What was Ponce de Leon looking for in his search for the Fountain of Youth?
Anyone who has hit age 50 knows what he was looking for. Ponce de Leon was looking to turn back the clock. He wanted to be as sharp physically and mentally as he was in his youth. He wanted to slow the aging process.
Why? Because aging slows down our metabolism, and as we age we lose muscle mass, bone density, and heart health, along with a decline in our cognitive ability.
No wonder the fastest growing segment of the fitness population is over age 50. Only about a third of Americans aged 45 to 64 engage in regular physical activity, even less — about a quarter — for those aged 65 to 74. And nearly 40 percent of baby boomers are obese, with 16 percent of us having been diagnosed with diabetes.
We may be living longer than ever before, but during those extra years, we’re often sick, or at least not in our best health.
What does regular physical activity do for us?
- Inactivity doubles the risk of mobility limitations as we age, while vigorous activity does the opposite, according to the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.
- Physical activity helps us maintain health and independence as we get older and significantly improves the our quality of life.
- Another study found that exercise can slow cognitive decline – it helps our minds to stay sharper longer than ever before and even decreases the risk of depression.
- Exercise helps maintain lower weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Experts say it also helps keep blood vessels strong and healthy and promotes better sleep habits.
So you know you need to get moving! But what should you do before beginning to increase your level of physical activity?
- Check with your physician before beginning an exercise program. Your doctor can often make recommendations regarding an activity schedule that is safe for you. Be sure your doctor and, if you have one, personal trainer are aware of any limitations you might have or any important medical conditions that might be affected by exercise.
- If you decide to join a gym, take advantage of free sessions with trainers who will teach you how to properly use the equipment.
- Take it slow to start – no one gets fit in a week or even a month. You are looking for a lifestyle change, which will enable you to live a longer, more enjoyable and healthier life.
What exercise are most baby boomers doing and where are they doing them?
- Most boomers are using low-intensity exercise to minimize wear and tear on their joints. Examples of those are pilates, yoga, elliptical machines and recumbent bikes.
- Walking is considered a great weight bearing exercise for everyone. It’s convenient and requires no equipment.
- Strength training is also important as it will improve your mobility, strengthen your core, and help to prevent falls.
- Want to exercise at home? Visit your local library and check out the fitness videos and DVDs.
- Look online for the best deals on local fitness facilities.
- Grab a partner and get a walking group going a few mornings a week.
The Surgeon General recommends everyone get 30 minutes of activity every day, or 150 minutes per week. You can do the 30 minutes all at once or divide it into two or three segments to get your 30 minutes in.
It’s important to stay hydrated, and to always warm up before and cool down after exercise.
Set new age-adjusted goals for yourself and getting healthy should be part of those goals! Remember to listen to your body and slow down or back off a bit it you are too sore after a workout.
Exercise will make you feel better about yourself. We all feel better when we are fit! Increasing your physical activity will help you feel great and maybe think you have found the next best thing to the fountain of youth.
What are your favorite exercises? Do you have any other secrets for looking and feeling like you found the Fountain of Youth?