Thursday, December 30, 2010

Senior Fitness

There are more and more articles and books written about health and fitness. All the major media outlets have a special category called Health or Nutrition or Fitness. It is a big topic for our aging population which we all should be interested in because we are all aging. But, truth is most of us don't spend too much time thinking about it until we see ourselves as aging and old. Turning 60 has that effect on a person.

This morning I read an article about a woman who was morbidly obese at 45. Her doctor told her she was a heart attack waiting to happen. That did not make her change her bad habits but when she was unable to get into a boat on a family outing she realized she was electively crippled, as she called it. So, she started to walk and take more precautions about her diet. Then, she began swimming. At first, she could not make it across the pool and felt stupid but her instructor would not let her quit. So today, at 69, she competes in senior swimming competitions. Her husband, 73, is equally fit. We are reading more and more about seniors who are more fit now than they were in their younger days. It seems like it is never too late to change your diet and get more exercise. You will get a lot more out of life should you live into old age.

Our society does not make it easy to do that. Restaurants serve portions that are too large. And there is a lot of unhealthy food and cooking methods out there for our consumption. It is better to prepare your own food with healthy ingredients and downsized portions and if you want to eat out sometimes choose a place that takes healthy eating seriously. Exercise is the same way. You have to take charge of it yourself. Try to walk/run/swim or bike several times a week. Get to a gym to do some weightlifting a couple times a week. You can do pushups and ab work at home, too. The experts say that keeping your core (abs) strong is the key to balance and fewer back problems. Stretching is critical, too, as we age. It is not about winning a contest like it was when you were younger but just being able to take a hike with your kids or lift your 50 lb piece of luggage when you are traveling.

Competition is not bad. Some of us are wired that way. I may be looking for some senior bicycling competitions now that I am eligible to take my reduced senior lunch at the senior center. It may be time to start planning that long dreamed about cross country bike trip, too.