7 Tips to Get Working Out When You Just Don’t Want To

Everyone has those days they just don’t wanna–and some have them more than others!

Guaranteed—everyone, no matter who they are, experiences not wanting to work out. From fitness models to powerlifters to couch potatoes, we all know what it feels like to not be in the mood to exercise. Then, the guilt, whether the reason is health-related or goal-related, makes things just that much worse. We waffle with giving ourselves permission to take a day off, then feel like slugs for not doing what we know we should. Active rest has its place in any fitness regimen, but it’s far different from not working out simply because you’ve grown bored or outright hate doing it. Often, the times you don’t feel like working out are exactly the times when you might need it most. When you can’t get on board with the Nike slogan, here are some hacks to get over the hump.

1–Don’t Force It

Find an exercise that makes you feel good enough to smile while you’re doing it.

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all exercise plan. People have different goals, different mentalities, and different abilities and limits. Lifehacker Dick Talens suggests you pick an exercise you’ll actually enjoy. If you love to run, do that. If you have fun doing aerobics, sign up for a class. If you’re just getting started, try walking in addition to an assortment of other solo activities and classes to see which activities you truly enjoy. Then, build your fitness regimen around them instead of trying to force yourself to participate in the latest fitness craze. If you like it, you’ll be more likely to do it on a regular basis instead of resisting and looking for excuses not to work out.

2–Set the Mood

Load up some tunes that make you feel like moving–then move!

Health.com recommends using music to condition yourself to workout, even when you’re not in the mood. Create a playlist of energizing, upbeat music and listen to it when you exercise. Whenever you get a case of the I-don’t-want-to’s, suit up in your workout clothes and pop your earbuds in. The combination of being dressed for the task and hearing the music will get you in the mood to sweat.

3–Incentivize Your Exercise

Treat yourself to something healthy and yummy for following through when you didn’t want to work out in the first place.


Whenever you feel like skipping a workout for no good reason, pick a reward that will entice you to get through exercising. It could be a whole wheat bagel and a light schmear, a non-fat latté from your favorite coffee shop, or that new pair of yoga pants you’ve had your eye on. Of course, incentivizing every workout can get a little spendy, but it’s an effective tactic for those days you just don’t feel like it.

4–Fuel Up

A wholesome snack replenishes your energy so you can feel like working out.

If you don’t feel like working out because of fatigue or lack of energy, you need to fuel up before exerting yourself. Have a snack to replenish your energy supply. Excellent pre-workout goodies include a protein shake, a hard-boiled egg and half a bagel, a pear and a tablespoon of nut butter for dipping, a handful of trail mix, or a yogurt topped with granola. About 30 minutes after your snack, you might be surprised to find that you actually do feel like working out. Also, remember to drink plenty of water during the day as well as during exercise. Dehydration can be another factor that makes you feel sluggish.

5–Change It Up

The library and YouTube are filled with videos of great workouts you’ve never tried before.
Image by FitnessBlender

Even if you’ve found an exercise plan you love, there are times when boredom kicks in and threatens to undo all the progress you’ve made. A great solution that you can implement immediately is to change up your routine. Do something different, like adding in an extra resistance training day at home or in the gym, or trying a kickboxing class. Heck, you can even check out some exercise DVDs from the library or find some on YouTube. If you don’t end up liking something, fine. At least you worked out when you didn’t feel like it. On the other hand, you might end up discovering your new favorite workout.

6–Phone a Friend


It’s a whole lot easier to do something you don’t want to if you have some support. When you feel a cop-out coming on, make plans with a workout buddy to exercise. Being accountable to someone else will ensure you show up. Plus, you’ll push each other to make it time well-spent. This is an exceptionally good tip for those who typically work out alone. Adding a partner to your exercise element is another way to change things up and make your workout more interesting.

7–Let the Dogs Out

When no humans on your contact list have time in their schedule for a workout, get some help from your true best friend. Playing with your dog is great exercise, especially if you take him for a walk or run. Prevention advises that even a game of tag or fetch can provide an effective workout. Don’t have a dog of your own? Borrow one or, better yet, talk to your local animal shelter about volunteering to walk shelter dogs.


The “Best” Workout Shoes Depend on the Workout

Old-school high tops have their purpose, but they aren’t appropriate for all types of exercise.

The adage to “dress for success” applies to everything you do–including your workout. Maybe we should say especially your workout. Not so much the clothing, though you do want to wear comfortable clothes that are light weight, allow your skin to breathe, and don’t interfere with movement, but it’s the shoes that really make a difference. Offering protection and support for your feet, the shoes you choose should provide a sturdy foundation for whatever exercise you do. With the innovations in athletic shoes over the years, the basic one pair of gym shoes for every activity is a thing of the past. You now have more choices than Keds or Converse, and you need to consider what your personal exercise routine involves when you pick a pair of workout shoes.

Weight Lifting Shoes

When you lift weights, your body has to support excessive loads that you don’t normally haul around during a typical day. That means you need weight lifting shoes that offer support without being too cushioned. Shannon Clark of BodyBuilding.com points out that those with weak ankle joints should look for shoes that extend up over the ankles for added support. You don’t want or need a lot of cushioning, either. Many weight lifting shoes are made with little or no cushion at all because too much padding in the insole makes for an unstable foundation. Wrestling shoes are often the gym shoes of choice for weight lifters because they’re kind of like high-tops but without the ample cushioning that basketball players need, plus the soles have traction to keep your feet from sliding when you lift. The one element that makes them less-than-perfect as weight lifting shoes is that the forefoot tends to be tapered, as many traditional shoes are. Nick Colas‘s article for BodyBuilding.com explains that your toes need to be able to spread out when you lift weights, to provide the most sturdy foundation possible. That’s why good weight lifting shoes are wider in the forefoot area than other gym shoes.

