Article How a powerful wake-up call got me back to fitness

Wake-up call

I’m sure you’re familiar with the term ‘wake-up call’.

Not the one where you organise someone to call you when you need to wake up at a certain time.

The one involving an experience where you realise something in your life has to change.

In this article I’ll be talking about the life-changing kind of wake-up call I experienced 13 years ago, the day after my 44th birthday.

Excited but nervous

The plan for this day on this trip was to walk the Ben Lomond Track, out the back of Queenstown in New Zealand.

And I had been nervous from the moment it was written in the itinerary.

All the descriptions of the walk that I’d read said ‘challenging’ and I wondered if I could cope.

My (now ex) husband was super-excited about this hike, so I kept my concerns to myself and was supportive and enthusiastic about the walk.

In my world, there is not much that can top the feelings I experience when I see magnificent landscapes and expansive views of natural wonders.

I was looking forward to the scenery with trepidation about my physical capability to manage the walk.

It was hard

You can walk the Ben Lomond Track all the way from Queenstown, but the initial extremely steep section can be accomplished by taking an enjoyable gondola ride to a tourist attraction.

At the top of the ride there are fantastic lookouts over Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables and other surrounding ranges.

We went there to see the views and start the hike which would afford us even better vantage points.

The walk was uphill and consistently steep.

I had to stop frequently to take deep breaths and blow my nose.

It was windy and I always get a runny nose when it’s windy.

It should not have been so hard

While I was stationary, I looked back and enjoyed the continually expanding views.

It was truly amazing and I was grateful to be experiencing the visual splendour.

I distinctly recall goats grazing along the way and fit people overtaking me on the track.

While the views were phenomenal, I felt increasingly depressed with how hard I was finding the walk.

Even shedding tears at one point.

Could the fact that I’d turned 44 the day before be playing a role in how I was feeling?

Yes, it was.

Getting out for a challenging walk to see a view was something I loved to do and wanted to keep doing.

I was only 44 and once upon a time a fit runner, it should not have been so hard.

I did not complete the hike

We came to a saddle where the track was more exposed to the wind and it got quite cold despite the summer season.

From that point it was still another 1 hour climb to Ben Lomond Peak.

We pressed on, but I had to stop after a total of 2 hours continuous uphill walking.

I sat behind a rock and sheltered from the wind while my (now ex) husband continued to conquer the peak.

All I could do while I waited for him was enjoy the view, which was spectacular with snow-capped peaks to one side, the glorious blue Lake Wakatipu on the other and lovely grassed alpine slopes in between.

I waited there for about an hour for him to return.

He told me how fantastic the view was from the peak while we ate our packed lunch.

Making a vow to myself

I was shivering in the cold and needed to get moving, so we started the return journey as soon as we finished eating.

Walking down the track was much easier on the ticker, but still hard on the legs.

While I didn’t complete the hike, by the time we got back to the start I had done 4 hours of tough walking.

Rather than any sense of accomplishment though, not completing the walk had crushed my ego and missing out on the summit left my soul wanting for the view and the rush.

And what I did manage to complete was just bloody hard.

While I was waiting behind that rock I saw several people, even a couple who looked much older than me, charging forward to get to the peak.

Cringing with embarrassment as passers-by asked if I was okay, I vowed that things would be different on my next hike.

Answering the call

Over the two years or so after my mid-life crisis on the Ben Lomond Track, I managed to get back into running, albeit irregularly, and handled subsequent hikes much better.

However, it’s only since I started regular strength training that I have felt the most ease on scenic adventures and other physical challenges.

And it’s only in my 50s that I have reached peak strength which has supported me to attain my highest level of endurance fitness.

I was a late starter with exercise and I’ve only been very consistent since my late 40s.

I’m a great example of ‘it’s never too late’ when it comes to fitness

There were glimpses of motivation for physical activity when I was a kid but trying different sports and doing them regularly was not encouraged.

I did grow up in a family with ten children, so there was a lot going on without my parents having to taxi us to extra-curricular activities.

Most things we did as kids, sporting or otherwise, were facilitated through school.

At high school we had lots of options to choose from and I tried and enjoyed different things, including judo(!), but repeatedly signed up for ten pin bowling or roller skating.

I was a very good roller skater! If I do say so myself 😊

After high school and throughout my 20s I dabbled in the odd fad like aerobics and gym circuits, eventually settling into ‘power walking’ but I didn’t realise the magic of higher intensity exercise and how great it can make one feel until the age of 30 when I became a runner.

Awakening what I had known for a while

The struggles my dad faced with progression of heart disease and declining mobility were already evident when I took up running.

Witnessing his difficulties, even back then, and knowing they could be avoided through better health may have been subconscious motivation to improve my fitness.

It became conscious motivation that day on the Ben Lomond Track.

I distinctly remember thinking that I did not want to end up like my dad and if I didn’t do something, that’s where I was heading.

Do you have a wake-up call to answer?

The answer to a wake-up call is not a quick one.

I could not properly answer mine until I found something motivating that I could sustain and make exercise a habit.

If you need someone to guide you in answering your wake-up call, book a call with me to see if I have a solution for you.

Book a call with me using the link below

https://calendly.com/katerowen/discovery-call

Are you starting from scratch with physical activity?

If you’re not doing any exercise or need a way to ease into increasing physical activity, try my FREE daily warm up video series.

Learn more and get started here https://bit.ly/NiceAndEasyNewHabit

EVEolution™

To learn more about how you can empower yourself to exercise safely through all stages of your female life, check out the EVEolution™ page on my website.

Keep in touch

Please reach out to me if anything in this article resonates with you.

You can email me at kate@fiftyfitness.com.au or connect via social media.

I’m on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

You can have a read of my previous blogs here 🙂

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Kate Rowen

Article How I learned that underwear is the best foundation for exercise

Exercise clothing choices

There are so many things to consider when getting organised for exercise.

Once we’ve discovered our compelling reason for doing it and deciding that it’s going to be a regular part of life, there are all the practicalities to get sorted.

When, where and what – just for starters.

Then we must get dressed and go.

Let’s start with underwear

I believe everyone should wear what makes them comfortable with consideration to the type of exercise chosen. If you are going to swim, for instance, then you’ll need appropriate attire.

In this article I’m going to focus on foundation garments and how they support our efforts to exercise.

An exercise wardrobe fail

This is a story from years ago when I was getting back into exercise, long before I became a personal trainer.

I arrived home from work with just enough time to change and get to the park for my regular group outdoor training session.

I was absolutely loving this form of exercise that I’d found and was super pumped.

Work clothes off, exercise clothes on.

I was in a hurry

It was a bit of a rush because I’d lost track of time, staying in the office to knock over some jobs on the to do list.

Rushing is not my preferred way of operating.

I like to take plenty of time to consider what I’m doing and do it properly.

So, I was pretty stoked with my effort to get to the park on time for the session.

Oh dear!

It was about five strides into the warmup jog when I realised the consequence of my rushing.

The outfit I’d worn to work that day clearly called for shiny knickers.

