Top tips to stay fit & healthy past your 50s, 60s and beyond.
1. Physical activity
The saying ‘move it or lose it’ is actually true. Did you know that you lose muscle at a faster rate than you gain it? You don’t have to become a gym-junkie if you don’t like gyms, the trick is to find an activity you enjoy. It can be as diverse as walking your dog, or pilates or salsa dancing. Swimming is a great activity if you have painful joints, however it is not a weight bearing activity so mix it up with some pilates or Tai Chi. Tai chi has the added benefit of improving your balance. Dancing has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia. If you feel that you are not strong enough to embark on an activity talk to a physiotherapist about having a strengthening program created for you, you can do these in the comfort of your own home. If you love walking but don’t like doing it on the street, shopping centres such as Toombul run walking groups in the mornings. This is great if you like to exercise in the comfort of air conditioning, on a flat surface or just love window shopping.
2. Proper nutrition
Studies have shown that some people over the age of 50 do not enough protein (lean meats, dairy, legumes). This is because some have lost the love of cooking, or don’t like cooking just for one, or have health problems that make it difficult to shop or cook what they like. Protein is an essential building block for muscles and it helps in the healing process. Other nutrients such as fruit, vegetables and dairy are also essential for a healthier immune system and a healthier more energetic you. A great way to track your diet is to write everything you eat and drink down for a week and show it to your gp or nutritionist. Last but not least, don’t forget to drink water. If problems with your bladder are scaring you from drinking water address these with your gp.
3. Exercising the mind
Think of your brain as another muscle that needs exercising. This is easy to do with games such as Scrabble, bananagrams (a faster version of Scrabble), crossword puzzles or learning something new. Remembering dancing routines is another way to exercise your brain as well as your body. Have you ever wanted to learn a new language? Or a new board game?
4. Being happy in yourself
Being fulfilled with your role in life as a worker, spouse, partner, parent, grandparent, sibling, volunteer, retiree or traveller is essential for your happiness. If you are not happy with where you find yourself in life then now is a good time to reassess how you can get back to your goals and values.
5. Healthy bones
Both men and women are at risk of osteoporosis which increases the risk of fractures such as hip fractures. Hip fractures are very debilitating. There are 4 easy ways to start looking after your bones. First, ensuring you are having adequate calcium in your diet. Second, ensuring you have adequate vitamin D levels in your blood. Vitamin D increases absorption of calcium in your gut. Third, enjoying weight bearing exercise for 30 minutes or more 5 times a week. And last, addressing factors that reduce bone density such as low thyroid hormone levels or smoking. Osteoporosis Australia has a great website with added information.
6. Health check
Regular health checks will help you address problems before they become bigger problems that can affect your health and wellbeing. For example, regular screening such as mammograms, skin checks, pap smears, blood pressures checks, blood sugar levels and cholesterol checks will help identify risk factors that can lead to problems down the road.
7. Knowing where to go for help
An experienced gp that you can communicate easily with is essential. One that maintains up to date with the newest medical advances as well as listens to your concerns. If you don’t have a gp you are happy with then word of mouth is a good place to start. Our Family Doctors Plus gps are all experienced in all facets of medicine. Our team also includes allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, dietitians and exercise physiologists. We are all happy to discuss any health concerns and are open 7 days a week.