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Managing to stay fit at any age presents its own set of hurdles and challenges, particularly in our older years when metabolisms begin to slow down and our muscles, bones and joints aren’t as strong as they once were. Far too many people associate being fit with being skinny, but there are definitive differences between them, and this is never more apparent than during the later years of life. With age our joints, muscles and bones can become more sensitive and prone to injuries. Because of things like arthritis and osteoporosis, we may find that are options are limited when it comes to staying fit, but there are plenty of exercise options that we can do well into our 80’s or 90’s.
Although some say your 40’s are the new 30’s, this decade can raise some difficulties and you may notice some changes in how your body responds to exercise. This is the age when many people notice their waists expanding for what seems no apparent reason. Many times this comes down to perception. Perception, or lack there of, the actual amount of exercise we are completing. This decade can also be one that is stressful, and stress causes our bodies to hang on to fat like never before and then store it in the most inopportune places like the belly and thighs.
Your 40’s is when you should be focusing on cardiovascular activities such as brisk walking, bike riding, aerobics and swimming because this is also the time when our risk for heart disease increases. Having and maintaining a healthy heart will help to keep such diseases at bay. In our 40’s we should be taking advantage of this time and engage in at least three cardiovascular exercise regimes per week.
You will also need to pay closer attention to what you are eating. Cutting back on sugar and sodium and increasing your fruit, lean protein and veggies can help you remain fit and healthy.
For women especially, more changes are to come with this decade because of the onset of menopause. Menopause will effect your metabolism in complex ways and cause your hormones to run rampant. Night sweats can often cause lack of sleep which will automatically make you feel more fatigued, but now more than ever, you need to get as much solid sleep as possible and stay active. Your 50’s are a pivotal time when heart disease rears its ugly head and the elasticity within the skin decreases, this can have a negative effect on the health and appearance of your skin.
For your diet it’s important to eat more fiber to regulate the digestive system, eat complex carbohydrates which will vamp up your energy level and also watch closely your intake of calcium, which helps combat osteoporosis. Bones need to be healthy and strong in order to sustain physical activities.
You may notice now that your joints and muscles cause some pain and discomfort where they didn’t before and thus you will need to be more creative when it comes to cardiovascular exercises. The idea of cardio exercise is to increase your heart rate and keep it there, but to not put too much force or pressure on aching body parts, especially the joints.
Swimming, bike riding and walking are all great cardio exercises for those in their 50’s and each can be modified to suit your level of fitness.
During your 60’s you will start to put more focused effort in maintaining and improving your balance and strength. Because bones and joints are more susceptible to injuries, take caution to not do any exercises that could jeopardize your health or cause injury. Remember it is about raising strength and minimizing the risk of injury both during and away from exercise
Walking is still a good way to get some cardio but you may not be able to walk for as long or the same distance and that is okay. You should also consider some exercises that help with strengthening core muscles, massaging joints and will help with balance, but are low intensity such as Yoga or Pilates. Both of those will help your muscles remain strong and toned, are moderate or low impact and really help with focus, breathing and balance.
Swimming is another great exercise to burn some calories, work in some cardio, and a great low joint impact activity.
Exercising and staying fit in your 70’s is definitely possible. By this point in your life the focus should be on healthy eating habits and appropriate cardio exercise.
Dementia is also a common concern at this age. There is a growing body of research that supports the bodies ability to actually grow new cognitive connections. This effect of exercise, excuse the bad joke, is mind blowing. Don’t wait until you are in your 70’s to start improving brain function through exercise, get out there today. Focus on low impact aerobic exercises like walking which will keep your heart rate up, but also mix in some exercises that will keep you balanced and maintain your posture.
Swimming is still a good option, as are doing some leg lifts and even lifting some one or two pound weights for toning. Just be sure to not overdo it and listen to your body. If joints and muscles begin to ache stop what you are doing and resume a day or two later.
Here for your health,