As the human body ages, it undergoes several unavoidable physical changes. However, becoming physically active can prevent or delay diseases and improve the health of many seniors.
Metabolism is known to slow down as each birthday passes, making it easier to gain weight. Most older people experience a change in their body structure as they age: an increase in body fat with reduced lean body mass and muscle strength. Women in particular may experience reduced bone strength, increasing the risk of arthritis, osteoporosis, and bone fractures.
However, with a balanced diet and a good exercise regimen, you can combat many age-related changes. Strength training and weight-bearing exercises can keep both muscles and bones strong. Seniors feel more independent and energetic when performing daily functions of life such as cleaning, cooking, and laundry. With stretching and balancing exercises, the risk of falls and fractures may also be reduced.
Goals are more effective when they are clear, realistic, and of personal importance to you. To reach the desired target, set both short and long-term goals. Your achievement depends on setting goals that really matter to you. Note down your targets, put them where you can see them clearly and review them regularly. Here are some ways through which you can reach your fitness goals.
1. Identify your starting point
Knowing your starting point will help you pick physical activities and exercises that are doable and realistic for you. To identify your starting point, think about your daily routine and answer the following questions:
- How much time do you spend sitting?
- How much time are you physically active?
- When you are up and moving, what kind of activities are you doing?
- What are you eating?
When you know these, you can figure out what comes next and how to up the level of physical activity and reach your fitness goals.
2. Test your fitness level
To help you figure out your present body fitness level, try filling in a movement record sheet. For a week or so, keep track of how much time you exercise or are involved in a physical activity. Note down how much time you spend performing each activity. Here are some tests that can be used to measure endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.
- To check endurance, choose a fixed route e.g. once around a block or from one end of the shopping centre to the other. Note how long it takes you to walk the fixed route.
- Check your upper-body strength by counting how many arm curls you can do comfortably in 2 minutes.
- To check lower-body strength, count how many chair stands you can do comfortably in 2 minutes.
- To test your balance, check how long can you easily stand on one foot? (Stand next to something sturdy you can hold onto in case you lose your balance.)
- To test your flexibility, sit towards the front of a sturdy chair, and stretch one leg straight out in front of you with other leg’s toes facing up. Bend the other leg and place your foot flat on the floor. Slowly bend from your hips and stretch as far as you can toward the toes of your outstretched leg. Exactly how far can you reach before you feel a stretch?
3. Set short-term goals
Short-term reachable goals will help you make physical activity a regular part of your daily routine. To reach your goals, do all that is necessary. For example, you may need to purchase walking shoes or fill out an activity log so you can figure out how to adjust physical activity into your busy day.
Here are some examples of short-term goals:
- Today: Commit to yourself to be more active.
- Tomorrow: Look for workout classes in your area.
- End of the week: talk a friend into exercising with you for a couple of times a week.
- In the next 2 weeks: Ensure you have the accessories like shoes and comfortable clothes to start walking.
Consider setting short-term goals to increase your level of physical activity. For example, after a week or two, move gradually from walking to jogging, increase the amount of weight you lift or try a different physical activity. No matter what your starting point, reaching your short-range goals will make you feel energetic and give you the confidence to progress toward your goals.
4. Long-term goals
Your short-term goals should lead to the achievement of your long-term fitness goals. Clearly focus on where you want to be in 6 months, a year, or 2 years from now. Just like short-range goals, long-term goals also should be realistic and achievable. Here are a few examples:
- Set your goal to swim a mile three times a week.
- You should be able to play football with your grandchildren.
- Get your blood pressure under control by increasing physical activity and following your doctor’s advice.
- Regularly review and update your plan and long-term goals so that you can build on your success.
5. Eat well to feel well
With age, eating well becomes even more important. A well-balanced food regimen improves mental alertness, energy levels, and resistance to illness. But healthy eating doesn’t have to be about dieting and sacrifice. Whatever your age, eating well should be all about fresh, tasty food, wholesome ingredients.
Every individual body responds differently to what they eat, depending on heredities and other health factors, so do some experiments in the kitchen, test your creativity and come up with a diet that suits you best.
Fruits – Other than typical fruits like apple and banana, go for color-rich pickings like berries or melons. Aim for 2-3 servings a day.
Veggies – Choose leafy green vegetables that are rich in antioxidants, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli as well as colorful vegetables such as carrots, reddish, and squash. Try for 2-3 cups in the form of salad every day.
Calcium – Maintaining bone health as you age depends on adequate calcium intake to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. Older adults need a minimum 1,200 mg of calcium a day through servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese. Non-dairy sources include tofu, broccoli, almonds, and kale. You can also add bone supplements to your diet.
Grains – Choose whole grains over processed white flour for more nutrients and more fiber.
Water – Don’t forget to sip water regularly to avoid urinary tract infections and constipation. Include green tea with regular water intake to process food faster.
Vitamin B – With age, our abdomen produces less gastric acid making it difficult to absorb necessary vitamins like vitamin B-12—needed to help keep blood and nerves healthy. Get the recommended daily intake (2.4 mcg) of B12 from fortified foods like red meat, red kidney beans, and prune juice or a B-12 vitamin supplement.
Vitamin D – With each birthday, our skin is less efficient at creating vitamin D, so consult your dermatologist about adding your diet with fortified foods or a multivitamin, especially if you are obese or have limited sun exposure.
A set of realistic goals, strong will power, persistence, and practice can lead you to your ultimate fitness goals. With a balanced diet and an active routine, you can stay fit and well. Set your goals straight because when you stay active, you stay healthy.
ABOUT ALMA CAUSEY
Alma is a mother, wife and a professional blogger by choice. She has completed her masters in English literature from the University of Groningen. As a blogger she wrote quite a few posts on health, technology as well as management. She loves to discover new places and share experiences in words. Oh, Alma- is incomplete without cats.
Find her on Twitter: @Almacausey – See more at: https://seniorcare2017.wpengine.com/blog_information/16-12-01/5_Excellent_Ways_to_Reach_Your_Fitness_Goals_as_a_Senior.aspx#sthash.5mCCV3kM.dpuf
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