You know the ones, I’m sure you have them too.

You wear them so your fitted pants slide up easily or preventing your dress from clinging to your undies and wrecking the silhouette.

Shiny knickers

Shiny knickers are essential for these purposes, but terrible to wear under exercise tights.

My undies were the only article of clothing I had not changed in the rush.

What a comical session, hitching up my tights every few moves because they kept sliding down, unable to get any kind of grip on the shiny knickers I was wearing.

Shiny knickers do not go with exercise tights

While I found this experience mostly funny, I was a little embarrassed and it could have derailed my efforts to get back into exercise.

If you’re facing the challenge of starting and sustaining a new exercise habit, I want you to avoid this possible pitfall.

Thinking about what you’re going to wear before exercising might make it a little less daunting.

My tip: when getting dressed for exercise, think about your choice of undies.

It took a few repeats of this experience for me to learn that shiny knickers do not go with exercise tights.

Breast bounce

I am saddened by the number of times women tell me how the discomfort and self-consciousness associated with breast bounce limits their exercise choices.

I want everyone to have access to the widest range of movements possible and having a well-fitted and supportive sports bra can make all the difference.

My exercise bra procurement strategy

Whenever I’m in the market for a new exercise bra, I head off to a store that has a fitting service and get professional help to find the best one for me.

When I find a great bra, I record the details somewhere for future online purchases.

When a favourite model goes out of production I go back for fitting again, but I make a day of it and have a nice lunch while I’m out.

This strategy eases the trauma of bra shopping to a certain extent.

I have a problem with bras

All forms of bra shopping, and wearing for that matter, are nightmarish for me because of the disparate sizes of my left and right breasts.

Yes, I know what you are saying right now, ‘everyone’s got one bigger boob, Kate’.

Well, mine are very different.

Again, I hear you saying, ‘they can’t be that different’.

Well, they are.

I need you to appreciate how different they are

If both of my breasts were the size of my smaller one, I would describe them as average, and I would feel comfortable wearing a wider range of clothing to my current choices.

If they were both the size of my larger one, I would describe myself as ‘fuller busted’.

I wear D – DD bras to fit my larger side.

They are very different, but I’m cool with that

It’s important to note that I’m comfortable with my unusual breasts and would not do anything to ‘fix’ them, they are not broken.

I embrace the oddity and even love them, but I need you to appreciate how different they are.

The people who tell me I’m normal and my boobs can’t possibly be that different have simply never seen them at close range, like the lady who did my first mammogram.

Expert acknowledgement of the disparity

I attended the breast screening clinic feeling nervous about having to put my strange breasts well and truly out in the open.

My smaller breast was the first one to be analysed and I forewarned the technician that the other one was much bigger.

I received the usual response about everyone being like that and it’s totally normal, but when she saw it and held it in her hands her eyes popped as she gave a little gasp and remarked, ‘that’s a lot bigger’.

It was nice to have my lived experience validated by someone who clearly knows breasts.

So, I have special needs when it comes to bras in general

The cup size must accommodate the larger breast but then there is much trial and error to find a style with minimal crinkling of the cup on the small side.

I’m very grateful to the extremely professional bra fitters who have helped me over the years.

I have two kinds of sports bra, one for general fitness activities and a special one just for running.

Don’t limit your exercise choices

My girls need high level support for running and my go to bra is like Xena warrior princess armour.

It even creaks.

If I can find sports bras that accommodate my odd breasts and support me to run, my hope is that there’s a suitable one out there for most of us.

They are expensive for sure, but it’s like an investment.

With a great bra on your side, you can have a crack at anything you want to try.

Every time I fasten the clips of my Xena armour and go for a run, I feel strong and powerful, like a warrior princess.

Wear what makes you comfortable and happy

What goes over the non-slip undies and supportive bra is entirely up to you.

Apart from supportive training shoes and any requirements related to the type of exercise you’re going to be doing, wear whatever makes you comfortable and happy 😊

Free resources at fiftyfitness.com.au

Did you know that I have a bunch of FREE resources on my website?

I’ve developed them to help over 50s get started or return to exercise.

You’ll find a workbook with 10 things to consider when you’re considering exercise.

There’s a home workout that requires no equipment.

And TWO video series. One to help you develop a daily warm up routine. The other provides tips on how to care for your pelvic floor while you workout.

So much goodness available for FREE!

Click the link to check them out.

EVEolution™

To learn more about how you can empower yourself to exercise safely through all stages of your female life, check out the EVEolution™ page on my website.

Keep in touch

Please reach out to me if anything in this article resonates with you.

You can email me at kate@fiftyfitness.com.au or connect via social media.

I’m on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

You can have a read of my previous blogs here 🙂

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Kate Rowen

Article Outdoor exercise – are there real benefits or is it just a preference?

At FiftyFitness I offer an outdoor group exercise service for local over 50s called ‘Get Fit Outdoors’.

My gut feeling is that people who join mainly do so because it’s a personal preference to exercise in the fresh air.

This is the vibe of what outdoor exercisers say to me in conversation, and it’s certainly my preference as a runner.

Trying to cover even a few kilometres on an indoor treadmill is horrendous for me, but I love myself sick running outside.

Doing weights and strength training in the gym, however, suits me just fine.

The thing about my gym though is the HUGE windows with views of the sky, a lovely green playing field and a nearby park.

That view may play a role in my performance of those indoor workouts and there may be more to outdoor exercise than just personal preference for fresh air.

Research shows that there are real benefits for exercising outdoors

As a PhD scientist, I know where to look for valid research and found an interesting article from the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Benefits to Performance and Well-Being of Nature-Based Exercise: A Critical Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Henrique S. Brito, Eliana V. Carraça, António L. Palmeira, José P. Ferreira, Veronica Vleck, and Duarte Araújo. Environmental Science & Technology 2022 56 (1), 62-77. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.1c05151

Key point about this article

The value of this article is that it’s a study of many studies, a systematic review of 49 published articles and meta-analysis of a subset of 24.

These terms describe research methods used to evaluate and bring together findings from several studies.

Suffice to say that I’m very comfortable to share the findings reported in this article.

‘Nature-based’ exercise – more than just outside

The review study is about ‘nature-based’ exercise because it includes simulated outdoor environments and indoor spaces with natural features along with outdoor activities.

The gym where I have a great view of outside, therefore, may be considered ‘nature-based exercise’.

I certainly enjoy being able to see nature when I’m in the gym, often choosing a machine or a position on the floor so I can look out the window.

Overall conclusion – greater benefits for exercising in nature

The study compared several effects related to both exercise performance and well-being between indoor and nature-based exercise.

The overall finding was that nature-based settings may improve exercise performance.

Outdoor exercisers generally report less perceived fatigue and higher levels of energy and arousal.

Well-being measures such as levels of stress and mood are more positively impacted by nature-based exercise.

Limitations & proposed explanation

The limitations of the analysis are clearly acknowledged by the authors of the article.

One relates to the lack of information about the context of nature-based exercise in the studies analysed, and I’ll say more about this shortly.

