Are You “Too Old” To Get in Shape?

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What age group do you fall into? 50′s? 60′s? 70′s?  And whichever it is, is that “too old” to get in shape?

The answer is, simply, never!

Can you turn back the hands of time by suddenly training for an Ironman competition? Of course not, but you can slow the aging process tremendously by simply incorporating more acivity into your daily life and eating better.

Baby Boomers didn’t grow up with nutritional guidelines on the side of the box. We lived in an age of hot dogs, hamburgers, pixie stix and Junket. For most of us, the only advice our parents ever got as far as what to feed us was “three glasses of milk a day.” No one gave us toothbrushes on Hallowe’en. The bigger the candy bar, the happier we were.

As we grow older and we are less active (meaning we aren’t moving as fast as we once did and probably not riding our bikes half the day!) we need less calories, but more of the right kind. There are any number of nutritional guidelines for seniors listed on websites and elsewhere and even your doctor can come up with a diet plan that suits your lifestyle…and don’t forget to read the sides of those boxes, bottles and cans. At the end of this article you will find links to several sites providing dietary recommendations.

There are exercise programs geared to older adults. Good resources for finding these are the local Y, Senior Centers and area gyms. Many local exercise facilities will offer  a trial membership to test them out. While you are there, scope out what the age range is for your fellow gym rats. Talk to the manager and/or some of the trainers to get their perspective on who works out when so you will be comfortable with who is there. Nothing worse than just starting a program and finding yourself in the midst of a  bunch of hardbodies hooked up to their iPods running at 10.0 on treadmills.  Most younger people hit the gym early in the morning or after work; seniors seem to put it on their schedule from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. If you are new to the equipment, there’s always personnel to instruct you on how to use it. It may be worth the investment of a couple of personal training sessions to assess your abilities and get yourself motivated and on track.

Walking is always a great form of exercise. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Don’t park right in front of the store; make yourself walk a few extra feet and if you want to kick it up a notch, why not go for a hike? There are so many beautiful trails just waiting to be explored. It may behoove you to invest in a good pair of hiking boots/shoes and have them properly fitted at a sporting goods store. If you vary in your ability to balance, a pole may be a good idea as well.

Whatever you decide to do, the key words are “Be consistent and be real.” Too many of us begin an overwhelming attempt to get back in shape and too easily become discouraged. Set an achievable goal for yourself each week, whether it’s to walk an extra 1/2 mile or work out with slightly heavier weights. There’s no reason you can’t get yourself back into good shape if you just keep at it!

Sites for further information:

Diet

The National Agriculture Library (for nutritional information):

http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php info_center=4&tax_level=1&tax_subject=242

Nutrition.gov: http://www.nutrition.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=11&tax_level=1&tax_subject=382

Exercise:

Department of Health and Human Services:  http://www.health.gov/PAGuidelines/

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