Health Advice for the Over 50’s
As we live longer, each decade becomes younger. We hear that ’40 is the new 30′ and ’50 is the new 40′ for example. There is an element of truth in this – in many cases not only are we living longer, we are living more actively. This article will provide specific health advice for the over 50’s.
Research has proven that people who exercise in later life will avoid many of the illnesses and injuries that their peers will suffer from.
There is a misconception that as we age we need to slow down and do less – absolute nonsense. I have said before, with your body you use it or lose it. Why, as we approach old age should we allow our bodies to go into a state of disrepair, just when we need to help them as much as we can? It makes no sense whatsoever. It’s like servicing a car more infrequently as it ages and accrues more wear and tear.
I have helped scores of people improve their health and fitness past the age of 50. A significant chunk (30%) of my current client base is actually over 60, and I would be willing to bet a significant amount of money they would be capable of feats of physical fitness that many people half their age couldn’t do.
Our bodies are capable of improvement at any age, so it’s never too late to start – see the evidence below…
This is Alan King, aged 54, completing his first marathon in May 2013.
This is Dave Goddard, losing 48lbs in 3 months aged 59!
Here is Allan Lord, losing 21lbs through kettlebell training aged 67!
So, if you are in the 50+ demographic and are interested in exercising, here is my advice…
1. Aim to improve your flexibility and mobility. Amongst the more mature exerciser ‘wear and tear’ problems such as arthritis are commonplace. Making sure you keep these joints mobile is paramount. Starting with regular exercise that avoids high impact (such as weight training) is vital. High impact activity includes running and sports such as squash or tennis.
Strong muscles offset joint loading, maintaining joint integrity for longer. If you have arthritic knees for example, training the quadricep muscles at the front of the thigh can help alleviate much of the problem. Strong core and limbs also help with balance and co-ordination, the loss of which can be an issue for many people as they age.
2. Be aware of HOW you exercise. Focus on improving strength and maintenance of muscle mass. Improve balance by using dumbbells, and try to mimic real life movements.
I recommend using dumbbells as they force your body to co-ordinate more effectively and activate deep core muscles. Exercises such as step ups, squats, shoulder presses, deadlifts etc (see youtube for form on each, or ask a trainer at your gym) all help to improve functional fitness, regardless of age.
To begin, work within your capabilities, but remember these will grow as your fitness improves. Don’t be afraid to lift heavier weights or try new movements as and when your capabilities increase.
3. Look at your nutritional approach. Now more than ever is the time to address the diet.
Remove the foods that cause inflammation in the gut such as grains and dairy, and keep really hydrated. If you are on any medication, speak to your doctor about how many of your meds are ESSENTIAL – my hunch is that some of them are to treat problems you can manage with improved diet and exercise.
Take in more good quality fat, protein and vegetable-based carbohydrate and reduce your intake of sugar and beige foods (bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, breakfast cereals etc). If you are a drinker, reduce your intake generally, and switch high sugar wines and beer for lower sugar, dry wines and clear spirits.
4. Supplementation. My approach to supplement is to take what you NEED rather than what you read. However, some supplements are a pretty good insurance policy for many.
I suggest a good quality fish oils and maybe a multi-vitamin. An organic greens drink can also be helpful to ward off common complaints and provide a huge vitamin and mineral boost. If possible, drink mineral water from a bottle rather than plain tap water as in some areas tap water has chemicals added and some minerals stripped from it.
If you are struggling to shake off illness, you may be lacking in a few minerals so booking a mineral test wouldn’t do any harm and would help you take control of your immunity as you would know what minerals you are deficient in.
Hormonally, changes in both women and men can affect health, so sticking to a sensible exercise regime and a clean-food diet will help to keep everything in balance.
5. Sleep. A common complaint amongst my older clients is that their sleep quality declines – this is for a variety of reasons, ranging from aches and pains in new clients through to poor sleeping conditions.
As a starting point for those suffering from poor sleep quality, making sure you have a solid bed time routine such as dimming your lights an hour before bed, getting to bed before 10.30, making sure your room is pitch dark (no lights at all), cool (rather than cold) temperature in the room (we heat up overnight, so it helps prevent excess sweating) and making sure you aren’t hungry or have a full bladder can all help with sleeping.
In the morning, not lying in bed too long after waking up can also help to establish a routine otherwise the temptation is to stay in bed for longer than necessary, reducing sleep quality and making us even more tired.
If these steps don’t work, a Zinc and Magnesium (ZMA) supplement has been known to help, as has melatonin before bed.
These five tips will hopefully help you to embark on a health and fitness journey that will improve not only your health, but also your life in a wider sense – the physical, mental and social benefits of exercise are not to be exaggerated. I firmly believe that great health is the cornerstone of a great life and better still, it’s never too late to start – just follow these bits of health advice for the over 50’s and enjoy a fitter retirement.
For any extra help on exercise or dietary topics, please do not hesitate to get in touch!