How do I stay fit as I get older? 5 tips to keep in shape as you age
Even the most achingly beautiful movie stars will eventually find their body starts to droop and sag and wrinkle as they age.
That’s just science. While there are ways to reduce it - see our guide to keeping a youthful glow - what’s even more important than appearance is how fit you are physically.
From heart disease to dementia, the list of age-related pitfalls lack of activity can have on our health are endless. Make sure you put the odds in your favour by doubling your efforts to preserve it. Put these tips into action now and start moving better, feeling better, and living better as the years go by:
1-Walk for heart health
You might start to notice your energy and endurance decreases as you get older. That's why lots of walking is an ideal way of incorporating exercise into your life without going too hard. It’s less intensive than running, so you’ll have to walk for longer periods regularly to reap the rewards - at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week is the sweet spot, according to Harvard Medical School.
2-Bump up your bone density
Osteoporosis - which causes fragile bones - affects around 22 million women and 5.5 million men aged between 50-84 years of age in Europe, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. Medication can slow it, but there’s no cure. Prevent fractures and strengthen your bones right now. You can do it by stair-climbing, cross-training machines, brisk walking, moderate-resistance weightlifting or working out with resistance bands. Even heavy gardening can all help to reduce the rate of natural bone loss that occurs from 35 onwards.
3-Get your brain food
Eating smart is encouraged at any age, but with over nine million cases of dementia in Europe (according to a study by Alzheimer Europe), protecting the brain is vital as we get older. It doesn’t have to be drastic. Simple dietary choices such as eating plenty of fish, olive oil, fruit, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids can help nourish your grey matter. They will also give you plenty of energy to stay fit as you get older.
It’s no joke - probably the easiest lifestyle change to implement them all is to have fun. The concept that laughter is good for you is not a new one. Scientists have been showing how it helps us to live longer for years. It can protect the heart by increasing blood flow, decrease stress hormones and bump up infection-fighting antibodies. Get those endorphins flowing by signing up for a dance class - you’ll enjoy yourself, boost your energy and increase your life expectancy.
5-Ditch the alcohol and cigarettes
Around 29 million people in Europe have a chronic liver condition, research from EASL shows. It’s a big killer and you don’t need to be an alcoholic to suffer from it - just a couple of drinks every day or two is enough to damage your liver. You don’t have to completely ditch your favourite glass of wine, but stick to the alcohol limits and unit guidelines (no more than 14 units a week) to keep your energy levels raised, your body fit and your brain sharp. Smoking makes you age the fastest and is harmful to health in many ways - quitting smoking entirely will have the most beneficial effect on your body of all the lifestyle changes.