The proposed explanation for improved performance is a synergistic effect, where the benefits of exercise are enhanced by doing it in nature-based settings.

Outdoor environments being less predictable and more engaging may also contribute to enhanced exercise performance.

Outdoor exercisers that I know – what do they think?

I recently surveyed FiftyFitness Get Fit Outdoors group exercise participants to gather feedback, learn about what works for people and areas of the service that I could improve.

Big thanks and gratitude to my clients for taking the time to complete the survey. I value your responses and feedback tremendously.

One of the questions asked participants directly about the benefits of outdoor exercise for them:

Do you think there are specific benefits to exercising outdoors? If yes, note what these are for you here.

  • Being outside as I have an indoor desk sitting job, fresh air, new spaces, mentally helpful.
  • I am not a fan of working out indoors – I feel it is too stuffy and crowded. And I love watching the sunsets during our sessions.
  • Enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.
  • Exercising outdoors is so much nicer than in a gym. You can hear the birds singing as you exercise.
  • It is lovely when the weather is good and the morning sun is warming on the cold mornings.
  • I know there are benefits to exercising outdoors i.e. vitamin D from the sun, being grounded within nature…
  • In a gym I get bored but outside you’re still with other people but in the fresh air feels better.

Rather than identify specific benefits related to exercise performance and well-being measures like the study I described above, FiftyFitness participants describe their experience of it more generally and in terms of how it makes them feel.

It seems they just prefer exercising outdoors.

I also asked:

What do you most enjoy about participating in Get Fit Outdoors group exercise? And least enjoy?

References to being outdoors pop up a lot.

  • …getting outside, being with others, variety.
  • Working with Kate in an outdoor environment.
  • I enjoy being outside when the weather is nice, and it is a really nice start to the day.
  • It’s great to be outdoors exercising with other people

Context is also important

A clearly stated limitation of the review study was a lack of information on outdoor exercise context in the individual research experiments included.

Being part of a group may play a role in the positive impacts.

Note how two of the responses above mention being with other people in their ‘most enjoyed’ aspects.

What about least enjoyed aspects?

I also sought feedback on the least enjoyed aspects of Get Fit Outdoors group exercise.

Some of the least enjoyed things also relate to being outdoors and seasonal changes that impact the experience.

  • Least enjoy – mosquitos.
  • Getting up when it is cold and wet.
  • I least enjoy the cold mornings.

The review authors also mention a lack of information about environmental conditions in the individual studies analysed for their article.

Weather conditions and insects can certainly make outdoor exercise a negative experience.

However, it’s generally a positive experience for FiftyFitness Get Fit Outdoors participants.

And I carry a large can of insect repellent in my kit.

Here are some other things they report

  • Enjoy the variety of exercise sessions. Enjoy group sessions.
  • I enjoy the activities.
  • I most enjoy how I feel for the rest of the day, knowing that I have done something good for myself.
  • Least enjoy getting up at 5am to do the early class, but feel great when the sun comes up at 6am 😃

Come and join us

Do you live around the suburb of Success, south of Perth in Western Australia?

Are you over 50 and need to increase your physical activity?

Exercising outdoors with a small group of friendly over 50s is a great way to get moving.

What’s involved?

We do a combination of strength and cardio (huff & puff) exercise each session.

My focus is strength for over 50s and I don’t expect people to do the cardio at excessive intensity.

Everyone goes at their own pace and level, and I can provide variations to suit individual needs.

We use a variety of equipment such as dumbbells, bands, balls, ropes and mats, as well as structures in the lovely park where we meet.

There is a bit of running but it’s not compulsory 😊

The overall aim is staying mobile and strong so we can enjoy life and do the things we love now and forever.

Learn more about Get Fit Outdoors

If you’re lucky enough to live around the suburb of Treeby, south of Perth in Western Australia, you can try our over 50s outdoor exercise group. Check out this link to learn more.

Keep in touch

Please reach out to me if anything in this article resonates with you.

You can email me at kate@fiftyfitness.com.au or connect via social media.

I’m on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

You can have a read of my previous blogs here 🙂

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Kate Rowen

Article How my birthday provokes reflection and a little sadness for my dad

I still get excited about my birthday

I recently turned 57 and I still get excited about my birthday.

Not because I love getting gifts – they are totally not my love language.

There’s something about having a birthday so soon after the new year that reinforces my excitement about a fresh new year ahead.

Thinking about my dad

But my birthday has also become a time of reflection and thinking a lot about my dad.

You see, it was barely a week after my birthday four years ago, that I journeyed back to Queensland because it was clear that my dad was nearing the end of his life.

Not an easy end to a long and engaged life

Although my dad, Patrick Charles Rowen, lived to the grand age of 90, his later years were extremely difficult for him.

He was an intelligent character who loved to socialise – his nick name was ‘have a chat Pat’ – and he lost no mental acuity with age.

However, physical decline made it increasingly difficult for him to engage with the world in the way he wanted and his discomfort with all of this was awful.

Love for learning

Dad was a prolific reader, driven by a desire to learn and know and try new things.

His expansive general knowledge and recall of facts amassed through reading were astounding.

He had a pastime and side gig of beekeeping and honey production and although he had an apiary mentor, he was largely self-taught through books and journals on the subject.

Multi-talented

Dad could turn his mind and talented hands to anything he wanted to try.

A brilliance for woodcraft grew out of his career in carpentry.

He was a prolific maker of magnificent cabinets, coffee tables, jewellery and blanket boxes, many of which included complex inlays and marquetry.

There are several reminders in my house of items dad turned on the wood lathe like decorative bowls and cups, even pens and knife handles.

He used some of his honey to make mead and there was also a stint of homebrewing beer.

Anything dad wanted to try, he just read about it and gave it a go.

I look like my dad – a lot

I’ve always been aware of my likeness to my dad.

People have told me how much I look like him since I was a little kid and I see it myself when I look in a mirror.

I even have the same physique with broad shoulders, skinny legs and a beer barrel abdomen.

The resemblance is concerning in one respect – have I inherited his health problems along with the physical characteristics?

I’m not just concerned – it terrifies me

Dad had his first heart attack at the age of 57 – I just turned 57…

He made some changes immediately after this episode, losing weight through dietary modifications and starting a walking program.

These changes were not lasting though, and the trajectory seemed to be set.

He went on to have angina, further heart attacks, heart valve disease and eventually, heart failure and minor strokes.

Risk factors inherited

Dad had high blood pressure and I already know that I inherited this heart disease risk factor, despite being an extremely fit and healthy person.

I wrote about this in a previous blog that you can check out through this link.

High blood cholesterol is another heart disease risk factor I’ve apparently inherited from dad – not as severe as dad’s but marginally high. Again, despite my active lifestyle and largely healthy eating habits.

Things you need to know before you get sick

Like many people, dad did not go to the doctor for health checks, only making appointments when he was sick.

I’ve realised that he may not have known he had high blood pressure and cholesterol until the time of that first cardiac turn in his late fifties.

