What Can I Do About This Belly? 

I get that question more often than any other in the Oasis. Not how can I improve my health? Or what is the best exercise to strengthen my body? 

Belly fat comes in two places: There’s the stuff right under your skin that you can pinch (ugh), called subcutaneous fat. But that’s actually the less harmful kind. It’s visceral fat that poses a real threat to your health. It plumps your middle from the inside out, surrounding organs such as your liver, lungs, and heart—and putting you at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, says Kristen Gill Hairston, M.D., an endocrinologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC. 

Visceral fat gets worse for all of us as we get older, especially if we’re under a lot of stress or not sleeping well, says nutritionist Sara Vance, author of The Perfect Metabolism Plan. That’s thanks to hormones that make us hungrier even as our bodies are practically hoarding fat. 

Lack of exercise adds to the belly fat problem. Sit-ups may build and strengthen your abdominal muscles, but the real winner is….. Walking: At 11 miles a week, it made no difference whether people in the study walked or jogged, “It’s not the intensity of the exercise that matters,” Cris Slentz, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC says. “It’s the amount.” And you can break it up into 10 or 15 minute increments. Start slow and easy and then work your way up to 15 miles a week over six weeks or more to reduce belly fat. Another simple exercise to flatten your tummy is Core Compressions: Sit tall in a chair with your feet hip-width apart and your belly flattened toward your spine. Place one hand on your upper abs and the other on your lower. Take a deep breath in, then exhale forcefully to draw your abdominal muscles in even tighter, keeping your back straight and still. Continue for five minutes, focusing on slow, complete tightening of the muscles. Do two sets. 

Diet: It’s low-carb, but don’t let that put you off. “Too many carbohydrates spike your blood sugar,” Vance says. Your body converts that glucose into energy or stores it as fat. “When you take those carbs away, it has to get energy somewhere, so it starts burning fat.” The good carbs: Instead of simple carbohydrates (like baked goods or chips), reach for complex carbs. Generally, vegetables are the lowest in grams, followed by beans and legumes, fruits, and whole grains. Stick to 30 grams or fewer at a sitting to avoid spiking your blood sugar. 

Patience: Be patient with yourself. That extra tummy fluff didn’t happen overnight and it will take more than a week to go away. As you improve your walking stamina and develop healthier eating habits: Pounds and inches will fall away and strength, balance, stamina and energy levels will improve. 

May is Arthritis Awareness Month

It’s odd to say Arthritis Awareness, because if you have one of the over 100 medical conditions that fall under the diagnosis of Arthritis you are probably aware of arthritis everyday and every night. While no cure for arthritis has been developed yet, with much research, medical science has improved its understanding for the causes of arthritis and better treatments including new medications for pain and inflammation relief have been developed. Exercise that emphasizes stretching, strengthening, and cardiovascular has an important role in the improvement and continuing function of daily activities. The Arthritis Foundation sponsors research, educational programs, exercise programs, public awareness and advocacy efforts in Congress. Through their Live Yes Program, The Arthritis Foundation offers several resources and virtual events to help people manage their disease and live their best life with arthritis by keeping people informed on new products, diet, exercise and medications. 

Arthritis affects over 54 million people in the US and two-thirds are under the age of 65. Over 300,000 families deal with arthritis in children under the age of 16. The Arthritis Foundation has been fighting juvenile arthritis and supporting families for more than 60 years. Every year they invest more than $4.5 million in outreach and research that advances treatments and will lead to a cure. Two of our exercise classes are sponsored through the Arthritis Foundation: Basic Water Aerobics on Tuesday/Thursdays at 9:30, Sit and Stand Class Tuesday/Thursdays in the PAC at 11. Interest in the Arthritis Foundation exercise programs brought Mary Hand to teach classes at Kirby Pines ten years ago. 

In support of the Arthritis Foundation, we are planning a Bake Sale on May 18 from 9 to 2 and our own Walk to Cure here at Kirby Pines on May 25 at 10:30. We need your help. Baked goods for the sale, volunteers to run the sale, and customers to purchase our delicious offerings. Then on the day of our walk we will need volunteers to help at our registration table and walkers to participate. We will have a course marked for around the lake and another course for inside walkers. Water and healthy refreshments will be served following the walk. Please join with our family at Kirby Pines to support the Arthritis Foundation with financial gifts and physical support. 

