Bone strength and strength training

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Several times this week, I have been reminded about a major concern that grows with age – falling!


Because when an older person falls, their risk of a breaking a bone is much greater.  Worldwide, a fracture (bone break) caused by osteoporosis happens every 3 seconds!


Bone tissue is constantly being lost and made in your body.  When you are young, the ratio between loss and gain of bone tissue is balanced.  As you age, more bone is lost than made.   Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide – approximately one-tenth of women aged 60, one-fifth of women aged 70, two-fifths of women aged 80 and two-thirds of women aged 90.  It is important to know too that weight loss can further your risk of bone loss.


Our body is a use it to keep it system.   You may have heard that astronauts lose bone when they are in space.   Without gravity creating a bit of “stress” on their bones, new bone tissue is not made and more bone is lost each day.  We know calcium builds strong bones, but no amount of calcium will tell bones to grow if they are not being used.  The “stress” or pressure of muscles pulling on bones is what tells the tissues to grow!

The hidden cause:

With aging, as one hears of people around their age falling and fracturing a bone, they start to wonder “could that happen to me?”.  The worry grows because they know that a broken bone could mean the beginning of a whole new lifestyle; filled with doctors appointments, being more dependent on others,  possibly moving out of their home, etc.  This fear of falling causes more choices not to risk falling and thus becoming less active – and the spiral of inactivity begins…

inactivityWe see this loss of strength and bone with aging so often, we assume this is just what happens when you age.   But we rarely consider that this invisible spiral of inactivity has unnaturally sped up the aging process.  It starts with the fear of movement that comes from this assumption, so we move less, and moving less leads to loss of strength and bone and balance, and confirming what we believe – as you age you get weaker!

Strength training to the rescue!  It is the way to break that cycle.  When done in the way that specifically increases not only muscle and bone strength, but also coordination and balance, your body can age at the pace it is supposed to – without the spiral of inactivity getting in the way!

Strength training designed to tell your body “I am still using those bones and muscles” signals the muscles and bones to keep growing giving  you a much better chance of staying strong, balanced, independent and most importantly confident you can move and keep moving for a long long time!

Keep moving, be well,


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by | June 11, 2018 · 5:32 pm

Exercise, by definition, is NOT painful

Blog Title(2)Exercise is defined as “something practiced to develop a specific skill”. (Webster Dictionary).  Exercise by definition is practice.  We all know that when we practice something regularly we will improve, when we stop practicing, we are much more likely to lose that skill.  So consistency of  practice is part of what makes something an exercise.

Somewhere along the way we have developed this idea that pain means progress with exercise. It seems to stem from two sources.  One is the mix up between exercise and athletic training.  Athletes need to keep that competitive edge. They need to push their body beyond its limits.  That means they probably will encounter pain at some point in that training.  Exercise for health and athletic training are not one in the same.  Exercise for health benefits, like weight loss, cannot be painful if we want motivation to be sustainable.

The second source seems to be from fitness programs that are designed to sell.  You see, the fact that your body changes slowly is not very marketable.  Can you imagine an infomercial selling you on the fact that your progress will be slow?  It would be a sure fire way to lose money!  What sells is quick results. For many things in life, it is true that the harder you work, the more progress you will see.  With exercise though, the point where that is no longer true is very low.  Your body can only adapt to a 10% per week. Push beyond that and you are more likely to hindering progress by encountering pain.   Ten percent is not much.  It is certainly not marketable.   When an exercise program ignores the science of how your body works, pain needs to be marketed as “progress”, or it wouldn’t sell.  When you work with how your body is designed, sustainable progress is much more likely.

There is no evidence that pain means you are getting stronger or more fit any faster.  In fact, it means you are more likely to quit that program because of discouragement or injury.

Exercise = practice = consistency. 

Pain is not progress. It is quite the opposite when it comes to the true meaning of the word exercise.   When exercise leaves you feeling good, its a practice you want to keep doing, and that leads to results that lasts.

Keep moving, be well,



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by | June 4, 2018 · 1:50 pm

How to keep exercising through the summer

Blog Title(1)Ahh Summer! The air is just lighter as we all take a collective sigh of relief that winter is over. We can relax for a while and enjoy being outside, recreating, vacationing.

As we do each year here on the Keep Moving Weekly blog,  lets pause and check in on how our exercise needs to adjust to this change in season.   Why?  Because….

Consistency is the holy grail of exercise. 

~ Michelle Segar, PhD

It is the consistency that makes it exercise. Exercise is defined assomething practiced in order to develop or improve a specific capability or skill”  If you practiced something sporadically, would you expect to keep that skill?    It is not how our body works.  Our body gets used to what we give it, in both directions. 

