The Wonders Of Walking

Walking is recognized by many in the fitness industry as one of the safest and most effective forms of exercise.  It is also functional, as most of us walk every day. Walking will burn calories, improve our mobility, enhance our mood and help decrease aches and pains. So where to start? Here are some walking tips:

  1. If you are new to walking, start slowly. 10 minutes at a time is recommended, building up to 30 minutes if possible.  Begin at a pace that is comfortable for you. Too much too soon can lead to injury.
  2. Find a time of day that works best for you. There is no perfect time to exercise. Find what works in your schedule.
  3. Choose the right shoes for you. There are many options out there.  Speak with a qualified shoe professional or get advice from your doctor.
  4. Along with a walking program, don’t forget strength training. Strengthening your muscles will help with overall activities of daily living, as well as enhance your walking program.
  5. Have fun! Walk with a friend or your dog!  Enjoy the sunshine! Wear a pedometer to track your steps and see how you progress.
  6. Stretch at the end of your walking session.

Information from the Arthritis Foundation

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Why we should care about our waist size.

Waist size is an important indicator of health. If your waist is larger than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men, you may need to lose a few inches if you want to reduce your risk of disease. Your waistline should be less than ½ of your height. For example, if you are 68 inches tall, your waist should be about 33 inches or less. To get a proper reading, place a tape measure around the largest part of your waist. To lose weight it is recommended that you combine strength training and cardiovascular activity (such as walking) in addition to eating a balanced diet.

Source ACSM, American College of Sports Medicine 2010

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Exercise Outside and Enjoy the Scenery

Exercise Outside and Enjoy the Scenery

Exercise is good for us no matter where we do it. But recent studies have shown that there may be added benefits to exercising outdoors.

What are some of the differences and how might we benefit?

  • One reason is the terrain. A slope outside is different from a treadmill, requiring more use of our ankles to help us balance and move. We also expend more energy and burn more calories outside due to wind resistance.
  • Another benefit to exercising outside is that it can be less of a chore. You can enjoy the scenery, soak in the sunshine and breathe more deeply, enjoying your exercise experience more than being inside.

So think of moving your exercise outside a few times a week if possible. Take a walk, dust off the snowshoes or cross-country skis. Connect with nature. You’ll be glad you did.

Information referenced from WELL magazine; February 2013

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How To Keep Our Bones Beautiful


Our beautiful bones provide the structure for our bodies. They hold us up and, along with our muscles, allow us to move. Bones are as strong as iron yet light as wood. Bone is a dynamic tissue that undergoes constant remodeling. Our bone mass peaks between ages 20 and 30 then progressively deteriorates after that. Our goal is to keep our bones strong and intact so that we may live a vital, healthy life.

For aging populations, exercise is critical to strengthen bones and prevent fractures. According to Dr. Kohrt, Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Colorado, studies have found that physically active people had a 40-percent less risk of hip fracture than those who are sedentary. So what type of exercise is best?

Evidence-based studies have shown that walking, running and jumping are as effective as weightlifting to increase bone density. Also, people will see more results if they increase the intensity of their workout. For example, power walking instead of strolling. But any activity is better than none.

So get up off the couch and get moving. Go for a walk or pick up a weight. Your bones will love you for it.

Sources: AFAA Longevity Training for Seniors; and Dr. Wendy Kohrt, University of Colorado

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How To Keep The “HO HO HO” In The Holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. But the holidays can be very stressful as well.  Things to do. People to see. So many expectations to make this holiday season the best one ever. Don’t let stress ruin your holiday fun.

The Mayo Clinic offers some suggestions to help us successfully cope and enable us to enjoy this special time of year.

  1. Set realistic expectations. Let go of the idea that the holidays have to be perfect or bigger and better than previous years. Enjoy time spent with loved ones, set new traditions, be flexible with what may happen. Live in the moment and be grateful for what we have.
  2. Plan ahead. Set aside time for shopping, baking and other activities. It will help us to feel more in control and more able to enjoy the special holiday moments.
  3. Stick to a budget. Financial stress is especially poignant this time of year. Expensive gifts are not important. It’s the thought that matters. Be creative. Make a homemade gift or donate to a charity in a loved one’s name.
  4. Take care of yourself. Take a short walk outside. Practice yoga. Just sit and breathe. Remember, we need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others.

Have a happy and healthy holiday season!

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3 Exercises to help with Activities of Daily Living

I have been fortunate to work in the fitness industry for over 30 years, most recently with active seniors here at Seabury. In my experience, the 3 most important exercises to keep seniors fit and active would be; squats, pushups and balance training. Why these particular exercises? The short answer is these 3 exercises help with activities of daily living.

The squat is the motion we do when we get out of a chair or off the toilet. Very functional movements indeed! Developing and maintaining leg and core strength is vital to keeping us active and independent, and a squat really delivers. The squat works all the major muscles of the lower body (quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus and calf muscles) as well as engaging and activating the core. It is the Cadillac of all exercises!!

The push up works some important muscles of the upper body (pectoralis major, anterior deltoid and triceps), as well as engaging and activating the core. We use the pushup muscles when we push away from things; away from the table, for example. Pushups can be done standing or on a mat.

Last but certainly not least are balance exercises. We know falls can be devastating and we must try to avoid falling to protect one’s quality of life. Practice standing on one leg while at the kitchen sink, or at the grocery store; anywhere that you have something sturdy to hold onto. Balance is a learned skill and must be practiced to be maintained.

Any certified fitness professional should be able to properly teach these exercises mentioned here. So please keep squatting, pushing and balancing for good health and longevity!!

