Bone Health As We Age

July 19, 2016

    I recently had a dexa or bone density scan. To my surprise I had gained 1% more density in my spine than last year making this a total of 3% in the past 3 years. In the next 10 years the chance of a major fracture dropped from 15% to 7% and my risk for a hip fracture dropped from 2% to 1%. I do lift weights, walk and cycle regularly and I wondered if my new regime of lifting heavier and eating more calcium rich foods as well as taking Vitamin D contributed to this increase.

    I shared this with one of my clients and friend Laurie Mileur.  Laurie is a registered dietician(RD) and retired research professor from the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics she is well equipped to help me understand the specifics about this increase. I asked Laurie to share some of this information with my readers and she was kind enough to give us all a great explanation!

   Bone health is essential for maintaining an active lifestyle as we age. It is a living organ that adapts throughout our lives depending on our age, gender, diet, and level of physical activity. There is little we can do about our age or gender, but with diet and physical activity we can help maintain or even improve our bone health even as we age. 

    As a Registered Dietitian (RD) she is well-versed in the US Dietary Guidelines. She understands how to optimize a person's diet to meet their needs for the bone nutrients calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Vitamin D helps absorb calcium from the foods while calcium and phosphorus are the major minerals that form and maintain our bone structure. A healthy, strong bone structure, however, does require more than just eating a diet rich in bone nutrients. 

    Weight-bearing physical activity is key to maintaining or improving bone health at any age. Even as we get older bone adapts to the force exerted on it by muscles and gravity during weight-bearing movement. This means we can maintain strong, healthy bones if we also maintain our muscle strength and function through weight-bearing activities. These include walking, running, hiking, dancing, and strength-training. These activities improve balance and increase both muscle and bone strength. Studies have shown that muscle and bone strength are much lower in people who regularly engage in activities that don't require weight-bearing activities such as swimming and cycling. Therefore weight-bearing activities should be incorporated into your fitness program at least 2-3 times per week.

How do you know if your bones are healthy?

   Bone health and strength is determined by measuring bone density. Bone density is a measure of the amount of calcium and other nutrients In a segment of bone. The spine, hip, and wrist are the most frequent sites of fracture these are the bone segments routinely measured for bone density.  A bone segment with a higher density is stronger and less prone to fracture than a bone segment with a lower density. Lower bone density may be classified as osteopenia or osteoporosis and osteoporosis is associated with a higher risk for fracture. A  bone density test is recommended at age 65 for women and age 70 for men. Your healthcare provider usually determines when this is needed.


   Bone health is essential for an active lifestyle as we get older. Weight-bearing exercise and strength-training in combination with a balanced diet are key to helping us maintain or improve our bone health and prevent fractures. Don't hesitate to meet with a registered dietitian if you have questions about your diet or schedule an appointment with a personal trainer to develop the right fitness plan for bone health.

   For more information Laurie can be contacted on Facebook at DrLaurieM or or by mail:

Similarities of Challenges On The Trail and Real Life

July 4, 2016

    A couple of years ago my boyfriend and I backpacked 25 miles in 3 days in Yosemite. Although I consider it a relatively comfortable hike, the days revealed some interesting insights on how I deal with uncomfortable situations. This year we will be taking another hike up to the Yosemite area it will be interesting to see how I've grown and changed this time around!

   Hiking is a mindful, focused, present activity - to be taken one step at a time, especially when descending a steep trail or ascending a big hill.

   Life itself is a series of challenges whether large or small. How do we respond to daily life? Do we panic easily and become frantic or stay positive and energetic? Do we make small problems big or make big problems small and dissolve them into nothing? How we face the normal events of each day is generally how we will face the bigger challenges. 

   On the first day we started on the west end of Yosemite Valley and headed up the Pohono trail which was straight up for about 7 miles. It was hot and my backpack seemed heavier than last year. The excitement I had before our adventure now turned into me wondering about my endurance. The heavy pack seemed to make me a bit unstable and I found myself compensating for my equilibrium. Life sometimes gives us these same challenges. The excitement of a new job, relationship or move can all be planned to perfection but once it happens unexpected issues or things begin to occur. How we handle  these unforseen obstacles reveals alot about ourselves. 

