You have one body, and you want to keep it healthy, moving, and functioning.
You get one body, and you want to keep it healthy, moving, and functioning. Much like your car, if you do not take the time to maintain it, it eventually wears down from neglect, becomes diseased, and will not move anymore. A new car you can get but not a new body.
I am acutely aware that I no longer have a young body. It used to be so easy; eat what I wanted, survive on little sleep and work long hours. Meanwhile, I stayed slim and had all the energy in the world, it seemed.
Now life over 50 is more challenging. I don’t want to age too fast or have a bunch of extra weight to worry about. Not to mention all the health issues we can have due to pretending we can still afford to ignore it.
Taking care of a body over 50 is different from a body in its 20s. Trying to be healthy and fit after 50 can be intimidating. The good news is change does not have to be massive. The key is to stick to small changes first but make it a priority to start now.
Where to start
Whether you want to get more fit or begin a proper nutrition plan, change does not have to be an immediate overhaul. In fact, taking things one step at a time will make you more successful over time. Here a few areas to work on:
The benefits of hydration might surprise you. Water can improve your metabolism (burn more calories), improves digestion, and prevents fatigue. Start with drinking more water. In fact, you will feel like you have more energy. Bonus, it removes a lot of toxins in the body, which over 50 we need all the help we can get. I carry water all day long.
Examine your dietary habits
- Get the right nutrients. While you should try to eat as much fresh produce daily, following a balanced diet can be challenging. Adults need 7-13 cups of produce daily. Let’s be honest; most people will not eat that many fruits and vegetables (grains and oats can also be considered produce). But even so just doing your best is better than not at all.
Getting all your essential nutrients does not have to be confusing and complicated. I suggest doing some research to find a food plan that matches your body’s needs. For example, if you have digestive issues, IBS, Crohn’s, or colitis, an elimination diet will help you clean up your gut health. In fact, as a nutritionist and personnel trainer I have put many of my clients on this kind of diet. Check out my series; Missing key to weight loss, Weight Loss and Gut Health, and Fix Your Gut & Lose Weight. The premise of the articles has to do with weight loss but all speak to ill effects of gut health.
Furthermore, if you have serious health issues speaking to a professional will get you on the right path.
Fill nutritional gaps
Essential nutrients are substances that help your body to function, survive and thrive. Lets be honest, most people won’t get the nutrients they need from the food they eat. Filling in nutritional gaps with vitamins and supplements is a good idea. Vitamins and supplements are not a cure-all, but they can help reduce the effects of aging, digestive issues, weakened bones, brain health, vision problems, etc. However, not all supplements are created equal, so do your research and speak to a professional.
For goodness sake stop sitting all day
Get moving. Your body rapidly ages the more sedentary you are. Research has identified that the new “sitting disease” is real and many of us are at risk because of the pandemic lockdowns. Having a lifestyle that entails having movement breaks is important. Think of it this way; Getting up and moving can significantly reduce your risk of early disease or death.
So get up every hour and walk in place for a few minutes, do some chores around the house whatever movement you choose depends on your body. Whatever this issue is just get up and move.
Get the right amount of rest
Get enough rest. Research of 40,000 participants report that 7-9 hours proved ideal for high brain function which includes skills like reasoning and problem-solving.
Alternatively some people reported they were impaired if they slept more than 7-8 hours, just as much as those that did not sleep enough. Everyone is different.
If you are unsure of what your sleep requirements are check yourself:
- Can you function without caffeine.
- Do you wake up without an alarm.
- Are you in a good mood.
- Do you feel energized and alert the next day.
These are just a few symptoms that can happen with lack of sleep. You may have others that you know or may not recognize.
Variety is the spice of life
Just because you are older doesn’t mean you have to limit what you do for fun. Try something new; like a new hobby, like knitting, or take a pottery class. Get outside and start a walking program; take a friend for the social aspect. As a matter of fact my new favorite hobby is hiking. My family loves hiking and enjoying the fresh mountain air and the gorgeous scenery.
Most important get a physical
I know we want to be in control of our health and going to the doctor is a hassle. Being older you can have underlying issues that can be concerning and require a doctors guidance. For example, blood pressure, cholesterol, joint issues, and heart health, to name a few. Knowledge is power; as they say, it is essential to know what is going on with your body as it might help you decide what changes to make and if you have any restrictions.
Resources for over 50
There are many great resources out there to get more information:
- The Mayo Clinic has many articles on Healthy aging
- Harvard Health publishes a lot of information on Aging
- Health Direct publishes a lot of great articles, for example bone health , lowering blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis.
Whether you decide what changes to make or consult a professional to guide you – the time is now. Own your health, do not let it own you.