I recently read that the secret to longevity may be keeping fit and active after age 55. It’s easier for me to stay active because I have always had a high level of energy while my sister is quite the opposite.
Just because we get older doesn’t mean we quit take care of ourselves physically. Did you know that getting older doesn’t mean we will inevitably experience weight gain? If we remain active, we maintain muscle mass and our metabolism will not slow down much.
It all comes down to “energy in and energy out”.
Energy in = food that we eat. Read our Anti Aging Super Nutrient Series
Energy out = amount of activity that we expend.
As we age, our choices for physical exercise change. Watching my son compete in the “Rugged Maniac” competition last Saturday reminded me that I have made different choices to stay fit. I walk at least 20 minutes each day and free weight routines every other day. Many of you have chosen low-impact aerobics, yoga, or water exercises. Some choose the air-conditioned mall to make their rounds for healthy starts to the day. Bowling, golf, and fishing are group sports that encourage both supportive participation as well as social interaction. You can usually find senior specific recreational clubs in your area – if not, create one! Not sure which exercise is right for you? Click here!
Staying physically fit is a far better option than a hair-raising trip to the ER. Remember – before you start any exercise program, you need to get your doctor to sign off on your activity.
I recently watched Dr. Robert Butler on The Early Show. He listed out the ‘Four Components to Keeping Weight off after 50:
You should engage in real physical activity where you are sweating at least three times a week.
- Muscle Strengthening:
Building strong muscles will keep your metabolism up (muscles burn more calories than fat) and help support your skeleton, keep your bones/back aligned properly. Also helps keep your body balanced (see #4).
- Stretching/ Flexibility:
If you don’t stretch your muscles, your body can become tight and rigid, making it more painful and difficult to do ordinary activities like putting on shoes and reaching for things on shelves. You can increase your flexibility by doing a series of stretches a few times a week. When you get up, you should do a few stretches, like lie on the floor and reach as far as you can in all directions, move your legs from side to side, do the mad cat position (arch your back), put your hands on the side of the doors and lean into the opening. You can also do those typical runner’s stretches like stretching your hamstring and quadriceps. You should hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds; don’t rock back and forth.
It is important to do balance-building exercises so that you can react to situations and not fall and break a hip. You can do balance building exercises during the routine course of your day: stand on one leg while you are waiting in line, or go up and down on your toes.
I thought his message of ‘good news’ was important for everyone to hear – even if a person has had a sedentary life, it is never too late to exercise. Gradually, a person can get back in shape. My sister did it – you can too!