Last year we raised over $1000 for the Arthritis Foundation. We can make a difference when we team up to Walk to Cure Arthritis. Let’s show our support physically and financially. 

How can you help? Here is what we need: 

May 18th – Bakers and bringers of goodies, helpers for set up and sales, and customers. 

Participants for the walk on May 25th. Sign up with Mary Hand in the Oasis or by email at programs@nullkirbypines.com 

Contributors and supporters 

Volunteers to help with registration and serving refreshments for the walk at Kirby Pines May 25th. 

Thank you for making this fundraiser a success every year. 


Working Out Through Pain

Learn when to keep moving through exercise pain and when to stop.

By Camille Noe Pagán

Exercise is crucial if you have arthritis. But knowing just how much activity to do when you’re hurting can be tricky. Research shows that moderate activity can help prevent the progression of arthritis and improve overall function. But while mild muscle soreness after a workout is normal, sharp pain during or immediately after can signal injury. And sometimes simply the fear of pain can keep you from wanting to do any kind of exercise. Here’s how to determine when it’s OK to work through exercise pain – and when it’s not. 

If you have mild to moderate pain in a specific joint area before you work out: Some mild pain is typical when you first start to move, but after a few minutes you’ll usually start to feel better, says A. Lynn Millar, PhD, a professor of physical therapy at Winston Salem State University. “Our joints and muscles get nutrition through movement,” she explains. “With some movement, you’ll improve the lubrication and circulation around that joint.” Start with some gentle range of motion movements and if that feels OK, progress to some low-impact activity like walking. 

If you have moderate to severe pain in a specific joint area before you work out: Focus on a different area for a day or two. If your knees hurt, decrease the intensity. If the pain becomes worse, then stop the lower body moves and work your upper body instead. “Continuing to put pressure on a joint when it’s especially sore could contribute to joint damage, so it’s best to ease up for a while,” says physical therapist Richard Kassler, supervisor at New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases. 

sitting on a yoga mat

If you have moderate to severe joint pain during exercise: Stop immediately. “Most people with arthritis can work through mild pain safely. But if you’re experiencing a lot of pain while you exercise, even if you’re not doing a particularly joint-taxing workout, it may be a sign that you have inflammation in the joint, or even joint damage that requires treatment,” says Kassler. 

If you consistently have joint pain (not muscle pain) after exercise: Switch to a workout that puts less pressure on your joints. “If you need an elaborate brace or have to pop ibuprofen constantly, it’s a pretty good sign that your activity is too hard on your joints. Swimming, water aerobics and biking are all good options for people with joint pain. 

If you occasionally have moderate to severe joint pain the day after you work out: Cut back on the intensity of your workout. Take a day off, then doing a shorter, less strenuous workout. If your pain still doesn’t let up, switch to a less intense form of exercise, such as water aerobics. 

Mary Hand’s favorite quote, ”No Pain, No Gain. That’s Insane. Listen to your body.” Our Arthritis Foundation exercise classes in the pool and in the PAC are good for everyone whether they have arthritis or not. Please consider joining us. See the schedule for times and places. 

-Camille Noe Pagán 


Shape Up Your Workout

Studies show that physical activity can reduce pain and improve function, mood, and quality of life for adults with arthritis. Physical activity is also important for the management of other chronic conditions that are common among adults with arthritis, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Structured physical activity programs are proven to reduce symptoms and teach participants how to safely increase their physical activity to manage arthritis and other chronic conditions. Here are ten steps to help you get started and keep your exercise program going:

Find an activity you enjoy. You’ll be more likely to stick with it.

Treat workouts like commitments. Block out time on your calendar to let people know you’re unavailable. 

Think like an active person. An active person thinks of ways to be active. 

Make everyday activities count. Pushing a grocery cart, strolling at the mall, walking the dog and doing housework all have benefits. 

Find a workout partner. Another person or group can make activities more enjoyable and help hold you accountable. 

Find excuses to walk. Take a walk to your neighbor’s instead of calling. 

Aim for 4,000 steps. Walking eases pain, and a recent study found that 4,000 steps a day is enough to boost longevity. 

Stand up. It eases stiffness, reduces disease risk and can prolong your life. 

Join a group activity. There are several chances at Kirby Pines, like yoga stretch, sit-n-stand exercise, water aerobics or line dancing. 

