws vary, but at least 45 states have laws prohibiting minors from getting tattoos, including Illinois. Thirty-eight states have laws that prohibit both body piercing and tattooing on minors without parental permission. In Illinois, minors can get a piercing with written permission from a parent or legal guardian.

The AAP recommends:

• If you are considering a tattoo, make sure all of your immunizations are up-to-date, and that you are not taking any medication that compromises your immunity.

• Before getting a tattoo or piercing, make sure the salon is sterile, clean and reputable. The facility should be regulated by the state and provide clients with information on how to care for the area that has been tattooed or pierced afterward. The facility should practice infection control just like at the doctor’s office.

The AAP also recommends teens talk with their parents before getting a tattoo or piercing.

“In most cases, teens just enjoy the look of the tattoo or piercing, but we do advise them to talk any decision over with their parents or another adult first,” said Dr. David Levine, a co-author of the AAP report. “They may not realize how expensive it is to remove a tattoo, or how a piercing on your tongue might result in a chipped tooth.”

Laser removal of tattoos can range from $49 to $300 per square inch of treatment area.

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Do this, not that when exercising

Joshua Steckler, owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning, and nutrition shared in the Daily Herlad Newspaper that any exercise is better than no exercise, but if you’re taking the time to work out, make sure you’re choosing exercises that will truly improve your health and fitness.

Below are some exercises that are too commonly performed in hopes of measurable results, but often lead to injuries or disappointment. A better alternative is given for each exercise.

Plank vs. crunch

The crunch with hands behind the head is a staple exercise in many people’s abdominal routine, but there are just so many better options out there.

Lying on the floor and pulling the head forward while rounding the torso a few degrees may create quite a muscle burn if done long enough, but it does not strengthen the core as many may think.

Crunches performed incorrectly can actually strain the neck and accentuate poor posture.

Instead of the crunch, try any version of the plank. Read more