   Do I try to repack my backback to make it more comfortable? Do I get rid of some of the weight? Do I find another route? Small persistant steps are what made the difference. It was all about finding what worked. For me, knowing that I have to keep trying until I find something that works is how I resolve the situation. And it worked out that I needed to lighten, repack and tighten some straps. Thankfully, someone was willing and able to take on more weight.

   The wonderful thing about backpacking, even a short trip like this one, is access to places that not many people attempt on a day hike. Each lookout we encountered on the south rim of Yosemite Valley was more breathtaking than the last until we reached Dewey Point, which is just astonishing. The location and views will leave you speechless. Dewey Point marked the end of our climb out of Yosemite Valley to the rim. From there it flattened out.

   We camped near the foot bridge that crosses Bridalveil Creek on the Pohono Trail. The quiet at night was wonderful. After a surprisingly good breakfast of freeze dried scramble eggs reconstituted with boiling water and some Slo Roasted coffee that Jason had put into filter paper sewed shut, we headed up the Bridalveil watershed. While the day before was strenuous with spectacular views that reminded me of my fear of heights, the second day of hiking was a little easier as we made our way through lush meadows with beautiful landscapes of wildflowers, brooks and trees. 

   We gathered water from Bridalveil Creek using a hand pump water purifier, making us truly appreciative every time we took a sip of water. Some raindrops and sandy rock facings were the challenge of the day as my hips were beginning to ache. Jason's heel was forming a nice blister and fatigue set in sooner than later. We decided to stop at Bridalveil campground for a freeze dried pea soup lunch and a picnic table to rest our tiring feet. When you get fatigued, sometimes simple problems can feel bigger than they are - a loose rock or an unsturdy bridge could have set us up for a new challenge. The unpredictability of life is often like this. Instead of just marching onward to get to our next destination as fast as possible, we both realized that more rest stops, even if brief, were what we needed. Our ability to be flexible got us to our destination injury free. We arrived at the top of Chilnualna Falls about an hour before sunset. The bonus was a light rain to lull us to sleep in our tent that night.

   The last day was all downhill for almost 5 miles, challenging our legs in a different way. The terrain included more waterfalls from Chilnualna Creek and steep rocky steps with switchback trails. The fear of heights became my companion. Trying to see the beautiful views without feeling ill was my goal. The rain from the night before brought clear blue skies and gnats galore. I swear, no matter how much repellent you use, they can detect a straight shot into your eyes. Those little annoying things that life throws at you shouldn't cloud the beauty of what the day brings. Learn to bounce back and not let these inconveniences ruin your experience. Being surrounded by the majestic mountains and beautiful waterfalls reminded me that there is so much to see and experience in my lifetime.

   We walked out of the wilderness at about noon, just in time for a lunch of a convenience store cold sandwich, chips, and a beer - it tasted as good as anything I've had at a five star restaurant!

   Getting to know myself a little better is an adventure in itself. I continue to approach issues as challenges and with some experience now under my belt it will be interesting to see how this next adventure transpires.


3 Ways You Can Stay Fit for Summer

June 20, 2016

    Summer is here the kids are out of school we have longer days and warmer weather. This time of year can motivate us to start taking better care of our health. With the good weather people are spending more time outdoors and that extra layer of fat we all put on for the winter no longer seems to be needed. Short sleeves and bare legs make us more aware of what is needed for us to tone up. Small changes in your daily habits can help you to take better care of yourself as well as lose those extra pounds.


    Of course this would be on my list of have to's. It doesn't matter what you do just go out and do something. Walk, run, shop, hike, cycle, skate or whatever you love to do best as long as you move. Get your fitbit out of the drawer and log 10,000 steps every day. Hitting an aerobic goal of 30 minutes five times a week will help you maintain overall fitness and help speed up your metabolism contributing to maintaining your healthy weight. Add a couple of days of lifting weights and you will condition your muscles making them stronger too. 

Eat Healthier... 
    Most of us eat more food at one sitting than our bodies need. Larger portions, to many carbohydrates not enough fruits and vegetables all help to add pounds and zap our energy. This time of year farmers markets have plenty of summer fruits and vegetables. Pick up your favorite fruits to satisfy that sugar craving or make it your evening desert. Drink an 8 oz glass of water before eating your meals this will fill you up a bit and keep you from eating more than your body really needs. Use a smaller plate and serve your fruits and vegetables first. A 4 oz portion of meat, chicken or fish is really all your body needs.