Barefoot shoes are a comfortable fad, but you won’t get much protection with them for weightlifting and they may not provide the traction you need, either.
Image via osseous/Flickr

Then there are the barefoot lifting and special weight lifting shoes that are designed to offer an experience as close as possible to lifting barefoot. Aside from freeing your feet up to do what they naturally do when you lift weights, the argument for barefoot lifting and minimalist weight lifting shoes is that they place your feet in a flat, or almost flat, position. That is supposed to allow you to muster the force you need to lift heavy. Also, if you’re lifting barefoot or in a barefoot shoe, there will be no cushioned sole to cause instability. Though barefoot lifting and minimalist shoes do have their devotees, Muscle and Fitness advises that those two options don’t provide much, or any, protection for your feet if a weight or bar is dropped. Also, you won’t have any traction in bare feet, and the flexible soles of barefoot shoes aren’t great at holding your feet stationary, so you won’t have stability with them.

Running Shoes

Running shoes are designed to provide comfort, support, and shock absorption during your run. The surface you prefer to run on may make a difference in which running shoe you choose.

High impact exercise such as running requires different things from a shoe than weight lifting does. Running shoes typically have thick, medium-firm soles and significant cushion inside to help absorb impact. Runner’s World offers up a few different areas runners need to consider when buying running shoes, starting with a snug heel that doesn’t slip. When your foot pushes off to propel you forward, your toes will need room to spread, so a forefoot area that is wide enough for your foot to move a bit from side to side is essential. The shoe’s upper should feel secure without putting pressure on your instep. Running shoes should flex in the same place your foot flexes, so test them by pressing the tip of the shoe on a hard surface such as the floor or a countertop to see where the natural flex point is. Runners put their shoes through a lot, requiring running shoes to be replaced more frequently than other types of athletic shoes. Web MD recommends dating your running shoes and keeping track of the mileage you put on them, then replace them every 6 months or 500 miles, whichever comes first.

Aerobic Shoes

Just like running shoes, aerobic shoes should have a wide sole and cushioning, but the placement of the padding is different.

Even low-impact aerobics subjects your joints to some level of force, so you’ll need shoes with cushion for shock absorption if you favor aerobic workouts. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your thickly padded running shoes can serve double duty. According to Happy Feet Podiatry Clinic in Napa, California, the majority of cushioning in running shoes is in the heel, while the cushioning in aerobic shoes needs to be under the balls of your feet. Aerobic shoes should support your arches without putting pressure on them, and the upper should be comfortable but provide support as well. The forefront of the shoe shouldn’t be tight, either, as you’ll be executing a number of lateral and side to side moves.

Cross Training Shoes

No one shoe is ideal for every workout, but cross trainers come close.

Many people enjoy getting their exercise through more than one means, and buying a special shoe for each workout may not be in the budget. That’s where cross training shoes come in. Designed to be worn for a number of different types of workouts, they are as close to one-shoe-fits-all-activities footwear as you can come. However, you’ll probably find that, although they get the job done, they aren’t ideal for every type of exercise you wear them for. LIVESTRONG explains that, though cross training shoes are breathable, their multipurpose design tends to make them heavier than you might want for some activities. They do have ample cushioning, though, and tend to have thick, wide soles that offer good support, stability, and traction.

When fitting any athletic shoe, your toes shouldn’t be crammed up against the front. Instead, make sure there’s about a finger-width of space to prevent irritation, injury, and discomfort. Also, shop for workout shoes in the afternoon or evening. Your feet swell over the course of the day, and they swell during exercise as well, so it’s best to try on shoes after you’ve walked around for several hours.


6 Simple Lifestyle Changes to Lower Blood Sugar

This week, TargitFit is pleased to bring you an informative health article by Emma Lymn:

Thanks to soda, junk food, and juices, the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes continues to rise. In fact, it’s gotten worse.

Today, we’re seeing young kids being diagnosed with the condition. And what was once a disease that only affected adults is now making its way to teenagers.

Type 2 Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar stays high for long periods of time. This happens because there’s too much glucose in your bloodstream.

Left uncontrolled, it can damage the vessels that carry blood to your organs, affecting the supply of blood they receive. As a result, it can trigger even more serious health problems in the long term, including heart and kidney disease, poor vision, and nerve problems.

To help prevent this from happening, here are easy things you can do to lower your blood sugar naturally.

1. Don’t Sit for Too Long

Most of us work behind a desk. That’s why the average person spends about 12 hours a day sitting down (1). If you spend 8 hours sleeping, that means 75% of the time you’re awake is spent seated.

That’s a bad thing.

According to a 2017 study, too much sitting or being sedentary increases your mortality. (2) In fact, those who sat more than 13 hours daily had a 200% higher risk of death compared to those who sat less than 11 hours a day.

This happens because prolonged sitting causes a host of health problems, including hypertension, high blood sugar, stroke, and heart attack. (3)

The good news is that standing up every few minutes or so helps. Research also shows that getting up and standing one and a half hours after eating lowers post-meal blood sugar by 43% compared to sitting down. (4)

Since the biggest glucose spikes tend to happen after you eat, enjoying a post-lunch or after-dinner walk is a good idea. Just getting up from your chair and walking will help prevent your glucose levels from spiking too much after meals.

2. Make Sure to Get 7 to 8 Hours of Sleep Nightly

Getting enough sleep also helps keep your blood sugar down. When you sleep, your body is able to repair and recover. Sleep also allows it to properly regulate your hormones. These are just a few of sleep’s many benefits to your health.

