aging · fitness

Aging, Activity, and Myths

I saw this on Twitter and love the assignment and the results.

Here’s Number 1: Frailty is “Inevitable”

I especially love the tips about avoiding self-identifying as frail.

Follow the full thread for the others myths, such as “older adults are not crucial members of society,” “Older adults should skip exercising to avoid injury,” “All older adults should skip strength-based exercise,” and more.

Nice work Healthy Aging students! I’m busy grading my own students work but these all look like As to me.

Help share if you’re still on Twitter.


New Fitness Strategy: Act as if I had a fitness tracker thingy even though I don’t

fitness-trackers1We’ve all got that friend who goes the extra distance to get those steps tracked on her fitbit or other gadget. That may even be you.  But it’s not me. I can’t quite imagine wearing something that tracks my every move.  I’ve nothing against it, but it’s not a strategy I’m drawn to.

It’s too much information and too much tracking. I mean, I have my Garmin Forerunner 310 info after each run and I hardly ever get around to looking at it. What the heck am I going to do with daily information about how many steps I’ve taken? And yet I know that there are areas where I could get more active.

I had an inspired (if I do say so myself) idea on the weekend that got me taking a few extra steps.  And that was to act as if I was wearing a fitness tracker that recorded my every move. And just that little change kicked in a few new habits.  As part of my temporary relocation, I’m living in a third floor condo instead of a 23rd floor condo.  But I’ve been taking the elevator just because it’s a habit from living on the 23rd floor. Yes, you heard me, I was taking the elevator to the third floor. This is not a thing I would normally do.

And acting as if I had on a fitness tracker, I’ve now stopped taking the elevator up (unless I’m hauling groceries). My new place is a lot closer to the Y.  Like, it’s so close that driving would be silly. But I almost drove a couple of times. Now, with my new strategy in place, driving is out of the question as I consider: what would my friends with fitbits do?

Worried about finding a parking spot closest to the building? Nope, not me! Why not? Because if I had a fitness tracker I would instead be looking for a spot on the outer reaches of the parking lot (forget that I’m driving — it’s just a little too far to walk and still make it to work on time unless I left super early, which no thanks because the mornings are already full enough without adding a 50 minute commute–but yes, I’m aware that the fitness tracker crowd might take that walk–baby steps).

Now, maybe this is just a variation on the old theme of adding steps to your day by doing things like taking the elevator, parking a little further from the door, getting off the bus a stop or two early, and walking over to a colleague’s desk or office instead of sending them an email message.

But in our high-tech world, that simple message doesn’t always sink in.  And if I think in terms of “if I had a fitness tracker…,” somehow that gets me moving.  I’m sure there’s good evidence published somewhere that people with fitness trackers cover more ground than those without.

But I think I’ve hit on a new angle for those of us who like the idea of a motivational kick but perhaps aren’t ready or willing to move into the world of 24 hour tracking. I’m a firm believer in “never say never,” so maybe one day the world of actually tracking my activity will make sense to me. But for now, I can pretend I’m tracking, and that seems to make a difference.

Do you use a fitness tracker? If you do, why do you? If you don’t, why don’t you (and do you think acting as if you did might get you to do a little more?)?

eating · fitness

What’s the connection between inactivity and obesity?: It’s not as clear as you might think

Recent reports on the extremely low levels of physical activity in the Canadian population tell us that few Canadians (7% of kids and 15% of adults) are meeting recommended levels of physical activity.

Does this explain increases in percent of the population counting as overweight or obese? Not so fast. In Inactivity Does Not Explain Canada’s Obesity Epidemic  Dr Arya Sharma notes that  the real take-home message is that physical activity levels are low in all groups, not just among those who are overweight and obese.

From Dr Sharma:

…if we convert the rather modest differences in MVPA levels taking into account the increased effort required to move higher body weights, we would find almost no difference in actual calories spent in activities to account for any difference in body weights. Thus, to me at least, these data pretty much blow to pieces the widely held bias that overweight and obesity can be largely explained by lack of activity or that overweight and obese individuals are less physically active (read “lazy”) than “normal” weight individuals.

He concludes,

Continuing to link the necessary discussion about inactivity to the problem of obesity is not only scientifically unfounded but, by dangerously and unfairly reinforcing stereotypes (not reflected in the actual data), may well do more harm than good when it comes to tackling both the epidemic of obesity and the epidemic of sedentariness.

Read the rest. It’s a very interesting post.