I don’t care what any one says, when you become a ‘lady or gentleman of a certain age’, something shifts.
Muscle maintenance can be harder, weight gain easier, and the inclination to simply not move as much can sneak up on you.
When I jumped into my sixth decade, in spite of all previously held hopes that I would be immune to these due to my healthy plant-based diet, consistent exercise, and other wellness practices – though they have mitigated the effects of time and kept me feeling still as if I’m thirty-something – they still showed up in their own little way. That extra chunk of chocolate and piece of plant-based pumpkin pie at a recent holiday event took a little more post-celebration dietary vigilance to shed than it did just a short two or three Thanksgivings ago.
The good news is that these challenges can be productively met. All it takes is some awareness of them, strategies to offset them, and putting these strategies into action.
These tips may not be news to you. But maybe you, like me – Baby Boomer or not – will appreciate the reminder. I’m right there with you.
1. Sit less. The scientific evidence related to ”seated disease” continues to pour in.
Remember, just because you get in your daily workout or walk, though it may make you healthier than the completely sedentary, it doesn’t protect you from accelerating the health-negating biomarkers from extended periods of sitting time. I’m still happily using (and writing to you from as we speak) my homemade standing work station.
For more about what we now call ‘inactive physiology’, see 5 reasons too much sitting is hazardous to your health & what to do about it.
2. Practice resistance training two to three times a week. Without repeated challenge, muscle tissue decreases. Our bodies adapt to what is demanded of them, and if we aren’t challenging muscle to step up to the plate on lifting, pushing, and pulling, they atrophy accordingly.
The good news is that it has been proven that people in their eighties and beyond respond to resistance training by building muscle and protecting that which we have. Any kind of resistance training will do it, whether with the use of iron, resistance bands, or body weight. Simply pay attention to the ninety second rule.
3. Have a healthy respect for your structural anatomy. This means being attentive to good practices of sitting, standing, and moving about when it comes to posture.
This is critical during as well as between exercise. Which also brings us back to #2, resistance training. Heavy weights used in resistance training can be stressful to the joints and quit compromising to good posture. Lighter weights can be used to strengthen muscle just as effectively and in a more safe matter. Review the video here: Light weight and high reps or heavy weight and low reps to make muscle?
4. Maintain (or restore) awareness of the calorie load of your food. As much as ‘metabolism’ is a function of our activity levels, it seems that those extra slices of avocado piled in your veggie sandwiches and slices of rich (even if plant-based) pie and cobbler settle easier onto your waist as time moves forward.
Keep eating plenty of vegetables, starchy vegetables, whole grains and fruits, and be more mindful of having them crowd out the more calorie concentrated nuts, seeds, olives.
5. Practice stress protection. I thought of calling this ‘Sit more”, but didn’t want to confuse it with the important ‘sit less’ listed above. Rather, I am referring to a mindfulness or meditation practice of your choice.
Finding still time in the day to be fully present without being fully in the vicissitudes of life is critical for mental health and follow through on other healthy aspirations, such as physical activity and healthy eating.
Though it may seem that Baby Boomers should be free of the stresses and uncertainties of the earlier adult years, settling into a rosy future of pensions and productive living, this is a time that declining health of parents, children (or grandchildren) in need, and a host of other considerations can bring in new colors.
There are many techniques that are science-based and non-religious in nature, including the powerful Holosync audio program and insight-Vipassana techniques, both of which I personally use.
What would you add to my list?
Though not perfect at respecting each of these five points listed above every day, they are important for me to keep aware of for staying fit, strong, and at a good weight.
Have I left something important out? Please tell me about it in comments below.
Be as specific as you can – maybe share from your experience, or simply point out one or two of the tips on my list that you have found important for you to be mindful of, as well.
Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
P.S. Greg took me to Bali for birthday 62 this year (see feature photo). Actually, I feel young and energetic and my world-traveler status hasn’t take a dip even as time as traveled so quickly forward. More about the photo – the house we rented came with two ‘house boys’, actually young men with families of their own. Their tradition of service is unprecedented in our experience. Each day they created new floral displays on our bedroom floor. Every morning we’d go on an early walk to beat the sun, and when we returned, we’d discover a new gorgeous and fragrant artistic display would The display in the feature photo is the one they created for me on my birthday.
P.P.S. More helpful references on sedentarism:
Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Health: Paradigm Paralysis or Paradigm Shift?
Breaking prolonged sitting reduces postprandial glycemia in healthy, normal-weight adults: a randomized crossover trial
Effect of Prolonged Sitting and Breaks in Sitting Time on Endothelial Function.