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Connect with Mike - AARP’s resident fitness and innovation enthusiast
Hello Rewards Warriors!
My name is Mike Lee. After a health scare in 2014 I got moving and armed with a fitness tracker began walking, then running. Four years later I’m 75 pounds lighter and feeling better than ever, now I want to help others get motivated by sharing my personal fitness tracker tips!
Did any of you receive a shiny new fitness tracker over the holidays? Don’t know where to start or need some fitness motivation? Take a minute to read the latest New Year’s Resolution feature on the AARP Rewards Connect Page.
Need help getting started? Post your fitness tracker questions here or feel free to share your own tips that could help others. I found connecting with others is a major motivating force when it came to reaching my personal goals.
The Apple Watch feeds into the Apple Health app, which is what the AARP NOW app connects to.
In the current version of the AARP NOW app on your iPhone, go to the "ACCOUNT" tab in the bottom navigation to opt-in to AARP Rewards. After opting in, select "Sync a fitness tracker." From here, you can sync Apple's Health app by selecting it and giving permission to sync your health data.
Your Apple Watch should already be linked to your Apple Health app. If not, here is Apple's help document on that topic:
A few years ago, I lost 70lbs through tracking food and exercise. RealAppeal provided by Aarp /UHC MedicareCompleteAdvantage supplied an app, online counseling, fitness dvds and an assortment of equipment. RealAppeal helped me change my life.
Now I use the fitbit and gym membership provided by them.
Congratulations on maintaining your step goals and dropping those pounds! I found that once I could do 10K steps, if I had the time on a given day, I would challenge myself to doing another 1-2K since I was already out there.
Especially when I was training for long distance races, I was doing hip bridges and roll-downs as our Kathy Smith demonstrates here:
The core work helped to eliminate knee pains which came from my core muscles being too weak to play their part in lifting up my legs for running.
I've "graduated" in the last year to doing laybacks, which look like the roll-downs, but your legs are straight out and hovering in the air. I also do front, left and right planks among other things.
For specific plan information, you can contact United Healthcare directly at 1-800-850-6807 8am-8pm 7 days a week. Addtionally, information can be found at https://www.aarpmedicareplans.com/health-plans/shop/renew-active.html
Well, when I started running four years ago, I got shin splints too that lasted for 2-3 weeks at a time! After some trial and error--and pain--also some advice from my local running club, I learned things like retiring my shoes before the soles got too mushy and worn down, simple stretches to do before walking or running, proper hydration, etc. Another reason people get shin splints is from weaker upper leg and torso muscles as those structures play an important role in lifting up your legs. The shins get stressed and painful when they have to bear more of the load. I hated doing basic core exercises like planking, laybacks and forward lunges for years, but those simple things are what have prevented injuries for me.
I just got my first fitness tracker--an Apple Watch 5--last week and am really enjoying it. I'm still exploring everything I can do with it, but one thing I've been wondering about:
- What is the difference between active calories and total calories? Not sure if this is just the Apple Watch that makes this distinction, or if other fitness trackers track both. Which measurement should I be focusing on for weight loss?
Congrats on the new Apple Watch! My wife (AW v5) and daughter (AW v4) love their Apple Watches. I'm currently using a Garmin GPS watch for running and a Fitbit 24/7 for steps and sleep. Both of those don't easily display active vs. total calories like your Apple Watch.
I don't think Apple reveals their exact formula for how and when active calories are counted, but active generally means when you are not at rest, rest meaning sitting still at a desk, relaxing on a couch or sleeping.
So look at the count of calories you burn on a day when you are not exercising or walking much, and you'll get an idea of how many calories your body burns just to stay alive. Then active calories on a given day burned from exercise such as power walking, jogging or going to the gym, would be added to that. That total is basically what you need to stay below in calories intake from food (consistently over a period of weeks) in order not to gain weight.
I learned that 80% of my weight loss was from managing calorie intake through calorie counting, portion control and eating less overall. Even when I took a break from exercising for a week or two, my weight didn't go up because of my new eating habits.
Do you have any apps you would recommend for weight loss--both eating: counting calories, carbs, fat; motivation; sample meals and exercise: walking programs (walks maybe with visuals, facts, etc.), gym programs (sample workouts), motivation, etc.?
I have mostly been a walker, hiker and runner up until 1 1/2 years ago when I started body weight exercising. So I have only tried a few of the most popular apps.
For calorie counting, I have actually used simple text files on my phone for the last five years to maintain a food journal. I don't log calorie numbers in the text, but I found that the few extra seconds of inefficiency in typing out the name of the food (vs. just clicking a button in an app with a food database) made me pause to think about what and why I ate. But the hands-down most popular app that I hear about is MyFitnessPal, which has an extensive food database. You can scan the barcode on a packaged food with your phone's camera, enter your portion size, and it will automatically calculate the calories of what you ate and log it. The app database also has the calorie data from 500,000 restaurant menus!
For walking, I started out using a phone app called Map My Walk, which is now owned by Under Armour. It will track your walks (hiking, biking and running too) with a GPS map to log steps, distance, time and calculate your calorie burn.
For body weight workouts, I have used an app called Freeletics, which shows short videos of exercises from different angles so you can follow along.
All of these apps will collect some basic information about you so that they can do accurate calculations or recommendations. The popular exercise apps will also be on both iOS and Android.
I'm an old dancer and former surfer and sailor. Since recovering from a ruptured achilles tendon at 80, Ive noticed a balance problem. An old friend and I decided to try yoga, but he suffered a stroke and passed in class. Is there a type of yoga or other resstrictions i should observe at my age? My vitals are otherwise fine.
What an amazing set of careers you have! There must be so many interesting stories.
So sorry to hear about the passing of your friend. I am glad that you know your vitals are good.
My colleague Lorrie Lynch is featured in a great special report on yoga that will show you many basic moves:
I too had balance problems when I was beginning yoga three years ago. A friend showed me how to do some of the basic yoga positions against a wall (when no spotter was available). Acting on that simple tip gave me the confidence to keep at it. Now I can do many positions and hold my balance.