    Or go horseback riding, skiing, belly-dancing, rowing, trampolining, or hiking. Try something new or take up a hobby something you might have always wanted to try.  Hobbies have been know to lower stress levels, recharge your battery, improve your mood and your immune system. Trying something new stimulates your brain giving it a workout too. Whatever it is make sure your having fun..

Enjoy your Summer!!

6 Ways You Can Begin to Cut Sugar out of your Diet

May 30, 2016 

   A report in The Journal of the American Medical Association just a few days ago showed that over consumption of sugar is bad for the heart. The good news is reducing your intake of sugar doesn't have to be painful.

   I'm a big believer that fitness and health changes almost always result in the feeling of getting some years back. And cutting down on a high sugar intake is one of the biggies in terms of impact. I'm also a believer that it's best to make small permanent changes than attempting something radical. Here are my top 6 ways a person can wean themselves off of sugary foods.

[1] Take it Slowly

   Don't delete everything on the first day. Eat half a dessert, put half the amount of jelly you'd normally have on toast, cut the sugar in your coffee in half. 

   Mix sweetened and unsweetened foods together like soy milk (which is sweetened) with unsweetened soy milk. Mixing like that is a great way to cut down on your intake. Start half and half, and over time decrease the amount of the sugared food and increase the unsugared. 

   Give yourself time, like a month or two, to let these changes become how you simply do things. Your taste buds will acclimate to less and less sweetness. Choosing fresh fruit over a piece of cake will be a no-brainer.

[2] Drink Water

   Drinking water, especially in the morning, is a healthy thing to do. And when it comes to warding off sugar cravings, water is one of your best friends. The body can confuse thirst with a sugar craving so it's easy to down a candy bar when, in fact, your body actually wanted water. Stay hydrated throughout the day and fire a preemptive strike at sugar cravings.

[3] Make Your Own

   You may feel you don't have the time to make food but if heart health is important enough to you, you'll find you are able to make lifestyle changes and wonder why you never did it earlier. If you have a sweet tooth, learning to cook could be one of the best lifestyle changes you could make. Recipes for low and no sugar pies, cakes and desserts like these are all over the Internet. 

   One great way to wean yourself off sodas is to switch to ice tea which you make yourself. Don't feel guilty about sugaring it in the beginning but cut back on the amount you add over time. Your taste buds will adjust.

   Making your own also enables you to stay away from processed foods which often have a surprisingly high amount of sugar added. Avoid all that and, for example, make your own spaghetti sauce or your own salad dressing from olive and balsamic vinegar. Incorporate these heart healthy foods into your diet to replace those processed foods.

[4] Eradicate One Big Source of Sugar

   Okay, I wrote "take it slowly" earlier but in this case targeting one big villain, like candy, ice cream or soda can give you a sense of a great head start. Let's say ice cream is the target. Make it off limits. Have a bad breakup, before suffering a literal heart break, and never go back. The next time you're in the grocery store and you pass by the ice cream, instead of looking at it wishing you could take some home, see it as something you used to know but it just didn't work - been there done that, you've moved on.

[5] Eat Breakfast

   Often times the desire for sugar throughout the day is a result of not having enough fuel in the morning. Eat a healthy breakfast full of whole grains (especially oatmeal) and fruits, and it will help you turn down candy and sugary energy bars later in the day.

[6] Exercise

   An exercise program can help you feel more invested in making healthy food changes like reducing sugar. And if you're putting in the miles walking, running, hiking, swimming or cycling you'll get the benefits of a chemical that rivals sugar (and a lot better for you) in terms of how it makes you feel: endorphins. When your body releases endorphins it gives you a good mood lift to help quell the withdrawal symptoms of sugar reduction.

You Are What You Eat- Easy Diet Changes that Can Effect Your Genes

May 16, 2016

    When we think about our health and and family history we usually include the idea that our genes will ultimately determine what diseases we have or how long we live. I have always been a firm believer that a healthy diet and exercise can help to minimize diseases that certain people are bound to get just because of their genetic makeup. Epigenetic's or "control above genetics" is a recent study that is now proving this. What is Epigenetics?  It's the idea that environmental factors can change the health not only of the people who are exposed to them, but also the health of their descedents ... This theory indicates that DNA doesn't after all determine our fate. Diet and daily activity can influence how are genes are used to synthesize products in our bodies. Genes encode proteins and proteins dictate cell function. Therefore, the thousands of genes expressed in a particular cell determine what that cell can do.