On the other hand, lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep has been shown to cause weight gain and increased blood sugar levels. (5)

That’s because it prevents your body from recuperating. It also disrupts your hormones which help regulate your appetite, insulin, and cortisol levels—all of which affect your blood sugar.

When your glucose level gets high enough, your kidneys will work overtime to flush it out by urinating. Thus, you’ll likely wake up in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom, which further interrupts your sleep.

To prevent this vicious cycle from happening, try to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. This gives your body enough time to fully rest and recover.

3. Keep Your Stress Levels Down

Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga help reduce stress which can, in turn, help keep blood sugar down.

Studies have shown that stress increases your blood sugar. (6) That’s because any time you feel stressed, your body goes into fight or flight mode. This is its natural way of preparing to react or protect itself in case there’s an emergency.

To do so, it increases the production of certain hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones cause your liver to secrete glucose into your bloodstream. That’s why you’ll feel a burst of extra energy and feel more alert when you’re stressed.

While it isn’t bad if it happens once in a while, being chronically stressed keeps your blood sugar elevated for long periods of time. Thus, increasing your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Since you don’t always have full control of things in life, stress is inevitable. Thus, the best way to help reduce it is to have a few stress management techniques you can turn to. Meditation, deep breathing, and yoga are just a few things that work well against stress.

4. Walk After Meals

In a healthy individual, blood sugar starts to rise about 10 to 15 minutes after eating a meal. It continues to do this for the next 2 hours or so.

How long it stays up and how high it goes often depends on what you just ate. The more carbs and sugar you consume, the higher and longer it stays elevated.

Unfortunately, large and prolonged glucose spikes that happen day in and day out are bad for your health because they increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.

One simple way to reduce the magnitude of these spikes is to take a walk right after your meals. Research shows that walking 15 minutes after eating helps lower post-meal blood glucose levels. (7)

In doing so, it helps regulate your blood sugar and keeps it from spiking too much.

5. Keep an Eye on Your Coffee and Caffeine Consumption

Big coffee drinker? Find out how caffeine affects your blood sugar and adjust your consumption accordingly.

Caffeine, which is the main ingredient in coffee, affects people in different ways. For some, it can cause a short-term increase in blood sugar. For others, it has no effect on their glucose levels.

Meanwhile, some research suggests that long-term coffee consumption helps lower diabetes risk. (8) But, if you have type 2 diabetes, its effects can be more erratic.

So, if you drink coffee or consume other things that contain caffeine, it may be a good idea to see how they affect your blood sugar levels before making them a regular habit.

Here’s a simple way to test coffee’s effects on your glucose level.

  • When you wake up in the morning, don’t eat or drink anything. This ensures you’re on an empty stomach.
  • Take your blood sugar level. This will give you a baseline to compare after you consume a cup of coffee.
  • Next, it’s time to enjoy your cup of coffee. Ideally, drink it black so you don’t introduce other factors that can affect the results.
  • For the next 2 hours, don’t do anything that can affect your blood sugar. This includes eating, drinking, getting stressed or any kind of physical activity.
  • Once 2 hours are up, retake your blood sugar and compare the result with your baseline.

This will give you a good idea on how your body reacts to coffee and the caffeine in it.

  • If your blood sugar goes up, then you may want to limit how much coffee you consume in order to reduce the spikes that can occur after each cup.
  • If your blood sugar stays the same or drops by a little bit, then caffeine probably doesn’t affect your blood glucose.

6. Limit Soda, Juice and Energy Drinks

It’s no surprise that soda is packed with sugar, but there’s a lot of it hiding in “healthy” beverages like fruit juices and energy drinks, too.

Soda, fruit juices and energy drinks all taste great. They’re definitely more flavorful than water. But they also contain a lot of sugar.

Here’s a quick look at how much sugar your favorite drinks contain. To make it easy to compare, we’ve set all the drinks to 12-ounce sizes. (9)

  • Cola = 10.25 teaspoons of sugar
  • Orange juice: 7.5 teaspoons of sugar
  • Orange soda = 13 teaspoons of sugar
  • Sweet tea = 8.5 teaspoons of sugar

The problem here is that the American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of added sugar you consume daily to 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men.

That means drinking one 12-ounce can or bottle of these beverages will easily put you over the limit for the day once you add other foods or drinks you consume.

Closing Thoughts

By applying some or all of these simple changes to your current lifestyle, you’ll be able to improve your blood sugar levels and stay healthy so you can keep doing the things you love.


(1) https://www.juststand.org/the-facts/

(2) https://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/11/health/sitting-increases-risk-of-death-study/index.html

(3) https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/sitting-with-diabetes/

(4) http://oem.bmj.com/content/71/2/109.long

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4394987/

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28244581

(7) http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2013/06/03/dc13-0084

(8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20008687/

(9) https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/downloads/tip-sugar-in-drinks.pdf


Emma Lymn is the editor of Health Grinder, a health and nutrition blog. She is passionate about helping others learn to eat healthy and lose weight. A proud mom of two kids and a very spoiled dog, she enjoys traveling and volunteering in her spare time.

Strength Training After 40 — and Beyond!

Recently, we talked about losing weight and staying fit as we age. The earlier you start, of course, the better, but once you start aging, you’ll notice your body reacts differently to your workouts. Everyone is different, but typically it’s right around the 40-year mark that things start changing. You’ll notice that sore muscles last a bit longer and that you can’t increase the amount of weight you lift as much, or as often. If you’ve been lifting since your 20s, this might not be enough to discourage you. It can put a damper on your enthusiasm, though, if you’ve only been working out for a few years and suddenly develop difficulty with muscle aches and plateaus. The secret to strength training after 40 is to understand and expect the changes, and make accommodations for them.

