As we age, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to continue enjoying an active, fulfilled life. You can do this by focusing on habits such as regular exercise, proper nutrition, and staying socially active.
Stay socially active with friends and family
Remaining socially connected as you get older is extremely important in order to maintain your physical and mental health.
Social interaction brings positive feelings and decrease stress. Seniors who are more socially active also have lower rates of Alzheimer’s.
One way to stay active socially is to try to participate in group activities. Getting out of the house to have a healthy meal, or taking a walk with a friend, are fantastic ways to maintain connections and friendships. Small group exercise classes will help you stick to an exercise program and create a sense of camaraderie.
Stay physically active with regular exercise
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain. There are a number of new studies that say too much sitting can be bad for our health and our waistline. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states on their website that “physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure.”
Exercising as we age is crucial in order to decrease our risk of heart disease. Exercise decreases the risk of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It can also help decrease fatigue and shortness of breath and enable you to maintain all the activities that you enjoy in your daily life. Not only does exercise help decrease the risk of heart disease, it also improves quality of life. Age related heart changes may occur such as arrhythmias, lipid profile changes, and insulin sensitivity, but these can be prevented by staying active. Lastly, exercise helps to reduce stress, which is correlated to an increased risk of heart issues.
Start a routine
For those who want to begin an exercise program, a good place to start is with a walking routine or any gentle aerobic exercise, which will increase the heart rate without inducing too much strain. The American Heart Association recommends working up to150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (such as brisk walking) every week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity
Try cardio-based activities
An effective exercise plan includes cardio, strength training and flexibility exercises. Strength training will increase muscle mass, bone density and decrease body fat. It will also help to reverse sarcopenia.
Add strength exercise
Strength training or resistance training has numerous health benefits. It may lead to longer lasting blood pressure control. Resistance training helps to increase muscle mass, which will help in weight control. The resistance or strength-training program should include exercises that strengthen every major muscle group. This would include exercises such as squats, lunges, leg lifts, push-ups, planks and numerous core-strengthening exercises.
Make sure to exercise to stay healthy – not get injured. As we age, our bodies undergo certain degenerative changes and elasticity changes that make the elderly more prone to injury during exercise. Balance may deteriorate and some of the medications that we may be on can affect our exercise performance. Use lighter weights for delicate body parts (shoulders) and avoid high-risk exercises.
Get better balance
For older adults that struggle with balance, adding in balance exercises can go a long way to improve their coordination. If you suffer from back pain, try strengthening the muscles around the spine. Strength training will help decrease the effects of sarcopenia, decrease the risk of osteoporosis, and improve posture.
Lastly, swimming is a good exercise for seniors.
Swimming is a great mood-booster to ward off depression, especially if the pool is outdoors and the sun is out.
Be aware of slower metabolism
Unfortunately, as we age, a slowed metabolism, hormonal changes and decreased muscle mass can lead to weight gain. Medical conditions can cause attempts at weight loss to be slow and taking medications such as antidepressants or corticosteroids may present an additional challenge.
You might not be exercising as frequently or as intensely as you need to for weight loss. If you want to lose weight, you can take steps towards your goal by adding simple changes to your exercise routine. For example, add an incline while you are using the treadmill, alternate walking or running speeds, or try a dance class. Learn more about how to deal with a slowing metabolism as you get older here.
Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
Weight loss can require more than daily focus on exercise and diet. Your lifestyle has a huge impact on your ability to lose weight.
Always read labels. This way you know what you are putting into your body. Try to eat fresh whole foods and stay away from processed products. Look out for high sodium and artificial ingredients.
Reduce white starches like refined grains and refined sugars in your diet. These foods may cause an increased appetite and cravings. Try swapping them for whole grains.
One strategy is to eat a greater quantity of low calorie density food, such as leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, fruits and soups. These foods contain a lot of water so there are fewer calories for the volume of food you are eating.