FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

I'm Farai Chideya, and this is NEWS & NOTES.

Are you looking for the secret to a healthy mind and body? It's a dirty little word, starts with an E. That's right - exercise. But as we get older, choosing the right mix of activities can be just as important as the exercise itself.

NEWS & NOTES nutritionist Rovenia Brock is here with some healthful tips on staying active at any age, plus, how to make your weight loss efforts a family affair.

Hey, Dr. Ro.

Dr. ROVENIA BROCK (Nutritionist; Author, "Dr. Ro's Ten Secrets to Livin' Healthy"): Hey.

CHIDEYA: So let's talk about exercise to the ages. There's going to be some things you do when you're in your 20s and then in your 40s and then in your 60s and beyond. How do they change over time?

Dr. BROCK: Well, in your 20s, you - most people feel they're invincible. I know a lot of people who feel they don't have to do anything but I think over time, particularly for women, you start to lose estrogen, you start to lose bone mass, calcium is depleted, and so you definitely want to make sure that in addition to cardio - and by the way, cardio is good for all ages. But in addition to that, you certainly want to pick up some weights and you want to add some stress training to your routine to replenish those losses.

CHIDEYA: So maybe in your 20s, you are one of these people who feel you're invincible. If you start, as a lot of people do, having a slower metabolism and gaining weight in your 30s, say, what might you want to change?

Dr. BROCK: Well, I really think as you start to gain weight, you - there are many things that you have to change in addition to exercise. And what I mean by that is you certainly want to watch the food that you're consuming into portions. But at the same time, when it comes to exercise, the goal is to build more muscle.

And the reason it's so necessary is because the more muscle your body carries, the higher your muscle-to-fat ratio, the more efficiently you burn calories and you get rid of fat, even at rest. So in order to do that, you certainly are going to have to tone in order to build that muscle. And so adding stress training to your routine becomes essential.

CHIDEYA: I have a next-door neighbor who's in his 80s and he was very funny about aging. He basically is - I see him taking his daily walk every day. I say, oh, Bob, you know, you're doing great, and he's like, look, I walk because there's nothing else I can do. Even recently, as he's had to use a cane, he gets out there and walks every day. Is that the kind of example that we should look towards?

Dr. BROCK: Absolutely, Bob is setting the example for all of the rest of us. He's doing what he can do. And even as he uses a cane, you mentioned that he still walks. So I think, unless you have some ailments, some physical limitation that actually prevents you from being able to exercise in any form, then certainly you've got to do what you can.

So let's just say we're moving beyond walking and, you know, we've talked about the whole business of being able to burn calories by doing some of those things that you enjoy.

One of the best cardio workouts I ever received was doing salsa dancing, for example. That may not be Bob's choice but for a lot of people listening, they can certainly relate to the fact that here is something that they may enjoy. And if it isn't that, then perhaps it's something else, but the point is you've got to move your body and - at every opportunity possible.

CHIDEYA: Let's transition to the emotional side of exercise fitness - eating. I have had my moments of throw down with friends and family members who say, oh, you've really got to lose weight because I have an attitude, and I think many of us who are trying to change our lives do.

So flipping over to the other side of the coin, how do you support someone who is trying to get fit and lose weight or not even just lose weight but someone who's trying to stay fit without overstepping your boundaries?

Dr. BROCK: Well, I think the first thing to remember is, if you're trying to support someone, then approach her from that perspective. Don't criticize. Praise, instead. And even with small steps to progress, you know, praise them, don't - sabotage them. And a lot of times, of course - this isn't intentional -I think people just don't think about the fact that they really do sabotage.

If they're having a nice piece of cake they want to share it with their -family member that they love, and this family member is trying to stay away from that because they're making other kinds of lifestyle changes.

So rather than offer, for example, food as a reward during your praise, then choose something else that that person would enjoy. But I think, you know, you cannot say to a person who's trying to lose weight or who's trying to change their lifestyles - hey, you know, you're fat or you're overweight. Nobody knows that better than they do. They don't need to hear that. What they do need to hear is good job, way to go, hey, I'll come and walk with you.

CHIDEYA: You know, I had an interesting experience once where I have a friend who has also been struggling with weight. And I have to say I have recently been really changing the way that I'm eating.

Dr. BROCK: Mm-hmm.

CHIDEYA: I still need to step up my exercise but we - it's, you know, one-step-at-a-time situation. But I have a friend who was very - I'll just put it this way - bossy about what I should do once she got into a groove. And then later, like so many of us, she regressed. She had a moment where - what she was doing stopped working for her or she couldn't follow it as well. And then she gained a lot of weight.

I find a lot of times that in our interactions - maybe I'm speaking mainly from a female perspective - we can be very judgmental of each other. How do we take our own judgments off the table while still being supportive?

Dr. BROCK: Well, I think, you know, we just have to be mindful of and be conscious of not participating in the whole misery-loving company, you know, concept. When people feel badly about themselves, whether it's weight loss or otherwise, they do, sort of, want to get, you know, other folks on their team.

But the thing to remember is you're the object of this, of the negative energy and comments that really do not serve you well, is to remind yourself that most often, Farai, these kind of energy and the comments and the bossiness, doesn't have a whole lot to do with you, has much more to do with the person that's dolling it out.

CHIDEYA: If you are someone who, like me, can get an attitude when you're criticized, how do you prevent that attitude from getting in the way of your own growth?

Dr. BROCK: Here's a very important life lesson that I think works for this scenario and just in general: Everything that someone says or does to you does not necessarily merit a response. You've got to stay focus on you, and then just shut out all that does not help you toward that end. Does that make sense?

CHIDEYA: It does, it's perfect sense. And Dr. Ro, thank you for the wisdom.

Dr. BROCK: Always a pleasure.

CHIDEYA: Rovenia Brock is a regular contributor to NEWS & NOTES and author of "Dr. Ro's Ten Secrets to Livin' Healthy." She joined us from NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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