More importantly, as we discussed in the introduction, staying active is actually the best way to prevent the loss of mobility that will leave us hunched and in constant pain in old age. So the question is, how do you stay active in the right way to combat age-related health issues?
One Rule: Move!
Get up right now and stand with your feet slightly apart and toes facing for-ward. Now try to squat all the way down with your heels flat on the floor.
Can’t do it?
This isn’t just a problem for the older population it’s something that 90% of guys and gals in their 20s and 30s can’t do either. But you should be able to do it. Squatting is one of the 7 primal movements – it’s a fundamental ability that we should all have.
How about touching your toes?
The problem is that most of us spend 8 hours a day sitting in an office in the same position. That position involves having our shoulders hunched forward, neck craned down and legs bent. This causes muscles like the quadriceps and pecs to shorten and tighten, while our hamstrings and glutes become weakened and flattened. The longer this goes on, the more serious the problem becomes.
Eventually we might even develop a pelvic tilt. Is it any wonder that you can’t move at all when you’re older? So the key is not to start some ‘gentle exercise’. Rather, the key is to get really active and to push your body. It should be able to handle it but you need a trainer who can teach you to get started gently and to gradually increase the difficulty while keeping one eye firmly on mobility.
Read books like Becoming a Supple Leopard and you’ll see that we age best when we use our body through its full range of motion and keep on doing so. Weight-lifting is actually a great choice of exercise for older individuals as it teaches movements like the squat and the dead lift with good technique to ensure that you have full range of motion.
This is even more important if you do have a fall or accident as this is what will very often serve as the catalyst to many more problems. If that happens, then you should see a chiropractor or physiotherapist and then follow the advice they give you to strengthen the area and prevent knock-on effects throughout your body. Of course, if you have existing complaints then you may not be up for squatting and lunging just yet.
In that case, you may want to start with some gentle cardio in the meantime which will help to provide those a fore-mentioned health and brain benefits in the short term. Good options include most low-impact forms of exercise, such as swimming, walking (or power walking), the recumbent bike and others that don’t involve hitting anything with force. Just make sure that the goal is always to work your way up to-ward more complex moves.
Active Nutrition for an Active Lifestyle
- Antioxidants – Fruits and vegetables are a great source of antioxidants. What this does for your body is protect it from damage due to free radicals which will cause you to age faster and break down the cells in the body. Lots of colorful fruits and vegetables will help to neutralize the effects of free radicals on your body. So fill up your plate, or at least half of it, with these foods.
- Vitamins and Minerals – Whole grains, low fat dairy, lean meats, and fruits and vegetables all provide the vitamins and minerals needed for energy to fuel an active lifestyle. Our bodies aren’t very efficient at producing the vitamins and minerals needed to function properly, so we have to choose the right foods with the right amounts of vitamins and minerals.
- Portion Control – Instead of eating three large meals a day, eat smaller, healthy, well-balanced meals throughout the day. Eating six to eight smaller meals a day instead of three large meals will keep you energized throughout the day so you can maintain your active lifestyle. It will keep your energy up and metabolism high.
- Healthy Fats – You cannot avoid fat. Most foods contain fat and your body is in need of fat. But you need to choose healthy fats, not empty calories. Eating fats with key fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 will provide you with good heart health and will lubricate your joints. A great healthy fat to eat would be nuts like walnuts.
- Eat before Exercise – Don’t follow the old adage of waiting 30 minutes before you can swim. Eating prior to exercise will fuel that workout. But be smart about what you eat. You don’t want a big heavy four-course meal; it should be sensible. This way you aren’t hungry in the middle of your workout.
- Stay Hydrated – Remember to drink water throughout the day. An important part of nutrition is to remain hydrated, no matter what kind of lifestyle you live.