I find summer can be tricky when it comes to consistency with exercise.   We have this greater sense of optimism.  Life will be easier when the weather is better.  Well, parts of it yes.  But there is no denying  some changes in summer that make getting enough exercise a challenge.   Schedule changes, vacations, entertaining, travel and that “its summer!” mindset.  These are all wonderful parts of this time of year, to be enjoyed to the fullest.  We might justify taking time off from exercise because we are more active in the summer. However, we know that physical activity is not exercise.    We want to get to the fall feeling great because we have maintained our fitness level.  The good news it, it does not take as much time to maintain your fitness level.  It just takes some extra planning and attention during those lazy, hazy (sometimes crazy) days of summer.

  • Cardiovascular exercise:  do some form of cardio at least every three days.  If possible, exercise at your usual intensity, even if you can only fit in 10-15 minute sessions to maintain your stamina level.
  • Strength training:   one day a week will maintain your strength, twice a week will continue to improve strength.
  • Stretching:  frequency is important when it comes to stretching. However, Stretching is “portable” enough to do anywhere.  Stretching makes great movement breaks to  avoid the stiffness that comes from being still for a while (like on long car rides).

When the weather changes, its time to put some extra attention on how our exercise changes too.  Keep exercising through the summer by prioritizing consistency.  The payoff is enjoying the benefits of exercise year-round!

Keep moving, be well,


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by | May 29, 2018 · 6:06 pm

The power of tracking exercise is not what you might think

Blog 5 21Do you keep track of what you do for exercise? It turns out this is a much more powerful tool than we ever thought.   However, the power is NOT  in reaching your calorie or  steps goal each day.  The power is in how it changes your thoughts.

This study published in Heath Psychology in November 2017 found that people who thought they were not doing as much exercise as others their age died at a younger age than those who thought they did more. Not so surprising. We know exercise helps improve longevity.   But here is the interesting part, this occurred even when they were doing the same amount of exercise.  In other words, if you think you are not getting enough exercise, it changes your body and health in a way that lowers the benefits of exercise – even if you are getting enough to keep you healthy!

What?!  That is amazing!  The longevity risk was up to 71% greater for people who thought they were less active, but were actually doing the same amount as others.

When you look at research in other areas of perception about health, this is not really that surprising.  Research shows that the placebo effect is not all just in your head, it changes your body too.  It is so real, it is now called the “belief effect”.   A persons belief in a medical treatment accounts for up to 40% of the reason why they work.  When a person believes the activity they are doing for their job will improve their health, their health measures, like blood pressure, improve.   Just because of what they believed! This even worked when patients knew they were taking placebo!  This belief effect has also been shown to work for what we believe about the foods we eat.

What we believe powerfully changes our body.  So it is not really surprising that what we believe about getting enough exercise changes our body and health.  This is where tracking is so important.  The simple act of writing down what you did for exercise each day is powerful.  Your brain is reassured you are doing something. It signals your body that it is healthy.   They key to getting these benefits though is knowing that something is better than nothing when it comes to exercise.  If you do something and it leaves you feeling better then when you started – that is truly enough exercise!

So my friends, give yourself credit for what you ARE doing.  Find a way to keep track that works for you:

  • keep a simple list
  • use an app
  • write it on your calendar
  • put a coin or a marble in a clear jar each time you exercise

Whatever you do, keep it somewhere that will serve as a reminder you ARE doing enough exercise.  It will also serve as a  reminder when you start to stray from exercising.   Find what works best for you and then enjoy reveling in your accomplishments each day.

Something is way better than nothing, especially when you believe it is!

Keep moving. Be Well,



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by | May 21, 2018 · 7:31 pm

When you think you can’t exercise

Copy of bake bread(1)Do you ever come to the conclusion you cannot exercise?  Maybe its lack of time or energy, or too much pain or discomfort.    The vast majority of the time, the problem is not your body or your lifestyle.  The barrier to exercise is often how you are defining exercise.

If your definition is based on athletic performance, you are training to compete.  That definition includes feeling uncomfortable, pain even, with exercise, because you always need to keep that competitive edge. This definition can bring you to the conclusion you cant exercise because your body cant keep up with the training or it just does not fit in your schedule right now. Exercising for competing is not meant to be done for a lifetime.

If you are using the medias definition of exercise for weight loss, you could be stuck in “never enough” land.  This is where you need to keep doing more and more because this definition of exercise is for burning calories.  There is never a level of enough exercise. There are always more calories to be burned.  More is better is not a definition that is sustainable.

When exercise is defined by moving to feel better and functioning better in daily life, sustainability is built right into the definition.  It is based on the fact that your body gets used to what you give it.  Your body and your schedule will change, day to day, season to season, year to year. That is a given. Change is just part of life.  If you want to feel and function better your whole life, exercise needs to be flexible because it needs to be done consistently.    Adjusting what you are doing for exercise for these inevitable changes, means less times you conclude you “can’t exercise”.  The more often you can exercise, in some way, the more often you get to feel and function better.

