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HOW TO STAY FIT AS YOU AGE

IT’S EASY – BE ACTIVE AND EAT WELL!

Easy to say, but not always easy to accomplish. As we age, we bring with us a lifetime of prior habits and physical results thereof.

If we have been sedentary, we must first be evaluated by our physician. We need to have a plan and that plan must be presented to our physician. This would be a great time for an annual physical.

150 minutes per week of physical activity is recommended, but there are different types of activity to consider if we sincerely want to stay fit as we are aging.

In this post, I will break down these types of fitness activities and show sources for any equipment that may be appropriate. Food choices and supplements will also be discussed.

Most importantly, to stay fit as we age, we must be consistent in our activity. In my opinion, consistency is the secret to the success of any fitness program.

There are 4 general types of fitness pursuits:

  1. Endurance
  2. Strength
  3. Balance
  4. Flexibility

ENDURANCE
We may build or maintain endurance by biking, swimming, dancing, stair climbing or water aerobics. Also, we may continue with a sport, such as tennis, golf, pickleball or the like. Brisk walking is also a good choice. It is important to remember to replace perspiration with fluids during these activities. Here is more information on healthy hydration.


STRENGTH

Resistance training is essential as we age, since we need to maintain lean muscle mass at a time when we may find routine tasks more difficult to do. A very interesting study on seniors who wanted to lose weight while maintaining muscle was done a few years ago by Wake Forest University. One finding was especially interesting, i.e. that seniors who cut back on calories and only do aerobic exercise (no weights) will lose muscle mass faster than those who cut back on calories and do no exercise at all. Here it is.

Resistance bands or light dumbbells are good low impact choices for seniors who want to preserve muscle. Here is my prior post on resistance bands and below are good options to consider. (As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn from qualifying purchases – these items are from Amazon).

Resistance bands

Light dumbbells

BALANCE

We seniors may expect balance issues. It comes with aging. We may practice standing on one foot, or standing on our toes or heels. Tai chi is the best program for improving balance, based on everything I have heard. Here is a short introduction to tai chi.

Tai chi over 50 (from Amazon)

FLEXIBILITY

I do stretching to loosen my right rotator cuff area and have previously done stretching after workouts or tennis matches. It is important to stretch when our bodies are warm. Static stretching is holding a controlled position for about 45 seconds. This should only be done after an exercise program or sport. It is done to help prevent injury as we cool down.

Dynamic stretching is entirely different and includes high leg kicks, torso twists, lunges and push-ups. These are done before a workout or sports activity. Think of Rafael Nadal doing his routine before a tennis match.

NUTRITION

Good food choices may help us to maintain energy, feel better and boost our immune system. We can even maintain mental sharpness by choosing foods with Omega-3 fatty acids.

Fruits, vegetables and lean meats are good antioxidant sources to protect our cells.

Great Senior Living suggests the following:

  • Include 2-3 tablespoons of healthy fats, like extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, in our diets every day
  • Consume no more than 1500 mg of sodium daily – which comes from foods like salted nuts, ravioli, pizza and chili
  • Eat less than 10% of our daily calories from saturated fats – such as butter, bacon, sausages and cheese
  • Consume less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day (dairy foods, for example)
  • Forget about all sugary drinks

We should eat about 7 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. It is helpful to include a green salad with lunch or dinner


We should also eat 6 or 7 servings of grain on a daily basis – whole wheat bread, brown rice or oatmeal

Other recommendations are:

  • We need to consume 3 dairy servings each day – yogurt, cheese, milk
  • Also 3 servings of lean meat per day

Here are a few more very basic tips for aging people:

  • Eat only when you are hungry
  • Slow eating and chewing will aid our digestion
  • Replace traditional desserts with low fat yogurt and fresh fruit
  • Avoid foods that are high in unhealthy fats

Calorie consumption per day depends on our activity. The best advice is that men over 50 should consume 2000 – 2800 calories daily, women over 50 1600 – 2200.

SUPPLEMENTS

Ideally, we can get all the nutrients we need from food we eat. Easy to say, but not always practical.

Our doctor or dietitian can provide the best advice for our individual needs for a diet change or for vitamin or mineral supplements.

Those of us over 50 years of age need to pay special attention to sources of the following:

  • Calcium and Vitamin D – to protect our bones and avoid fractures. Milk products, green leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin B6 – to form red blood cells. Potatoes, bananas, chicken breasts.
  • Vitamin B12 – for healthy red blood cells and nerves. Meats. (Vegan and vegetarians may need to take a Vitamin B12 supplement).

Dietary guidelines (from Dietary Guidelines for Americans) are:

  • Calcium – 1200 mg for women over 50, 1000 mg for men 51-70, 1200 mg for men over 70, never more than 2000 mg
  • Vitamin D – 600 IU for those 51-70, 800 IU for those over 70, never more than 4000 IU daily. (IU – International Units)
  • Vitamin B6 – 1.7 mg for men, 1.5 mg for women per day
  • Vitamin B12 – 2.4 micrograms per day

Personally, I keep close track of my workout activity, but this is not always the case with my nutrition. I count calories and keep my weight down with intermittent fasting. I limit sugar, fatty foods and alcohol. But I rely on supplements. I frankly don’t always trust my food choices.

Goli Nutrition is a source that works well for me. My overall nutrition has improved dramatically with Goli.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Our individual health and fitness differences seem to really become apparent as we age. For that reason, it is important to seek the advice of physicians, dietitians or other health professionals.

I can speak of what works for me and even what generally works for others, but that is my limit.

I have found that consistency in fitness activities assures success and I know this is repetitive. There are days when I don’t feel energetic and only do five minutes of training. That five minutes is not that productive, but I have done a little and have maintained my consistency. (We are creatures of habit).

Please leave me any questions or comments in the “Comments” section below. Or email me, richard@myworkoutathome.com.

Stay healthy!




Richard

2 Comments

  1. Thank you very much for this valuable detailed post about how to stay fit. It’s really good that you wrote something like this. Because many people in today’s society are sick. Actually, I think that there are many reasons for it, the food and drinks we eat. Exercising is less fun. You have shown some good recommendations in this. Thank you very much. I will definitely share this. Keep posting like this.

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