My husband received new Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles for Christmas.
The trekking poles made a huge difference when we hiked in the Italian Dolomites this past fall, so we thought it would be good for him to have a pair of his own.
The area has had terrible landslides and the trails were closed in some places. The mountain hike led us through all types of terrain, or as my husband commented “the Dolomites has complex geomorphology” Go figure.
The rain finally gave us a break and everyone is soaking up the sunshine. I joined the group golf lesson at the Mid Pacific Golf Club and worked on my driving skills. After an hour, I thought I’d improved. Sadly, a later round of golf showed that many more hours of practice are needed.
The highlight of the morning? We saw President Obama on the course.
Despite the various aches, pains, and torn up knees, we’ve traveled a lot this year:
In February, we cruised through Asia – visiting Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. We got to ride an elephant and saw temples in Siem Reap, including the Angkor Wat temple complex.
In May, we did a quick trip in the British Isles and France. Highlights of that trip included visiting Eric and Helen at their new home in Ripe, East Sussex. We then took a cruise that included biking on the island of Sark- an island in the southwestern English Channel, off the coast of Normandy, France.
We had to rent bikes because, with a population of about 600, Sark is one of the few remaining places in the world where cars are banned from roads and only tractors and horse-drawn vehicles are allowed.
Dublin, of course included a trip to the Guinness Storehouse, as well as various pubs along the way.
It was a treat to see Monet’s Gardens at Giverny, France. Some of his most famous paintings were of his garden in Giverny, with archways of climbing plants entwined around colored shrubs, as well as the water garden, formed by a tributary to the Epte, with the Japanese bridge, the pond with the water lilies, the wisterias and the azaleas.
Taking a break, we made our way to Las Vegas, Nevada in July. We watched the NBA Summer League and had a great time.
September saw us in the Alta Pusteria Valley, in the northern Italian Dolomites. It’s an area renowned for its 3000m jagged peaks of pale, heavily-eroded limestone that shoot up from green pastures and pretty meadows and is recognized by UNESCO as a unique and spectacular mountain environment. We stayed in Dobbiaco, Italy and hiked trails in the area.
Walking sticks were a must as it was unseasonably snowy. The days and the hiking trails became a little unpredictable. We will probably do something similar in the future as we met great people and had a ball.
We took a quick cruise to Mexico in November, stopping at Cozumel and Costa Maya to see the Chacchoben Ruins.
Between the knee and hand/arm issues, I’ve not done regular, strenuous exercise in over a year. We have committed to getting back into it. This morning, we walked 2.5 miles and played a bit of tennis before the rain came down.
I was happy doing basic hula hooping in the living room while listening to 1980’s music. 10 minutes in one direction and 10 minutes in the other. Hula hooping burns 210 calories in a 30-minute workout, or 7 calories per minute. I wore my Fitbit Blaze tracker and got credit for steps as I did the work out. It was a win-win!
I wrapped up with 20 push ups so today wasn’t completely cardio-centric.
Time to get my knees back into the game! Found some very gentle knee stretches and knee strengthening exercises on the Sparkspeople.com site. I’ve supplemented their text with videos.
Chair knee extension: Sitting in a chair, rest your foot on another chair so the knee is slightly raised. Gently push the raised knee toward the floor using only leg muscles. Hold for 5 – 10 seconds and release. Repeat 5 times on each leg.
Heel slide knee extension: Lie on your back, with left knee bent and left foot flat on floor. Slowly slide the left heel away from your body so both legs are parallel. Hold for 5-10 seconds, return to starting position. Repeat 5 times on each leg.
Knee flexion: Sitting in a chair, loop a long towel under your foot (resting on the floor). Gently pull on the towel with both hands to bend the knee, raising your foot 4 – 5 inches off the floor. Hold for 5 – 10 seconds, then release. Repeat 5 times on each leg.
Hamstring stretch: Standing, put one foot in front of you, toes up. With hands on the small of your back (or one hand holding a chair for balance), bend the opposite knee and hip (not your lower back), until you feel the hamstrings stretch. The upper body comes forward at the hip. Hold for 5 -10 seconds, then release. Repeat 5 times on each leg.