These are modifiable risk factors for developing heart disease, but they can be present for years without symptoms before precipitating an acute episode.

We can only know we have these risk factors through regular check-ups when we still feel well.

Progressive decline

The saddest part of dad’s story is how his progressive physical decline came to impede his mode of interaction with the world – reading, learning, knowing, participating, socialising, doing.

His cardiovascular disease likely contributed to failing eyesight which stymied his prolific reading and beloved daily ritual of doing both standard and cryptic crosswords in the Toowoomba Chronicle.

He used many magnification devices over the years and kept trying as long as possible before it was just too hard.

Heartbreaking limitations

Mobility issues, caused by both heart disease and osteoarthritis, were the worst thing to witness.

The distance he could walk before becoming breathless grew shorter and shorter, while joint pain and stiffness limited him even more.

Maintaining mobility can help with osteoarthritis and prevent falls, of which dad had some doozies, but it’s hard to keep moving when you’re out of breath before too long.

An unfortunate catch twenty-two.

The combination of failing eyesight and mobility problems eventually stopped dad doing his beautiful woodwork even though he was desperate to keep it up.

Did it have to be so hard?

Dad’s heart disease, while it may have been inevitable due to genetic predisposition, would have been mitigated through a healthier life that included exercise.

With a healthier cardiovascular system, he could have moved more and better managed his osteoarthritis.

Maintaining strength and mobility would have meant taking part in more of the things he loved and a better quality of life for much longer.

My dad’s experience is central to my inclination for exercise

If I live to be in my nineties, which is highly probable, I want to live well and be able to do everything I want to do.

I do not want to be limited and suffer through my final years like poor dad.

This is my ‘why’, my deep and personal motivation for exercise.

Vision & Mission

Watching my dad struggle and not be able to live the life he wanted was truly sad.

It’s in my power to avoid his fate and I do that through exercise and healthy living.

But I don’t just want this for myself.

Here are my vision and mission for FiftyFitness.

Vision

Empowering over 50s with knowledge and inspiration to embrace fitness, feel great and enjoy top quality of life now and forever.

Mission

To provide informed and empathetic fitness services and education for over 50s that will change their approach to exercise and make it a prized part of life.

Why?

Because I believe we can be over 50 and better than ever!

Are you starting from scratch with physical activity?

I know that the idea of starting with exercise is daunting for people not currently active.

I have the perfect entry point for starting with physical activity with my free video series.

Click the link to learn more and see how it can be easy to get started.

https://bit.ly/NiceAndEasyNewHabit

EVEolution™

To learn more about how you can empower yourself to exercise safely through all stages of your female life, check out the EVEolution™ page on my website.

Keep in touch

Please reach out to me if anything in this article resonates with you.

You can email me at kate@fiftyfitness.com.au or connect via social media.

I’m on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

You can have a read of my previous blogs here 🙂

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love others in the FiftyFitness blog. I share a new article twice each month.

Complete the form below to subscribe and get my latest articles straight to your inbox.

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This blog was written by

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Kate Rowen

Article Happy new mindset – swap resolutions for fresh thinking in the new year

It’s that time of year

A fresh new year is the time when many of us think about aspects of our lives we’d like to change and make resolutions accordingly.

Resolutions about exercise are very common because we all know that exercise is good for us and something we should do.

But stating resolutions doesn’t mean we’ll follow through.

This is okay, we are all human and setting resolutions is an inherently flawed process.

There’s a different approach we can take to make the changes we desire.

Happy new mindset

Rather than a happy new year, I wish you a happy new mindset.

Swap out resolutions for a new mindset about exercise, a fresh way of thinking about it.

In this article I’ll take you on a deep dive about mindset, starting with what it is.

What is mindset?

You probably get the vibe of what mindset is from the word itself, but let’s have a look at some online dictionary definitions to make it clear.

  • A person’s general attitudes and the way they typically think about things – Collins Dictionary
  • A mental attitude or inclination / a fixed state of mind – Merriam-Webster
  • A fixed attitude, disposition or mood / an intention or inclination – Dictionary.com
  • A way of thinking about things – Macmillan dictionary
  • A person’s way of thinking and their opinions – Cambridge Dictionary
  • A set of attitudes or fixed ideas that someone has and that are often difficult to change – Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

The overall understanding I get from these definitions is that mindset encompasses our attitudes towards and the way we think about different things, such as exercise.

I don’t agree with the notion that mindset is fixed or hard to change, it depends on the type of mindset as you’ll see below.

Research on mindsets and fitness

The scientist and educator in me likes to find research reports to learn more about topics and I found this article about mindsets and fitness.

Mindsets applied to fitness: Growth beliefs predict exercise efficacy, value and frequency

The authors describe two types of mindsets applied to their study.

Fixed mindset

A fixed mindset is a belief that our talents and traits are stable and not readily changed.

Growth mindset

Opposite to the fixed mindset, a growth mindset is the belief that our attributes can vary through learning and practice.

Moreover, people with a growth mindset tend to persist to overcome barriers and setbacks.

A mix of mindsets

The authors also point out that it’s possible to have a mix of fixed and growth mindsets across various aspects of your life.

I have a fixed mindset about being minimalist and not having much stuff in my house, while my attitude towards fitness is most definitely a growth mindset.

Key finding

The major finding from this study was that participants with a growth mindset reported greater frequency of exercise.

Related to this correlation between growth mindset and exercise frequency were measures of ‘self-efficacy’ and ‘self-value’.

Self-efficacy

  • The extent to which individuals pursued physical activity in the face of obstacles.

An example of this could be keeping a regular exercise commitment despite having a stressful and tiring day at work.

Self-value

  • The extent to which being an exerciser is part of an individual’s identity.

Identity is a key factor in mindset. In this context, we’re more likely to have a growth mindset for exercise if we see fitness and physical activity as part of who we are. This is certainly the case for me.

Attitudes towards and how we think about exercise

My biggest lesson so far as a personal trainer is realising the different attitudes people have towards exercise.

Knowing that exercise is something we should do – and we all know this – doesn’t mean that we do it.

It’s our thinking and attitudes that either motivate us to exercise or turn us off it.

The most common turn offs

These are the most common attitudes I find that turn people off exercise.

  • Exercise is not a priority / not seen as self-care
  • An onerous commitment of time is required
  • Exercise is a big deal and must be hard to be beneficial
  • An ‘all or nothing’ approach
  • Not seeing yourself as an exerciser

And making a new year’s resolution to exercise will not overcome any of these.

Fresh ways of thinking about exercise

Here are a few suggestions that might help you consider a different perspective:

  • The first paradigm shift to try is seeing exercise as something we can do to nurture ourselves – physically, mentally and emotionally.
  • Once you make nurturing yourself a priority, practical solutions to the problem of how to fit exercise into your life will become apparent.
  • You don’t have to do something punishing. Start by going for a 10 minute walk and build from there – gradual progression is key to sustainability.
  • Try changing ‘all or nothing’ to ‘all or something’ – if you’ve only exercised once in a week or two, then that’s something! Don’t beat yourself up or give up completely if stuff happens and you don’t get to do everything you intended.
  • See yourself as an exerciser. Look in the mirror and say to yourself ‘I am fit and healthy’ or ‘I am an exerciser’. Alternatively, close your eyes and visualise partaking in a fun physical activity or something you’d love to try.

