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1. Will I gain too much muscle if I start strength training?

This is virtually impossible over the age of 40. As hormone levels — especially testosterone levels — start to decrease, the chances of getting big muscles diminish.

2. Do I need to follow target heart-rate guidelines?

Consult your doctor before starting an exercise program and ask him/her to recommend a target heart rate for you. It is generally recommended that healthy individuals exercise at 65 to 85 percent of their maximum heart rate. The formula for calculating maximum heart rate is 220 – age = maximum heart rate. Some formulas take into account resting heart rate. Realize that certain medications such as blood-pressure-lowering drugs can alter heart rate.

The most important thing to remember is to move your body. Choose an intensity that forces you to exert yourself. (You should be able to hold a conversation without gasping for air.) It is not a bad idea to buy a pulsemeter — it is a great way to get an awesome workout.

3. Are weight gloves and a weight belt necessary?

Weight gloves will help improve your grip and decrease calluses on your palms. Depending on how the gloves are made, they also may disperse pressure in your palms.

Most women will not need a weight belt unless they are training with heavy weights.

4. Do I need to warm up before any activity?

It is important to walk slowly to get the blood moving to your extremities. If you decide to stretch, do so after your walking warm-up.

5. What are the best exercises for the buttocks?

For those who don’t have orthopedic problems, the best exercises are those that use multiple muscle groups simultaneously such as lunges, squats, step-ups and plyometrics (jumping exercises)

6. What kind of physical activity should I do, and how much time should I spend doing it?

It’s your choice. Pick an activity that’s easy to fit into your life. Select aerobic activities that work for you, activities that make your heart beat faster and make your heart, lungs and blood vessels stronger. Do at least 30 minutes a day in increments of 10 minutes or more. Also, do strengthening activities that make your muscles work harder than they’re accustomed to working.

7. How can you tell a moderate activity from a vigorous one?

Vigorous activities take more effort than moderate ones. Following are examplesof moderate and vigorous aerobic activities. Do these for 10 minutes or more at a time.

Moderate Activities (You can talk while doing them, but you can’t sing.)
  • Ballroom and line dancing
  • Biking on level ground or a route with few hills
  • Canoeing
  • General gardening (raking leaves, trimming shrubs, etc.)
  • Sports in which you catch and throw a ball (baseball, softball, volleyball)
  • Tennis (doubles)
  • Using a manual wheelchair
  • Using hand cycles
  • Walking briskly
  • Water aerobics
Vigorous Activities (You can only say a few words without stopping to catch your breath.)
  • Biking faster than 10 miles per hour
  • Fast dancing
  • Heavy gardening (digging, hoeing, etc.)
  • Hiking uphill
  • Jumping rope
  • Martial arts (karate, kickboxing, etc.)
  • Race walking, jogging or running
  • Sports that require a lot of running or like movement (basketball, soccer, hockey, etc.)
  • Swimming fast or swimming laps
  • Tennis (singles)

Abdominal and Belly Fat

8. Why am I doing lots of abdominal exercises and not seeing any results?

Realize that your abdominals are muscles. While you may be strengthening the muscles, there is still most likely a layer of fat over the top of them. Burning extra calories and eating a proper diet will accelerate fat loss. Women tend to retain body fat in this area because of hormone imbalances and white flour and sugar intake.

Body Weight Exercises

9. What is the difference between weight-bearing exercise and weight-resistance exercise?

Weight-bearing exercise uses your own body weight in a variety of different positions to build strength and endurance. (To challenge the body even more, you can do these exercises on an unstable surface). Weight-resistance exercise involves using bands, free weights and/or machines to strengthen specific muscle groups. Both types of exercise may involve one muscle group or several muscle groups at a time.

Fat Loss

10. How do I decrease the amount of fat at my bra line and on the back of my arms?

Remember that you are losing several pounds of muscle every decade after the age of 30. Your metabolism is slowing down. You need to offset these changes by eating right and exercising regularly.

