Sleep to preserve you hard earned muscle mass

We all know that sleep is extremely important, but even more so when we are trying to maintain and improve our muscle mass and strength.  Did you know that poor sleep can negatively influence our muscles?  With poor sleep, we see catabolism (break down) of muscle mass!

So consider the following to help ensure that your sleep quality and quantity are the best they can be so you can make the most of your strength training:

  • Maintain a consistent bedtime and waketime
  • Decrease fluids in the evening
  • No big meals 3 hours before bedtime
  • Limit screen time before bed

Avoiding Falls in Icy Weather

With the changing weather (freeze-thaw and winter storms), now is a good time to think about safety when out and about. Obviously, when weather is extreme, and conditions dangerous, it’s best to stay indoors if you can. But you can prepare yourself for when you’re ready to go out again.
Walk like a Penguin
Maintain basic fitness. While it’s tempting to hide on the sofa under a blanket, keeping up with moderate regular exercise is important preparation for poor conditions, especially exercises that can be done safely indoors, and those which boost your balance.
Wear good shoes. Warm shoes with rubber soles will help keep feeling in your feet, and give you better grip on outside surfaces.  Consider ice clamp-ons to put over your winter footwear for added traction.
Warm up your muscles before you go out. Take 5 minutes or so to move your arms, legs, head, to get the blood flowing. Warm muscles make it easier to balance and respond to challenges than cold, stiff ones.
Protect your vision. Being able to see hazards like icy patches will help you. Make sure you take prescription (sun)glasses with you if necessary.
Think like a penguin. If surfaces are wet or icy, take smaller steps than usual, and widen your stance slightly. This helps keep your center of balance within your base of support. Keep your knees soft to make it easier for your muscles to react to unexpected changes.

Source: Zibrio, the balance company


Thank you to all of you who took the time to complete the survey I sent out last week.

I am incredibly impressed at how many of you are out walking almost everyday!! With everything we are being told we should not be doing during this pandemic, walking is the one thing we all seem to be out doing, maybe because there is nothing else to do?

I personally love walking, especially with my 2 dogs, Aya and Harry. They make sure I never forget to get my daily walk.

Here are some great tips from McMaster Optimal Aging on How to Make Walking More Fun.

Try Nordic walking

Nordic walking is a type of walking using poles that look like those used in cross country skiing. This form of walking exercise originated in Finland where it was developed as a summer conditioning program for cross-country skiers. It is beneficial in that it involves not only the muscles from your lower body, but also those from your arms and upper back to move the poles. Research has shown that Nordic walking (when compared to regular walking) burns more calories and is perceived as less strenuous.

Listen to music while you walk

When you’re walking and you hear a catchy song, does the music encourage you to step up the pace so that you’re moving in time to the beat? Listening to music while walking has been shown to help improve walking speed and “gait” (pattern and manner of walking) which are important for optimal aging. Choose music you like with a distinct and steady rhythm, making sure the volume still allows you to hear traffic and other noise around you.

Walk with someone else in your household

Walking with others can be effective at improving blood pressure, heart rate, body fat, fitness, and walking speed, among other benefits. During the pandemic, it is not recommended to gather with others outside of your household, but if you live with others, walking with those in your household can help motivate you. While on your walk, remember to maintain a safe distance of 2 meters from people outside of your household.

Use wearable technology to record performance

Wearable technologies, including simple pedometers to multi-function devices, are popular among people trying to lose weight, become fit, and improve their overall health. They can track your distance and heart rate and encourage you to be more active. If you’re an avid walker or are looking for something to keep you accountable, a wearable device could help.

Walking is a relatively easy way to stay active – it doesn’t require any fancy equipment or a gym membership to do. If you are looking for ways to make it more interesting, try Nordic walking for a full body workout, or walking to music to increase your pace. If you are looking to track your performance over time, a wearable device can help.  

For the original article click here

Here is a great video describing the Gift of Walking from

Very worth the watch!

Trouble Sleeping? Exercise Could Be the Solution

Exercise will help you get more and better sleep. Whether it’s walking, running, weightlifting, yoga … it doesn’t really matter. Studies are clear that regular, moderately intense exercise improves sleep length and quality.
After 65, sleep issues can increase accidents, falls, cognitive decline, depression and more. 

Here are a few tips for restful nights.

  • Don’t exercise too close to bedtime, since it can stimulate your brain and raise your body temperature, changes that can keep you up.
  • Maintain bedtime routines and schedules.
  • Get some sunlight every day.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark and free of electronics.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon and too much alcohol close to bedtime.
  • Don’t drink much of anything as bedtime approaches; it could make you need to get out of bed.
  • Talk to your doctor about chronic issues. You could have sleep apnea or another serious but treatable disorder.

Our whole family (even my teenage sons) now wear a sleep mask when we go to bed to ensure that extra dark sleeping environment – I must confess it is a game changer!! I am an early riser (with the sun) and it allows me to sleep a little longer or at least until my alarm goes off.

Best sleep mask ever – according to my shift working husband:

Manta Sleep Mask – Click here

February Is Heart Month

Fours Ways to reduce your risk of Heart Disease:

Modify your diet to reduce cholesterol
Consider a more plant based diet that include nuts, plant-based proteins, soluble fibre, and plant sterols.

Make exercise part of your daily routine
Include some form of fitness into your everyday routine (walking, yoga, strength training etc.)

Be aware of hidden heart risks in your medicine cabinet
NSAIDs can increase the risk of heart attack, with the level of risk tied to the type of NSAID, how much is taken, and for how long. This doesn’t mean you should stop taking them altogether, but understanding their risk is important when assessing whether they are needed.