My top tip for a different exercise mindset

If you’ve heard me give a talk or read my blogs and social media posts, you’ll see this message pop up a lot:

The only reason we need to exercise is to feel better!

Try exercise as a mental break from your daily demands and a chance to blow off some steam.

While you’re exercising just to take a break and feel good, all the benefits to physical and mental health – all the reasons we should exercise – just take care of themselves.

As Shannon said in a google review:

I felt down for some time, and that getting into exercise was a big thing. But now I ascribe to the FiftyFitness view that it’s about feeling better. I feel better, I look forward to my session, and when I wake up that day I realise it’s exercise day and I feel better already! Not only that, I’ve been inspired to find other activities to add to my life regularly to ‘feel better’, Taiko Drumming being the next off the rank.

Free resources at fiftyfitness.com.au

Did you know that I have a bunch of FREE resources on my website?

I’ve developed them to help over 50s get started or return to exercise.

You’ll find a workbook with 10 things to consider when you’re considering exercise.

There’s a home workout that requires no equipment.

And TWO video series. One to help you develop a daily warm up routine. The other provides tips on how to care for your pelvic floor while you workout.

So much goodness available for FREE!

Click the link to check them out.

Keep in touch

Please reach out to me if anything in this article resonates with you.

You can email me at kate@fiftyfitness.com.au or connect via social media.

I’m on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

You can have a read of my previous blogs here 🙂

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love others in the FiftyFitness blog.

I share a new article twice each month. Complete the form below to subscribe and get my latest articles straight to your inbox.

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Kate Rowen

Article That was unexpected! Six major influences that affected my path in 2023

That was unexpected!

This year has turned out nothing like I expected – in both good ways and bad.

I started the year with clear intentions for both personal and business growth, but everything went out the window very early in 2023 and the year took a completely different path.

It’s a reflective time of year and I’m a reflective type of person.

In this blog I’ll share my personal story of six major influences that had a big impact on my life in 2023.

1. I lost my brother

The wheels came of my well thought out 2023 bus very early when my brother, Mark Andrew Rowen, passed away in February.

Mark had been through 9 years of cancer and horrendous treatment for it, so we all knew that day was coming. It didn’t make it any easier though.

I reflected in a blog post at the time how exercise helped me get through that difficult period.

Writing that article was also cathartic.

However, my grief did trigger a period of poor mental health.

2. Getting help with poor mental health

Grief progressed to profound feelings of unworthiness and low self-esteem. I don’t know how.

I had the insight to realise these beliefs about myself were holding me back from being happy and fulfilling my potential, but I had no idea what to do about them. I needed help.

Getting professional help with my poor mental health this year has been a major game changer.

I had counselling with a psychologist and worked with a mindset coach.

A big lesson in 2023 for me is that mental health takes planning and effort to maintain, just like physical health.

I take great care and organise my life to eat well and exercise for my physical health.

Throughout this year I’ve developed new habits to have better mental health too.

3. Listening to podcasts while driving

This might seem like a weird thing to list as a major influence on my life this year, but this small change of habit has had a massive impact.

People would often tell me about the great podcast or audiobook they’ve been listening to, and I would scratch my head and think to myself, ‘when the hell do people listen to podcasts?’ or ‘when the hell would I listen to a podcast?’…

Like many people, I spend a reasonable chunk of my life behind the wheel of a car.

But I was squandering that time getting impatient with other drivers holding me up by going under the speed limit. This often meant yelling my frustration into the void, which is a pointless thing to do.

I always listened to the radio in the car, trying to hold on to some youthful trait by tuning into triple J.

One day it dawned on me that I could listen to podcasts in the car and this has changed my life in the best possible way.

I’m learning so much from the podcasts I follow and get frazzled with the traffic only occasionally.

4. Epic trip to Europe

What can I say about the European trip with my partner, Pete, in the middle of the year?

I shared some of it in a blog post about it being a break from regular exercise routines but still very active.

I had a couple of issues to work through before embracing this trip though.

It was originally planned for 2020 when my life was completely different. I had a full-time job as a chemistry lecturer and was simply going on leave to take the trip.

Three years down the track when we could eventually go, I was still in the start up phase of my fitness business and having to shut it down for five weeks to skive off to Europe.

On top of that I was grappling with low self-esteem and feeling like I didn’t deserve to be going on such a holiday. I was racked with guilt.

With the help of coaching, I changed my mindset about the trip and approached it from a place of adventure and gratitude. It truly was a trip of a lifetime!

5. Deciding to get married!

Pete and I have been together for a long time (almost 7 years!), but we have never lived together.

Until this year, the longest time we had spent together was three weeks on an awesome trip to England in 2019.

Compared to day-to-day life, we had a lot more time for conversations during the five weeks we spent together in Europe this year.

The idea of getting married had only been broached in a vague way before, but we actually had a chance to discuss it more seriously when it came up while we were away.

The conversation continued upon return, and we decided soon after that we would tie the knot.

We’ve announced our intention and it’s very exciting, but have no idea when it’s going to happen yet 😊

6. Reviewing health and fitness habits

I could probably write a several articles on this factor alone, and I will pick up some of the points I make here in blogs next year.

The best podcast I’ve found since I started listening this year is ‘The Proof’ with Simon Hill.

It’s about the science of health, nutrition and exercise and I highly recommend it.

Through this podcast I came across Dr Stacy Sims, researcher, co-author of Next Level and an absolute legend whose mantra is ‘women are not small men’.

If you’re an active woman in perimenopause or post-menopausal, you simply must read her book, sign up to her blog/newsletter or follow on socials.

I am making changes to my nutrition and exercise routines based on what I’ve learned from Dr Stacy Sims. I’m still learning and will share more about things I’ve implemented in due course.

Having had some struggles with mental health this year, I’m developing a mindfulness / stillness / meditation practice. Call it what you will.

I’m not quite doing it daily, but most days I take time out (20 mins) to be still and focus on breathing.

That’s it. It’s very helpful.

Unexpected influences on personal growth

These six major influences that affected my path in 2023 certainly included things I’d rather not go through. But they have all contributed to significant personal growth.

I was recently asked to pick one word that would describe this year for me.

I chose journey. This year has taken me on a journey – literally and emotionally.

And I have grown.

Free resources at fiftyfitness.com.au

Did you know that I have a bunch of FREE resources on my website?

I’ve developed them to help over 50s get started or return to exercise.

You’ll find a workbook with 10 things to consider when you’re considering exercise.

There’s a home workout that requires no equipment.

And TWO video series. One to help you develop a daily warm up routine. The other provides tips on how to care for your pelvic floor while you workout.

So much goodness available for FREE!

