Greetings, Wellness Warriors! I hope those Buns of Steel are ready to get off the couch and start moving because this week we’re talking all about the importance of keeping active with age. If you haven’t seen my interview with fitness icon and expert, Tamilee Webb, make sure you head on over to YouTube for a real treat of a podcast episode.
Do you cringe a little bit when you hear the word “exercise”?
Has your once magnificent Peloton found itself demoted to a laundry rack?
Are you left feeling like mainstream fitness is geared more towards younger beach bodies with nothing for sustainable longevity as you get older?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, the good news is that you aren’t alone. Whether you’re a lifelong athlete or someone who’s never picked a weight up in their life, things change as you age and it’s vital that you learn how best to care for your body, build or maintain your strength, and live 30 Summers More.
During my chat with Tamilee, we went over the importance of maintaining a nutrient-dense diet, making sure that you are understanding where your food is coming from (I suggest shopping locally whenever possible!), and the importance of a customized health plan with your doctor to ensure that any vitamins and supplements you are taking are necessary ones that keep you well-balanced. However, the biggest and most important lesson that we want people to take away is:
It’s an unfortunate truth that 36 MILLION falls among older adults are reported per year, with complications from these incidents being the driving factor in over 32,000 deaths. What many people don’t realize is that a great deal of those complications aren’t just from the injuries one might acquire from a nasty fall, but the suppression in your immune system and decline in physical strength that occurs while you are on bed rest healing from those injuries. Even when hip fractures or sprained ankles heal, it’s difficult for people to recover their former strength while also being vulnerable to illnesses like the flu and pneumonia, which end up being a prevalent cause of death among older populations.
But why are these falls happening?
All it takes for someone with unsteady balance is one slip up–like a bad hand-hold or poor traction for a cane–that leads to the point of no return. Even though the days of nineteen-inch guns are past us, maintaining strength and balance for excellent mobility are all within reach. Even if you dread the idea of exercise, there is a hobby or routine that you will enjoy that can keep you mobile and in charge of your health. The worst thing that you can do is date-stamp yourself and give in to the idea that aging just means that you are losing your ability to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.
As I continue my research on longevity and gain lived experience in a body that’s aging, I set a goal to have four activities that I think I’ll be able to do for the foreseeable future that will keep me moving and strong.
SWIMMING: Water creates a lower-impact environment that is great for people who are experiencing pain on a more regular basis. Whether it’s flutter kicks or slow, but steady laps in a local pool or a sunny day at the beach, wading into the ocean, swimming is an amazing and customizable exercise that can be as social or individual as you want!
HIKING: I can’t think of a better way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air than hiking. Walking on a treadmill or riding a workout bicycle can seem so clinical to some, the mundane aspect of staring at the wall as you walk to nowhere can take the fun out of moving. Hiking, on the other hand, provides a plethora of interesting terrain and can be a great way to combine a hobby that has you out observing nature with exercise that will keep you strong and sure-footed.
STRETCHING: Stretching and yoga are amazing options for both working on persistent aches and taking time to check in with your body. Getting into a good stretching routine with room for mindfulness and meditation is a great way for people without access to a gym or equipment to stay mobile and on top of their health!
WEIGHT LIFTING: I may not be hitting a weight room the way I was back in my football days, but that doesn’t stop me from lifting light weights to maintain a healthy amount of muscle for my age. If free weights aren’t something that sound interesting to you, find another way to incorporate them! Maybe while you stretch or do your daily walking, you can add some wrist or ankle weights to get more from what you’re already enjoying.
Meanwhile, Tamilee has four “UPs” that she has her clients do when they’re struggling to find a place to start, all of which can be adapted to meet you where you’re at and add intensity as your strength grows. If you settle on four activities, try some or all of these “UPs”:
And it doesn’t need to end here!
Maybe you like dancing, gardening, hula-hooping, or playing frisbee with your dog! Don’t let the fear of expectations stop you from finding a unique workout that will keep you healthier and happier in the long run.
Until next week, Live Well, Live Long!