Category Archives: exercise


We know from various studies that you can actually increase your longevity with exercise. But, which ones are the most beneficial? A study(1) divided 2613 Finnish athletes into three groups: 1. ENDURANCE ATHLETES (runners, cyclers) 2. POWER ATHLETES (boxers, weights) and 3. TEAM SPORTS (soccer, basketball, hockey). The results, when compared to Finnish non-athletes are that 1. Power athletes live 1.6 yrs. longer. 2. Team sports produced 4.0 extra years and 3. Endurance sports resulted in 5.7 extra years of life.

The key here is V02 max or the maximum amount of oxygen needed for exercise.  Activities that require you to breath the hardest are the best. Jogging has other advantages in that it’s the best calorie burner per minute of exercise. It will strengthen you knees and bones. It improves brain function including memory. This and most exercises improves mood and helps prevent depression.

You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from aerobic exercise even as we age. Most seniors I know become involved with distance walking, cycling or aerobic classes. We lose muscle mass as we age, so I believe that some weights should be involved in your routine for a balanced workout. If you are running, the baseline for benefits are 30 minutes 3 times a week. If you’re walking for your exercise, then it is 30 minutes 5 times a week.

(1) Serna, S. et al. “Increased Life Expectancy of World Class Male Athletes” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Vol 25, #2. Feb 1993.


Did you know that you can increase your metabolism and burn more calories with every activity. We know it becomes more difficult to lose weight when our metabolism slows down as we age. But, we’re not going to sit around and let that happen. Here is what you can do about it.

1. EXERCISE — This is certainly the most effective boost to your metabolism by far. Studies show(1) that vigorous exercise can increase the calories you burn by almost 200 a day in the 14 hours after your workout. Vigorous means breaking a sweat. Aerobic and anaerobic both work as long as you include periods of intensity. Weights are intense and if you walk for exercise, you want to include bursts of running for best results.

2. BREAKFAST — Eating breakfast jump starts metabolism and keeps energy high all day(2). Not only should you eat breakfast, but be sure its high in protein. This provides better glycemic control for your blood sugar for the entire day. So, you won’t get as hungry. Try eggs and greek yogurt topped with fruit.

3. GREEN TEA vs COFFEE — Both increase your metabolism, but tea helps you burn about 100 extra calories over the day while allowing more fat to be burned. It appears to be due to the combination of tea catechins or antioxidants paired with the caffeine.

4. DAILY ACTIVITIES — Your activity level does make a difference not only to burn calories, but for longevity too. Walk errands rather than drive. Do you own house cleaning. Stand up and move around every hour if you have a sedentary job. I even stand to watch TV if I’ve been sitting over an hour.

5. DARK CHOCOLATE — In a study(1) where subjects ate about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate a day for two weeks, their metabolism became more regulated. This also reduced stress hormone levels. Women who have more stress hormones had a slower metabolism.

6. AVOID PROLONGED HUNGER — Starvation diets with less than about 1200 daily calories for women actually slows metabolism(2).  This is less than needed for biological functioning and throws your body into survival mode–burning less calories. So, eat healthy and consistently throughout the day–but don’t over do it.

7. GET IRON AND PROTEIN — Menstruation causes women to lose iron each month. Iron is needed to carry oxygen to muscles to burn fat and must be replaced. Studies also show that protein can increase the after meal calorie burn by as much as 35%. Notice that the graph above with 15 metabolism foods are high in iron, protein, and antioxidants.

In conclusion, it becomes more difficult to lose weight as we age because our metabolism naturally slows. So, we’re determined to compensate by adapting to an active lifestyle and a proven diet. These healthy behaviors will also extend our longevity by keeping our weight down and our activity level up.  L. Johnson  of

Photo:                                                                                                                              (1) Migala, J. 4-20-2015 10 Ways to Speed Up Your Metabolism In just One Day. Retrieved from on 3-16-2016                                                                                                                   (2) Yeager, S, 11-3-2011 Eating Rules to Rev Your Metabolism All Day Long. Retrieved from on 3-16-2016

LaLanne’s Diet and Exercise Routine

Francois Henri LaLanne(1914-2011) famous diet and exercise routine paved the way for him to become an American health icon. He opened the first public gym in Oakland, Ca and is best known for his TV show on fitness. But, he started out as a junk food addict as a kid until he was embarrassed by a failure to pass a routine physical exam in school. This upset and motivated him to attend health lectures that re-directed his life.

WORKOUT: LaLanne’s workout routine began with a series of stretches in bed as soon as he woke around 5am. He then went to one of his weight rooms, one had free weights and the other had weight-lifting machines. He worked the lower body one day and the upper body the next and the entire routine was changed every 30 days. After 90 minutes of weight lifting, he went to the pool for swimming and water exercises for another 30 minutes.

DIET: He ate only two meals a day. The first meal was at 11am after the workout and the second around 7pm usually at a cafe with his wife. His breakfast consisted of fruit, oatmeal, broth, and four egg whites.

His restaurant dinners began with a salad of 10 raw vegetables and four hard boiled egg whites. Fish was consumed almost every night and roasted turkey occasionally. He ate no other types of meat and did not snack between meals. His juicer became popular because Jack just couldn’t eat that many raw vegetables. He found juicing made it easier to consumer the large amount of veggies he wanted.

VITAMINS: In addition to a disciplined diet, Jack took 40 to 50 vitamins and minerals on a daily basis. It’s too long of a list to print here, but can be found on his website. However, he never relied on supplements to replace any foods, he just view it as an “insurance policy.”

ALCOHOL: Being a Frenchman himself, he believed in drinking wine because he noticed that the French tend to live longer in their wine culture. He allowed himself this pleasure apart from his discipline and was even know to get drunk at times.

