Fitness News & Views

A Publication of Graham Fitness

June 15, 2015

1 Corinthians 6: 19-20


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In this issue of "Fitness News & Views" you will find answers to the following questions:

  • What is better - free weights or machines?
  • What is the most important thing you can do if you want to live to 100? What's the next most important?
  • Harriette Thompson of Charlotte, NC, finished the San Diego Marathon in 7 hours, 24 minutes, and 36 seconds. What's so special about that?
  • At what age should you stop lifting weights?
  • What one daily practice may be as beneficial to your health as exercise?
  • Eggs - healthy or not?
  • A workout designed by a Navy Seal that requires no special equipment. Great for when you're on vacation.

        Now where else can you get all that info packed into two pages you can read in less than 10 minutes? So read it and pass it on. Thanks!





           As we age, strength training becomes more important, not less. So why do I see so many people who are 50, 60, 70 years old and more walking on a treadmill or pedaling a recumbent bicycle, but not lifting weights? Of the two - cardio or lifting weights - I would say that weight lifting is the most important, especially as we get older.

            Strength training affects muscle size and strength, and bone density. Stronger and larger muscles help us stand up straight, get out of chairs easily, get on the floor when necessary, and get up off the floor once down there for whatever reason. Stronger muscles aid in good balance. Stronger muscles allow us to go up and down stairs without fear, do the laundry, pick up the grandchildren, load and unload groceries, and just about every other task that comes up during the course of a day.

            As for the bones, strength and resistance exercise actually increases bone density, as well as strengthening ligaments and tendons. Tendons connect muscles to bones. Ligaments connect bones to other bones. By lifting weights on a regular basis, it is entirely possible to prevent osteoporosis. The entire aging process is slowed significantly by strength and resistance exercise.

            In order to work the muscles and make them stronger, a demand must be made on them. That means you have to lift enough weight to force them to work harder than they are used to working. I see too many elderly gym goers going through the motions with weights that are way too light to do any good.

            A good workout involves working the core (the abs, the obliques, and lower back muscles), as well as the legs (both quads and hamstrings), and the upper body including the upper back, the chest, the biceps and triceps in the arms, and the shoulders.

            You need to do two or three sets of each exercise, with each set consisting of eight to twelve reps. If you can do more than 12 reps on the final set, it's time to increase the weight. You can use machines or free weights, but don't get locked in doing the same exercises every day. Mix 'em up. Doing the same workout everyday loses its effectiveness over time. Once you learn several different exercises for each muscle group, you can do a different workout everyday for maximum benefits. If you don't know where to start, contact me and I'll help you set up a program.



         It is estimated that by the year 2050 there will be over 1 million people living in the U.S. who are over 100 years old. (Currently there are about 60,000 centenarians in America.) If you'd like to make it to 100, you'll be pleased to know that you have a lot of control in the matter. In an effort to help you make it, I now offer this "how to" list which is a consensus from various sources from the internet and magazines.      

         Eat healthy foods in moderation. Amazingly, that just happens to be the credo for my business, and it is great advice. Eat a healthy blend of fruits, vegetables, low fat meat and poultry, and low fat dairy, but keep the portions small. People who are normal weight to 20% below normal tend to live the longest. There aren't many overweight or obese centenarians.

               Don't smoke. This is probably the most important rule to obey if you want to make the century mark. Nothing contributes more to an early grave than smoking.           

            De-stress your life. Learn how to relax. In spite of having had to deal with most of what life can toss their way, the majority of people who make it to 100 have learned how to take life in stride.

              Get enough sleep, but not too much. Sleeping fewer than 7 hours a night or more than 8 hours a night both have negative effects on longevity. Napping seems to be okay if we're talking about short naps of 15 or 20 minutes duration.

            Second only to not smoking in importance is exercising. It is important to incorporate aerobics, resistance work, and balancing in your exercise regimen. Exercise not only helps you reach old age, it helps you reach it while looking and feeling years younger.

            Pick your parents well. Okay, so you don't have control over this one. How long your parents and grandparents live is a good indicator of how long you can expect to live. About 50% of centenarians have close relatives who also achieved very old age.

           Here are a few other honorable mentions: Challenge your mind so that you don't get stale in your old age. Have lots of friends and keep socializing all your life. Serve others and think less about yourself. This allows you to feel useful and needed, an important factor in achieving healthy old age. And finally, go to church. Over 1,000 studies have shown that people who attend church or synagogue regularly are healthier and live longer than their non-attending peers.(See Proverbs 10:27 for biblical confirmation of these studies.)



       Speaking of aging well, on May 31, Harriette Thompson of Charlotte, NC, completed the San Diego Rock 'n Roll Marathon at age 92. Thompson, a former cancer survivor, finished in a time of 7 hours, 24 minutes, and 36 seconds. That computes to just under 17 minutes per mile. Harriette was born in 1923 and didn't run her first marathon until she was in her 70's. This was her 16th. 

         Which is better: free weights or machines? That's a question I get asked about once a week, and of course, the answer depends on what you mean by better. Each has its own advantages.

