Older Adults Staying Active
Getting older is a part of life but we don’t have to surrender to it and give up. There are many older adults staying active and you can too.
As we age, we experience the loss of muscle tissue. This is called sarcopenia, and it can result in us losing up to 20% of our muscle mass between the ages of 40 and 60.
Losing muscle obviously results in loss of strength but also causes decreases in bone mass, deadly falls, and poor blood sugar metabolism. Think about how many times you hear of older adults, or perhaps even your family and friends, falling and fracturing or breaking a hip. We can try to prevent this with these two steps.
One – begin a strength training program, and incorporate cardiovascular work such as running or walking too. If you aren’t currently active, start slow and use light weights, and always focus on proper form. Ask a certified personal trainer to create a program for you to follow at home if you have equipment to use, or to work with you individually or in small groups. The program should target your total body so you don’t cause muscle imbalances, and also incorporate some balance moves. It should be paced to match your fitness level, and you shouldn’t perform any moves that you are uncomfortable trying.
Running, walking, and using an elliptical machine or a rowing machine are examples of cardio work – they help your heart stay strong. If you’ve never used one of these machines, or if you haven’t gone for a run in awhile, start slow and don’t over do it. Once you feel more comfortable, then you can increase the speed, duration of your run, and its frequency. Your long term goal could be 30 minutes 3 times a week.
Two – increase your daily protein intake. Meals with 25 – 30 grams of high quality protein helps stimulate protein synthesis which in turn assists in maintaining muscle mass. Choosing foods with a high protein content is easy. Examples are grilled or baked chicken breast or low fat turkey, tilapia or cod, lean ground beef, or a high quality protein powder. Mix this all natural protein powder with water and oatmeal, peanut butter, or even with yogurt, and you’ll have a healthy treat that also satisfies your sweet tooth. Pair the meats with a baked sweet potato or steamed broccoli, and you’ve cooked a flavorful and healthy meal.
You are never too old to become physically active. Start today!