Knee Strengthening Exercises
Wall slide: Leaning with your back against a wall, bend your knees 30°, sliding down the wall, then straighten up again. Move slowly and smoothly, using your hands on the wall for balance. Keep feet and legs parallel, and do not allow knees to go out over the toes. Repeat 5 -10 times.
Straight-Leg Raises: Sitting in a chair, straighten one leg in the air (without locking the knee). Hold for about one minute. Bend your knee to lower the leg about halfway to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Return to starting position. Work up to 4 reps on each leg.
Abductor Raise: Lie on your side, propped on one elbow. The leg on the floor bent, the other straight. Slowly lift the top leg, hold for 5 -10 seconds, then lower. (Ankle weights will increase the intensity). Do 1-3 sets with 12-15 repetitions each. Remember to rest in between sets.
Hamstring Curl: Stand with the front of your thighs against a surface (a table or wall). Flex one knee up as far as is comfortable. Hold for 5 – 10 seconds, then lower slowly. If possible, do not touch the floor between repetitions. (Ankle weights will increase the intensity.) Do 1-3 sets with 12-15 repetitions each. Remember to rest in between sets.
Step-Ups: Stand in front of a step, like a sturdy bench or stairs, about two feet high (or less if necessary). Step up onto the support, straighten your knees fully (without locking them) and step down. Maintain a steady pace. If you are comfortable with your balance, pump your arms while doing this exercise. Start with 1 minute, slowly building your time. Gets your heart pumping too!
Stationary Bike: Biking is a good way to increase strength and range of motion. Make sure you have the right positioning of the legs. At the bottom of the pedal stroke, the bend in the knee should be 15 degrees. Start with 10 minutes and slowly increase your time.
OK- It’s been a couple of years since I’ve had a gym that offers kickboxing classes near to me anymore so I thought I would start up again with the very basics. I’ve copied a Fitness Magazine article that includes a 10 minute kickboxing workout [with pictures] into my Guidance and Exercise section. There is a nice short workout and illustrates how to do each move. 10-Minute Fat-Burning Routine (Do it twice and you’ll burn about 170 calories.)
In the interest of trying something new and fun, I have purchased a weighted Hula Hoop. I spent 10 minutes this morning listening to music and hooping. It wasn’t bad although I had to learn to keep my elbows out of the way! You supposed to hula hoop in both directions. Mix it up alternating between clockwise and counter-clockwise direction.
Hooping is a great ab workout to start with before integrating other exercises into your routine. Because a hoop workout requires constant push-pull contractions in your core muscles (abs plus obliques, at the sides of your waist) as well as in the glutes and thighs, the added resistance created by a somewhat heavier hoop should sculpt and reshape all the right places. For what it’s worth there are also many references to unnamed studies stating hooping is an effective way to burn visceral fat which is deep within the abdominal cavity. Visceral fat is also linked to metabolic disturbances and shows an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and many other dangerous health conditions.
The Mayo Clinic reports that you need to spend at the very least 10 minutes at a time exercising your abs with the Hula-Hoop in order to see concrete results. An average woman can burn about 165 calories in 30 minutes of hula hooping, and an average man can burn about 200 calories in 30 minutes of hula hooping.
1. Stabilize your torso and legs, and mobilize your midsection. Only use your abdominal muscles and hips to keep the hoop spinning.
2. Scoop your belly in and lift your rib cage. Extend from the center of your body out. The better your posture, the easier it will be to hoop.
3. Hold the hoop parallel to the floor as you start the spin, and give it some good momentum so it doesn’t start out wobbly.
4. If your hoop starts to fall, lengthen your spine, push forward and back, and move faster. Imagine yourself as the axis of the orbit, not the orbit itself. If you try to move with the hoop (rotating your hips in a circle) the hoop will lose momentum and fall. Move side to side with your waist and hips or back to front with your belly. Feel the centrifugal force, but don’t try to be the circle; let the circle move around you.
5. Stick with it. The longer you hoop, the more your body gets used to the movements
Time to retest baseline fitness! (It’s been a crazy couple of years so I did not have high expectations.) I used the tests outlined on The TopEnd Sports Page. These are tests that can be done at home with minimal or no equipment. The tests are designed to quickly gauge a person’s general fitness level and to act as a benchmark for future testing. After taking the test, you may wish to train for a few months. Then, take the test again and compare the results.