Don’t Skip the Warm-Up

Get your blood flowing by running in place or doing jumping jacks.
Image via Jump Rope Dudes/YouTube

When you were younger and invincible, you probably did your first three sets of any given workout at about half of your maximum lift and considered it a warm-up. While a younger body can handle that, lifting light isn’t an acceptable warm-up for anyone. Warming up is supposed to do just that: warm your muscles to improve their flexibility and performance by getting the blood flowing. For those over 40, this part is vital for good muscle building workouts because, as Bodybuilding.com points out, older muscles and ligaments tighten up more and, therefore, are at a higher risk for injury. Spend 5 to 10 minutes jogging in place or on the treadmill. Alternatively, you can do 5 to 10 minutes of calisthenic-type exercises such as jumping jacks. Then spend a few minutes activating your muscles with some dynamic stretches such as leg lifts, walking lunges, arm circles and triceps stretches. Foam rollers are another effective way to warm up muscles and get blood flowing. Start every workout this way to get the most benefits of strength training without injuring yourself.

Ease Up

Pushing yourself to lift too heavy is an invitation for injury.

If you love the lift-heavy, low-rep routine you’ve been using for putting on muscle mass, it’s a good idea to back off of it once you hit 40. Whether or not you’ve recently started a strength training program, the Huffington Post recommends significantly reducing or altogether eliminating low-rep training because after 40 it’s more difficult to recover from lifting excessively heavy weights. Don’t fret that you’ll lose muscle mass. You can still maintain and even see some increases in mass by lifting moderately heavy, an amount that you max out on in eight to 12 reps. Three sets of 12 to 14 reps each are actually what personal trainers and sports specialists recommend for older lifters.

Adjust Recovery Time

Take a day off between workouts to give your aging muscles a chance to rest and recover.

You may have tried to ignore it but, after you reach a certain age, you’ll notice that it takes longer to recover from a workout. You won’t be doing yourself or your body any favors by trying to push through and forcing yourself to stick to the three days on, one day off lifting schedule you stuck to in younger days. Studies have found that taking 48 hours between training sessions is optimal for recovery. This could be structured as a one day on, one day off routine during the week that would also give you weekends off from working out. ExRx.net calls it a three day split: chest and back on Monday, legs on Wednesday and shoulders and arms on Friday. Go ahead and do extra cardio one day over the weekend if you absolutely cannot take 2 days off in a row. Just remember to give your body adequate rest and time to recover before hitting the gym again. After all, your muscles repair and grow when you’re resting, not when you’re working out. Muscle For Life even recommends taking an entire week off every 6 to 8 weeks after you hit 40.

Try Different Equipment and Workouts


TargitFit makes it easy to quickly move from one exercise to another to perform HIIT or circuit training workouts.

It can’t be denied that there’s a distinct feeling of accomplishment when you pump iron. Here’s the “but” you know is coming: free weights put a load on your joints and tendons that may cause discomfort at best, or can cause lasting injuries at worst. Since you already mastered the iron, open your mind to alternative equipment. Health professionals suggest switching to bands. They’re a safer form of resistance at any age, especially if you’ve had an injury in the past, because they don’t place a potentially dangerous load on your joints. With the right equipment, such as the TargitFit Trainer, you can do pretty much any exercise you can with free weights and all without damaging your joints and tendons. Additionally, because it’s easy to move from one exercise to the next, you can perform HIIT or circuit training workouts with the TargitFit. These types of workouts get your heart rate up, so they’re good for improving your aerobic capacity. Plus, they’re also good for muscle mass growth. According to Dr. Mercola, burst-type high-intensity exercises promote human growth hormone that encourages muscle growth.

The Amazing Muscle Recovery and Pain Management Tool You’re Not Using

Are you one of the many who have written off foam rolling as just another exercise fad? It’s understandable. You look at that rigid foam cylinder and wonder how rolling it under various parts of your body could possibly do anything for you. That’s the problem with judging books by their covers. It’s the same way with the TargitFit Trainer. You can’t even begin to imagine what an incredible workout you’ll get on it. You have to jump in and give it a try. But, I digress…

If you suffer from tight muscles, impeded range of motion, neck, back, or leg pain, or trigger-point sensitivity otherwise known as knots in your muscles, you should try foam roller exercises. We’ll quote some of the research and benefits below, but personal experience reveals that you’ll feel so much better after just as little as a 5-minute session, you won’t hesitate to add a foam roller to your regular routine every time you exercise.

How Does it Work?

If you’ve never had a really good deep-tissue massage, then you probably won’t understand what foam roller exercises can do for you. However, if you’ve experienced the bliss of a skilled massage therapist working the knots out of your muscles—and aches and pains along with them—then you’ll get the picture. It’s the same type of myofascial release, but it’s DIY.

Although the roller is made of foam, the material has very little give. As you roll it under your body, gravity works with your body weight and the ultra-firm roller to essentially massage away tension, relax your muscles, and alleviate joint stress and muscle tissue soreness. In fact, the benefits of foam rolling also include:

  • breaking up scar tissue and lengthening muscles
  • decreased muscle tension
  • correcting imbalances in muscles
  • increasing range of motion
  • improving circulation for better neuromuscular efficiency

What’s more, studies have also found foam rolling to be useful for aiding recovery after intense exercise as well as increasing muscle activation and even vertical jump height (!).

“Yes, but how does it work?” you may be asking. Just like with massage, foam rolling gets your blood flowing, bringing more oxygen to the muscle tissue to help it repair and work properly. Also, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the pressure deactivates undue muscle spindle activity that causes muscles to tense, shorten, knot up, and become imbalanced.