    In the early 1800 and 1900's  fellow scientists Darwin, Watson and Cricket determined that our genes predicted the fate of living things. We now know that environmental signals can also trigger how genes perform. In the 1980's  the human "genome project" was created to identify and map out every gene. The idea was to create a blueprint expanding our understanding of what makes us human beings and hopefully with this information develop a genetic method to cure disease. What was discovered was that the human genome consists of under 25,000 genes. The same amount as rodents and only 1,000 more than worms. This proves that there is more to us than just our genes. Lifestyle choices, stress, emotions, thoughts and nutrition all determine whether genes become active or live dormant. By incorporating lifestyle choices like diet and exercise we can change how our genes react.

Genes and Nutrition 

    Phytonutrient are chemicals that help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats. Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients. These phytonutrients have protective healing qualities and are found in the plants pigment. The different colors of plants contain anti-inflamitories and antioxidants that promote your genes to assist your body with oxidative stress and immunity. This oxidative stress and uncontrolled free radical production can harm our bodies immunity and self healing abilities that's why the "Rainbow Diet" is so important.

Oxidative Stress

    Oxidative Stress occurs when our bodies use oxygen for our metabolism necessary for energy, physical activity, and breathing. This stress also results from exposure to external factors like pollution, radiation, chemicals in food and pesticide residue in foods. Photo nutrients can be an important defense for keeping stress in check. 

    Your diet is one of the easiest, fastest, and most effective ways to improve and optimize your microbiome. So the good news is that you have a great degree of control over your health destiny. Even your bone health appears to be intricately linked to your gut microbiome. Did you know that every cell regenerates itself making you physically a new person every 7-10 years. Every food choice you make is impacting that state of newness.

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine  be thy food" Hypocrites 

The SLO Life Half Marathon Style

May 3, 2016

      Another year older and another challenge. For those of you who know me well I am a goal setter and I LOVE to be outdoors. Exercise is yet one more way I can be outdoors and have fun. When a client of mine came to me last year and said she wanted to lose weight, get fit and run a 5k (3.1 miles) like she had a few years before I knew she was someone who was motivated. This  is when that goal setting is put into practice. Together we set some goals and some timelines then got to work. Three months later she was ready for her 5k the City to Sea Race in Pismo. I and a good friend of hers agreed to run with her. She beat her training time by 6 minutes. Her next goal, run the Castle to Coast  8 mile run in San Simeon in January. Again piece of cake!! What would be her next goal? Well....I of course recommended the San Luis Obispo 1/2 marathon in May. Why not said I it's only 5 more miles!  Her real challenge was just beginning. She already had a good training schedule going but continuing that with a sick husband  and our El Niño giving us plenty of rainy days she had some doubts. She bought a treadmill for home but even that wasn't getting her the miles she needed as her husband was requiring more care. As race day approached she accepted the fact that she probably wouldn't run the whole 13 miles she would however, finish the race.

  The Expectation

      When we set goal for ourselves we also set up expectations. They can drive us forward or they can hold us back. Think of this as an experience. The prize at the end is personal satisfaction and the fact that you did complete it. The runners at the start and throughout the race generally are very friendly. We made small talk while waiting to start after getting up at 4:00am to catch the bus to the High School. She began to realize she was amongst an inclusive, not exclusive, group and yes the race day had finally come. 


     All went well for her first eight miles. She learned to breath deep on the uphills and take advantage of those downhills by taking longer strides. As she continued her journey she reminded herself to enjoy the route...the  beautiful farms and views along the way. Her support friend was having knee trouble and she had to resort to walking but assured her she would be sending positive vibes the rest of the way....

     Shorty after she passed the eigth mile she "hit the wall". During training she had not been able to go further than eight miles.  Could she really do this she thought. Her legs were doing fine but she was running out of energy. Fueling her body properly now became very important if she was to finish. Her main concern, how much more could her body take? And... would it hold up for the next 5 miles?  At mile 10 it became a struggle to just put one foot in front of the other and she still had three miles to go. Her right calf started cramping adding another strain. I decided to run ahead for the last two miles understanding that the finish was her time to put everything she had practiced to the test. It took her a total of 3 hours and 45 minutes to completed her first 1/2 marathon. 

