⭑ All exercise is good but one type reduces blood pressure better ✔
⭑ Exercise plateaus are normal ✔ Here's why and how to break through
⭑ Behaviour is a window into potential dementia ✔ Here's what to know
⭑ Squats. Boring but really beneficial as we get older - here's proper form ✔
All strength to Ukraine 🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦
Hope isn't simply the belief that things will get better for you - that's optimism. I think of hope as the belief that you, individually, can make things better.
This is why hope plays a significant role in shaping life outcomes. If you believe that aging well consists of being hopeful about physical health, emotional connection and mental support then you are likely to live a fulfilled, healthy life.
Hitting an exercise or weight loss plateau is frustrating. Please don’t be discouraged as plateaus are normal - it's our body trying to help us. Here's what to do about it - see item #2.
Cardio is most commonly recommended for improving blood pressure. Researchers just found that this is not the case - see item #1.
01 Which Form Of Exercise Best Lowers Blood Pressure?
Not moving wins! In the case of exercise techniques and lowering blood pressure anyway.
Recent research revealed that isometric exercise was the most effective in lowering blood pressure compared to other forms of exercise.
Coincidentally, in last week's newsletter, I included the extended hollow hold - a classic isometric core-strength exercise. All the more reason to do it, as you will also be lowering your blood pressure.
Previous research has shown that traditional aerobic exercise training is the primary recommended approach for managing resting blood pressure.
However, the current exercise guidelines are mostly based on older data. Recent studies have shown an increasing interest in other exercise modes, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), isometric exercise training, and dynamic resistance training.
This new research reviewed hundreds of randomised controlled trials published between 1990 and February 2023 and combined their results.
It confirmed that aerobic exercise, dynamic resistance, combined, high-intensity interval, and isometric exercise training significantly reduce resting systolic BP and diastolic BP.
⇒ However, comparatively, isometric exercise training was found to be the most effective in lowering blood pressure.
The research paper here.
What this means for you: Include isometric exercises in your daily routine.
Isometric refers to the tightening of a muscle group without changing its length - unlike when you do a dumbbell curl or a squat for example.
The technique is to hold maximum pressure for about 6 seconds, and then release.
In this blog post of mine you will find instructions for 4 powerful isometric exercises that you can finish in 2 minutes, daily:
02 When Your Workout Stops Working [NY Times]
Started to notice that your workouts aren’t delivering the same gains, e.g. your rate of weight loss is slowing, or your output on the spin bike is stagnant?
To plateau in your fitness progress is common and mainly occurs because we adapt to a new workout or allow insufficient recovery. If we are getting enough rest and recovery and seeing plateaus, it is a good thing. This means that our body is becoming more efficient and less stressed for the same amount of output.
Our muscles optimise their effort for a specific routine very quickly. They optimise the energy used so that we can keep going at it. To burn the same amount of energy, we have to go longer, harder, or heavier, but eventually, this reaches limits.
Muscle memory also plays a part as our muscle cells adapt to repeated stress by becoming more efficient in contraction and energy utilisation. While this is a sign of improved fitness, it also means that the same exercise will yield diminishing returns over time.
And, as we age, we experience a slower recovery rate after exercise, partly due to decreased blood flow and nutrient delivery to muscle tissues. This leads to our muscles struggling to perform fully when we next exercise.
This is why older endurance athletes often encounter plateaus when they have too many long workouts in a row.
What this means for you: Reassess your routine and rechallenge your body - switch things around.
For example, for runners, throttling down the pace and focusing on longer or more frequent runs or rides can help break through plateaus.
If you've been concentrating on cardio, incorporate strength training. If you've been lifting weights, try adding more aerobic exercises like swimming or cycling. Change variables such as weight, rest time, and repetitions.
Switch your focus every 6 to 8 weeks. Variety not only challenges your muscles but also keeps you mentally engaged.
And prioritise recovery (which is different from rest).