Although there are six tests, I did only the first three — Push ups, Sit ups and Squats.
Push Ups: I did the modified push up with a “bent knee” position. (To do this, kneel on the floor, hands on either side of the chest and keep your back straight. Lower the chest down towards the floor, always to the same level each time, either till your elbows are at right angles or your chest touches the ground.) I was able to complete 35 push ups vs the 25 expected for my age group. Woo Hoo!
Sit Ups: You must count the number of sit ups you can do within one minute. The sit ups required that you (a) squeeze your stomach, (b) push your back flat and (c) raise high enough for your hands to slide along your thighs to touch the tops of your knees. I was able to do 45 sit ups versus the 27 expected for my age group. Again, I was cooking with gas.
Squats: The test has you stand in front of a chair or bench with your feet at shoulder’s width apart, facing away from it. Placing your hands on your hips, you squat down and lightly touch the chair before standing back up. A good sized chair is one that makes your knees at right angles when you are sitting. You keep doing this until you’re fatigued. I was able to complete 20 squats which is the level appropriate for my age group but I have to admit that I was not lightly touching the chair before standing back up. My knees were making a racket as well. I will stay away from squats for the time being.
Listening to old episodes of Fat2Fit radio (still my favorite although they’ve stopped recording), I remembered that I have to do weight training so I get my metabolism at a higher rate. I think it’s great that I can do some light weight training at home or while traveling with little or no equipment. Good luck with your training everyone!
Along the way, my Plantar Fasciitis seems to have flared up again. Plantar fasciitis is caused because the tough, fibrous band of tissue (fascia) connecting the heel bone to the base of the toes has become inflamed. Overweight women, like myself, are more likely to develop the condition. Walking a lot on hard surfaces makes it worse, so our long walks into town were making it worse. The pain classically occurs right after getting up in the morning and after a period of sitting. The excruciating pain in my heel bone was often felt worse after (not during) exercise.
According to my research, stretching is the best treatment for plantar fasciitis. I found this exercise to be the most helpful:
Plantar fascia stretch: Stand with the ball of your injured foot on a stair. Reach for the bottom step with your heel >until you feel a stretch in the arch of your foot. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and then relax. Repeat 3 times. After you have stretched the bottom muscles of your foot, you can begin strengthening the top muscles of your foot.
Lean forward against a wall with one knee straight and heel on the ground. Your other knee is bent. Your heel cord and foot arch stretch as you lean. Hold for 10 seconds, relax and straighten up. Repeat 20 times for each sore heel. It is important to keep the knee fully extended on the side being stretched.
Lean forward onto a countertop, spreading your feet apart with one foot in front of the other. Flex your knees and squat down, keeping your heels on the ground as long as possible. Your heel cords and foot arches will stretch as the heels come up in the stretch. Hold for 10 seconds, relax and straighten up. Repeat 20 times.
Plantar Fascia-Specific Stretching Program
Cross your affected leg over your other leg.
Using the hand on your affected side, take hold of your affected foot and pull your toes back towards shin. This creates tension/stretch in the arch of the foot/plantar fascia.
Check for the appropriate stretch position by gently rubbing the thumb of your unaffected side left to right over the arch of the affected foot. The plantar fascia should feel firm, like a guitar string.
Hold the stretch for a count of 10. A set is 10 repetitions.
The good news is that my foot feels so much better! We have even begun playing tennis in the mornings.
Here is a great list of exercises that you can follow. Plantar Fascitis Exercises-1. Stick to it if you have problems with foot pain, plantar fasciitis, and or heel pain.
I also use the Active Ankle Dns Dorsal Night Splint when I go to bed. It’s been very helpful too.
I’ve purchased a Thera-Band Flexbar Hand Exerciser to work on my tennis elbow while traveling. I’ve been using the red one in physical therapy and have seen improvement in my arm. The blue colored one is heavier so I hope to build up some strength as well.
The Amazon.com description:
Allows for oscillation movements for neuromuscular and balance training
Provides soft tissue and joint mobilization
Used in occupational therapy, physiotherapy, sports and fitness