11. Why is my body changing so rapidly?

Women lose between 5 and 10 percent of their muscle mass every decade after the age of 30. It is imperative to include some sort of strength training in your workout to maintain strength, shape and tone.


Finding Time to Exercise

12. What if I don’t have time to exercise?

In our busy lives, exercise tends to fall to the bottom of the to-do list. Map out your day and schedule time to exercise just as you would an appointment. Even burning a few extra calories by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking farther away from the entrance to a store is a start.

Osteoporosis

13. Can I still exercise if I have osteoporosis?

Consult your physician before embarking on any type of exercise program. In most cases, women with osteoporosis should not twist excessively, lift heavy weights or hyperextend the spine.

Mindful Exercise

14. What does the term “mindful exercise” mean?

Mindful exercise is a trend that is gaining popularity. Just as you set your intention at the beginning of yoga class, you set your intention at the beginning of your exercise routine. What do you want to pay close attention to while you are working out?


Posture/Stretching

15. Why am I starting to have aches and pains while exercising?

Am I getting too old to do this? Aches and pains are not uncommon when you engage in any kind of activity. You may even be sore after a yoga class. The key is whether the aches and pains persist. If so, see your health-care provider. Some things to consider when assessing aches and pains are:

  • How old are your athletic shoes? Your athletic shoes begin to break down after about 200 hours of use. The knees, hips and back can be affected.
  • Are you stretching? Take time to stretch after each workout. Lactic acid builds up in the muscle and can cause excessive soreness.
  • What about your posture? Your ears, shoulders, hips and ankles should form a straight line on each side of your body. Poor posture can cause undue stress on joints.
  • What about your foot position? Wet your bare feet, then stand on a piece of paper. Check to see if you have a high or low arch. Then make sure your shoes are providing the proper support. If you have a high arch, you may want to purchase orthotics from a chiropractor or podiatrist.

Weight Loss

16. What’s the best exercise for weight loss?

There is no one best exercise for weight loss. The best exercise program is a well-rounded routine that includes strength training, flexibility training and cardiovascular exercise. Work with someone in our expert network or a personal trainer in your town or city who can assist you in developing the program that is best for you.

Yoga

17. How do I select a yoga class?

There are many types of yoga programs. Be sure you understand what level of participant is in the class and whether the instructor makes accommodations for different poses before embarking on this workout.

Dairy Products

1. I have heard that I should avoid dairy products. Is that true?

It is true that many women are allergic to dairy products. This can include cheese, milk, ice cream and eggs. There are two types of allergies. You can be allergic to milk proteins, or you can have lactose intolerance. Dairy products can cause bloating, gas and diarrhea. To find out if you are allergic to dairy, cut it out of your diet for at least two weeks and see how you feel. Many people do not realize that if they eat dairy products in the morning for breakfast, the enzymes can be reactivated each time they eat throughout the day, even if they are not consuming dairy products.

Hormones and Food

2. What effects do hormones in our food supply have on our bodies?

Hormones in our meat, poultry, fish and diary can affect women dramatically, especially in their menopausal years. When the hormones are ingested, they act as estrogen in the body, creating a condition called estrogen dominance. This creates an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone in the body. Symptoms of estrogen dominance are PMS, sore breasts, bloating, early development in girls and hot flashes, just to name a few. Purchase organic meats, poultry, diary and wild-caught fish as often as possible.

Healthy Eating

7. How much water should I drink daily?

Drink at least 64 ounces a day. If this amount seems unrealistic, start by increasing your intake by one glass every day. Every two weeks, increase your intake by another glass a day. Making a conscious effort is the first step.

8. I have difficulty getting enough fruits and vegetables in my diet. Any ideas?

Start making smoothies with fruits and vegetables. They are great for kids, too. Even if you put some greens — spinach, for example — in the smoothies, the kids will never notice. Just remember that fruit juices contain a lot of calories. You may just want to use water.