Real Results

If you’re still skeptical and wonder how well foam rolling could possibly work, would you believe a personal testimony? After a recent chiropractic adjustment and wearing a soft collar failed to provide lasting relief from pain in my neck, shoulders, and upper back, I found a YouTube video demonstrating a couple of foam roller exercises for those specific areas and gave them a try. OMG doesn’t even describe how I felt after spending less than 10 minutes doing the exercises. It alleviated my pain for the rest of the day and increased the range of motion in my arms and neck—I could finally turn my head to look to the side, lift my arms over my head, and my fingers aren’t numb or tingling! The level of excitement over those seemingly small accomplishments should tell you what kind of pain and restrictions I’d been living with.

Full disclosure, the pain and restricted mobility came back the next day, but not as severely. So, 2 days after first trying foam rolling, I went through the exercises again and then performed a 20-minute yoga routine for stress-relief. It was the first time I’d been able to exercise in a week. The result was another pain-free afternoon and evening and I still feel great. The ultimate result? I’ll be starting all my workouts—yoga, resistance training, and even cardio—with foam rolling as part of my warm-up routine. Also, I will still visit the chiropractor and massage therapist as needed but, if these early indications end up being long-term benefits, that “as needed” basis will probably be less frequently than it has been over the last few years.

Miraculous Foam Roller Exercises You Should be Doing Right Now

By now, you get that I consider roam roller results to be magical. When you live with restricted mobility and a lot of pain, and something can take that away immediately, how else can you describe it? Still, before we turn you lose with a handful of foam roller exercises, there are a few things you should know. First, there are different sizes of foam rollers with different diameters and lengths. Smaller rollers are easier to transport and store and are good for targeting specific body parts. Larger rollers, however, are still pretty useful for most areas of the body and are especially good for larger muscle groups like your back or leg muscles.

Super-firm rollers or ones with ridges might be a little hard-core if you’re new to foam rolling. Opt for a softer, smooth roller at first to avoid discomfort.

You can get foam rollers with different firmness levels, too. Women’s Health warns that firmer rollers provide deeper pressure, even to the point of pain, if you’re not careful. I’ll admit: my first experience did include a little pain. My roller is quite firm and there are two smooth sides alternating with two sections of grooved ridges. But I adjusted, limiting the amount of pressure I allowed my body to create and using the smooth sides when I was doing the exercises on my ribs and lat muscles. Approaching it mindfully, my foam roller session went from “ouch!” to “hurts so good!

Up front, you should know that it’s advised not to use foam rollers to apply direct pressure to your spine, including the cervical area that makes up your neck. Also, don’t rush things. Time magazine points out that of all the studies done on foam rolling exercises, the ones that had the best results were those in which participants spent 90 seconds or more on each individual exercise.

The exercises that are most often associated with foam rollers tend to be for the legs such as:




…IT bands…

…and calves.

However, the exercises I found work great on the upper back and shoulders, including the area between the shoulder blades. Here’s that awesome sequence that worked wonders for me:

There are also roller exercises that target the lower back:

And, although you’re not supposed to use rollers directly on your cervical spine, there are ways it can be used to increase mobility and alleviate pain and tension in your neck:

Foam rollers…who knew?

Losing Weight and Staying Fit as You Age

Ironic, isn’t it? The only constant in life is change…and the most annoying constantly changing thing is how your body deals with fitness and weight issues as it ages. Wouldn’t it be great if in your 30s and 40s you had the same energy and drive that kept you almost effortlessly fit in your 20s? And wouldn’t it be just as wonderful if the exercise routine and eating habits that you finally found to in your 30s and 40s still worked at 50 and beyond? We wish there was some good news to share here about how to keep the status quo working but, unfortunately, that’s not how human bodies are built. The best thing you can do for weight loss and fitness as you age is to embrace change. Acknowledge you’re going to have to adjust how you do things and get on board whole heartedly.

Keep Exercise in the Plan

Weight gain with age is a vicious cycle. Your metabolism slows down and burns less calories and your energy levels drop. The right foods may give you more energy, but you won’t typically be able to eat as much as you used to and still maintain or lose weight. That’s why, although diet does play an important part, physical activity is the key for most health issues throughout any phase of your life, but especially as you age.

Resistance training is essential throughout your lifetime.

Resistance training, specifically, is as close to the magic bullet as you’ll find. Studies have shown that it increases lean body weight and the metabolism, reduces fat, improves balance, motor control, and cognitive abilities. Exercising with resistance training can improve blood pressure, keep your heart healthy, bring down your cholesterol, and increase bone density. Plus, it helps manage chronic illness such as diabetes much better than medication does.

There’s no form of exercise—resistance or aerobic—that’s one-size-fits-all. What works for you might not work for someone else, and what the other guy swears by might not be enjoyable enough to you to keep you motivated and coming back for more. The answer to that is to try different forms of exercise. Changing things up is an effective strategy any time, but particularly as you age because it forces your body to switch gears and start burning calories again. Move as much as possible in general, such as pacing the room whenever you’re on the phone or jogging in place during every commercial break while you’re watching TV. But also schedule actual workouts into your weekly routine.

In 2018, the CDC updated their physical activity guidelines. Although most of the basics remained the same, such as working out with resistance twice a week and averaging about 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercise, there’s now some additional guidelines for older adults. In general, the guidelines encourage maintaining exercise throughout your lifetime but paying attention to your health and your body’s cues so you can stay as fit and healthy as possible without overdoing it and risking injury or wellness. That boils down to an important takeaway: know how to listen to your body and recognize your limits, but push yourself right up to those limits rather than using them as an excuse not to exercise.

The Diet Connection

You’ll need more fruits and veggies as you age and less protein, but a healthy weight always boils down to balanced nutrition.

