The good news first: According to the Office of National Statistics, we’re all going to live longer and as a man you can expect to hit 79.
Now, the bad news: The increase in healthy life expectancy has not been as dramatic as the growth of life expectancy. Thus as a result, people are living more years with illness and disability.
What happens to our bodies as we age is no fun to think about. Depending on your lifestyle, things can really start falling apart physically after 30 or 35 years. There’s a decent chance that, without taking steps to prevent it, you’ll spend those bonus years in depressingly poor health.
Even if you are already doing some exercise and eating wisely, there’s still some thing more you can do. There is strong co-relation between the right sorts of physical activity and living better in your later life, and probability is you aren’t employing all of them yet.
I asked some “experts” and people over 50 who are in best shape and living a better life without depending physically on others:
(i) If it was possible to get into the best shape of one’s life after 50.
(ii) What one should do for a happier dotage?
Here comes some sage advice.
Walk Around More
Should you endeavor for 10,000 daily steps? Yes! 10,000 steps a day, often recommended as the critical point for serious health change, is a bit more than two miles.
It’s arguably better than running. It’s low-stress, low-impact and easy to include into your daily routine. The researchers have linked it to everything from improved heart health to a decreased risk of stroke.
I consider this as a basic need for optimum health, same as drinking adequate amounts of water each day. Your body is designed for frequent movement and many health experts are now starting to re-advocate the usefulness of walking.
According to Katy Bowman, a scientist and author of the book: Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement:
“Walking is a super-food. It’s the defining movement of a human.”
For instance, one study has shown that walking for two miles a day or more can reduce your chances of hospitalization from a severe episode of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by about one-half.
Another study observed that daily walking reduced the risk of stroke in men over the age of 60. Moreover, walking for at least an hour or two can decrease a man’s stroke risk by as much as one-third, and it doesn’t matter how brisk you walk. Taking a three-hour long walk each day cuts the risk by two-thirds.
The elderly and those suffering from chronic disease that inhibits them from performing more strenuous fitness regimens would also do well by moving around more. While walking is often underestimated, studies show you can reap considerable health benefits from it.
However, as far as fitness goes, walking will only help you to get physically fit if you’re starting out very out of shape. Even then, as you get fitter, you will need to add exercise to your lifestyle, such as high-intensity interval training and strength training, to actually get fit.
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Build Some Strength
Walking isn’t enough. Numerous studies have supported that the resistance exercises strengthen bones, and so cut the risk of osteoporosis and even reduce your chances of getting dementia.
You don’t need to join a gym for building up strength. Push-ups and pull-ups (get a bar for your house) are a good start. You can do them any time and anywhere, like while you are watching TV or waiting for a bath to run. If time’s a factor with you, do one set to failure before your morning shower, which at least is better than doing nothing. And for those who have no time problem, they can do multiple, short sets during the day.
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Stand Up Four Times An Hour
Many studies have re-emphasized that the risks of heart disease increase with every hour we spend glued to our chairs. And exercise at the start or end of the day doesn’t cut it – it’s the movement we get during the day that also counts. Frequent sitting for long hours constrict circulation, cause tightening of the muscles, send our glutes to sleep. The simplest trick is to stand up occasionally: just getting to your feet for a second, bracing your abs and sitting back down is enough to undo some of the damage. Try to do it every 15 minutes.
Read here to learn about “Stand up intermittently to keep fit”
Do ‘loaded carries’
We need a strong core to carry on the day-to-day movements independently in old age. Load carrying exercises are great for true core development. Not only core, they in fact act on your body in “global” ways that relate to everyday physical tasks.
So, you can incorporate this secret weapon in your day-to-day routine. Moves like the farmer’s walk with weight, fireman’s carry or just moving around with a heavy backpack on are debatably better than a bench-press session. They activate more muscles, recruit your lower back to work, and improve your grip (a vital indicator of health in old age).
Look out for ways to include them into your life such as carrying big grocery bags a couple of times a week, helping friends to carry their loads or taking more stuff to walk than you really need. Try to vary the weight, grip, duration and target different planes of motion for the core and joints. So, the key is not to miss any opportunity of doing ‘loaded carries’.
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Do the ‘Batwing’
Years of crouching forward, whether over your laptop, phone or desk, tend to stiffen your muscles and giving you an old-man hunch. Redress it with a simple exercise that you can do any time during the day, without getting perspiring or crawling on the floor. To perform the Batwing, stand a foot or so from a wall and lean back against it. Press your elbows into the wall and bring your thumbs to your armpits. Hold for 10 seconds, relax and repeat. Get into the habit to redress your scapula and fix some of the damage.
What physical activities you do to keep fit in your later years. Please share your experience under the comments section below.