Exercise and Diet Tips for People Over 50

Fitness Tips

Exercise and Diet Tips for People Over 50

I hear a lot of older relatives and acquaintances often complain that exercise isn’t as easy as it used to be ‘back in the day’. While nature might have something to say about doing burpees in your 50s, it doesn’t mean it will get the last laugh.

Staying active and healthy regardless of our age can be achievable goal. All it takes is the right mindset and a willingness to commit to the best version of yourself. By moving more often and eating right your strength and functional ability will improve. Let’s take this one day at a time, being healthy is much easier than you think! If you have any doubts or pre-existing conditions, always check with your doctor or healthcare professional first.

Eating Well in Your Senior Years

Your diet is said to account for as much as 60- to 70-percent of your level of physical fitness. While staying active is important, the quality of your nutritional intake is probably more important for weight loss after the age of 50. If you’re planning to lose some weight, it’s important to review your diet.

There are many types of diets out there, some of them could offer a healthful way to lose weight while others might be what you would call ‘fad diets’. Before selecting your diet, it’s important to review the following points:

  • Address nutritional deficiencies. As we age, our body’s ability to absorb certain types of nutrients can be compromised. These nutrients include calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. In addition to eating foods rich in these nutrients, you can take supplements and eat fortified foods such as cereals, bread, and milk. It’s also vital to make sure you get enough calcium, protein, and fiber.
  • Avoid low-fat diets. Many of us adopt low-fat diets when trying to lose weight, but a low-fat diet can lead to deficiencies in critical good fats such as omega-3 and monounsaturated fats. For example, the Mediterranean Diet is one that’s high in good fats. Ensuring that you get enough good fats can help you lose weight, build muscle, and recover more quickly from workouts. These good fats can be found in foods such as fish, nuts, peanut butter, olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed, avocado, egg yolks, and fish oil. You can also supplement with fish oil capsules.
  • Eat unprocessed foods. A great general rule of thumb for any healthy diet is to avoid processed foods and instead incorporate more whole foods and plant-based items into your meals.
     
  • Pay attention to lifestyle-caloric needs. Match your caloric intake to your lifestyle. If you’re moderately active, you’ll probably need around 1,800 calories a day. For very active seniors, the target might be 2,000 calories or more per day. Check with your doctor if you have any doubts.
     
  • Eat more often. Eating five or six times a day could be better for your metabolism and, in turn, fat burning and weight loss. You might also feel more energetic as you’re eating smaller meals and not large meals that take up more energy to digest. 
     
  • Eat an antioxidant-rich, high-fiber diet. Raw fruit and vegetables are high in a variety of antioxidants, so eat a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. Antioxidants counter free radicals that damage cells, and they help prevent disease. Eat the full colour spectrum of vegetables for maximum nutritional benefit.
     
  • Stay hydrated. Stay hydrated with water, especially before, during, and after exercise.

Benefits of Staying Active

A consistent exercise routine can help you maintain a healthy weight, boost energy levels, and enhance food and overall health.

  • Bone health – Exercise is linked to stronger bones and lower risk of osteoporosis.1
  • Muscle tone – Exercise uses different muscle groups and strengthens them in the process. Low impact activities such as lifting weights and stretching can boost muscle tone.2
  • Fewer falls – Staying active can help you avoid or reduce the risk of falls. Experts suggest physical activity is associated with fewer falls or lowered risk of falls.3
  • Longer lifespan – Physical activity is also associated with reduced mortality and a longer life span.4
  • Menopause – Exercise could alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause.5
  • Heart health – Exercise is associated with better heart health and reduced risk of heart conditions.6
  • Disease prevention and alleviate chronic conditions – Exercise can help prevent certain diseases, as well as assisting with the management of chronic conditions. These include heart disease and stroke, joint and muscle pain, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, lung cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, high blood pressure, breast cancer, and cholesterol.2
  • Brain health – Staying active is associated with better brain health, mood, and sleep quality.7

Tips for Staying Active

Staying active is an ongoing commitment, but you can make it fun, social, and part of your day.

  • Add movement all day long Add movement to your day whenever you can. You can walk to the shops rather than drive, stretch as you watch TV, and get up and walk around every 30 minutes. Use the stairs rather than take the elevator, and do some gardening or yard work instead of napping.
  • Aerobic exercise – Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking and swimming, strengthens the large muscles and boosts the cardiovascular system. A general rule of thumb is to do 20 minutes per session, and do this three or four times a week.
  • Strength training – Use strength training tools such as hand weights to build bone strength, improve posture, and tone your muscles. You can start with eight reps (lifting movements) and gradually build up to 12 reps.
  • Stretching – Stretching is another essential form of exercise, and it can assist with boosting flexibility and range of motion in your joints. Stretching might also reduce the risk of injury and help you manage any muscle soreness you might have. Yoga and Pilates are popular stretching exercises that enhance core body strength, stability, and flexibility.

Start slow when you’re building a new exercise regime, and try to maintain a regular routine, even as you keep it varied and interesting. Once your workouts start feeling comfortable, increase the intensity levels.

References:

1. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/osteoporosis-and-exercise

2. http://www.seniors.com.au/news-insights/exercising-over-50

3. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/balance-training-seems-to-prevent-falls-injuries-in-seniors-201310316825

4. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/feeling-young-heart-may-help-live-longer-201412177598

5. http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/ten-best-menopause-activities

6. http://www.healthline.com/health/heart-disease/exercise

7. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

Author Information

Katie Dobbs
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Katie grew up under the Big Sky of Montana, but she has since moved to the beautiful city of Seattle. She is a self-proclaimed food connoisseur who loves playing in the great outdoors, traveling, and learning new things.

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