Getting older doesn’t mean that you have to throw in the towel. There are plenty of examples of octogenarians climbing mountains, jumping out of airplanes, and surfing big waves to drive this point home. You can stay fit at any age – all it takes is discipline and routine. Here are six sound tips on how you (and your parents or grandparents) can turn back the clock and stay healthy, longer.
Get Plenty of Sleep
The National Institute of Health (NIH) encourages individuals of advanced age to get as much sleep as possible. A lack of sleep as you get older can lead to a wide range of problems, including depression, attention and memory difficulties, excessive daytime sleepiness, nighttime falls, and a dependency on sleep aids. More generally, a lack of sleep is often linked with a poorer quality of life. To help counteract these symptoms and conditions, try and stick to a nighttime sleeping routine that allows you to get ample rest. If you have difficulty sleeping at night, see your doctor regarding potential treatments (though again, be cautious of a dependency on sleep aids).
You may feel that the longer you exercise, the better it is. However, it’s worth noting that many doctors now believe that short bursts of dedicated and rigorous exercise can be as beneficial, if not more beneficial, than continuous activity. Studies have shown that three minutes of high-intensity exercise per week is sufficient to improve cardio metabolic health in overweight individuals and seniors. So pick exercises that you like doing and get active! Any activity is better than nothing, and short bursts may be more beneficial than you would believe.
Walk More (and Keep Track of Your Steps)
We’ve established that rigorous exercise in short bursts can be beneficial to long-term health. But that is by no means an excuse to stay sedentary! Regular, daily physical activity has a number of health benefits, and is recommended by medical organizations like the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Though there are numerous exercises that individuals can take part in, walking is recommended as it is low risk. To keep track of your daily walking routine, consider buying a fitness tracker. If you are healthy and mobile, you may want to consider a FitBit or Apple Watch. However, if you have concerns regarding your mobility, or you occasionally fall, there are also dedicated senior fitness trackers with emergency response services built in.
There’s an old saying that you are what you eat. This is true for everyone. However, as you get older, eating healthy takes on even greater importance, as it can help combat a number of ailments common in seniors. A healthy diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, bone loss, anemia, and even certain types of cancer. Eating a balanced diet may also help you control or reduce high blood pressure, lower your cholesterol, or manage diabetes. Vegetables, fruits, grains, and proteins in suitable portions provide the necessary nutrients to keep your muscles, bones, and organs healthy throughout your life. If you consume your fair share of sugars and fats, consider changing your daily eating habits.
Do Strength Training
To maintain muscle mass and mobility, don’t forget to include weights in your workout. Though walking and swimming are great cardiovascular exercises, it’s important that you also take steps to help offset the body’s natural tendency to lose muscle over time. Weight training can build muscle, which in turn can help prevent conditions like osteoporosis. If you don’t know where to start, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offer a 3-part weight training program for adults that is designed to yield positive and measurable results in just 12 weeks.
Don’t Make Excuses!
Whatever methods you decide to use in your routine, the important thing is that you stick with it. Don’t make excuses and don’t quit! Walk regularly and stay active. Leave the house often and be as mobile as you can be. Avoid fatty foods and sugars, and eat healthy. And incorporate more intense workouts into your routine wherever or whenever possible. For these more intense workouts, consider choosing a specific day or time and stick to it. Finally, write down goals so that you can monitor your progress and maintain your motivation. Be a participant!