FIT AND FAB AT 50: How to stay healthy when you are older

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Staying healthy is important and for older adults, the easiest way to do that is by eating healthy and staying active. Physical activity is essential, and highly beneficial to the human body. It’s a miracle cure that lots of adults ignore.

Like most people, are you under the impression that exercise is stressful, and painful with a whole lot of sweat involved? Exercise plays a much bigger role in your health than you can imagine. Turns out, exercise controls health dials throughout your body. Not simply in your muscles, but in your arteries, heart, liver, lungs – and a lot more. When you exercise hard enough to sweat, you grow new cells — better cells and you get functionally younger.

Physical activity rates among older people are surprisingly low in Nigeria. Only about 35% of people ages 45 to 70 say they engage in regular physical activity.  Inactivity or sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, is bad for your health and thought to increase your risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as weight gain and obesity. Medical research shows that inactivity is regarded as a “silent killer”. You can hit your weekly activity target but still be at risk of ill health if you spend the rest of the time sitting or lying down.

Regular exercise can improve your balance, boost or maintain your strength and fitness. It can also improve your mood and help reduce the impact of conditions like diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and depression.

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Experts recommend these types of exercise for older adults:

Aerobic/endurance exercise: also known as cardio, is the cornerstone of most fitness training programs. Aerobic exercise causes you to breathe faster and more deeply depending on the intensity, which maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood. The better your aerobic fitness, the more efficiently your heart, lungs and blood vessels transport oxygen throughout your body. Brisk walking, jogging, swimming, dancing and other Aerobic/endurance exercises improve the health of your heart, lungs and circulatory system. They make it easier for you to perform strenuous tasks, climb stairs and do other daily activities like going to the market, cooking, driving, lifting grandchildren, etc.

Balance Training: Older adults in particular should include this in their routine to maintain and improve balance. Balance tends to deteriorate with age, which can lead to falls and fractures, a major health risk for older adults. Try standing on one leg for increasing periods of time to improve your overall stability. Activities such as yoga, and tai chi can promote balance, as can balance exercises with a fitness ball.

Strength Training: Strength training at least twice a week can help you increase bone strength and muscular fitness. It can also help you maintain muscle mass during a weight-loss program. Strength exercises include lifting weights or using resistance bands.

Flexibility/Stretching Exercise: can give you more freedom of movement, prevent injuries and help with overall body performance. Often overlooked, it is the key to avoiding injury during exercise. Stretching, swimming, yoga and tai chi can help improve flexibility.

It is important to incorporate these various elements of fitness training  into your overall exercise plan. It isn’t necessary to fit each of these elements into every fitness session, but factoring them into your regular routine can help you promote fitness for life. Most importantly consult with your doctor before engaging in any fitness program. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after working out to help decrease workout-related fatigue

Start exercising now if you haven’t, and stay active. By exercising regularly and including more physical activity in daily routines, older people can preserve physical function and improve the quality of life. You can feel 20-30 years younger even after age 50 by simply enjoying and engaging in Fitness Training.

Seun Fadina

FITNESS CONSULTANT

BFS LIFESTYLE

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