       I think the most versatile tools in the weight room are dumbbells. With a weight bench and a set of dumbbells, you can get a complete workout. Dumbbells bring the most peripheral muscles into play no matter what primary muscles you are working. Because you're working in a free plane, several secondary muscles are recruited to provide stability.

         Barbells provide some of the same advantages as dumbbells, but with the bar, your stronger side can overcompensate for your weaker side, and since the bar offers some stability of its own, secondary muscles are not called into play to the extent they are with dumbbells.

            Machines that offer a free range of movement like the lats pulldown or triceps pushdown machines are very good at enlisting stabilizing muscles. Machines that provide a rigid range of motion are great at isolating muscles, but not at bringing secondary muscles into play. These include the leg extensions machine, the chest press, and the Smith bench press. These machines do have a few advantages however. They are safer. You rarely need a spotter, and because they are so structured, it is more difficult to use them incorrectly and as a result, injure yourself.

            With all that said, here's the bottom line. They all work better than nothing. The best thing is to use a combination of free weights and machines, and keep changing your workout at least every 4 to 6 weeks. Mix it up. Keep those muscles guessing. 

            I saw this headline on a health news site recently: "The Daily Practice That May Be As Vital to Your Health As Exercise." I clicked on the article because my curiosity was piqued. Turns out, this daily practice is taking 30 minutes a day for quiet and meditation.

            I do this, but I call it bible study. I won't dispute the beneficial effects of taking some time to slow down and renew your spirit. Seems to me, we spend an awful lot of time exercising our body which after all is temporary and not enough time reviving our spirit which is eternal.

              With summer vacations just around the corner, it might be a good time to review working out while traveling. Exercising on the road is not only easy, it's actually fun, because it offers a change from your everyday routine.  

           I have been fortunate enough to travel a good bit, and I cannot remember a place where I was unable to exercise. My most memorable runs have come while traveling. I remember early morning runs down the quaint streets of Cooperstown, NY, around Roman ruins in Spain, and on the dirt streets of Williamsburg, VA, among dozens of others. If you're a walker, the same opportunities await you. Of course, if you'd rather run on a treadmill, most hotels and motels now have workout rooms complete with treadmills and other aerobic equipment.  

              As for strength workouts, here's one you can do in a public park, or even in your hotel room. It uses only your body weight - no extra equipment - and consists of nine exercises that you do in a circuit. Three circuits and about 30 minutes and you're done. And because this workout was designed by a Navy Seal, I guarantee you won't feel cheated when you're finished.  

         First do pushups. I suggest 20 or 25, but that number depends on your ability. Follow that with squats. Do 25 of these. Then do about 15 to 20 dips. Again the exact number depends on you. You can use a chair or a park bench. After dips do 24 walking lunges and follow that up by holding a plank for 30, 45, or 60 seconds. Then do about 30 bicycle crunches. I suggest 10 regular crunches followed immediately by 20 bicycles. Next hold an air bench for 30 to 60 seconds. Any wall or flat surface works great for this. You finish the circuit with one minute of steps. You can use the stairs in a hotel or you can step up and down on a park bench.  

          Don't use traveling as an excuse to not exercise. I'm guessing you'll enjoy your vacation (or business trip) even more if you take a little time to workout while you're gone.

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              The science of nutrition is inexact at best. For example, for years we were told that eggs are unhealthy, that they contain a lot of cholesterol and as a result were bad for the heart. Now we know - or at least think we know - that this isn't the case at all. In fact, new studies have shown that eggs increase your HDL, that's the good cholesterol in your blood, and they are actually good for the heart. In addition, another study proved that eating eggs for breakfast actually helps you lose weight when compared to eating bagels. Finally, eggs are a great source of high quality protein. So if you like your eggs, you can have one or two for breakfast without feeling guilty.


             Overheard at the gym: I signed up for an exercise class and was told to wear loose fitting clothing. If I had any loose fitting clothing I wouldn't have signed up in the first place.

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Harbison Recreation Center
106 Hillpine Road
Columbia, SC 29212
Phone: 781-2281

The Harbison Rec Center offers more facilities for less money than anywhere else in town These are just some of the features: a new weight room with all new machines, free weights, treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes; a 25 meter junior Olympic size indoor heated swimming pool; sauna; whirlpool; racquet ball and tennis courts; a basketball gym; and miles of traffic-free trails for walking or jogging. There are classes for seniors as well as summer camp and after school programs for kids. Also newly remodeled locker rooms and an all-purpose room for large gatherings. All for only $315 a year for singles or $600 a year for families Check out their website:

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Wolf's is a total fitness facility offering some great amenities. There's a huge weight room featuring free weights and machines. There is a cardio area with treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, stair steppers, and the cardio theater. Other amenities include an indoor walking/running track, sauna, child care facilities with an attendant, tanning beds, clean locker rooms and showers, and sports supplements. Prices are very reasonable and there are no enrollment fees ever. Wolf's also offers a full slate of fitness classes including kickboxing and pilates, as well as spinning classes. Check out their website, for rates and specials.



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