Click the link to check them out.

Keep in touch

Please reach out to me if anything in this article resonates with you.

You can email me at kate@fiftyfitness.com.au or connect via social media.

I’m on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

You can have a read of my previous blogs here 🙂

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love others in the FiftyFitness blog.

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Kate Rowen

Article Exercise for men over 50 – the top reason to do it and the benefits that follow

Fitness for ALL over 50s

I’ve been focussed lately through my professional development on the needs of my over 50 women clients when it comes to exercise.

However, I’m truly passionate about helping ALL my over 50 contemporaries get more out of life through fitness.

A big component of my mission with FiftyFitness is to help men over 50 find ways to enjoy exercise and fit it into their busy lives.

In this article I’ll explain my top reason for men over 50 to exercise and the benefits that will naturally flow on.

Are you ready for this?

My top reason for men over 50 to exercise…

YOU WILL FEEL BETTER

That’s it, just exercise to feel better.

  • Unwind & de-stress
  • Feel energised
  • Feel less stiff
  • Have some fun

Take the pressure off yourself to exercise for other reasons, just focus on enjoyment and taking a break from your daily demands.

Here are a few of the benefits will flow on.

Mental health

The higher risk of men dying by suicide is well known.

Men suffer from mental health problems just as much as women, but societal structures the world over disadvantage men from good outcomes.

Exercise has so many benefits for your mental health. To name just a few:

  • The good feelings you get from the hormones released in your body during exercise
  • Taking time out from your stressors
  • Connecting with other people

My personal number one reason for exercising is that it makes me feel happy and energised.

I want as many over 50s as possible to enjoy that benefit alone.

Osteoarthritis

  • Degeneration of joint cartilage and the bone beneath
  • Also known as ‘wear & tear’ arthritis
  • Makes the joints stiff and sore
  • Affects 22 % of people over 45 and incidence increases with age

This is a great infographic about osteoarthritis from the Australian Physiotherapy Association.

Point 3 of the 5 listed is that exercise is safe and recommended for osteoarthritis.

I wrote about osteoarthritis and running recently.

Here is the link to that article if you missed it 😊

Prostate cancer

  • Most diagnosed cancer in men
  • Risk increases with age

Only people who are biologically male have a prostate gland, which is located at the base of the bladder. It surrounds the urethra, the tube for urine to pass out of the body from the bladder.

Urinary problems are a late sign of prostate cancer and there are no symptoms in the early stages.

Fortunately, there is a blood test called the PSA (prostate specific antigen) that can help with diagnosis. Talk to your doctor about when you should have a PSA test.

The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age, particularly after 50.

While the Cancer Council state that there are no specific measures proven to prevent prostate cancer, they do advocate physical activity to reduce the risk of developing cancer generally.

Osteoporosis

  • A condition that weakens the bones
  • Much more prevalent in women, but men suffer from it too
  • Risk increases with age
  • Possible side effect of hormone therapy for prostate cancer

Exercise is one of the things we can do to protect ourselves from developing osteoporosis.

Weight bearing exercise in particular – think of activities involving running, jumping and moving the joints against resistance rather than swimming or cycling.

While the physiological reasons for this are complex, the combination of forces on bones during weight bearing exercise enhance bone density.

Cardiovascular disease

These are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels.

The main examples we are most familiar with are stroke, heart attack and heart failure.

  • Key risk factors are high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Our risks for developing these increase as we age
  • Cause of death in men more than women

The Heart Foundation have put together some key information with great visuals here.

I think that most people are aware that we can mitigate some of our risks for developing cardiovascular diseases through increased physical activity.

Now that you’ve seen some of the health benefits, I want you to go back to my number one reason to exercise.

YOU WILL FEEL BETTER

Just enjoy the feeling and be reassured there are other good things happening too 😊

An attainable way to get started

If you need an easy way to get started with increasing your physical activity, this free video series is for you.

You will learn a series of 9 dynamic stretches one at a time with a daily email from me containing a video demonstration and explanation.

Once you know all the moves you can do them in 5 minutes every morning to free up your body, improve your mood and feel energised for the day ahead.

As you gain motivation to increase your physical activity, the daily routine will become the warmup for your workout.

Learn more and get started here https://bit.ly/NiceAndEasyNewHabit

Once you’re warmed up you can try this workout

This workout can be done in the comfort of your home with no equipment.

Fit it into your busy schedule by starting with the 10-minute option. That’s right, just 10 minutes!

It’s a great way to get back into exercise after a long break.

This energising and attainable workout includes a warm up, strength workout and optional cardio finisher, all with clear video demonstrations.

No need to wait any longer. Follow the link to learn more and start feeling great!

https://bit.ly/FiftyFitnessBodyweightWorkout

Keep in touch

Please reach out to me if anything in this article resonates with you.

You can email me at kate@fiftyfitness.com.au or connect via social media.

I’m on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

You can have a read of my previous blogs here 🙂

Subscribe

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Kate Rowen

Article Are creaky knees holding you back? How to keep running with osteoarthritis!

I love running and I have osteoarthritis

I am also a nerd, so it should come as no surprise that I sometimes read about running.

Being a runner with osteoarthritis, I was thrilled to find this great research article about running and osteoarthritis.

In this blog I’ll be sharing with you the main points of the research article.

What is osteoarthritis?

Most people have an idea of what osteoarthritis is, but it’s worth giving the formal definition for context.

I found this one on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website.

‘Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition characterised by the breakdown of cartilage that overlies the ends of bones in joints. This results in the bones rubbing together, causing pain, swelling and loss of motion.’

Our risk of developing this condition increases with age, so it’s something we over 50s need to look out for.

Exercise is recommended for people with osteoarthritis so we should not let it stop us being active.

A physiotherapist is a great professional to consult if you have osteoarthritis and need guidance on how to increase physical activity.

Benefits of running

Most people are aware of the benefits of running and exercise.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Enhanced mental health and wellbeing
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Management of diabetes
  • Maintenance of bone density

Does running cause osteoarthritis?

While being aware of the benefits listed above, people are often concerned about running being a cause of osteoarthritis, but there are more likely risk factors.

The major risk factors for osteoarthritis are things we can’t do anything about:

  • Family history
  • Previous joint injury
  • Age over 50
  • Being biologically female
  • Being postmenopausal

The main modifiable risk factor for developing osteoarthritis is being overweight or obese

I’m not a personal trainer who focusses on weight loss because exercise has very little to do with it and exercise can enhance mental health and reduce disease risk factors even if we are overweight.

My advocacy for weight loss relates to the joints.

Being overweight or obese puts extra load on our joints and increases wear and tear.

Our risk of developing osteoarthritis is already increased with advancing age, so maintaining healthy weight as we go into our 50s and beyond is more important than ever.

Running ‘dose’ & osteoarthritis

It turns out that ‘low dose’ running is not associated with the development of osteoarthritis and may even have a protective effect against its development and progression.

Whereas ‘high dose’ running is correlated with development of hip and knee osteoarthritis.