      She now saw why it was all worth it.  Something happens when you cross that finish line. The nerves are replaced with confidence. Empowerment and self satisfaction are two of the many benefits this experience gave her. The pain will be forgotten and replaced with the pride of the accomplishment. In that moment, she felt strong and invincible knowing she accomplished something she never dreamed she could have!  

    "We all have dreams, in order to make your dreams become a reality it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self discipline and effort."
Jesse Owens-Olympic Gold Medalist Runner

Cycling Cambria Style

April 17, 2016

   With Spring in full swing and warm balmy weekends ahead why not enjoy the outdoors with exercise and wine tasting appreciating our beautiful community at a slower pace.  These three popular rides around Cambria could create an amazing wine country cycling trail. Whether you ride north to Piedras Blancas Light Station, south to Cayucos, or east on Santa Rosa Creek Road you will encounter vineyards and wineries in spectacular settings. You couldn't ask for a better place to get on your bike. So, if you have never ridden these roads before here are some helpful insights. And although I love wine, on my bike I prefer to enjoy the scenery of vineyards and come back later to taste.

Piedras Blancas Light Station

Distance: 31 miles out & back, north on U.S. 1

   The best time to go is in the morning when U.S. 1 is relatively empty of cars. If you head out after 11:00 am, traffic and headwinds can make this beautiful trip a nightmare. Headwinds are strongest in March and April, and some times in early summer there is early morning fog. The road is in great condition because it has been recently repaved. With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Santa Lucia Mountains on the other, it's easy to understand why some European cyclists consider the California coast to be the best place in the world for bike touring. 

   In the pastures below Hearst Castle you might see Zebras grazing, especially in February and March. They are descendents of the animals that William Randolph Hearst imported to stock his private zoo in the 1930s. In San Simeon, historic Sebastian's Cafe serves up great sandwiches using fresh local ingredients. Sometimes I like to stop here on my way back from the lighthouse station to take a relaxing lunch break. The Hearst Ranch Winery tasting room is also in Sebastian's.

   Further up the road is the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery. The newborn seals are on the beach this time of year and are a lot of fun to watch. They can be viewed every day (even without having to get off your bike) and there is no admission fee. The Piedras Blancas Light Station is still a working lighthouse, a historical park and wildlife sanctuary offering tours and sight seeing. 


Distance: 29 miles out & back, south on U.S. 1

   There's a big hill about 6 miles into the ride but aside from that it's fairly flat until you get back to Cambria for a final uphill approach. Like the ride north, the ride south on U.S. 1 is best done in the morning before too many motorists are out on the roads. When Cambria and Morro Bay are fogged in, this stretch of road is often clear because of the headlands. And temperatures are usually a bit warmer on this ride compared to the north.

   I love the scenery of small farms dotting the headlands and the artsy community of Harmony, population 18 (according to the sign). 
Harmony Cellars is here, too. 

   When the road opens up to a sudden view of the ocean you're approaching Cayucos. In town you have a number of choices to enjoy an excellent dinner after your exhilarating ride. I like Windows on the Water an upscale restaurant overlooking the Bay, Boat Basin and the Morro Bay "Rock." It's on the embarcadero and dinner at sunset can be an amazing experience. You might also enjoy seeing the murals which the Cayucos Mural Society has sponsored for the past 20 years as you ride through during the day.

Santa Rosa Creek Road

Distance: 20 miles out & back for a relaxing ride; 32 miles out & back or in a loop for experienced cyclists.

   James Taylor could have been thinking of Santa Rosa Creek Road when he sang "I could feel it on a country road." Rolling hills, grazing cattle, chickens, produce farms, and ranches await you without much traffic. But keep your eyes open for deer, coyotes and even a mountain lion if you're lucky. The lovely Santa Rosa Creek accompanies you most of the way. Stolo Family Winery is just outside of Cambria and Linn's Original Farmstore, 5 miles out, is a perfect place for coffee and pie, and pleasant conversation. I like to stop in on the return trip. 