Be mindful of pain. Some muscle aches after exercise is normal, but if pain lasts beyond two hours, do less or modify the activity. 

Take advantage of the many opportunities here at Kirby Pines to stay active and physically fit. Discover miles of walking trails outside and inside. Visit the Oasis to use the equipment or to join a water aerobics class. Find your exercise class in the PAC or at home on the channel 2.1. Consult with your doctor if you need physical therapy to get started. And in a few weeks, reward yourself with a new pair of walking shoes or water bottle for sticking with your program. 


Taking Good Care Of Your Heart

Valentines and Hearts are everywhere this season. February is the American Heart Month reminding us to keep our heart healthy by diet, rest, and exercise. Remember your heart is a muscle and exercising makes it stronger and healthier. Research shows that people who do not exercise have a greater risk of heart disease than active people. Like all exercise programs, check with your physician before beginning any new regimen. So, “What exercise works best for my heart?” Here are a few basic pointers: 

Include Aerobic or Cardio Exercise like walking, swimming, or biking. You should move fast enough to raise your heart rate and breathe a little harder, but not so fast that you cannot catch your breath or be able to carry a conversation. Three to five times a week for 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise is recommended by the CDC. Ten or fifteen minute sessions work just as well as 30 to 60 minutes. Our water aerobics and the Sit and Stand Exercise classes will get your heart rate up without wearing you out. Also the Nustep, treadmill and recumbent bike can raise your heart rate and monitor your heart rate, too. 

Stretching is also important. Be sure to stretch after warming up for a few minutes and after each exercise session to keep your body more flexible. Stretch gently (no pain) and hold your stretch for at least 30 seconds. We offer Yoga Stretch classes to provide full body stretching as well as water aerobics and sit and stand classes that finish with stretching. 

Strength Training uses weights and resistance with stretch bands. The Oasis has weight resistance equipment for upper and lower body work. Do strength exercises 2 or 3 times a week resting a day between sessions. Resistance levels can be increased on the Nustep and the bike. 

It is never too late to begin an exercise habit. Start gradually 10 – 15 minutes at a time and increase slowly… If you experience pain or pressure in your chest or trouble breathing, stop immediately and get medical assistance. A little soreness in the beginning is normal, but if pain lasts more than 2 hours after exercise, it may mean you have overdone it. After a few weeks, you can increase your workouts for longer sessions and add more resistance gradually. Exercise is a key to a healthier heart. Check out the schedule of exercise classes or make an afternoon appointment with Mary Hand if you want to learn more about the equipment in the Oasis. Remember an active life leads to a healthy heart. 

8 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

Sant lifting weights

While the holidays are a time of gatherings with family and friends, they can also be a source of stress, as exercise schedules might be disrupted for shopping excursions and rich holiday meals make it difficult to adhere to a particular diet. Staying healthy can be a challenge during this time of year, especially for seniors. 

To stay healthy during the holidays, reduce stress and avoid the holiday blues, keep the following tips in mind: 

1. Make healthy choices: From rich meals to tempting and tasty homemade snacks, the holidays are a time for many to indulge in food — or overindulge. Try to plan meals with other events in mind. For example, if a big dinner is planned for New Year’s Eve, consider a lighter lunch of salad or soup. 

2. Stay hydrated: Drinking water is one way you can stay healthy during the holidays. To make it easier to stay hydrated, have water easily accessible at home and keep bottled water in a purse or bag when running errands. 

3. Follow dietary restrictions: Some seniors must follow special diets, such as one that is low in sodium. It can be difficult to adhere to a diet during busy, stressful times, especially if there aren’t any healthy options available. “When people get stressed, they tend to overeat and don’t stick to their diets.” To make it easier to follow dietary guidelines, keep healthy options like fresh-cut vegetables and fruit on hand. 

4. Keep exercising: Stick to an exercise schedule, bundle up and invite your family for a walk around the grounds at Kirby Pines If it’s too cold or icy outside, enjoy the decorated halls inside. Visit the Oasis or enjoy the warm pool. 

5. Decrease gifts: The holidays can be a financial challenge due to purchasing gifts for many family members. To reduce stress from paying for gifts and shopping, consider having a family grab bag, where everyone contributes one gift. 

6. Rest after traveling: For some, the holidays are a time to travel long distances to visit family and friends. Whether you travel by car, rail or plane, make time to rest before jumping into visiting or shopping. 