Lower your salt intake
Salt is a major source of dietary sodium and consuming too much sodium increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, and in particular, high blood pressure. 

For more details check out the following link from the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal

7 Reasons to Lift Weights Later in Life

Here are seven more countless reasons why “older” people should be lifting weights.

  1. It is good for cardiovascular health. Resistance training lowers blood pressure, bad cholesterol and inflammation.
  2. Resistance training relives anxiety and tension.
  3. It helps improve our self-esteem and keeps us from thinking we are weak.
  4. It can improve memory and mild cognitive impairment.
  5. Strength training is effective at treating the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes. It reduces fasting glucose and improves overall glycemic control.
  6. Weightlifting helps us recover from hip fractures.
  7. It boosts our metabolism, in addition to burning fat and building muscle. So we are also using more calories when we are resting and sleeping.

All older adults should participate in weight training a minimum of 2-3 days a week.

Mental Health – Let’s Talk

Every January Bell Let’s Talk is a day devoted to ending the stigma around mental health issues and continuing an important conversation with those close to you.

This pandemic has created even more awareness around mental health issues and the importance of connection.

McMaster Optimal Aging has compiled a few evidence-based strategies to help you strengthen your mental well-being now, and long-after the pandemic has passed.

Of course I am a big fan of “Get Moving” and the benefits of exercise on our mental health as well as our physical health!

Participating in a group class has also been a great wait to stay socially connected, but unfortunately we are unable to come together in the gym. Believe it or not, connecting and participating through technology and a Zoom class can help you feel more connected to others and we do try and have some laughs along the way. So don’t be shy and give it a try!

Click here to read the full article and other strategies offered my McMaster Optimal Aging.

Top Foods to Fight Inflammation

Foods that fight inflammation - Harvard Health

Inflammation is a natural body function that protects us from injury and illness. If it goes on too long, it can become harmful, especially among “older” adults. Chronic inflammation is linked to a wide range of health issues, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression and Alzheimers’s.

Foods that flight inflammation include:

Olive Oil
Vegetables such as broccoli spinach, kale, collards
Almonds, walnuts and other nuts
Fatty Fish (salmon, tuna, sardines)
Fruit including berries, cherries, apples, and oranges
Green tea, possibly coffee
Turmeric, ginger, garlic, chia seeds

How much of the above list you can get into your daily and weekly dietary intake.

Exercise – It’s the Law!

Last week the province of Ontario entered a state of emergency and sent everyone the above Emergency Alert on their phones to ensure everyone got the message. A stay at home order is in effect and we are only to leave home for 4 essential purposes:

  1. Food
  2. Health Care
  3. Exercise
  4. Work

As a Fitness professional I love this message – we need to exercise, it is essential to our health and well being and it is being recognized as such in this message! Yes, we cannot exercise in the gym together, but we do need to exercise!!

The World Health Organization recently released a new set of exercises guidelines for keeping fit during quarantines and lockdowns.

Guideline For Adults

According to WHO stats, one in four adults are not getting enough physical activity. Adults between the age of 18-64 years old should do anywhere between two and a half hours to five hours of moderate-intensity physical activity. Alternatively, they can also do one and a half hour to two and a half hours of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week.

The same advice applies to adults who are 65 years and older. Adults in both categories should also undertake muscle-strengthening activities at moderate or greater intensity two times a week. However, for adults older than 65 years, they should also do exercises that improves their balance and prevent falls. Walking alone is not enough.

Leading an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle can cause all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality and cancer mortality and incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes and puts you at greater risk of death from COVID-19

The Journal of American Geriatrics recently released a Call for Action due to risk of increased inactivity during the COVID-19 outbreak in people over the age of 59.

Before the pandemic the average persons step count was 6,000 per day.

During a 14 day stay at home quarantine, the average step count dropped to just 1,500 steps per day. That is a 75% decrease! That resulted in 4% reduction in fat free body mass (i.e muscle tissue) and an 8% loss in muscular strength!

The truly frightening part of this is that a 2 week of post-rehabilitation training sessions failed to rebuild the lost muscle!

We all need to be taking this time to ensure that we are getting our daily exercise. Walking alone is not enough. Ensure that if you are walking that it is a brisk walk with a rate of perceived exertion of 6-7 out of 10. We also must include a minimum of 2 days/week of strength training and some balance.

Have you fallen out of your exercise routine and need to get going again? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Join one of our Zoom classes
  2. Check out my YouTube channel for some great workouts to do at home on your own
  3. Send me a message for some individualized help for things you can do while safely staying at home.

Remember to get your daily exercise in – it’s the law and it’s good for you too!

Take Care of Yourself

Watch this ad, Take Care of Yourself, produced by DocMorris of Germany. The short video follows a man who is deciding to do just that … take care of himself.

It’s wonderful, and it never gets old. The video inspires all of us … young or not-so-young … to get up and work hard to take the necessary steps to improve our overall health.

Loosely translated from German, the advertisement’s description says: 

“This year is the best gift of all that we are fine and healthy. That is why your health is also a matter close to our heart. So that, especially at Christmas, you can take care of what really matters in life: to spend carefree time with your family and loved ones. DocMorris wishes you and all your relatives a happy and unforgettable celebration. Stay healthy!”

The Year 2020 has been a challenging one, but one I believe has made many of us appreciate our health more than any other year. Enjoy your holiday season and celebrate your own health as we hopefully turn the corner to a brighter and even healthier new year.