Cindy Senk

Seabury Fitness & Wellness Center Supervisor

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Flexibility for Seniors

As the human body ages and flexibility declines, the importance of a flexibility program increases. Flexibility training, along with strength and cardiovascular training, is a very important component of a physical fitness program. Flexibility is defined as the ability to move a joint through its complete range of motion (ROM). A decrease in ROM will limit the ability to perform activities of daily living. For example, a loss of ROM in the shoulder joint will limit the ability to reach up into a cabinet to grab a can of soup. Another, more serious example is loss of ROM in the muscles of the hip. This loss of ROM can limit the ability to recover from a fall.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends seniors perform flexibility activity at least 2 days per week, and of moderate intensity (5-6 on a scale of 1-10), based on your individual threshold. The activity should be a static stretch, held in position for as long as one is able, without a bouncing movement. The program should be about 10 minutes in length and focus on major muscle groups (i.e., neck, shoulders, upper and lower back, pelvis, hips, and legs). Stretching should be done to the point of mild tightness without discomfort and the stretch should be held between 15 – 60 seconds in duration.

Matt McGowan BS, ACSM-HFS

Seabury Health Fitness Specialist

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Exercise and Stress

Stressed Out?

Are you feeling like you’re wound just a little too tight these days? Do you feel like you have too much to do and not enough time to do it? Try making the time to exercise! A little exercise goes a long way when it comes to stress relief. Too often do we reach for the wrong things – food, alcohol, drugs, etc – to cure our woes; however 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity provides the most natural way to relieve stress and tensions.

How exercise helps:

  1. It increases your endorphins:
    • Physical activity decreases our stress hormones, such as cortisol, and pumps up your body’s production of the feel good neurotransmitters called endorphins, mainly Dopamine, Adrenaline and Serotonin. During exercise, these endorphins are released, and this can produce feelings of euphoria and a general state of wellbeing.
  2. Natural Meditation:
    • When you exercise it can take you away from the daily grind and help you focus on nothing except your body’s movement. It’s a great way to get away from the stresses of daily life for a short while, and can calm your mind.
  3. It improves your mood:
    • Exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Helping to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety can also improve your sleep, which in turn helps you get the proper rest to reduce your stress levels as well.

      A fitness class at Seabury can be a great stress reliever.

Always remember to consult with your doctor, start slow, and ask for help. Give exercise a chance to be your stress relief solution!

Brian Harris ACSM-HFS

Fitness and Wellness Coordinator


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DJ, 82, Aims To Indroduce Younger Generation To Ballroom Dancing

From the Miami Herald:

An 82-year-old DJ wants to introduce the joys of ballroom dancing to a younger generation.

Miguel Melgar, 82, is on a campaign to bring back ballroom dancing to Miami. He uses this DJ Console for events. When he isn’t spinning tunes, Melgar is playing tennis or tutoring math students.



Sweetwater resident and disc jockey Miguel Melgar started ballroom dancing in New York when he was 15 years old.

More than 60 years later, his passion and love for the art couldn’t be any bigger.

Melgar, 82, is on a mission: He wants to get the next generation to put on their dancing shoes at social clubs and enjoy ballroom dancing while enjoying contemporary music.

Miguel Melgard

“I want to attract a younger crowd through the music I play,” he said.

The electronic engineer received his master’s from the University of Florida and has lived in Sweetwater since 1978. He plays music for ballroom dancing at social clubs, parties and social events.

“I’ve been told that I am the only DJ who dances to his own music,” he said on a recent weekend while playing cha-cha music.

During parties, he brings his DJ console, mixer, power supply, speakers and compact disc player, and he’s assembled his own equipment. Depending on what people want to jam to, he prepares a CD for the events.

He spent roughly $3,000 on his DJ console. He has music of all types, including cha-cha, salsa, swing, polka and much more. To him, price for a gig is not a big deal.

“This is my hobby,” he said. “This is like a guy who smokes, but my habit is this. I don’t worry about expenditures.”

Melgar started his hobby as a disc jockey 17 years ago when he saw attendance at a local Miami Polish social club decline.

He became director of music there and decided to implement a rule that artists and DJ’s could only play contemporary music from 10 p.m. to midnight. When he first started, he saw the club go from 300 people to 70. But when the changes were made, it was a different story.

“The attendance doubled,” he said.

He vowed from then on to lead a campaign to inspire younger generations to enjoy ballroom dance. Melgar, who is also a math tutor, said he wants to get those in their 50s and 60s back on the dance floor.

The active tennis player said he charges reasonable prices and always takes his wife, Mary Melgar, to all of his gigs. She looks forward to dancing with him.

“People always comment about his music, and they say, ‘That was good music,’ ” she said. “We dance together all the time.”

Miguel, whose favorites are swing, cha-cha and Polish polka, has a couple appearances lined up this year, including one in May.

He said the secret to his active life is lots of healthy eating and tennis.

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Are you Drinking Enough Water?

As the weather gets warmer and outdoor activities become more frequent, it is important to make sure that you are drinking plenty of water. The standard amount of water an adult needs is 8-16 ounce glasses per day, or 64 ounces.

Don't forget to drink water every day!

That number should certainly increase as you are exercising outdoors in hot, humid weather. The more you sweat, the more water you should drink. For instance, it would not be uncommon for an individual playing 18 holes of golf in hot weather to lose as much as two pounds through sweating, and therefore, you should drink more water to compensate.

Older adults tend to have less water in their bodies than a younger adult of the same weight, as well as a less sensitive thirst mechanism. This makes it even more important for the older adult to replace water that is lost during excessive sweating. So this summer, as you’re enjoying the warm weather, make sure you are staying adequately hydrated. The best way to stay hydrated is to make sure to keep a bottle of water with you when participating in outdoor activity in the heat, and don’t wait until you are thirsty to start drinking water.

Matt McGowan BS, HFS-ACSM

Seabury Fitness & Wellness Specialist

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