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Health and Wellness: Getting and staying fit when you’re over 50 –

Posted: June 19, 2021 at 1:48 am

Carrie Jose| Portsmouth Herald

The importance of being healthy and fit has taken center stage these last 18 months, but especially for the over 50 crowd. Most people aged 50-plus who want to get and stay fit struggle, because what might work for someone in their 20s or 30s just doesnt make sense for them in their 50s. As you age, both your needs andyour priorities change.

Once you hit age 50, people start to suffer from things like arthritis, degenerative and aging joints, and more back and knee pain. And if you arent suffering from them yet, youre worried about when you will. First, let me just tell you that it is 100% possible to get and stay fit after 50. Many folks who are 50 and over arethe healthiest theyve ever been in their lives. So whats their secret?

Here are fivehabits those over 50 stick to sothey can get and stay fit.

Get enough sleep

The myth that you dont need as much sleep as you get older is false. Most research indicates that even when youre over 50, you should still be aiming for seven to ninehours of sleep per night. When you dont get enough sleep, it catches up to you. You lack energy, making you less motivated to exercise and more likely to eat sugary, unhealthy foods. Lack of sleep lowers your immune system, affects your memory and ability to focus, impacts your balance, and increases your chance of high blood pressure. In general, lack of sleep is going to significantly impact your ability to eat well and exercise, two essential ingredients for getting and staying fit after age 50.

Keep Nutrition Simple

If youre over age 50, youve likely seen every cleanse, crash diet, health shake, weight loss pill, or gimmick known to man.There literally isnt a trick left in the book you havent seen. At age 50-plusyou also typically arent in the mood to be a nutritional extremist either. Its a good idea to just keep things simple. Focus on eating nutritious whole foods (things that are unprocessed) and drink plenty of water. Start your day with an 8-ounceglass of water and then aim to drink at least threemore bottles after that. When youre planning meals, make your plate up with half vegetables, one quarter protein, and one quarter whole grains. Adding a little bit of healthy fat consisting of plant oils is a good idea too. Good nutritional habits give you the energy and stamina you need to get and stay fit.

Lift Weights

I cant tell you how often I get asked is it safe to be lifting heavy weights at my age? People worry that lifting heavy weights could be bad for their spine or knees once they reach 50. Lifting weights is not only good for you, but perfectly safe when done correctly. But its important that your workout is customized and takes into account any injuries or ailments you may have. Arthritis in your joints, bulgingdiscs, and even meniscus tears are all normal things that occur as you age, but you want to make sure your strength training routine reflects this. As a physical therapist, the two biggest things I look at when Im examining someones strength routine are form and loading strategies. Good and proper form is critical to protect your joints and back. Loading refers to how much weight you lift and how often (reps). This changes as you age because the integrity of your soft tissue (muscles and ligaments) is different. Loading strategies also need to be adapted if youre injured or in pain. A good strength coach and physical therapist, especially when working together, can make sure that you have a strength training routine that is not only safe but perfect for your age and ability.

Strengthen your Core

After age 50 things like balance and reaction times start to become more compromised, and the likelihood of back pain increases. Maintaining good core strength helps with all of this and becomes more important than ever at age 50. The biggest problem I see with people trying to strengthen their core is that they just dont know how to do it properly. They may be doing all the right things, but with all the wrong muscles. If youre new to core strengthening, or perhaps youve been doing it awhile but your core strength still isnt where you want it to be, consider trying Pilates. Its long been known as the staple of core strengthening because it requires you to perform very controlled and precise movements while focusing on your breath. Having proper control over your breath, body, and movement are the cardinal signs of a truly functioning and strong core.

Address Pain

This may seem obvious but I cant tell you how many people either ignore, or work around their pain. When you ignore your pain you risk developing other problems due to your body compensating. These compensation strategies may last you for a short time but eventually catch up to you. When youre over 50, recovering from injury is harder and takes longer. So although preventing injury is your best strategy, dont just ignore pain if youre experiencing it. When you work around pain, its impossible to get the most you can out of your workouts and this delays your ability to get and stay fit. If youre always having to modify exercise or compensate for pain, not only is this frustrating, but you delay getting to the root cause of your problem. Simply put, if youre experiencing musculoskeletal pain, get it addressed.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To get in touch, or register for our Getting Fit After 50 Masterclass, email her atinfo@cjphysicaltherapy.comor visit our website.

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Health and Wellness: Getting and staying fit when you're over 50 -

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