   When the coastal highway is foggy or chilly, Santa Rosa Creek Road is often sunny and warm. This is a ride I take easy so I usually only go about 10 miles out. But that doesn't mean it's not challenging. If you ride all the way to Highway 46 you'll have some serious elevation to contend with. Some expert cyclists favor leaving Cambria south on U.S. 1, then east on 46, and then riding down Santa Rosa Creek Road. I would strongly suggest driving the road first before attempting it on a bicycle. The road is narrow and steep with a stomach turning steep switchback -- probably not what James Taylor had in mind.

    It’s been said before the Central Coast will likely leave you breathless in more than one way.

Getaways are Good for your Health...

April 4, 2016

     I've just returned from a needed getaway with my sister and close friends. I was feeling tired, stressed, worn out and on constant overload. Symptoms that often come with the challenges of daily life. How about you? Have you been keeping your nose to the grind and feeling exhausted at the end of your day? Well.... have you thought about a getaway? Getting away from home and the daily responsibilities is not simply a luxury. There is increasing evidence that they really are necessary for good health.  A Framingham Heart Study compiled at Boston University studied a group of  men and women for a period of 20 years.This study was compiled in 1948 I would think a less stressful time then as compared to today. The question was how often do you take a vacation?  Even then those participants who took a vacation once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack than those who took at least two vacations a year. Forget about cutting down on cholesterol and exercise —  Getting away both mentally and physically will help us unwind, relax and sleep better. Physically removing ourselves from our normal routines , iPhones and computers are a must. 

  Vacations Relieve Stress in Lasting Ways-Studies show that after a short getaway people begin averaging an hour or more of good quality sleep as well as better reaction time in their daily activities. When vacationers arrive home, they generally continue sleeping close to an hour more, and their reaction time was 30 to 40 percent higher than it had been before their trip. Consider that a bonus in addition to your trip.

Vacations Promote Creativity- They can help us to reconnect with ourselves, operating as a vehicle for creative thinking and helping us get back to feeling our best. 

Vacations Can Help With Your Job Performance- The psychological benefits that come with more frequent vacations lead to increased quality of life, and that can lead to increased quality of work on the job.

    Vacations Create Lasting Memories- As a child I remember annual family camping vacations. Yosemite, Canada and Arizona to mention a few all with other family members in tow ready for the next adventure and sharing all the responsibilities of cooking, cleaning and directing our daily activities. I do remember my mom, dad, aunts and uncles being more relaxed and I really enjoyed spending the time together during our family bonding, not to mention many great memories that were created on those excursions.  

     Perhaps the best evidence of the benefits of vacations is that Framingham Heart Study that revealed the long-term effects of time away  on cardiovascular health. When the study looked at the effects of vacations after only nine years they found a positive correlation between more frequent vacations and longer healthier lives. The study reported that men who skipped vacation for several years were 30 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took a vacation at least one week a year. It also revealed a risk associated with skipping just one year of vacation time. Vacations are not only enjoyable but also health promoting.

    The bottom line is that taking a good amount of time away from the stresses of daily life can give us the break we need so that we can return to our lives refreshed and better equipped to handle whatever comes.

March Madness and the Exercise Connection

March 21, 2016

March Madness refers to that time of year (usually mid-March through the beginning of April) when the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men's and women's college basketball tournaments are held.
Why is it madness? That term  somehow captures the excitement that swirls around the sports world as tournament time approaches. In the weeks leading up to the "Big Dance,"  hundreds of college basketball teams from all over the United States fight to earn a spot in the tournament.
  There is an interesting connection for me regarding basketball and it's relationship to exercise. The connection is that basketball programs beginning  officially in 1898 were initially introduced by a coach, James Naismith. He was a physical education teacher and he created the game to help athletes maintain their fitness during the winter months in Massachusetts. Even though basketball exploded in popularity and became a highly competitive sport, his passion was always to teach exercise and fitness.

Playing Sports Burns Calories

   Remember the sports you played as a kid? You weren't counting calories then. It was just plain fun. No matter what it was -- basketball, tennis, volleyball, softball, etc. -- there was a fundamental joy in playing a game. For many who aren't active, the thought of lifting weights or doing the Stairmaster for an hour doesn't sound very inviting. Maybe it's time to pick up a racket, glove or ball again.

