Five Tips To Stay In Shape When You Get Older

Running is one of the most common forms of exercise  ( Photo  by Kyle Cassidy)

Running is one of the most common forms of exercise (Photo by Kyle Cassidy)

Remember the days where you’d be playing football, cricket or whatever other sport for hours upon end, go home and then be fresh out again the next day to do the same? Not one muscle would ache. Not one limb would feel like it’s a light jog away from permanently detaching from your body.

As you get older though, your body is less forgiving and certainly lets you know when you’ve exercised. So undoubtedly, staying fit and healthy becomes progressively more difficult. Work and family also provide added distractions, so here are a handful of tips and methods to help you stay healthy as you grow older.

Join a gym

Nobody has stayed healthy from purely joining a gym. A membership card alone isn’t going to give you defined abs or a sub-50 resting heart rate. It is the first, and possibly hardest, step though. Once you’ve joined, you then have the means to exercise to your own desire.

Just go for it. Join a gym that is near your home or your work. Pick a schedule, for instance Monday-Friday on your lunch hour, and stick to it. The quicker you adopt a gym routine and implement it into your normal daily life, the easier it will be to continue visiting regularly.

Most gyms offer free inductions, so if you’re a first-timer you can easily try out the equipment and get shown the ropes. There’s no need to be intimidated, everyone was a rookie at one point. It’s hard to go that first time, but once that hurdle is jumped, the rest is carefree.

Take up a sport

You may cite age as justification for no longer playing sport, and while it's true that you may not be as fit as you once were, nothing should stop you from grabbing a racket or lacing your boots back up. Floyd Mayweather and LeBron James are two athletes who are very much older than the typical demographic in their respective sports, and yet they are also still competing at the highest level - being two of the highest paid athletes on the planet.

Taking up a completely new sport will not only benefit your fitness, but is a great opportunity to meet people you wouldn’t usually encounter. The social and physical benefits are clear to see. It puts an additional purpose to exercise as well, and there are very few downsides to taking to the field and adopting a new sport.

Food abstinence

By abstinence, I’m not saying don’t eat any food. But highlight the unhealthy aspects of your diet and take action! For instance, say you eat mostly healthily, but like to snack on crisps, chocolate and sweets on occasion. Set a goal, be it a week, one month or maybe a holiday or birthday, and do not eat any of those foods until that end date.  

Be strict with yourself. Allow for no slips, no cheat days or meals. This will be hard initially as your body misses the sugar it was getting, and begins to crave it. Once you get by this tough period, you body gets used to not having those types of food and it becomes routinely easier.

Once you’ve finished the cleansing period, the approach can be switched up. Allow yourself to eat those bad foods on occasion. However, don’t let the consumption rise above a small amount, otherwise you’ll slip back into old habits. Keeping it low will ensure you never crave sugars and those other bad foods, but at the same time can still enjoy them in moderation.

Five a day

Five a day keeps the doctor away. We’ve all heard of that phrase, but it's more commonly used to encourage your kids to eat fruit and veg. However, it is very applicable to us all.

Whereas nutrition is vital when younger for growth, when you’re older it becomes more about rejuvenation. Fruit and veg will give you sustenance in the form of nutrients and vitamins. It’s easy to forget and skip out on getting these in, but it’s important to keep up with the five a day.

Similarly, proteins help your body to recover after exercise. So, if your body’s restrictions mean you’re struggling to workout on consecutive days, consider upping that protein fix so your muscles can recover sooner.

Keep mentally stimulated

Health and fitness is not just a physical thing, mental health is finally getting the recognition that it warrants. It’s not just teenagers who experience depression and other disorders. In terms of mental deterioration, the likes of alzheimer's and dementia are another huge issue. A common disbelief is that they only come about in a person’s later years, but many studies have found symptoms from those well under 65 - and even one case of a 23-year-old who’s said to have a one in a million chance of not developing the disease imminently.  

Now, although cures and prevention measures for illnesses like these haven’t been definitively discovered, mental stimulation is commonly used to good effect to slow deterioration. So why not set aside twenty minutes or so just to partake in a mental activity? It can be a puzzle, brainteaser or even a game like Sudoku, and just keeps you sharp and focused.

Sudoku is commonly found in the puzzle section of newspapers (  photo  by Ref Roof)

Sudoku is commonly found in the puzzle section of newspapers (photo by Ref Roof)