HomeHealthBetter aging with weight lifting and holiday travel: The week in Well+Being

Better aging with weight lifting and holiday travel: The week in Well+Being

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Happy Thursday! This week we’re writing about older adults lifting weights and holiday travel, and we’ve got our weekly “joy” snack. But before that …

This week’s must-reads:

It’s never too late to lift weights

I was inspired this week by new research in older people who had never lifted weights. They were taught to use simple machine weights at the gym for three days a week and showed significant health gains.

Contrary to popular wisdom among many gym-goers and even some scientists, healthy people in their 60s, 70s and beyond can safely start lifting weights and rapidly build substantial muscle mass, strength and mobility, explains Gretchen Reynolds, our Your Move columnist.

“It shows that healthy older people can certainly respond to resistance training, that their muscles are still plastic,” said Tommy Lundberg, an exercise researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, who was not involved in the study.

We don’t know a lot about older people and the effects of weight training because they are often excluded from research. Past weight-training research often capped volunteers’ ages at about 75, because of worries that older people would be unable to handle the training or that their muscles wouldn’t respond if they could manage to lift, Gretchen says.

The findings aren’t just about a muscle workout, she notes. It also suggests that we may need to rethink our perceptions of what is physically possible in old age. I hope you’ll read the full report and get inspired to head to the gym and encourage an older person in your life to do the same.

Tips for happier, healthier holiday travel

As you head into the holiday travel season, remember that the team at By the Way has loads of advice. I recommend bookmarking their Travel Tips page and signing up for the By the Way newsletter and email alerts. Plus we’ve summarized some helpful tips here.

Rethink flying if you’re sick. Most experts discourage flying when you’re feeling unwell. The reason isn’t just to protect others but also to protect yourself. Respiratory illnesses affect your sinuses and Eustachian tubes, which connect your middle ear to your throat. Both are air-filled chambers, so when you’re on a plane, the pressure inside needs to equalize with the cabin pressure after takeoff and upon landing. It’s a good idea to have a plan B if someone in your group gets sick right before you plan to fly. Our advice from last year’s virus season still applies today.

Read more: Why flying while sick can make you feel worse

Tips for a meltdown free ride. Air travel with young children is a minefield of potential trouble. There could be leaky diapers, upset tummies, ear pains or motion sickness. Depending on a child’s personality, airplane cabins can turn into pressure cookers for full-blown temper tantrums. We asked an experienced travel parent for tips. Her advice: Book the front or back of the cabin, schedule flights around naptimes, and pack a change of clothes for kids and adults.

Read more: Flying with kids? Parents’ best tips for a meltdown-free ride.

Catch up on your podcasts: Expert travelers share their favorite downloads, including the best podcasts and audiobooks on everything from celebrities to cooking, music and art.

Read more: 25 podcasts and audiobooks to save for a long travel day

Remember where your luggage has been: You might not get a flesh-eating infection, but doctors do have one big concern about unpacking your bag where you sleep.

Read more: Is it gross to put luggage on your bed?

Find the right seat: Sometimes the last row is even better than the front of economy. Here’s why.

Read more: The best seat on the plane is in the very back

Don’t travel with leftovers. If you can “spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it,” then check it. Your grandmother’s famous gravy will be treated like a liquid.

Read more: The holiday foods you can and can’t bring in a carry-on, according to TSA

Pick some travel gifts: If you have a frequent flier on your gift list, consider these gear gift ideas — a hammock for your feet, no-frills eye masks and the best neck pillow.

Read more: The best gear to make long flights less miserable

Listen to our Post Reports podcast

Many Americans drink more than usual this time of year — as much as double, according to some studies. But drinking more isn’t just happening around the holidays. Today, our Post Reports podcast talks with data reporter Caitlin Gilbert and health reporter David Ovalle about why alcohol consumption has gone up in recent years and the deadly consequences.

A doctor’s Rx to feel more connected during the holidays

Q: I always feel lonely over the holidays, even if I see my family. What could I do to feel less isolated?

A: The holidays are not always the most wonderful time of the year. For many people, they can be an especially lonely time.

Inspired by the U.S. surgeon general’s 5-for-5 Connection Challenge, my prescription is to do one daily action to connect with someone over the next five days. These interventions are backed by science — engaging in gratitude, service and mindfulness that allows us to disconnect from technology can all help with loneliness and may open doors to new connections.

Even if you don’t feel lonely, try this challenge. You may be surprised by how much closer to others these small acts bring you over the next five days.

Our columnist is Trisha S. Pasricha, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. Keep reading for her complete answer.

Here are a few things that brought us joy this week.

Want to know more about “joy” snacks? Our Brain Matters columnist Richard Sima explains. You can also read this story as a comic.

Please let us know how we are doing. Email me at wellbeing@washpost.com. You can also find us on TikTok.



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