   If an organized sport like softball or basketball is your thing, Morro Bay has adult softball and soccer leagues. San Luis Obispo offers 3-on-3 basketball as well as softball, soccer and ultimate frisbee. If you'd rather not drive so far to play organized games, there's no reason you can't lace 'em up and shoot baskets on the court at the Vet's Hall parking lot. According to just shooting baskets for an hour burns 238 calories.

  I find it has been fun to discover a renewed interest in cycling. I ride with a Sunday morning women's group that goes informally by the name Bella Rollers. I've also ridden with the Slabtown Rollers of Cambria. They're a great group of people. Some other cycling groups are Team Medicare and The Old Farts Club. I don't have a website or Facebook page for you but if you want to find out more just drop by the Cambria Coffee Roasting Company after 10 am and start chatting with someone in a bike outfit. Hey, that's how it works in Cambria!

   Another growing sport in Cambria is pickleball. Great name -- it got me to look it up when I first heard of it. I can see it's appeal. Pickleball is like playing ping pong on a tennis court. It's gentler on the knees and body yet gets you moving. Check out the group on Facebook at: Cambria Pickleball By The Sea. They play on the home courts behind the old Cambria Grammar School. They say once you start playing it becomes addictive. 

   Speaking of tennis, the Cambria Tennis Club is a private group that accepts new members. They maintain and use the courts at the high school. The great thing about tennis is how the racket technology has made the game easier and more fun. And the Joslyn Recreation Center has sports groups, too, like the Table Tennis and Lawn Bowls clubs. 

   Oh, and there's golf. It's a game I have envisioned taking up when I have spare time. With lessons most people can play well enough to want to come back again and again to improve their game. I love the idea of walking the course, burning calories, enjoying being outside and engaging in friendly competition. We're blessed with some beautiful courses in Morro Bay and SLO that aren't too expensive and perfect for beginners.

   Go out and have fun while you exercise whether it be cycling, golfing, baseball  or pickle ball I'm sure James Naismith would approve!

Strong Hips can help prevent Knee Problems

March 7, 2016

If your hips aren’t stable and effectively able to stabilize your pelvis while walking, running or playing sports, your knees will suffer. 

    The knee is one of the easiest parts of the body to injure because it is used for many motions the body performs. Pain usually occurs after you exercise but sometimes sitting too long can cause knee pain as well. Pain may also occur after exercise feeling a constant ache or sharp pain that can limit your daily activities. If you've suffered from this kind of pain and are looking for ways to strengthen your knees, one effective way is to strengthen your hips through exercise. 

By performing these exercises 2-3 days a week you can help condition your hips.

Step Ups

   Holding a set of hand weights, stand  in front of a bench. The bench should be at a height that puts your knee at a 90 degree angle. Keep your kneecap facing forward and your weight distributed on all four corners of your foot. Place  the foot of your first leg on the bench. Stand on bench by extending hip and knee of the first leg and bring the second leg up on the bench too.  Step down with second leg by flexing hip and knee of the first leg. Return to original standing position by placing foot of first leg to floor. Perform 1-2 sets with 10-12 reps.

Resisted Lateral Steps

   Wrap a resistance tube around your ankles. Standing with your feet hip-width apart take a step to the side with your right leg. With your left leg bring it sideways to meet the right leg. Do this one way then the other for 1-2 minutes.

Leg Bridging

   Lie on your back with 1 leg bent (knee to ceiling) foot on the floor and the other leg lifted straight up or bent knee to the ceiling.  With your arms at your side, slowly lift your hips and buttocks up towards the ceiling while contracting your glutes (buttocks) and hamstrings (back of thigh) until your body weight is resting on your shoulder blades. Make sure your hips are square to the ceiling and your abdominals held in tightly.  Lift slowly up and down Perform  1-2 sets for 10-12 reps.

Stability Ball Hamstring Curls

    Lie on your back with your feet positioned on an exercise ball. With your arms at your side, slowly lift your hips and buttocks up towards the ceiling while contracting your glutes  and hamstrings (back of thigh) until your body weight is resting comfortably on your shoulder blades. Throughout the entire exercise, be sure to keep your hips square to the ceiling and your abdominals contracted.  Now slowly curl the ball in towards your body while maintaining control and stability through your core area. Slowly curl out and in 8-20 times. Do one or two sets.