Even though trying to control diet alone isn’t enough for successful weight loss at most ages, it’s still an important enough factor that you should never feel free to eat as much as you want. When you’re young, a lightning-fast metabolism might make that possible, but it’s a hard habit to break when your metabolism changes. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has a cool little tool that helps you determine how many calories you need to eat each day to lose or maintain weight based on all the factors that matter. Pair it up with the My Plate for Older Adults (yes, your nutritional needs along with your calorie requirements change as you age), and you’ll have a formula for successful weight management no matter how old you are.

Meals are another time when it comes in handy to be in touch with your body. How do you feel after eating a high-protein meal? Or after one loaded with carbs? Federal guidelines are generalized and work for most people but if you find you don’t feel all that great when you eat a lot of meat, cut back. Try a few veggie meals each week, but supplement with amino acids and don’t shy away from plant protein—researchers have found that eating a variety of plants known for supplying protein like grains, beans, nuts, tofu, and legumes, throughout the day is sufficient for meeting nutritional protein needs.

And, just because you’re aging, that doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself. Naturally, you’ll want to keep a closer eye on your salt and sugar intake, especially if you have issues with diabetes and blood pressure. But allowing yourself to indulge now and then won’t derail your whole weight control and fitness plan. In fact, cheating can help you stick to your diet by keeping you from feeling deprived and giving you something to look forward to.

Looking and feeling good is possible no matter where you are in life–not “for your age”–but in spite of it!

Above all, take it all one day at a time. Move around. Schedule exercise onto your calendar and stick to the plan as much as possible. Eat healthy most of the time but allow some leniency for a treat on a regular basis. Then do it all over again tomorrow—and the next day and the next. Pretty soon, you’ll notice some changes have taken place and the best part will be how great you look and feel—not “for your age” but regardless of it.

NO is the Answer to Many Health and Fitness Questions

Supplements benefit more people than bodybuilders and athletes.

Most people don’t worry about nutritional supplements beyond a multivitamin or maybe some protein, thinking that the only ones who really need the “extras” are bodybuilders and other athletes. Take nitric oxide, for example. Known as “NO” in the gym and competitive sports circles, it’s not a supplement that soccer moms or senior citizens reach for or even think of when they want to lose a few pounds or improve their health and fitness. While it’s true that bodybuilders love what nitric oxide can do for them, including encouraging recovery after a workout, improving endurance, enhancing efficient energy use, and creating an awesome muscle pump, according to Bodybuilding.com, NO offers essential health benefits for everyone.

Overall Health Benefits

Studies have shown that NO supplements can help with weight loss by supporting the use of glucose more efficiently during exercise AND encouraging the use of body fat for fuel after clearing out the glucose.

One of nitric oxide’s jobs is to keep the lines of communication open between your body’s cells. NO plays an important role in regulating organs including the liver and kidneys as well as the lungs, brain, and stomach. It helps control adrenaline and hormones and is key in facilitating blood flow. According to “Healing Hormones” by Mark Estren and Beverly Potter, NO accomplishes this by widening blood vessels. The resulting increased blood flow improves heart health and prevents stroke and oxygen starvation. Nitric oxide is even helpful for supporting your immune system and fighting infection, warding off cancer, and protects against neurodegenerative conditions including dementia.

Even weight loss can be enhanced by NO. A study published in the American Journal of Physiology found that a nitric oxide supplement not only improved the efficiency of the subjects’ use of glucose, increasing the rate of appearance, disappearance, and clearance, but it also encouraged the use of body fat as fuel.

NO Such Thing

So here’s the weird part: there isn’t a nitric oxide supplement that contains nitric oxide. NO is actually a gas that the body produces naturally under ideal circumstances by breaking down protein, specifically L-arginine. Nitric oxide supplements are actually ones that contain amino acids and antioxidants, like Beverly International’s Muscle Synergy. Processing L-arginine and L-citrulline encourages your body to manufacture NO, and the antioxidants help control nitric oxide degradation that can cause inflammation and damage cell lining.

Should You Supplement?

Not enough NO can cause vascular disorders which can, in turn, make it harder for your body to produce nitric oxide. Image via YinY/Wikipedia/Public Domain

Even though nitric oxide is produced by the body and is important for numerous functions, you still may wonder if it’s necessary for the average person to take supplements to enhance NO production. It should be noted that taking too many amino acids does have unpleasant side effects including weakness, nausea, and diarrhea. However, serious health issues can arise if you allow your body to fall into a nitric oxide deficiency. According to wellness expert Dr. Whitaker, people who don’t produce enough NO are at risk for vascular disorders including heart disease and high blood pressure. Plus, once cardiovascular disease damages arteries, they become incapable of generating high enough levels of nitric oxide to facilitate cell regeneration. That creates an environment for additional damage to vascular tissue and increased risk of escalating heart disease. It’s a vicious circle.

So, long story short, boosting NO in your system without going overboard is the logical choice.

Doing it Naturally

You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to be thankful for white meat turkey–it contains L-arginine to up the NO levels in your body.

If you’re not the type to load up on supplements, there are natural ways you can encourage your body to produce more nitric oxide. The obvious first choice is to eat meat rich in arginine such as shrimp, crab, and white turkey meat. Other foods that contain the right amino acids for NO production are beets, onions, grapes, sesame seeds, and leafy greens including spinach and kale. The Muscles Zone says that Hawthorne extract encourages nitric oxide secretion in the endothelial cells, and points out that exercise also causes your body to release NO into your system.

Benefits of Exercise for PTSD and Other Stress Disorders

Even a trauma like an automobile accident
can cause PTSD.

