When I was growing up, I thought that anyone over 40 was old. 50, was REALLY OLD! Now that I'm in that age group my attitude has changed 360 degrees! As we get older we need to focus on ways to stay healthy, strong and vibrant. Here are some tips for my fellow Baby boomers out there!
Most people don't get enough physical activity. As we age we seem to get even less.
You just have to get moving, take it slowly and be consistent. Cardiovascular exercise is any activity that uses your major muscle groups and increases your heart rate and breathing. You don’t have to go to the gym to do it. Go for a walk. Just get your body moving and your heart rate up! Be sure to get at least 30 minutes of activity that makes you breathe harder on most or all days of the week. That's called ‘endurance activity’. You don't have to be active for 30 minutes all at once. Ten minutes of endurance activity at a time is fine. Just make sure those 10-minute sessions add up to a total of 30 minutes most days. Your level of effort is what is truly important. If you can carry on a conversation without any trouble, then you are not working hard enough. If you can’t talk at all, then you are working too hard.
When muscles aren't used, they will waste away at any age. Strength training will build and maintain your muscle mass while increasing your strength and metabolism. Regular strength training will keep you strong for your daily activities as well as decrease your risk of injury and age-related diseases such as osteoporosis, for both men and women. Thirty to 45 minutes twice a week is all you need. You’ll feel and see the results in no time. Strength training exercise has many benefits but most important, will keep your legs and hips strong, as well as help balance; which means, you are less likely to fall. Many age-related problems, such as muscle loss, bone loss, joint disease, decreased heart/lung function, immune system deterioration, mental decline and negative changes in body composition (muscle/fat ratio) and poor posture are all directly countered by strength training. When you have enough muscle, you can get up from a chair by yourself. If you fall, you will be able to help yourself up!
Stretching is the most neglected component of fitness for most people. Flexibility declines with age, and inflexibility can seriously impair quality of life, particularly for people who are sedentary. Just remember that it is important to gently warm muscles before attempting deep stretches. Think of your muscles like taffy; when cold, taffy doesn’t stretch, but when warmed up, it is pliable.
Slow down the aging process by making healthy nutritional choices. Choose foods rich in nutrients, and slow down the natural aging process on the INSIDE AND OUT!
Food is our fuel and good nutrition will help us function both mentally and physically. Fuelling your body properly for this stage in your life is not only about what you eat but how much and how often. As we age nutrition plays a bigger role in determining how we feel. The processing of foods is less efficient. With age we burn calories less efficiently. Our body stores more fat and less muscle. A diet rich in nutrients and low in fats can reverse this process. By eating healthy you can reduce age related risks of heart attack, diabetes, stroke and other chronic diseases. A healthy diet includes a variety of foods from the major food groups, Carbohydrates, Protein and Fats. Watch your portions. We live in a world of portion distortion! We have lost sight of what a normal portion is and continue to finish everything on our plates, even when we are full. Most times a serving we consume is more like three! Moderation is the key. The simplest, easiest way of speeding up the body's metabolism is by eating small, well-balanced and nutritious meals or snacks every three to four hours. The more you present your body with small amounts of food, the faster it becomes at processing and utilizing this food. Eating every three to four hours equates to about 5 or 6 small meals or snacks a day. The great thing about eating every three to four hours, besides the fact that it's beneficial for your metabolism, is that it actually makes it seem you're eating 'more' food than normal. Psychologically you do not feel deprived of anything because it seems you're eating more often.
This is about getting healthy, fit and making permanent changes. Focus on how you are going to achieve this way of life. Don’t focus just on weight loss or looking younger. It will come. SET GOALS, make a PLAN. Remember to make your goals realistic and achievable. It's easy to get frustrated and give up if your goals are too ambitious.
Positive thinking may help you live a longer, happier life. Have a Can Do attitude. It is easier to achieve a goal when you are optimistic. When you catch yourself using negative self-talk or predicting a bad outcome, like, ‘I’m too old to get fit’, STOP! Change your thought process to a positive outcome. Your mind is a powerful connection to your body and will help you more than you realize!
Marla Arndt is a Guelph based personal trainer. She can be reached via her website at http://frameworksfitness.com