So you haven’t exactly found hitting the big 6-0 to be motivation for improved fitness. The good news is, there’s still time. If you haven’t been practicing healthy eating and living a healthy active lifestyle, you can still improve your health by starting now.
The science of aging works a bit against us in our golden years. As we age the correlation between our body fat and our lean body mass changes, and it isn’t for the better. So, instead of muscle working to raise our metabolism and burn fat, there’s far less muscle to do the job. This means as we age we must work hard to follow a low calorie diet, and harder at following an exercise plan to go with it.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, several population studies among the older generation (65+) found that following a healthy nutrition plan, along with a healthy lifestyle plan: 1) reduces the risk of cancer by one third, and 2) decreases the risk of cardiac events by as much as 45%.
In addition to decreasing physical health, the older population also faces significant mental health issues. The World Health Organization reports that 20% of world’s elderly population, 60 and over, suffers from a mental or neurological disorder. They further recommend “optimizing physical health” as one of the most important components of intervention.
It’s time to get motivated with these easy tip.
Strength Training. To build more muscle mass as you age, start with strength training. Stronger muscles make day-to-day activities much easier. A study by The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes found that, “muscle mass can be increased through training at an intensity corresponding to 60% to 85% of the individual maximum voluntary strength.”
If the idea of strength training at a gym is intimidating, consider creating your own home gym with a few select pieces of equipment. Read about proper form to avoid injury and find a free online weight training program that’s best for you and that can be done from the comfort of your own home. Remember: doing something is better than nothing, so allow yourself to ease into it and work your way up when you’re ready.
Get Moving. Like strength training, a good walk can increase muscle mass, but walking also has so many other benefits:
· Weight control
· Improve balance and coordination
· Keeping joints flexible
· Lowers your risk for heart disease
· Improves your energy
· Decreases depression and anxiety
Consider purchasing a Fitbit. The Fitbit, worn around your wrist most commonly, tracks your daily steps via a pedometer. Keeping yourself accountable for moving so much each day, and increasing your efforts, will motivate you to move more. Consider competing with a friend for most steps in a day. The American Heart Association recommends 10,000 steps a day as a goal for improving health and lowering your chances of heart disease. As always, start with a small goal and work your way up.
Try Yoga. Numerous studies have shown that yoga has many health benefits, particularly in the 50-plus age group. Here’s a few of them:
· AARP published a study suggesting that the slow, controlled breathing required for yoga leads to a decrease in hypertension and stress, and may lead to a decrease in medication use.
· The American Osteopathic Association reports that yoga “creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention; and sharpens concentration.”
Head to your local retailer, and purchase a yoga mat for as little as $15. These mats can be used for yoga, as well as for your home strength training.
Easy home exercises. Start working on easy home exercises that will help you build your strength and coordination.
Remember, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to numerous diseases of the mind and the body. Find fun ways to incorporate daily exercise into your life, and sooner than you know it, the ole 5-0 will feel more like the younger 3-0.
Post Submitted by: Marie Villeza, Elderimpact.org