Monday Author: Susanne Skinner
“Even when all is known, the care of a man is not yet complete, because eating alone will not keep a man well; he must also take exercise. For food and exercise, while possessing opposite qualities, yet work together to produce health.” ~ Hippocrates
The final installment in my blog series on Fitness Over Fifty focuses on eating well. When you Google the word diet, the emphasis is on weight loss. Somewhere along the way, diet—what we eat—became synonymous with depriving yourself of food to lose weight.
Let’s just stop saying the word. It’s so yesterday, and when it comes to wellness the focus is on nourishing the body, mind and spirit. Fitness over fifty is a simple combination of eating better and moving more to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Eating more calories than you burn means you gain weight and by eating fewer you lose weight.
Metabolism is the chemical reaction responsible for burning calories even while we’re resting. Young people burn calories quickly, but as we age we burn calories at a slower rate. A study released by the CDC shows that adults over 60 are more likely to be obese than younger adults.
As we age our metabolisms slow down, requiring fewer calories to sustain everyday functions. Age-related weight gain is primarily due to a significant decline in daily calories burned, a drop in metabolism, poor nutrition and a decrease in physical activity.
If the algorithm remains unchanged, health risks increase exponentially. A contributing factor is muscular atrophy, or the decline of stored muscle. By exercising to build muscle we develop faster metabolism because muscle cells require more energy to maintain than fat cells.
Resistance training over 50 can increase metabolism up to 15 percent because your metabolism isn’t the only thing declining as you age. By maintaining and building muscle mass we increase our metabolism.
Eating Better: The Rainbow on Your Plate
Balanced nutrition is not as difficult as it’s made out to be. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that women over 50 need 1,600 calories daily if they are sedentary, 1,800 calories if they are moderately active and 2,000 to 2,200 calories daily if they participate in physical activity outside of that related to daily living.
Eating vegetables and fruits that match the colors of the rainbow gives your food color, flavor and balanced nutrients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults eat two to three cups of vegetables and one-and-a-half to two cups of fruit daily.
The Vegetarian Times is a favorite web site for additional information and great recipes.
Red Fruits and vegetables contain the antioxidants lycopene and ellagic acid
Orange Fruit contains carotenoids, including beta-carotene.
Green Benefits include vitamin K, essential for blood and bone health, contains antioxidants and folates,
Blue High in antioxidants, naturally lowers blood pressure and has anti-aging properties
Yellow Contain vitamin C and carotenoids
Purple Contain anthocyanins—strong antioxidants that protect cells from damage and reduce the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease.
Avoid processed foods, added sugars and include foods rich in fiber.
Move More: Exercise Daily
Heart disease and stroke are two leading causes of death in the United States. Regular physical activity lowers the risk for these diseases, and sharpens your thinking, learning, and judgment skills. It can also reduce anxiety and depression and promote more restful sleep.
A regular exercise program also lowers the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and something called metabolic syndrome—Increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
The number of calories each person needs to maintain their weight varies based on gender, age, weight, height, and activity level, so be sure to figure yours out. Adults over fifty who want to maintain their weight, strength and balance require 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week.
If you are new to regular exercise, begin with 15-minute routines and work up to this goal.
Invest in Fitness Equipment
I know the importance of a good walking shoe. The human foot has 28 bones and 33 joints, so foot discomfort affects the entire body.
When plantar fasciitis landed me in the doctor’s office he asked about my shoes, I boasted about the brands and how often I replace them. To my chagrin, I learned my shoes are “stylish” and tout “memory foam” but fail to provide serious support.
A good walking shoe retails for $150.00 or more and he recommends Brooks. After the sticker shock, I closed my eyes and hit pay. I noticed an immediate difference and learned a valuable lesson.
I purchased a set of high-quality dumbbell weights including one, two, three and five pound options. They are essential for strength and muscle workouts.
Resistance bands add a layer of difficulty to cross body and strength training. They come in varying degrees of difficulty—the stronger the resistance, the harder the movement. Start low and move up as your strength increases.
I laughed, then I bought one. Medicine ball exercises improve flexibility and range of motion by involving multiple joints and muscle groups. I bought an inexpensive eight- pound ball and started with this program.
Proper hydration is critical to maintaining body temperature, joint lubrication and energy before and during exercise. Hydration helps the heart pump blood to the muscles, making them work more efficiently.
The best way to tell if you’re properly hydrated is the color of your urine: pale and clear means you’re well hydrated, dark means you need to drink more fluids.
Fitness Helps You Stay Strong
Physical and mental fitness is a long game with multiple benefits. If I get discouraged, my Fabulous Over Fifty coach Schellea encourages me to be 1% better today that I was yesterday and to do one more than I think I can.
Works every time.