High dose running refers to the type done by competitive runners who cover longer distances at higher intensity than those running for fun and general fitness.

Gradual progression and muscle strength are the keys

The recommendation for those who want to give it a try is a structured and gradual progression, starting out with very short bouts of running.

In addition to running, strengthening exercises should also be done as stronger muscles support the joints.

I know this approach works

Because this is how I became a runner and how I’ve come back to running after the emergence of hip, knee and ankle osteoarthritis.

The key is to load the joints to a point that can be adapted to during recovery from running activities.

This cycle of stress and adaptation results in better conditioned joints.

Damage to the joints can occur if the stress/load is too much with insufficient recovery time.

I manage this in my routine by never running on consecutive days.

I do exercises for strengthening in between running days and always have at least one day of complete rest from exercise each week.

Getting started or returning to running

I’ve been researching ways I can help people get started or return to running and came across the None to Run program, which is brilliant.

The core of the program is the structured and gradual progression that I mentioned earlier.

You start with running for 30 seconds at a time with no concern about how far or how fast you run.

The None to Run program also includes strength exercises that support running.

You can start to build strength for running with this FREE workout

This workout can be done in the comfort of your home with no equipment.

Fit it into your busy schedule by starting with the 10-minute option. That’s right, just 10 minutes!

It’s a great way to get back into exercise after a long break.

This energising and attainable workout includes a warm up, strength workout and optional cardio finisher, all with clear video demonstrations.

No need to wait any longer. Follow the link to learn more and start feeling great!

https://bit.ly/FiftyFitnessBodyweightWorkout

Keep in touch

Please reach out to me if anything in this article resonates with you.

You can email me at kate@fiftyfitness.com.au or connect via social media.

I’m on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

You can have a read of my previous blogs here 🙂

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love others in the FiftyFitness blog.

I share a new article twice each month. Complete the form below to subscribe and get my latest articles straight to your inbox.

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Kate Rowen

Article The three powerful aspects of fitness – actually, make that four!

Three aspects of fitness or four?

As a fitness enthusiast and personal trainer, I practice and advocate exercise as a major vehicle for wellbeing.

My initial intention for this article was to outline the three aspects of fitness, commonly known as the three Ss, and explain how they are all important.

But I realised that there is far more to exercise than these three things.

I believe that there is a fourth and equally powerful aspect of fitness that is a critical factor in the bigger picture of personal wellbeing.

A different perspective

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that exercise is something we all should do.

Even if we can’t name any specific benefits, I reckon that it’s general knowledge in the community that exercise is something we need to do for our health and wellbeing.

But knowing exercise is good for us doesn’t mean that we do it.

My proposed fourth aspect of fitness provides alternative motivation for giving exercise a go.

For me it comes down to how exercise makes me feel – physically, mentally and emotionally in equal measure.

What are the three powerful aspects of fitness?

The three well-known aspects of fitness are called the three Ss and ideal fitness routines have a combination of these.

  • Strength
  • Stamina – also known as endurance
  • Suppleness – also known as flexibility

In this article I’ll explain each of these and the contribution they make to our wellbeing.

But I’m also going to introduce what I believe should be the fourth S of fitness, which I call:

Serenity – ahhhhh!

The other three Ss relate to the physical aspects of fitness, but from my point of view there is a mental and emotional aspect that we derive from working on the other three.

Let’s dive in and examine the three well-known Ss of fitness and see how serenity evolves from those.

Stamina aka endurance

This form of exercise increases our ability to sustain physical activity and the list of benefits to health is long.

Obviously, the duration and intensity of your endurance exercise depends on the outcomes you want.

Training for general health and easy performance of daily living activities or getting around a golf course looks quite different to training for an endurance event like a triathlon.

While there are different forms of endurance training, for most people it involves continuous activity at a sustainable pace for an extended period (> 30 minutes).

Endurance training examples

Activities such as lap swimming, running, cycling, and brisk walking are common examples.

Some people prefer a long session on a piece of cardio equipment like a rower, cross trainer, stationary bike, or treadmill.

Endurance training can also be done at higher intensity for shorter periods of time with lots of options available for giving it a try.

A key indicator of improvement in this area is decreased resting heart rate (slow pulse).

People with a high level of endurance fitness can have resting heart rates less than 50 beats per minute whereas the normal range is 60 – 100 beats per minute.

Muscular endurance

The endurance training I’ve described so far is mostly about the heart and lungs, but it also builds stamina in the muscles used to do the activities.

And muscular endurance has standalone importance.

Our muscles need staying power to maintain posture and do everyday activities as well as the leisure and physical activities we enjoy.

Muscular endurance can be improved through strength training which leads me to the second aspect of fitness.

Strength

This one is all about muscles – keeping them strong and powerful.

Muscular strength is important for the same reasons as muscular endurance, but also for maintaining balance and mobility.

Falls and resultant injuries among the elderly population is a big issue for the community which can be avoided through preservation of strength.

We improve strength by doing movements against resistance.

Resistance can be our own bodyweight, weights, or bands.

I reckon most people think about gyms when the idea of strength/resistance training comes up, but there are many ways to do this type of exercise without setting foot in a gym.

Hypertrophy

Improvement in muscle strength with resistance training comes with hypertrophy, which is increase in muscle size.

I’m not talking about body builder hypertrophy, that requires a very specific regime of lifting and nutrition.

The increase in muscle size that goes with general strength training is commonly called ‘definition’ or ‘toning’.

Strength training can be neglected in favour of endurance but remember, a well-rounded fitness routine covers the three aspects of fitness – including flexibility.

Suppleness aka flexibility

Suppleness or flexibility is the range of movement we have about our joints and is a key component to the mobility we need for both daily living and leisure activities.

You may already be experiencing the fact that flexibility decreases with age.

The good news is that flexibility, and therefore mobility, can be maintained and improved by keeping both muscle and connective tissue healthy through exercise.

And of course, it’s important to stretch.

Stretching links to serenity

I’ve written previously about how stretching can be a gateway to increasing physical activity.

If you’re not doing any exercise, stretching can be a great place to start.

But it’s also when the serenity can kick in.

Feel the serenity

When you’re doing regular exercise it’s great to do static stretches at the end of a workout.

It’s during the cool down and stretch that we can start to feel the serenity vibe.

When you’re stretching after a workout where you may have challenged yourself a bit, you can feel buzzed and energised in your body, as well as feelings of pride and satisfaction. Serenity.

So what exactly do I mean by the serenity aspect of fitness?

Serenity – it’s the vibe

This might seem absurd – how can doing vigorous exercise be calming?

I don’t necessarily mean that the activities themselves are soothing.

Although exercise can sooth – I’m thinking of swimming, yoga, an easy paced run or walking in a lovely location – it’s not the participation time I’m talking about.

It’s the feeling that carries through after the workout and into your everyday life – the vibe.

Endorphins

Endorphins can play a role in the vibe.

These are hormones released during exercise along with other chemicals that occur naturally in our bodies that are linked to good feelings like enhanced mood and general wellbeing.