Life is dynamic. Your body is in constant change.  When your definition of exercise  is one that gives you the freedom to adapt to these changes, you have found a definition that is sustainable for life.    If you think you can’t exercise, it might be time to re-think your definition of exercise.

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by | May 14, 2018 · 7:49 pm

What is the most effective exercise?

Copy of bake breadThere are so many choices of what to do for exercise. Who has the time to sort through them all?  Wouldn’t it be great to  know  what is the most effective exercise for the results you want?

Despite all the ways to exercise, one thing does not change.   Your body is a use it to keep it system.  What you do regularly, your body adapts to.  This of course works for both ways; it gets stronger when you are physically active and gets weaker when you are not.   No matter what results you want, what is most effective for getting there is what you can do consistently.

Start by asking yourself What do I want most from exercise?  Stamina? Strength? Mobility? Energy? Confidence? Calm? Focus?

(Important:  Notice that weight loss is not one of those choices. Why?  Ask yourself, would I want to lose weight and not be healthy, energetic, functional, or comfortable in my body?  The fact is, you could lose weight and not get what you really want from it.   Weight loss is not the goal, it is a method for getting what you want.     Ask yourself what do I  want from weight loss? Get to the bottom line of why you want to lose weight)

Consistency is the holy grail of exercise

Michelle Segar, PhD

Now you are ready to ask: What could I do consistently that would give me more _______(insert what you want from exercise)?   Could you walk 10 minutes each morning for a little energy boost?  Could you stretch mid-day to feel more comfortable in your body?  Could you fit in some strength training for 10 minutes every other day so you can feel stronger?

Keep in mind,  what you are able to do will change day to day, season to season, year to year.  What will not change is the fact that your body adapts to what you do consistently.   So, abort the search for the “best” kind of exercise. Instead, get clear about what you want and what you can do regularly.  That will lead you to the most effective exercise for the results you want.


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by | May 7, 2018 · 6:39 pm

Toning and spot reducing. Both are a myth.

Toning is spot reducing. Both are a myth..pngWe are constantly flooded with information about exercises that “work” to tone certain areas of the body.   We are told how we can “get” a body that looks a certain way.   It can provide motivation to exercise, (for a while anyway) believing you can change the look of your body.  But, what does it mean to tone?

Spot reducing is the idea that you can exercise a certain part of your body and burn more fat in that area.  Most people I talk to know this is a myth. But what many do not realize is that “toning” or “working” certain areas is just another name for spot reducing.  It is doing an exercise to change the look of a certain part of your body.

The problem is, this is just not how our body works:

  • Fat:   Exercising a muscle does not make it burn the fat in that area. The muscle gets its fuel from what is stored in the muscle and the blood supplied to it.  It does not use the fat around the muscle to fuel it during the exercise.
  • Muscles:  Whether the shape or “definition”  of a muscle shows on the outside depends on many factors including the genetic make up of your muscles (this is the main one!), the intensity and consistency of your strength training,  and the amount of body fat you have in that area.  The fact is, we just don’t have that much control over how much muscle definition we see.  Yes, you can work a muscle hard to strengthen it, but it does not mean you will see more definition.
  • Skin: There is some evidence that strength training can help tighten the skin. While this is limited, it is the only evidence we have that you have any control over your skin.  So do strength training for your skin if that motivates you, but don’t expect huge changes.

Then, what does happens when you “work” an area of the body?

You miss out on the chance to teach your muscles to work as a team.   “Toning” or “sculpting”  and bodybuilding style strength training  mainly trains muscles individually, separating areas of the body. (ie:  triceps exercises, thigh exercises, core exercises)  In life, muscles work together.

For example, the core muscles stabilize and allow the hips and shoulders to be stronger for lifting and carrying and reaching.  They do not work alone in daily life.     Doing core work to “tone” your middle means these muscle miss out on doing their job of stabilizing while you move your arms and legs.

You are also likely to miss out on your motivation.  Since “toning” is a marketing term, backed by many Photoshoped images, doing those exercises isn’t likely to give you the “results” you want.  This is a sure-fire way to lower your motivation to exercise over time.

If you try to tone while doing cardio, you could be missing out on the stamina building benefits. You could also be putting more strain on your joints.  Using weights during walking or aerobics strains the shoulders and does not “tone” the arms.  Choose the type of cardio you do that feels best for your body, not because it will “work” certain areas.

Lets stop chasing the “toning” dream and missing out on the benefits that add so much to life.   Do strength training to improve your function and keep your muscles, bones and motivation strong as you lose weight.   Exercise in the way that lets your body know it is not “a problem to be fixed”, but a miracle to be celebrated!

Keep Moving, Be Well



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by | May 1, 2018 · 5:43 pm