Maintaining a healthy lifestyle as I age is my number one priority. I intend to keep running marathons until my body says stop, and I will continue to work out and teach fitness classes for years, yet staying strong and fit doesn’t come easy. I have to work at it like everyone else, pushing myself to lift heavier, run faster and hold a plank longer. Yes, it’s part of my job, but it’s also part of my plan for longevity.
Many people fall into the trap of thinking they’re at the age where their children have grown, and they can now just sit back and wait for grandchildren. But, not me! I’m not sitting back, in fact I’m stepping forward and I’m going to enjoy my second act with a strong body and positive attitude.
But let’s start with understanding that the number one killer of men AND women is heart disease. This is a real eye opener as many women think heart disease is just for men. Here’s an article by Dr. Brian Goldman from the CBC’s White Coat Black Art show that discusses heart disease in women.
Another scary fact is sarcopenia or muscle loss. Sarcopenia leads to bone and joint issues and loss of function due to muscle weakness. As much as 50% of muscle loss is due to disuse BUT this IS reversible. Add weight training and/or resistance training 2-3x week with a variety of loads/types and you can keep those muscles you worked so hard to achieve in your 30s and 40s.
Working out is only one way of staying healthy. I try to eat well, every day, in order to fuel my body. I try to make healthy choices and include vegetables and fruits daily, don’t eat red meat, don’t drink alcohol, and I try to eliminate sugar from my diet. Am I a saint? Absolutely not. Do I have cheat days and grab a chocolate croissant? You bet. But I don’t beat myself up about it because I know that I will burn off that cheat at my next workout. But again, to put it in perspective, a short run for me is 8-9km which burns a mere 500 calories so unless you’re doing a HIIT class or training hard for 90 mins, you’re not burning as many calories as you think so reconsider your cheat.
My friends and family play a big role in my happiness and staying connected with them keeps me grounded and mentally fuelled. I have a run buddy that listens to me every Sunday and is a sounding board for ideas, discrepancies and travel plans! Finding that certain someone is important to all of us.
Here are some key tips that I have tried to apply to my own aging process.
1. Keep Moving – We lose muscle as we age so if you don’t use it you lose it. Move for 150 minutes per week. Add strength training 2-6xweek, endurance training 4-6x week and stretching – every day
2. Eat Well – Avoid sugary and processed foods, drink less alcohol and consider adding more fruits and veg to your diet
3. Sleep – Try to get a solid 7-9 hours per night
4. Stay Connected – Connect regularly with friends and family. Join a book club or gym or better, a run group!
5. Keep Your Mind Sharp – Consider taking a class to learn something new or travel to new and exciting places for adventures, but just keep using the noggin
6. Reduce Stress – Aging means changes and learning to manage and cope with change is key. Embrace mindfulness and find time to be you
I hope you find these tips helpful.