When I turned 50, a friend’s mother told me now that I had reached this milestone, it was imperative that I keep an eye on my health. I should eat less and move more! She told me exercise for seniors is one of the pillars for a long and healthy life.
A few months later, I began to notice some changes in my body: I was stiff after sitting for long periods of time at my desk. After a brisk walk or jog, my knees were sore. And then there was my metabolism that used to burned 3,000 calories just by blinking. Now it had slowed to a snail’s pace. My skinny jeans were now hanging in the back of my closet and I was wearing more and more often my comfy and stretchy yoga pants.
Although I’m aging in a graceful manner accompanied by good health, some Baby Boomers haven’t been as lucky. Let’s take a look at some facts: Boomers, which in 2010 made 26.1% of the US population, have led longer lives due to the significant improvements in medicine and have been depicted as a fit generation by the media. But according to the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, this portrayal is not quite so accurate.
In the study, which came out in late March 2013, researchers found that Boomers were more likely to be obese, have high blood pressure, increased rates of higher cholesterol, diabetes and they were less prone to exercise. What can we do about it? Is it too late to get back into shape or are we doomed to be overweight, unfit and riddled with ailments?
Exercise for Seniors
It’s never too late to change bad habits into healthy ones. Before you make lifestyle changes concerning diet and activity, get a physical. Also take a proactive approach to your health and fitness levels. Ask questions, do your research. Determine (and be honest) whether the focus is to fit into those skinny jeans or preventive measures to avoid developing heart disease and diabetes, lowering your blood pressure or cholesterol. Once you’ve set your priorities and have expectations, it’s time to get moving.
In a WebMD article “The Baby Boomer Heart: Healing Fitness,” cardiologist Helene Greenglass, director of The Preventive Cardiology and Lipid Center at the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia said, “The truth is that the greatest decrease in [heart disease] occurs for those who just take themselves out of the sedentary category with simple movement. In fact, just going from sedentary to moderately active gives you the greatest reduction in your risks.”
Exercise for seniors doesn’t mean you have to join fancy gyms or purchase expensive exercise equipment like treadmills or an elliptical. Just get out every day for a brisk walk either alone, with a friend, or your dog and if you don’t have one, adopt one! People with pets are overall healthier both physically and emotionally. Plus, you’re doing the right thing by adopting a dog that needs a forever home. It’s a win-win!
Other heart-pumping outside activities include gardening, going for a bike ride, or even climbing steps. If the weather isn’t cooperating and you need motivation to work out, there are a wide selection of exercise videos on YouTube like Rodney Yee’s AM Yoga for some easy stretches to ease your way into the morning. If you want to break a sweat, increase your heart rate and tone your muscles, try Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred.
Diet for Seniors
AZ Central interviewed Johannah Uriri-Glover, PhD, MSCR, MNSc, RN, a clinical associate professor in the Arizona State University College of Nursing & Health Innovation’s Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence and the Center for Healthy Outcomes in Aging. She says that as we age, our caloric needs decrease, but our nutrient needs remain the same. The key to a healthy diet is one that is well-balanced. In other words, eat foods high in fiber, including grains, fresh fruits and veggies, but also foods high in calcium and vitamin D.
Uriri-Glover adds that for boomers ages 58 to 66 it’s important to “get enough protein to maintain energy levels.” She also notes that “Malnutrition becomes a risk factor as we age because of changes in sense of smell and taste, and many people may reduce food intake or eat food that do not have nutrients.”
And the takeaway from all this? You may be older and wiser, but exercise for seniors is important, and you still have to eat your fruits and veggies to be healthy. Fitness for Seniors requires attention to both exercise and diet.
What wellness and fitness programs do you follow, and what fitness and diet tips would you like to share with readers?