7. Take a break: Between parties and shopping, the holidays often involve busy days and late nights. If you are planning an all-day outing, carve some time for a nap or a way to relax for a bit, even if it is just to sip tea in a cafe. Little kids, seniors and everyone in between will appreciate it. 

8. Stay involved: Be a part of the holidays. For many, that may include helping out with holiday preparations. “Reduce your stress by allowing others to hold the holiday event at their home instead of yours, but stay involved by cooking a favorite dish or maybe help decorate the home.” 

With a few preventative measures and a willingness to change some traditions, seniors can stay healthy and follow their diets, while also having fun with their family members this holiday season. 

8 Simple Ways to Stay Fit During the Holidays

walking outdoors in the autumn

Don’t wait until January 1. Stay on track during this tempting season with these simple tips. ’Tis the season of staying fit, said no one ever. Busy schedules, holiday parties, and endless culinary temptations combine to make it especially difficult to stick to your fitness routine this time of year. Chances are, you’re going to fall off the workout wagon. That’s okay—we all do. Use these strategies to get right back on. 

Stay-Fit Strategy #1: Remember Why You’re Doing It 

When a client loses his or her motivation, corrective exercise specialist Kendra Fitzgerald prescribes a mental workout. What’s your motivation? To feel better, have more energy, be more productive at work, or age gracefully, it’s easier to commit the time and stick to it once you identify why you are working out.

Stay-Fit Strategy #2: Start Small and Be Realistic 

If your goal is to exercise daily, begin with one or two days a week. Pick days where you can easily fit it in. Add another day as each week goes by. Even if you can’t get to your favorite class or the Oasis, remember that 15 minutes of movement is better than no movement at all. 

Stay-Fit Strategy #3: Picture Your Success 

Write down your goal in a few simple words, and post it where you’ll see it every day. A visual reminder may strengthen your resolve. If you want to get back to your “fighting weight” of five years ago, put up a photo of yourself from that time. 

Stay-Fit Strategy #4: Make It Mandatory 

Time management is important for accomplishing any goal, and fitness is no exception. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, put it on your calendar. Call it your “feel better session,” and make that time nonnegotiable. You’ll boost your mood and health, and it will become a key part of your routine. 

Stay-Fit Strategy #5: Track Your Progress Daily 

Record your achievements daily or weekly: how many steps you walked, number of exercise reps, pounds lost, and so on. A pen and paper and a calendar will work just fine, or you can schedule and log your workouts on a free exercise app Stay-Fit

Strategy #6: Recruit Someone to Hold You Accountable 

Maintaining an ongoing schedule with the same person can help you stay accountable. You’ll want to hold up your part of the bargain. Plus, you can get a great workout while having a great time. Think about it: The more fun your workouts are, the more you’re going to look forward to and be committed to them over the long term. And consistency and longevity are necessary for achieving your goals. 

Stay-Fit Strategy #7: Hold Yourself Accountable Too 

Put your money where your mouth is: Pay a penalty for missing your workouts. Drop a dollar in a money jar, and then donate the dough to a favorite cause. 

Stay-Fit Strategy #8: Savor Every Success 

There’s no better feeling than finishing a challenging workout. Let the feeling of accomplishment wash over you, so that you’ll remember the feeling when it’s time for your next workout. 

And make no mistake: This is a big deal! You’ve just rewarded yourself with better health this winter—and a happier, fuller, and potentially longer life. 

Can exercise prevent memory loss and improve cognitive function?

Possibly. Exercise has many known benefits for both physical and mental health, including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, strengthening the bones and muscles, and reducing stress. 

It also appears that regular physical activity benefits the brain. Studies show that people who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in their mental function and have a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Physical activity is one of the known modifiable risk factors for dementia. Plus, regular exercise helps combat other Alzheimer’s disease risk factors, such as depression and obesity. 

Exercising several times a week for 30 to 60 minutes may: 

  • Keep thinking, reasoning and learning skills sharp for healthy individuals 
  • Improve memory, reasoning, judgment and thinking skills (cognitive function) for people with mild Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment 
  • Delay the start of Alzheimer’s for people at risk of developing the disease or slow the progress of the disease 
  • Increase the size of the part of the brain that’s associated with memory formation (hippocampus) 

Physical activity seems to help your brain not only by keeping the blood flowing but also by increasing chemicals that protect the brain. Physical activity also tends to counter some of the natural reduction in brain connections that occurs with aging. 