He published his last book when 95 years old, Live Young Forever that influenced me to change my breakfast to oatmeal and raisins–his favorite. He passed away a little more than a year later at 96 years old from pneumonia.

CONCLUSION: There are areas of contention in his routine. It’s true that Jack placed weights ahead of aerobic exercise. In his diet, he derived most protein from egg whites and fish rather than more diverse sources. His heavy vitamin consumption may have not helped much as absorption rates were lower then. And he probably drank a bit too much at times. But, it’s his long term devotion to a healthy diet and challenging exercise that set him apart.                            L. Johnson of

Allen, R. 4-8-15 Jack LaLanne Workout Retrieved from


Walking for life is one of the most sustainable and easiest exercises for most people. That’s because walking is already incorporated into your lifestyle and can be done anytime without equipment or expense. When I taught a class in the weight reduction program, we needed to pair people together to ensure long-term sustainability of walking. Social support is very motivational and often the key to personal involvement. If you’re not sure walking is enough of an exercise for you, here are the many benefits.

Benefits of Walking for Life

1. Walking lowers cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure and stroke. This comes as no surprise since exercise stimulates better circulation. Studies show that it increases your good HDL cholesterol while lowering the bad LDL cholesterol. It can lower triglyceride levels especially if done after a meal.

2. It burns calories and reduces your weight. Weight management is clearly a primary concern of most Americans. As you increase your walking speed and distance, you increase your burned calories. Body fat is modestly reduced with regular walking.

3. It improves brain function and reduces dementia. I mentioned in a prior post about brain shrinkage as we age or gain weight. Sending oxygen to the brain is so important as it helps prevent cognitive decline. Studies shows that walking helps you preform better on tests and it even improves memory in seniors.

4. It strengthens bones since it’s a wright-bearing activity. It helps preserve healthy joints thereby reducing arthritis. This is especially important for women who tend to lose bone density with age. Arthritis people tend to tolerate walking better than other exercises.

5. It firms your muscles and waistline. You can easily tone the bottom half of your body and increase arm movements to help with the top half. Adding hand weights increases your heart rate and tones the arms for a better workout.

6. It gives you energy by sending oxygen to your cells. Cells need oxygen to be healthy. This helps prevent physical disability in the elderly.

7. Walking produces endorphins that reduce anxiety and increases mood. Some studies show that exercise is just as effective as anti-depressant medication. You also reduce your stress and improve your sleep.

8. It can be a social activity which also helps lower blood pressure and heart related problems. It increases your immune response, self-esteem and improved mood as well. Studies show that socially oriented people have greater longevity.

9. There is a good chance you will live longer as a regular walker. Studies show that those people who walk the fastest outlive those who walk slower on average. Another study had people walk for 150 minutes a week( 5 days of half hour). This resulted an additional three and a half years to your life.

The great convenience about walking is all you need is a comfortable pair of shoes. I personally walk for as many errands as possible. I’m self motivated, so I walk with or without people. Some people find it helpful to monitor walking with a step-counter or stop watch. Studies show this monitoring encourages people to continually do more exercise, so I’m in favor of it. Since the social part is also very important, try to involve people you know. If you don’t know walkers, you can establish a walking club in your area and you’ll meet new friends and neighbors. The wonder of having workout buddies is that you forget you’re exercising!     L. Johnson

Exercises for Women Over 50

There are many exercises for women over 50, but success is based on the ease of integration into your lifestyle and the social benefit. Almost all health and diet programs will involve some exercise. But, you have to get something positive out of the experience or you won’t have the determination to continue. This is why most new years resolutions to exercise are short lived.

When I taught the psychology of eating in the weight reduction program, we would always pair people to exercise. Pairing was the social support needed to establish and maintain an exercise routine. They would encourage and prompt each other to keep the motivation going as they eventually became exercise buddies.

According to WebMD(1), “Exercise is so potent that it influences every physiological system in the body for the better. They don’t provide the long list of all the benefits, but mention, “The first benefit of exercise for women is reduction of the symptoms of menopause”. This includes hot flashes, joint pain and poor sleep, which can all be improved.

WebMD recommends the following after your doctor clears you to exercise:

AEROBIC EXERCISE: Aerobic means requiring oxygen from continual movement for at least 20 minutes that can be walking, cycling, aerobic classes, running, dancing, swimming, and cross country skiing. Your heart rate should stay elevated and you should try to break a sweat.

ANAEROBIC EXERCISE: This refers to strength training from calisthenics and/or lifting weights. We naturally lose muscular strength as we age. This helps “maintain bone strength, reduces risk of lower back injury and keeps you tone.”  They don’t discuss a specific weight program, probably because each person should have a individualized routine.

STRETCHING: This helps your flexibility and joint movement. It can help reduce injury and soreness. Yoga and Pilates are suggested forms.

IF YOU ARE NOT EXERCISE ORIENTED:  In my experience, the best exercise for ease and maintainability is simply to walk or bicycle. With walking, 1. You don’t feel like you’re exercising since it’s already a routine activity. 2. You really don’t need any special or expensive equipment. 3. Including people will bring social enjoyment.  4. But, it can be done alone or in a group. 5. You don’t need to drive anywhere to walk. 6. You simply measure your workout with a watch or step counter. 7. You will want to walk at least 150 minutes a week or 5 walks at 30 minutes each. 8. You can add hand weights to increase your heart rate. 9. The ease of walking allows you to continue into advanced age.  10. You’re allowed to dress and act silly. Forming a walking or cycling group in your neighborhood is one of the most successful arrangements for sustainability and enjoyment. So, lets be creative and have fun today.    L. J.

1)WebMD, “Get Fit Advice for Women Over 50”, 4-17-2015. Retrieved on 5-12-2015 from: