When you think about getting older and cringe at the thought, what you’re really uncomfortable with is not living the extra years, but the signs of frailty and aging. Just because you’re adding years to your life, it doesn’t mean you have to suffer all the problems that come with aging, especially if you stay fit as you get older. Enjoying every minute of life should be your goal and feeling your best. While a healthy lifestyle won’t guarantee you won’t get sick, it certainly dramatically tips the scales toward looking your best and staying fit and active in your senior years.
As you age staying fit is a bit more difficult.
The older you get, the faster you lose muscle mass. It’s called sarcopenia and while the process is complicated, there are basically four reasons for it. The first is inactivity or living a sedentary lifestyle. The second is a poor diet. Inflammation and stress are number three and four. Since exercising regularly can help slow muscle loss, while also helping with stress, it’s a good place to start. While muscle loss can be inevitable, lack of use speeds it. Once it’s started, it’s hard to reverse, since lack of activity leads to more difficulty exercising and that leads to more lack of activity.
Eating healthy should be a top priority.
No matter how much you workout, if your diet is bad, you won’t get the results you want, whether it’s getting fitter or losing weight. An unhealthy diet doesn’t provide all the building blocks you need to build muscles and be your fittest. You need protein for muscles. You also need to avoid sugar. It speeds the aging process. Sugar speeds AGES— advanced glycation end products—which combines with skin collagen and reduces firmness. Charred meat and salt age you, so does processed food. Trans fats, sugary drinks and alcohol all increase aging. Slow aging by increasing the healthy food in your diet, such as fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget lean protein and healthy fat, like nuts or avocados.
It’s never too late to start living healthy.
Some studies show that a healthy diet and regular exercise can even reverse signs of aging. One study following a group of people active in cycling found that those in the older age groups from 57 to 80, showed no loss of muscle mass. Even testosterone levels were high in those who were older. A related study showed that combining HIIT—high intensity interval training—with strength training, increased activity at the cellular level to keep you more active and your cells healthier. For those who started a workout combination like this, the best results were in age groups 65 to 80, where the cellular activity increased by 69%.
- Get adequate sleep. Your body needs to rest and so does your mind. Averaging 8 hours of sleep may sound difficult, but it’s important to your brain and heart health.
- Everybody has stem cells in their body. Stem cells can be used to make new cells of any type. Studies show that increasing your activity also increased the body’s stem cells and some doctors even recommend it before certain types of surgery to speed healing.
- Drink plenty of water. The older you are, the quicker you dehydrate. Dehydration in seniors can cause UTIs and even symptoms that resemble dementia.
- You can boost your meals nutrition without adding extra calories by adding herbs and choosing your food wisely. For instance, spinach and kale are far more nutritious than iceberg lettuce is.
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