More research is needed to know how — and how much — adding physical activity may improve memory or slow the progression of cognitive decline. Nonetheless, regular exercise is important to stay physically and mentally fit. And for older adults, even leisurely physical activity offers health benefits. 

5 Walking Strategies For Fitness Success

Are you ready to start walking for fitness? Follow these fitness tips to help you be successful. Walking is good medicine for any age, especially folks with arthritis. Walking has been proven to help with weight loss, stress control, increasing strength, and balance, as well as reducing pain. To improve your chances of success, try these five walking strategies. 

1. Find a walking buddy. 

To maintain your program find someone to walk with. A walking buddy adds accountability and safety. 

  • Make a walking date with your spouse. It could even be your four-legged best friend. 
  • Join a walking group. (Walk with Ease program starts here at Kirby Pines in September). 
  • Schedule your walks like you would a doctor’s appointment on your busy calendar. 

2. Add variety to your walk. 

Don’t let it become routine. Take a different route at a different time of day. Pay attention to the wildlife and flowers. Walk with music to keep in step. 

3. Get good shoes. 

The only equipment you really need for walking is the right pair of shoes. Look for deep and wide shoe forms made of cloth or smooth leather that are not so tight as to not rub your skin. A good quality running shoe is best. (You can walk in running shoes, but you can’t run in walking shoes). Select shoes without thick treads to prevent catching the bottom of your foot. Make sure shoes are proper width and roomy. Wear high-top athletic shoes for weak ankles. Flexible shoes help reduce stress on the knee while walking.

4. Keep a record. 

Record your accomplishments in a journal or calendar. Keeping track of how far, long, when and where you walk can be a real motivator. Begin with an attainable goal like 10 minutes for 3 days each week, then add 5 minutes to each walk the next week, and change your goals as you meet them. A pedometer or walking app on your phone or ”fit bit” can be a real motivator. Post your accomplishments where you can see them and remember to reward yourself when you meet your goals with a purchase or event. (Avoid using food as a reward) .

5. Throw out the excuses. 

The first excuse for not exercising is lack of time. If walking is made a priority, people can find the time. Other barriers like bad weather can be solved by walking the halls of Kirby or using the treadmill in the Oasis. If tiredness or achy joints are the problem, be determined to walk; just walk a shorter easier route. Even a 5 minute walk is better than no walk and may even give you energy to go longer. Have a backup plan, if you can’t walk on your usual schedule, make a plan B and reschedule. The more you walk, the more energy and strength you have and feel like walking. 

Great Work(out) Benefits

Retired persons may leave their jobs, but they don’t have to leave the things they loved about their work. One thing I love about working is having a routine to get out of the house for a job I love where I feel welcomed and encouraged. Our exercise programs can become a wonderful routine with benefits that improve strength, balance, and endurance. In our classes you are always learning a new skill and experiencing new challenges, some physically demanding and even some mental. It is an opportunity to put out your best effort (whatever that may be). When you finish, you get that feeling of satisfaction that you accomplished something that day. Several residents have picked up new skills learning to use free weights properly and developing routines on the Nu-Step machine and the other weight bearing resistance equipment. In our group classes, you will gain not only strength and improved balance, but also encouragement and a team spirit as you work out together. Put us on your schedule and come to work out with us. The benefits
will profit your health and well-being.

Exercise is a key to a strong and healthy lifestyle boosting energy levels, lifting spirits, improving balance, enhancing immune system and aiding weight loss programs.

It’s Time to Join the Walk About Australia Part 2 Program

couple walking outdoors

Participants may register in the Oasis or online with Mhand@nullkirbypines.com. The program will run from September 1 through October 31. Every week, we will track how many miles each participant walks, or completes on the Nu-Step, or treadmill. Get credit for 1 mile for each exercise class you participate in. Everyone’s mileage will be kept up individually and as a group total to see how far we can walk; pointing out interesting landmarks along Australia’s coastline which runs for 9395 miles. We have already traveled 3400 miles; that’s over 8 million steps. We’ll send postcards along the way and follow our progress on a map with helpful tips, awards and surprises for everyone along the way. Weekly door prizes and a Grand Prize at the end will be awarded for the most miles. We are dedicating this walk in memory of Gene Wainscott who was one of our biggest supporters. Make plans to join our Walk About Australia Program this fall.