Take a break

Exercise is also a chance to take time out from our daily demands and physical activity releases tension.

Depending on what exercise you do, it can also give us a chance to be in nature and connect with others.

Serenity is the most rapid benefit of exercise

While it might take weeks or months of training to improve stamina, strength and suppleness, the benefit of serenity is felt much more quickly – if not immediately.

Rather than tracking progress or taking a fitness test or some other measure of improvement, we can simply think about how much better we feel when we’re exercising to know it’s working.

Just do it for the serenity

My advocacy for exercise is mainly for the benefit of serenity.

We can take the pressure off ourselves for all the reasons we should and just exercise for enjoyment and feeling good.

Then we tick all the boxes next to the reasons we must exercise without thinking about it.

My top tips for getting started – start small, build gradually and try different things until you find something that’s enjoyable for you.

Check out my YouTube channel

Check out the content of this article – with additional insights – in Episode 2 on my YouTube channel.

Episode 2 Actually, make that four!

Keep in touch

Please reach out to me if anything in this article resonates with you.

You can email me at kate@fiftyfitness.com.au or connect via social media.

I’m on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

You can have a read of my previous blogs here 🙂

Subscribe

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Kate Rowen

Article Are you supple? The importance of flexibility and how to improve it

The suppleness aspect of fitness

There are three aspects of fitness which are commonly referred to as the three Ss.

  • Strength
  • Stamina – also known as endurance
  • Suppleness – also known as flexibility

There’s also ‘serenity’

If you’ve seen other articles from my blog, you may know that I believe in another aspect of fitness – serenity.

This is all about how exercise can make us feel – physically, mentally and emotionally.

In my opinion, serenity should be the fourth aspect of fitness because it’s just as important as the three Ss.

I set an intention earlier this year to share articles that highlight each of the classic three Ss individually.

Here are the ones on strength and stamina in case you missed them.

This article is about suppleness.

What it is, why do we need it over 50 and how do we improve it?

What is suppleness?

Suppleness is a synonym for flexibility that starts with the letter S 😊

Flexibility is the term that most people are familiar with and have an intuitive sense of what it is.

It’s the range of movement we have about our joints and is a key component of mobility and the ability to perform our daily living, leisure and physical fitness activities.

While it involves the extent of joint movement that we can perform, flexibility is influenced by the soft tissues – muscle, tendons, ligaments – around the joints. Their ability to lengthen.

You may already be experiencing the fact that flexibility decreases with age. Can you move your body to crouch or get down onto the ground to do the things you need to do in that position?

This is the most common manifestation of declining flexibility that people tell me about.

The good news is that flexibility, and therefore mobility, can be maintained and improved by keeping both muscle and connective tissue healthy through exercise.

Why to we need suppleness?

Here is an extensive list of the benefits of flexibility I found when researching this article.

There are heaps!

  • Decreased injury risk – with increased range of movement about our joints we are less likely to get injured during physical activity.
  • Improved performance through enhanced mobility and power.
  • Better posture – being more flexible can help us hold our bodies in good alignment.
  • Improved balance and coordination, which has the added benefit of reducing the risk of falls in older people.
  • Increased self-confidence –improving flexibility can help us feel more confident in what our bodies are capable of.

Benefits of stretching

The best-known way to improve flexibility is through stretching.

Here are some great things about stretching that popped up in my research.

  • Reduced muscle tension and pain – improving flexibility through stretching can help to release muscle tension and reduce pain.
  • Improved circulation.
  • Stretching may promote relaxation which may enhance sleep quality and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
  • Stretching practices may contribute to enhancing mood and boosting energy levels.

Different ways of stretching

There are two main ways that we include stretching into our general fitness routines.

As part of the warmup phase when we’re getting our body ready to exercise it’s great to do some dynamic stretching. Then after the main workout we finish with static stretching.

Let’s distinguish these two types of stretching.

Dynamic stretching

As the name suggests, dynamic stretching involves movement.

Typically done at the beginning of a workout, dynamic stretching involves moving our major joints through their full range of motion. Starting gently and increasing the range as we warm up.

A classic example involves arms outstretched and reaching behind the body then swinging them around shoulder height to cross in front of the body then back again and repeating the movement.

I’m sure you can visualise lots of examples of dynamic stretches.

All my workouts with clients start with dynamic stretching as part of the warmup phase.

Static stretching

These are done at the end of a workout, and we hold a position for a period of time to perform a stretch.

There are different schools of thought on the length of time to hold a static stretch.

Within the context and time constraints of a typical workout, stretches are generally held for 30 seconds. That’s what I do at the end of my sessions.

When holding a stretch we should feel a little discomfort as the muscle is stretched, but this should not be painful.

Yoga and massage

Yoga is a great way to learn and progress with stretching and flexibility.

I love yoga and highly recommend its inclusion in a balanced fitness routine.

Even if you don’t love it or want to make it part of your regular activities, going occasionally will help you learn some stretches you can do any time.

Another factor that contributes greatly to my suppleness by releasing muscle tension is remedial massage.

I’ve been having a monthly remedial massage for a decade and swear that it’s one of the best things I do for my overall wellbeing. I know this is not for everyone though.

An accessible alternative is self-massage techniques with foam rollers and balls or massage ‘gun’.

Gauging improvement in suppleness

How do we know if our flexibility has improved?

There are objective measures such as the ‘sit and reach’ test, but I don’t think we need to worry about this.

I reckon we can tell subjectively if our suppleness has improved by noticing increased range of motion and the ease with which we can perform movements.

Other great things about stretching, in my opinion

I’ve identified a couple of other fantastic things about stretching in addition to all those benefits outlined earlier.

A gateway to increasing physical activity

If you’re not doing any exercise, stretching can be a great place to start and provide a gateway.

You can start a journey to regular physical activity with 5 minutes of daily dynamic stretching.

This can evolve into a warmup for a workout.

Feel the serenity

Then when you’re doing regular exercise it’s great to do static stretches at the end of a workout.

It’s during the cool down and stretch that serenity can start to kick in.

When you’re stretching after a workout where you may have challenged yourself a bit, you can feel buzzed and energised in your body, as well as feelings of pride and satisfaction. Serenity.

An attainable way to get started

If you need an easy way to get started with increasing your physical activity, this free video series is for you.

You will learn a series of 9 dynamic stretches one at a time with a daily email from me containing a video demonstration and explanation.

Once you know all the moves you can do them in 5 minutes every morning to free up your body, improve your mood and feel energised for the day ahead.

As you gain motivation to increase your physical activity, the daily routine will become the warmup for your workout.

Learn more and get started here https://bit.ly/NiceAndEasyNewHabit

Keep in touch

Please reach out to me if anything in this article resonates with you.

You can email me at kate@fiftyfitness.com.au or connect via social media.

I’m on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

You can have a read of my previous blogs here 🙂

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This blog was written by

Kate Rowen's avatar

Kate Rowen

I wish to acknowledge and pay my respects to the traditional custodians of the land where I live, work and exercise, the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation.