Robin 2012_resized

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

Move

In Support of PUB (push-up buddies)!

Build more muscle, burn more fat: http://tinyurl.com/yepvt4m was written and posted by me last fall. Perfect timing now to re-post as part of the PUB program (push-up buddies)! Join the fun!

A virtual fitness program, this small commitment will add to your intention of optimal health. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday: 3 sets of push-ups. Start with what you can comfortably accomplish, 3 or 5 or 10 push-ups–using either a wall, bent-knee, or plank position–3 sets total with a brief rest between each set (click on the link above to read more about proper and safe technique). Send me a message on Facebook capturing your desire to participate, then send three times per week updates of your progress with this fun little exercise. Ready?

6 AM ride on the American River Trail

It was foggy, wet, and humid. Oh, and it was dark, very dark. I used a borrowed bike light for the first time ever. Sally and the Princess took me right from their house, 2 blocks onto the AR Trail — another first for me, a flat trail ride.

What a great workout and quite the sensory experience! The lights cut through the fog, but visibility was limited, especially with the condensation on my glasses. Eerie and surreal, to see other bike lights coming out of the mist, as well as head lamps worn by the massive amount of runners. I am all for early morning exercise, but I have to admit that I was impressed by the sheer volume of folks out early, in the dense fog, running and riding.

Bunnies darted out from the fields on either side of the trail, and light slowly replaced darkness, massive oak trees were silhouetted, the river silently flowing, deer could be seen nibbling on the grasses, birds awakened and welcomed a new day with lovely song.

We rode back in full light, at a fast clip, feeling strong, alive, energized, and grateful for the opportunity to be out, enjoying my body, my companions, and my life.

Exercise stimulates the senses, the mind, and the body

A run, after the rain

Late in the afternoon, I was fortunate to find thirty minutes to run with my dog. After the torrential rains, the bits of blue sky visible between the dark clouds lured me outside. The sunrays were beaming towards the ground, creating steam from the wet earth, warming.

Senses alive, I savored every moment of the waning afternoon. The smells are what I noticed first, they were so incredibly rich: an earthy aroma of wet dirt and leaves, a crisp freshness in the air, sweet wood smoke.  I so love that smell, it is somehow soothing in its’ association with the Fall season.

The visual beauty was astounding: raindrops clinging to tree limbs and leaves, catching the sunlight, creating prisms of color; subtle variations on green—the dull green of the oak leaves, the deep green of the cedar and pine boughs, and most amazing of all is the iridescent greens of the mosses. I have long been fascinated by the mosses, particularly after a rain. What hearty life form this is! Dry and dull after a hot summer, having turned stringy and brown, but after a good rain—it’s a miracle! The moss comes alive, turning a gorgeous vibrant color, plumping up with water, resilient and quietly powerful. Other stimulating sights were the reds and yellows of the changing liquid amber tree leaves, the downed branches from the high winds, and most exquisite was the deep red of the madrone trunk, glistening in the afternoon light. Simply beautiful.

I was serenaded by many birds, their melodic songs seeming to celebrate the end of the storm, were music to my ears: piliated and acorn woodpeckers (yes, they have a distinctly different sound), chickadees, kinglets, house finches, and goldfinches. And the sound of the wind in the tall trees, swaying.

My sense of touch was stimulated as the gentle, fresh breeze ruffled my hair and caressed my skin, by the water drops from the tree limbs, plentiful leaves softening the trail, and by the incredibly supple yet tough feel of the mosses and lichens.

The dust is gone, perhaps for the year now, and that is a welcomed transition. I splashed through puddles on the trail. My heart, on a physical level, was working hard for me, responding well to being engaged in exercise. My spiritual heart was filled with joy for the abundant beauty of the woods after a rain storm, and gratitude for my desire to be out in that natural beauty, moving my body, appreciating that movement, and seeing my dog smile.

Target Heart Rate and Range: optimize your workout

Exercising within your target heart rate range will not only ensure an effective workout in terms of a fat and glucose burn, but also will provide an important aspect of exercise safety.

Key Phrases:

Resting heart rate: the heart rate at which you are at resting metabolic function. As in your heart rate upon waking luxuriously on a Saturday morning, and before moving much.

Pre-exercise heart rate: the heart rate immediately prior to initiating an exercise session. This heart rate will be faster than the resting heart rate.

Target heart rate range: the heart rate range between which you will gain a safe and effective exercise workout.

To calculate your individualized target heart rate range, you will need to find your pulse to determine your pre-exercise heart rate. Start with your index and middle fingers and place them gently on either your radial or carotid artery; either the artery that lies 3 inches below your thumb (radial), or on the neck, 1 ½ inches from your Adam’s apple (carotid). Find and feel your heartbeat, look at a second hand watch, then count how many heartbeats you feel in 15 seconds; multiply that number times 4, to know your one-minute heart rate. Example: 17 heartbeats felt in 15 seconds equates to a heart rate of 68.

My preference to calculate target heart rate range is to use the Karvonen Formula. As opposed to the standard 220 – your age formula, the Karvonen takes into account your pre-exercise heart rate, affording you the opportunity to dial in a specific and individualized target heart rate range for your exercise session.  The formula is as follows:

220 – age – pre-exercise heart rate x 65%, x 85% + pre-exercise heart rate

For a 50-year-old woman with a pre-exercise heart rate of 68, it looks like this:

220 – 50 = 170 (max heart rate)

– 68 = 102

x 65% = 66;              x 85% = 87

+ 68 = 134;               + 68 = 155

target heart rate range = 134 – 155

Several external factors may affect heart rate: hydration status, level of fitness, adrenaline (stress) response, certain medications, and caffeine to name a few. Someone who is new to exercise and therefore may be “deconditioned” (less than optimal fitness level), will likely note that their resting, pre-exercise, and exercise heart rate is higher than what is age predicted.

When writing an exercise prescription for this 50-year-old woman beginning an exercise program, we would start at the 65% level of exercise intensity, so that her exercise heart rate stays around 134 beats per minute. As she works up to 5 – 6 exercise sessions per week over the course of 6 – 8 weeks, her exercise prescription will be modified, allowing her to increase her exercise intensity to work at higher heart rate response, at 155 beats per minute.

As the heart muscle becomes more conditioned, each contraction becomes more efficient, so that ultimately fewer heartbeats per minute are required to pump the same volume of blood. In the real world this translates as a lowered resting and pre-exercise heart rate, as well as a lowered exercise heart rate response, ultimately allowing the exercising person to increase their workout to achieve a higher heart rate response.  Conditioning takes several months to achieve.

Another valuable aspect of determining the effectiveness and safety of your exercise program is to assess your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE).  This is a subjective response, and it basically allows you to assign a numerical value to your exercise intensity. I use a modified scale of 1 – 10, with 1 being the amount of energy required to sit up in a chair, and 10 being a marathon effort. An RPE of 3 is moderate, 4 is somewhat hard, and 5 is hard. 3 – 5 is the range of perceived exertion that I include in an exercise prescription.  (6 is very hard, 7 is very, very hard, and so on). An RPE of 6 and above is correlated with an anaerobic level of exercise; anaerobic means “without oxygen”—oxygen feeds the muscles and aids in fat burning, thus the presence of oxygen is favorable while exercising (and most other times as well!).

As a side note, athletes who are conditioned to train for competition are often at their anaerobic threshold; for most of us who exercise to stay in shape and optimize our health, maintaining an aerobic exercise program is suggested.

Future articles will address additional exercise considerations: frequency, type, duration, and how to mix it all up.

Have at it!


On Running In Fort Lauderdale: Pros and Cons

Where to begin? OK, 0945 and still time for a quick run before brunch with mom and dad. I am staying at my sister’s house and she lives in a lovely neighborhood right off of a golf course/club area. (they don’t golf, thank goodness). As my cup is perpetually half-full, I focused on the Pros, but alas, I must admit, there were some Cons…

Pro

Con

88 degrees, 90% humidity; incredible sweat

88 degrees, 90% humidity; incredible sweat!

Thick hybrid grass, lots of cushion provided for running

Chemicals being sprayed on thick hybrid grass; golf course watering in the morning, even though it rained overnight

Amazing blooming bushes and exotic flowers

Homeowners spraying more chemicals on amazing  blooming bushes and exotic flowers

Lizards, box turtles, and one long brown snake

Flattened snake in the road

Ibis, Egrets, Hawks, Blue Heron, unknown but lovely sounding songbirds

How do the birds and reptiles survive the chemicals?


Plastic water bottles along the grass and floating in the mad-made lakes


Being reprimanded by a dapper fellow in a golf cart to stay off the course, so they would not be “liable if you get hit by a golf ball”


A hot dog and soda concession, on a modified golf cart, cruising around the course


No pick-up-after-your-dog rule (guess how I found out??!)

A great workout!



Sunday Morning Ride

It would have been oh-so-easy to stay home this morning, cozy in my robe and slippers … but a date is a date, and it’s Sunday morning, which means bike ride. Dressed in double layers on top, full leggings, long-fingered gloves, thick socks, and a wind shell, we set out into the chilly fall morning. WooHoo, was it brisk! My core warmed up quickly, but my fingers and ears stayed frosty throughout the ride.

How invigorating. Rewarding. Fun. I am oh-so-glad for the ride!

Sunday is off to a marvelous beginning.

Sticking to the program while traveling: is it possible?

In my home environment, I have a routine: regular exercise, healthy meals, and time to quiet my busy mind. In familiar territory, this works well. Whew.

Visiting in Washington, DC, I am experiencing the challenge of maintaining my typical healthful behaviors–I am out of my routine. For the past few days, I have thought often of how to enjoy this working vacation; how to balance sightseeing in the nation’s capital, business meetings, humid weather, and restaurant meals.

Here are some of the strategies that I have utilized thus far:

1. Walk, walk, walk! Most urban vacations provide an opportunity to walk versus renting a car or taking public transportation. Take advantage of this whenever possible. We must have put in 5 – 8 miles each day. Although walking does not evoke for me the same “exercise response” as riding my bike does, it ramps up metabolism, maintains a high level of energy, and helps to burn the excess calories in case those restaurant meals are larger than usual. If you are enjoying a more rural vacation, there will be hiking trails to keep you active. Walking considerations include:

  • staying well hydrated
  • wearing comfortable shoes (do I sound like my mother?!)
  • being prepared for weather

This morning, I “went for a walk”. This was an intentional exercise session: 1 hour of more vigorous walking in a lovely park near the hotel.  The other option is the hotel exercise area. All hotels have a gym nowadays; stationary bicycles, treadmills, elliptical machines. A half hour here will be a terrific contribution to your health and support your usual routine.

Eating out each meal may seem a bit daunting, but it need not be! I would encourage staying away from buffets, especially the breakfast buffets that offer white flour bagels, sweet rolls, commercial yogurt (check for HFCS in the ingredient list), and toaster waffles. These processed foods will quickly elevate your blood glucose level, leading to a “crash” a couple of hours later, that will leave you hungry, grumpy, or both. Not a pretty sight.

Try to find fresh fruit, whole grain toast, eggs, good quality yogurt, milk or cottage cheese, or a small bowl of oatmeal to start your day. Carry water with you to stay hydrated during the day as you are out and about. Stick an apple in your backpack to share with your travel mate mid-morning to maintain your energy, blood glucose, and metabolism. Look for a salad at lunch, with a protein added, such as a scoop of tuna or a half chicken breast. Or share a sandwich and add a cup of soup into the selection. Think about having a mid afternoon snack, such as an orange or fruit sweetened popsicle, to avoid over-eating at dinner. Dinner, ah yes, the big challenge. You might consider skipping the bread. A sacrilege, I know! Good bread is so, so delicious BUT we have a tendency to overeat if we have bread while studying the menu. I am merely suggesting this as a consideration, particularly if you are having an alcoholic beverage. Perhaps you would like to order a spinach salad or other greens before dinner. Suggest to the waitperson that you would like the dressing on the side or ask for olive oil. Sharing an entree is a possibility, as the portion size will likely be quite adequate. Eat slowly, savoring the flavor, enjoying the conversation, and after 10 (ten) minutes you will be delightfully pleased with how satisfied your stomach feels.

Dessert is an option of course. You are on vacation after all! Did you walk a lot during the day? Or have time to go to the exercise area in the hotel? What were the rest of your food choices like for the day? What’s planned for tomorrow? These are but a few considerations to mull over prior to the dessert menu being offered. Sharing a dessert is an excellent strategy to minimize the calorie intake. Remember my suggestion of taking small bites, putting down the spoon, taking a long moment to roll the yummy flavor around your mouth, delight in the texture, and swallow completely before you pick up the spoon again!

Travel is a real treat. Whether you are in the mountains, at the ocean, in a sprawling city, or a national park, you can remain committed to your healthful routine of eating well, staying physically active, and taking a few moments to sit quietly and relax, without compromising a fun, lively, and interesting vacation.

Where are you going to travel to next?

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"After thirty years of eating healthy foods and participating in regular, vigorous exercise, I was astounded to discover I have Coronary Artery Disease. In March of 2010, I had two stents placed in my Left Anterior Descending Artery- this was big. I consulted Robin Mallery, RN, knowing she is a local expert on Cardiac Rehabilitation. I especially respected her lifestyle of nutrition and physical fitness. Robin’s reassurance that I was doing many things correctly, and her instructions on how to fine-tune my program to deal with this life-threatening disease, was invaluable. Robin’s exquisite grasp of balancing traditional medicine with diet, exercise, relaxation and fun has helped me through this medical crisis". --Maiya Gralia, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and cross-country ski instructor and coach

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