Everyone deals with anxiety and stress to some extent. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (the ADAA), anxiety disorders affect 40 million U.S. adults. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a specific type of anxiety disorder that results from trauma, either from witnessing or experiencing it. PTSD is most often associated with military veterans but, while the prevalence of the disorder among veterans is between 13 and 31 percent, it’s not a disorder that discriminates. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says that 5.2 million adults in general — military and civilians alike — suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder each year, and 7 to 8 percent of the population will have PTSD in their lifetime.

Whether or not you can get over PTSD hasn’t been conclusively proven. Some deal with PTSD symptoms more effectively than others and may appear cured, but doctors Kim, Kravits and Schneider from the University of New Mexico say there is no cure and the best course of action is an ongoing challenge to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and manage PTSD symptoms. It may sound simplistic to tout the benefits of exercise to include treating stress, anxiety and PTSD, but it’s been proven that exercise really can help someone with PTSD syndrome.

The Gym is Therapeutic

“The gym has always been my therapy,” says Randy, a veteran who was stationed in Afghanistan. “Even before I was in the military, I used working out to release tension and stress. I always feel better after I’ve hit the gym.”

Exerting energy for a workout relieves stress and floods your system with endorphins.

One of the reasons exercise helps Randy, other veterans, and those with PTSD is because it releases stress-combating endorphins into the system, relieving anxiety and tension and promoting positive feelings. The ADAA says that studies are even showing that regular exercise is as effective as medication for some people. The benefits of exercise for PTSD symptoms have proven so effective that professionals and official organizations recommend regular exercise to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

How Exercise Treats Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

bench press

When your mind is on your workout and counting reps, you won’t have time to dwell on anxiety-ridden thoughts.

In his book on PTSD, Dr. Mark Goulston lists the many different ways exercise will help someone with PTSD. First, exercise distracts you. When your mind is on counting reps, following the exercise class instructor, or maintaining your speed and heart rate while on the elliptical or treadmill, it won’t be dwelling on anxiety-ridden thoughts. Also, exercising gives you a sense of control over your time, your body, and your life. That’s a terrific plus that counters the helpless feelings that are one of the many PTSD symptoms.

In addition to calming anxious, stressful thoughts and giving you back control over your life, exercise addresses other PTSD symptoms. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder often leads to problems with weight control. PTSD can result in high blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease. Depression and insomnia are other PTSD symptoms. Exercise helps combat all of these, lowering your blood pressure, helping with weight control, improving your cardiovascular health, and helping you sleep easier, better, and more soundly. Additionally, exercise decreases depression and improves memory and brain function.

Remember to Breathe

Breathe out each time you exert in an exercise to avoid injury and eliminate the chances of hyperventilating.

It’s always wise to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Aside from that, if there’s one caveat to using exercise to combat any stress disorder, it would be the importance of proper breathing. It’s essential to remember to breathe under any circumstances when working out, but it’s especially vital for those with PTSD or other anxiety disorders. That’s because improper breathing during exercise can cause hyperventilation which may lead to a panic attack.

Stew Smith of Military.com explains that, if running is your exercise of choice, you can use your steps to breathe in a 3:2 ratio, breathing in for three steps, then breathing out for two steps. Proper breathing during resistance training is a lot easier to manage. Inhale prior to the exertion part of an exercise and exhale with the exertion. Proper breathing prevents potential internal injury such as blood vessel strain or hernia in addition to keeping hyperventilation and panic attacks at bay. Plus, deep breathing from the diaphragm is yet another technique for treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Whether you’re combating PTSD or something less traumatic is stressing you out, it’s worth it to give exercise a try. If, aside from alleviating PTSD symptoms, you lose some weight and improve your mood and health, those are far better side effects than you’ll get with any medication.

New Study Alert: Does Salt Interfere With Weight Loss?

Not happy with the numbers on the scale? You could be getting too much or not enough salt.

Today, let’s look at the latest findings linking salt to being overweight. There is more than one recent study that suggests that salt is a potential cause of obesity so, of course, helpful health watchdogs jumped on the chance to take one more thing away from us. Their red flags could lead you to assume salt is the lone reason that you haven’t been able to lose weight no matter what you try, but don’t be so quick on the draw. It isn’t that the research should be ignored, but let’s sort out the facts on dietary sodium.

First, the Findings

Studies show that high-sodium diets encourage fat cell growth, and suggest that sodium can be linked to obesity and difficulty loosing weight.

A 2015 study on salt and obesity found that subjects across a range of ages who consumed high levels of salt had higher body fat mass. Some have speculated that people who are overweight eat more overall and, therefore, have more of a chance of working sodium into their diets. However, as recently as 2014, FOX News reported on research that linked salt to obesity in teens. The findings in this particular study included the fact that it did not matter how much food they ate. The most overweight kids were the ones who consumed the most sodium period which, BTW, averaged 3,300 to 3,400 mg per day–more than twice the recommended amount. Neither of these studies looked at why salt and obesity are linked, but Dr. Haidong Zhu, who led the study on sodium and teen obesity, referred to animal studies that showed high-salt diets promote fat cell growth.

Salt is Essential

Salt is essential for many body functions. Additionally, reducing salt intake doesn’t always lower blood pressure.

It is not prudent or healthy to go cold-turkey on the sodium, even if you’re having trouble losing weight. Harvard Health advises that you can’t live without salt. It helps your body sustain a good fluid balance plus, as an electrically charged molecule, it is vital for the transmission of nerve impulses, and sodium is also involved in contracting and relaxing your muscle fibers. People with hypotension need salt to help keep their blood pressure in the normal range. And, for all the studies that paint a picture of salt as Satan, Authority Nutrition says there are numerous studies with results showing that too little salt can cause health problems including increased cholesterol and increased risk of death in patients with Type II Diabetes. One study even found that a low sodium diet caused insulin resistance, which is a primary cause of obesity. (!) That means that, though too much salt in your diet can interfere with weight loss, not enough can keep you from losing weight, too.

