#TryItTuesday: Fitness after 50
Just for the record, I’m not 50. I’m 49. However, in just a few short months, I will be 50. And as hard as it is to admit, if I don’t make a few lifestyle changes, I’ll be entering my fifth decade of life not as fit as I’d like.
Like so many, I’ve let the demands of work, family and life overtake my days, crowding out any time for physical activity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), I’m not alone in my less-than-active lifestyle. Only one in five adults meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines.
So, is it possible to get fit after 50? And should I (we) even try?
Recently the American Heart Association released a new study: Middle-aged couch potatoes may reverse heart effects of a sedentary life with exercise training. While I don’t consider myself a couch potato, I do spend the majority of my days sitting at the computer.
Another recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that the higher your muscle mass index is, the more likely it is that you’ll live longer!
While all these studies are positive reasons to get fit, for most of us the decision and motivation to get fit depends more on our whys and our whats:
- Why do I want to be fit?
- Why now?
- What does being fit look like to you?
- What do you need to change to be fit?
- What are some action steps you can take today to start being fit?
For many of us, our whats and our whys are what starts and keeps our motivation!
“Why do I want to be fit at 50?”
Here are a few of my biggest whys:
- I’m tired of not having energy.
- I’m tired of being short of breath carrying in my groceries.
- I’m tired of not sleeping well.
- I’m tired of my muscles being sore the day after watching our grandchildren.
- I’m tired of the way my clothes fit.
- I’m scared I won’t be able to keep up with my grandkids.
In other words:
- I want to wake up with energy to be able to do the things I love and enjoy.
- I want to have the energy and endurance to keep up with my children and grandchildren.
- 50 is getting closer to 60, 70 and 80 and I want to be both physically and mentally independent as I age.
Also, in addition to my personal whys, there are several other health benefits from being physically fit.
Being physically fit can
Reduce risk of heart disease. Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the United States. Getting at least 150 minutes a week (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity can lower my risk for these diseases.
Reduce risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Having a higher-than-recommended waist circumference and sedentary lifestyle increases my risk,
- Strengthen bones and muscles. Research shows that doing aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening physical activity of at least a moderately-intense level can slow the loss of bone density that comes with age. Research also shows that doing balance and muscle-strengthening activities each week along with moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, can help reduce your risk of falling.
- Improve mental health and mood. Regular physical activity can help keep our thinking, learning and judgment skills sharp as we age. It can also reduce our risk of depression and may help us sleep better. Research has shown that doing aerobic or a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities three to five times a week for 30 to 60 minutes can give you these mental health benefits.
- Improve quality of life. As a cancer survivor, research has shown that getting regular physical activity will help give me a better quality of life, not to mention lower the chance of recurrence. Being physically active has shown to lower risks of both colon and breast cancer.
- Increase our chances of living longer. People who are physically active for about seven hours a week have a 40 percent lower risk of dying early than those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week. You don't have to do high amounts of activity or vigorous-intensity activity to reduce your risk of premature death. Just 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity helps you live longer.
- Gain some control of weight. Physical activity can help with weight loss and help prevent weight gain as we age. When we are at a healthy weight, our risk for chronic disease decreases significantly.
No matter what our age, IT’S NEVER too LATE to become physically fit.
Join us on Tuesdays as we share ideas for goal setting, fun ideas for workouts, healthy recipes and lifestyle management skills.
In the meantime, here are some action steps you can take today:
- Think about and write the answers to your why and your what.
- If it’s been awhile since you’ve exercised and especially if you have any health conditions, check with your health provider before starting any physical activity program.
- Set a goal of walking five to 15 minutes a day.
Are you ready to get fit together?