By now you’ve come to realize what escapes most younger people – that your physical health and fitness levels are more important than financial security as you approach or enjoy retirement. Senior health wasn’t a major concern in your younger days, but it’s of ultimate, or at least penultimate importance now. Trouble is, the best of current intentions are up against a lifetime of excesses and abuses your body & mind have endured up to now. Fortunately, while some injuries, handicaps and conditions may now be with you for life, almost everyone can get healthier, get stronger, become more mobile and relieve some of the chronic pain they currently experience. And this is true whether you’re in your 60’s and 70’s, 80’s and 90’s or even a celebrated centenarian!
Adopting A Fitness Mindset
Your first step towards true senior health & fitness is an attitude inventory. Think you’re too set in your ways to change now, that you ‘can’t teach an old dog new tricks’? How often were you on the Internet in your twenties? When was the last time you wrote a letter by hand and mailed it to a friend? Did you enjoy your cell phone in your 30’s? You’ve been making changes, some big and some small, all your life. Your path to senior fitness can start with small steps too – unless medical conditions dictate otherwise, you don’t need to rush into anything. Start with small changes and let their combined effects grow over time – after all, you’re not planning on leaving anytime soon, are you?
Or is that the mindset issue for you? If you’re thinking you only have ten or 20 years of life left you may or may not be right, depending on coming advances in medicine, disease control and genetic research. But even if you DO only have ten years left, is that any reason to spend them in declining health and increasing aches and pains if there’s a viable option? Decide right now that you want a better, fitter & healthier life no matter how long it proves to be.
Healthy Nutrition For Seniors
Seniors often need fewer daily calories but more nutrients than they did in their younger years. Modern dietary habits may have made your insulin receptors less efficient, your body has probably become less efficient at absorbing Vitamin B-12 and you may need to be taking in more calcium, for example.
Most seniors have become aware of the importance of dietary fibre – but did you know that cinnamon, Omega-3, Vitamin D-3 and red peppers like chili peppers and cayenne pepper can play just as important a role? Senior nutrition is all too often a matter of habit, so take time to learn about modern healthy nutrition practices and adjust your diet and/or supplements to your benefit.
Exercise For Seniors
It might surprise you to learn that pre-existing conditions aside, your body will respond to exercise now, even if you’re 90 or 100, in much the same way it did in your twent6ies or thirties. Exercise will break down the muscle cells and your body will repair them and make them stronger – it just takes a bit longer for the recovery period. Obviously you’re not about to stroll into a gym and do 300-pound squats or 200-pound deadlifts, but then most people have never been able to do that at any age if they hadn’t already been training for some time.
A sudden increase in exercise levels is never recommended – think of the first time you played with your new grand-baby, lifting them up over your head, swinging them around… Remember how sore you were the next day? You need to ease your body into an increased activity level – start by walking every day. Take your dog for a longer walk, explore new neighborhoods or join a mall-walking group at a local mall. When walking at a comfortable pace for an hour or more no longer leaves you sore or ‘too pooped to party’, start adding in a bit of weightlifting with the eventual goal of being able to do a complete weightlifting workout once or twice a week.
Weightlifting routines for seniors aren’t designed to make you competitive bodybuilders with huge muscles, but rather to help you maintain strength and improve your energy and flexibility. This can lead to improved digestion, burning off excess bodyfat, improved blood sugar and blood pressure levels, better balance to help prevent falls and a host of other benefits for seniors. Many seniors report reduced lower back pain, lessened arthritic pain and a general reduction in the daily aches and pains that plague most seniors.
For post-menopausal women reduced bone density can lead to a condition called osteoporosis, but an effective weightlifting routine can help keep your bone density levels out of that danger zone. Symptoms of other conditions that rob the body of muscle may also be mitigated or delayed by seniors exercising with weights regularly.
Starting Your Seniors Health & Fitness Regime
Once you’ve made up your mind that you want to be healthier, stronger, better balanced and have more energy, your first stop is your doctor. While very few family doctors are top experts in fitness nutrition or up to date on the latest exercise research, no one knows more about your current medical condition and any pre-existing conditions you need to be mindful of before changing your nutrition, increasing your activity level or beginning a weightlifting program.
Assuming you get the all-clear from your doctor, the best solution is to get a meal plan from a certified nutritionist and a custom-designed weightlifting program from a certified personal trainer. If geography or finances prohibit the use of one-on-one sessions with trained nutrition and exercise pros, do your due diligence online. But be sure to follow advice only from trustworthy, credible sources – there’s as much misinformation as good info about health and fitness online. At the very least, look for advice from those as qualified as you would in the offline world.
Take control of your life and begin a senior health & fitness lifestyle that suits YOU, your life and your situation, and get the most healthy & happy enjoyment you can from today onward!