As you age, your body needs more time to recover, and it also needs high-quality rest which mostly means getting a good night's sleep. On the other hand, recovery means specific actions you take to help your body heal and adapt after exercise. This could include regular stretching, foam rolling, and targeted nutrition like protein intake for muscle repair.
Overtraining - meaning a chronic lack of proper rest and recovery - can lead to a collapse of your immune system, which can be very serious if we are older.
⇒ Switching up the focus of workouts periodically will challenge your body and prevent plateaus.
Related (older blog posts of mine): How to break through your exercise plateaus
How To Sleep Better And Recover Like Elite Soccer Players
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When we notice ourselves forgetting or repeating things, dementia becomes the elephant in the room. We may have seen it in our parents.
Dementia is often associated with memory problems but also affects other areas of cognition and behaviour. For example, mood swings mood or anxiety symptoms can be a behavioural sign of dementia in people over 50.
⇒ Identifying early signs of dementia allows for implementing preventive measures and potential treatments that may be effective in the early stages.
What this means for you: Here are five behavioural changes to look for:
- Apathy: Apathetic people lose interest and seem emotionally detached due to a lack of drive.
- Affective dysregulation: This refers to mood and anxiety symptoms. People with affective dysregulation may have mood swings, increased anxiety, or excessive worry about routine events or appointments.
- Lack of impulse control: Individuals who struggle with delaying gratification and controlling impulses may experience agitation, irritability, argumentativeness, frustration, repetitive actions, compulsions, and risky behaviours like gambling and shoplifting.
- Social inappropriateness: People who struggle to follow social norms may show a lack of empathy, overshare, or act rudely without considering others' feelings.
- Abnormal perceptions or thoughts: People with delusions may have strong beliefs or sensory experiences that are not based in reality. They may become suspicious of others' intentions, believe they are being harmed, or experience hallucinations.
Recognise the significance: Understand that changes in behavior can be early warning signs of dementia and should not be ignored or dismissed. Early detection and intervention can make a significant difference in managing dementia and improving the quality of life for the person.
04 How To Do A Proper Squat
Our exercise of the week is... squats, plain old body weight squats.
A squat session in a gym class is usually greeted unenthusiastically. This is because they can be hard. After all, they recruit the largest muscles in our body, which wears you out quickly.
This is also the reason squatting is so beneficial. You can build great muscle mass and improve joint health and posture. A bodyweight squat engages your core, mobilises your hips, knees, and ankles, and builds strength in your glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
The most important part of squatting is to maintain good form. If you want to go beyond body weight and start loading up on front or back squats, then good form is critical to avoid injuries.
⇒ If you are a cyclist or runner you should be doing these routinely.
What this means for you: First, get set up correctly. This is a vital part of good form:
- Your feet should be spaced between hip- and shoulder-width apart.
- Turn your toes slightly outward, around 5 to 15 degrees.
- Keep your spine neutral, with your shoulders back and chest up.
- Keep your heels down and planted throughout the movement.
- For better balance, you can clasp your hands in front of your chest.
Now, initiate the squat by sending your hips back. Bend your knees to lower as far as possible, while keeping your chest lifted high in a controlled manner. Keep your lower back neutral. Press through your heels to stand back up to the starting position. Repeat.
The goal is to get your thighs parallel to the floor. To achieve this, squat down so your thighs are even with your knees, which should be bent at a 90-degree angle. As you come back up, ensure your hips are right under your ribs.
Tip: You don’t want your hips to pull too far back.
Level up: Adding resistance in the form of weights e.g. dumbells, will increase your strength and power.
How often? You can do bodyweight squats 3 to 4 times a week. To build endurance, aim for 3-4 sets of at least 12 reps. For muscle definition, do 8-15 reps with weight. To build maximum strength, stick to 6 reps with heavy weight. If you are aiming for maximum strength, do fewer sessions per week to allow for rest and recovery.
See this excellent 37-second video for the proper form.
Thanks for reading!
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>> My Latest Blog Post: Energise Your Golden Years: Boosting Your Desire to Exercise with Gut-Healthy Foods
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