So…How Much Salt Do You Need?

Not even the authoritative resources have been able to pinpoint how much salt is a healthy amount without being too much. With the USDA saying no more than 2,400 mg and the American Heart Association saying 1,500 mg, at least we have a range of between 3/4 and 1 full teaspoon of salt per day. However, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics cautions against putting one general number on recommended sodium intake. The Academy understands that everyone’s bodies are different and that a life-saving low-sodium diet for one person could be detrimental to another.

Himalayan pink salt, sea salt, and similar types of unrefined salts add trace nutrients to the diet that are beneficial for your health.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t really answer the question of how much salt you need. This is another one of those times when it is helpful if you know your body and know how to listen to it. Start with your blood pressure. If it is high, lowering your salt intake can help lower blood pressure. Go for an entire day without dashing the shaker over your food and, just for this one experimental day, try to eat low sodium foods such as fresh (not processed or pre-packaged) foods like vegetables but including fresh meat, too. Take note of how you feel overall. If salt has been interfering with your health, that should not be a tough one to gauge. If you feel great after your salt-limiting experiment and your blood pressure reading drops, it is definitely an indication that you belong on the lower end of the 1,500 to 2,400 mg scale.

On the other side of the coin, if you have low blood pressure, conducting the same experiment could have the opposite effect. Going low-sodium for a day or more might make you feel weak and fatigued, could interfere with your vision, and could produce cold sweats, dizziness, and even nausea. Those results are not a license to eat unlimited salt, but they do indicate that you can settle somewhere closer to 2,400 mg of salt per day.

In the end, you just need to find your personal salty sweet spot and take the studies with, well, a grain of salt.

The Set Up: Getting Fit is Better Than Joining a Dating Site

If you haven’t been directly involved in a conversation that includes the swearing-off of the opposite sex due to lack of consideration, then you have at least overheard one. The problem with dating isn’t that too many friends and relatives are playing matchmaker or that the algorithms on dating sites are off. It’s the way you treat yourself.

You’re more compatible than you think. You’re just sending the wrong message about how you want be treated.

If the way you act shows the world that you don’t deserve to be treated right, then you never will be. Not just romantic ones, but all relationships are affected by a lack of self-confidence. Your employment, education, and every social interaction you have will be negative if you don’t have the physical appearance and attitude that says, “I deserve to be treated right!” While that doesn’t mean being an egotistical ass, it does mean that all areas of your life can benefit from healthy self-esteem.

So What Do Health Clubs and Exercise Have to do With It?

In an article for the Huffington Post, personal development trainer Sophia Nelson says, “…if you don’t take care of yourself, people pick up on it…”, and they’ll treat you accordingly. That means that staying healthy is important for more than avoiding illness and keeping weight off. Working out shows others that you care enough about yourself to do what is right for you.

Exercise is an instant confidence booster–and ongoing workouts provide long-term confidence.

More than that, though, are the numerous ways exercise improves your self-confidence. LIVESTRONG reports that making a commitment to exercise and following through with it gives you a sense of achievement. That feeling of success is completely tied to simply sticking to your workout plan and nothing else. If you’d like to lose weight and happen to do so as a result of consistent exercise, that counts toward bonus confidence.

That isn’t the only way working out can help guard you against the disrespecters in your life. Organic Authority lists several ways exercise builds serious confidence, including

  • improving your posture
  • increasing your productivity
  • giving you some “me time” to look forward to
  • supporting you in meeting challenges

And, of course, exercise releases those happy endorphins that chase away the blues to put you in a good mood. Working out makes you feel feisty, sassy, and sexy because it empowers you. You’re doing something healthy and positive to look better, instead of just complaining about how you look and feel. It cannot be stressed enough, either: even if you haven’t yet hit your target weight or are still struggling with what you perceive to be your problem area, your body image still gets a boost from working out.

The Magic of Confidence

Self-confidence is like a super-power. It makes magic happen.

You should get it now, how exercise can improve your self-confidence, and it isn’t even really about hitting that perfect weight or having Schwarzenegger’s washboard abs. All of that is cake. The confidence is what you’re going for, and Psychology Today has the scoop on the research that backs that up. In one study, researchers doused a group of men with body spray and took pictures of them along with a group they’d left un-perfumed. Then, they showed all of the photos to women and asked them to pick the most attractive men. Of course the women couldn’t smell who had on body spray and who didn’t, but the guys who had been sprayed felt more confident, and that showed in the pictures. You guessed it: the fragrant guys were the ones the women found most attractive even without catching a whiff of them.

Improving your confidence opens doors you thought were locked.

Don’t jump the gun and assume that the confidence factor only applies to men. The Date Report outlined another study in which an introverted, plain woman was covertly treated by a group of students as if she was the latest winner of America’s Next Top Model. The subject’s self-confidence shot up, and male students who weren’t in on the study began asking her out.

If you want to attract a better class of dates, it all boils down to two facts:

  1. working out will improve your confidence
  2. improved confidence attracts people who will treat you with R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Simple as that. And yet, there is one more way health clubs are better than dating sites. The possibility is high that you might meet someone there, and the odds are good that you’ll be compatible. You’ll already have two things in common: self-confidence and you both care about your health–and it’s great fun learning about all the other ways you’re well-matched. That’s not just a theory, either. I speak from experience. Nearly 30 years after meeting my match at the gym, and still going strong. 😉