Most people are terrified of growing ‘old’ because they associate the word with all manner of health problems such as muscle loss, osteoporosis and worse, not to mention losing your youthful good looks too!
Whilst there’s no fountain of youth that will keep you young forever, the good news is that by employing the right diet and lifestyle changes you can keep your body healthy and reduce your risk of illness. Oh, and stay in great shape too!
Here are my top 4 tips on keeping fit over fifty…
1. Eat Healthily
More than anything else, a balanced diet will provide you with all the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
A surprising amount of health problems are caused by deficiencies in one vitamin or another, so minimise your risk of illness by getting your five a day and eating junk food in moderation.
Plus, a well rounded diet will fuel your body and fill you with youthful energy – you’ll no doubt look better and feel better too!
2. Exercise Regularly
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to muscle loss, obesity and just a general lack of fitness.
If you’re out of shape after years of neglecting your exercise regime it can be difficult to find the motivation to start, so why not join a local exercise class for over 50’s or schedule a daily run with some friends?
It also helps to find something you enjoy, so you’ll be more likely to stick to it. If running has never been your thing, don’t think you’ll suddenly love it now, but perhaps ballroom dancing would be the perfect way to spend an evening with your partner and get fit at the same time?
Doing 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (something that raises your heartbeat) five times a week can lower your blood pressure and your risk of heart disease, the UK’s biggest killer.
Weight-bearing exercises such as jogging or tennis keep your bones strong and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. For the particularly frail or elderly, simple exercises such as walking or climbing the stairs can still make a big difference.
It’s also important to remember that exercises you did in your twenties may no longer be suitable for you, so adapt your exercise regime to your changing body…
- Swimming breaststroke for example is actually bad for the neck so if you have any rheumatism there, opt for backstroke or front crawl.
- Jogging is great exercise at any age but can damage the knees and hips – if you have any pain in this area, run on a softer surface such as grass.
- Weight-lifting strengthens the muscles and bones, but be sure to speak to a trainer and make sure your posture is correct to avoid straining your back.
3. Quit Smoking
It is never too late to quit smoking! Cigarettes wreak havoc with your lungs and massively increase your risk of lung cancer, but the great news is that your body is able to heal itself – five years after quitting smoking your risk of lung cancer is reduced to almost the same as that of someone who never smoked!
Smoking also leads to breathlessness, which can impair your ability to exercise properly and hence affect your overall fitness.
4. Have Regular Check-Ups
Last but not least, an annual check-up with your doctor can be the key to spotting potential problems early on and maintaining good health and fitness.
Get your blood pressure checked – if you have a higher than normal blood pressure your doctor may recommend more cardiovascular exercise or diet changes to reduce it.
Other check-ups all do their bit to keeping you in great shape too, such as an eye check to see if you need cataract surgery or a dental check to make sure your teeth are in great condition!
Do you have any tips of your own for staying fit and healthy at fifty plus?
Gavin Harvey is a fitness fanatic who writes for Clarivu, the alternative to laser eye surgery that can help you to get back your youthful vision in just one treatment!