9. I always skip breakfast. Do you have any ideas for a fast, easy one?

Smoothies are a good option. Cut up fruits and vegetables on the weekends, so they are ready to be blended. Oatmeal with nuts and raisins, whole-grain bread with almond butter, even egg whites with whole-grain bread are alternatives. Find out what really satisfies you.

10. What are some healthy proteins I can eat other than meat, dairy, poultry and fish?

There is actually protein in vegetables, especially leafy dark-green vegetables. Nuts and beans are good sources. Soy also contains protein, but don’t eat too much. There are mixed results from studies on whether intake of soy (genetically modified soy) has an impact on menopausal symptoms and estrogen-based cancers.

11. I know I need to eat better, but I have no idea where to start. It just seems so overwhelming.

Realize that what you eat not only impacts you but also those around you because you are not operating at full capacity.

Make a list of what is important to you at this moment in your life regarding nutrition. Next, take that very first priority and begin breaking it into bite-sized pieces. Perhaps you are going to begin with eating a home-cooked meal once a week. As stated above, goals are going to be different for everyone. The key is to start with small steps. Master that step before taking the next.

12. I heard that it does not pay to buy organic fruits and vegetables because labeling is not regulated. Is that true?

The term “certified organic” is pretty well standardized in the meat, poultry, dairy and fish industries. But it is less regulated when it comes to fruits and vegetables. The rule of thumb still is to buy organic whenever possible. If organic fruits and vegetables are not available, buy as much local produce as possible. Local farmers tend to spray less than those who are shipping all over the United States. Be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly.

13. What should I do to remove pesticides from produce?

There are many natural products on the market that remove wax, soil and agricultural chemicals from produce. Because pesticides and other agricultural chemicals are waterproof, simply rinsing with water is not enough. Natural produce cleaners are food-based, which means they are safe for you and your family. You can even make your own natural wash with foods like lemon, corn, coconut and vinegar.

14. Is it acceptable to drink a few cups of coffee a day?

Caffeine is a stimulant, an addictive drug. And coffee is sprayed with more pesticides than any other plant in the world. It is acidic to the body (a factor known to cause cancer) and offsets sugar metabolism. So coffee should not be your first beverage choice. Once you start eating better, exercising, meditating, etc., you won’t need caffeine to stay alert. In the meantime, be sure to buy organic and fair-trade coffee.

15. Why are fish and krill oils good for me?

Study upon study indicates that incorporating fish and krill oils into your diet reduces blood pressure, lowers cholesterol and helps prevent heart disease. New research shows higher intakes of omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in these oils, preserve bone density, keeping bones stronger and protecting them against fractures. Omega-3s help reduce inflammation in the body — a factor in aging — and are necessary for heart and brain health. They also have been shown to enhance mood and hormone balance. Look for the highest quality fish and krill oils; they provide the biggest benefits for your body.

Gluten

16. From what I hear, everyone seems to be allergic to gluten. Why?

Great question. Gluten is used as a stabilizer in many, many products. A gluten allergy is called celiac disease. Some symptoms of gluten sensitivity are gas, bloating, elimination issues, headaches and fatigue. Doctors are finding that many women are allergic to gluten but may not test positive for celiac disease. Going totally gluten free is a huge endeavor. If you think you may have an allergy to gluten, start by eliminating things that contain the largest amounts of it — white and wheat flours, for example. Begin eating gluten-free carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes. You can also try gluten-free breads.

Balancing your Hormones

17. I would like to balance my hormones naturally. Where do I begin?

We encourage women to first look at their diets. Working with a food coach or health counselor can help you find out if you are missing vital nutrients or minerals, which may be adding to your hormone imbalance. Simply making the appropriate dietary changes can alleviate many symptoms of menopause. Taking control of your diet is the first step to taking control of your health. For more information on the aforementioned topics, please refer to the audio interviews, transcriptions and articles posted on this site.