Our Best Health Tips If You Are GOLDEN!
(Above 65 Years Old)
Health is a huge part of everybody’s life, but as we age, we tend to pay more attention to it. After all, we human beings are masters of procrastination.
There’s a rumour that old people should not be exercising, in fact, it is common courtesy to help the elderly with their daily chores, for example:
- “Hey aunty, that’s so heavy, let me help you carry that”
- “Uncle let me fetch you so you don’t have to walk too much”
- “Hey grandma, let’s look for the elevator, the stairs will tire you out.”
- “Let’s park nearer so you won’t have to walk so far”
Although well-intentioned, we might be actually causing more harm than help if we continue with these gestures in the long run. So we hope this article can help you change your mind the next time you are about to say any of the above or accept any of the offers above.
Why should you exercise if you are aging?
You probably know you should be exercising no matter how old you are but let us show you some of the reasons why you should really start taking it seriously if you are part of the elderly category.
1. Prevent Muscle Loss
As we age, we begin to lose muscle mass and the ability to move if we do not take care of our muscles. This is known as sarcopenia which will begin to take away 3-5% of your muscles every decade after you reach the age of 30. After the age of 40, the number becomes 8% and after 70, it almost doubles to 15%! (1) (2) The best-known method to prevent this from happening is strength training. No other way has been shown to work better and safer.
2. Improve Cognitive Functions
Many people will tend to read books, learn new skills, or even a language to keep the brain sharp as you age. But did you know, exercise can also do the job? A large-scale meta-analysis from the American Heart Association concluded that physical activity protects against cognitive decline (3). This means that you can actually train your brain to work better by exercising!
3. Increase Life Expectancy
How do you start practicing healthy habits?
Fall Prevention Is MOST Important For You!
This is so so important that we had to give it its own paragraph. Did you know that death from falling is the world’s number 2 killer when it comes to accidental deaths? And all of this can be easily prevented if people knew more about the dangers of it.
We rarely fall when we were younger adults. Why? Simple, because our balancing strength is still functioning optimally. But as we age, we experience sarcopenia (muscle loss) which will contribute to loss of balance, and eventually, if not addressed, we might also face osteopenia (bone density loss) which eventually leads to osteoporosis (brittle bones). So here are the muscles you need to work (basically all of them) to prevent falling or loss of balance:
- Core muscles – Contrary to popular belief, these are not only those abs muscles. There are actually many more! Your core muscles are the foundation to almost all movement in your body such as standing, walking, sitting, and almost all others.
- Gluteal muscles – The biggest muscles in your body are your gluteals (glutes). They are the powerhouse that erects your entire torso up and have been doing so your entire life. They are also responsible for supporting your lower back muscle; a very commonly injured muscle group/joint.
- Legs – This one is pretty obvious. Your legs are mainly made up of three large muscle groups known as your quadriceps, hamstrings, and your calves. All three are equally important as they have their own functions. And a very very important muscle group that a lot of people neglect, even athletes, are your feet muscles!
- Upper body – Yup, sounds funny but it is true, there are plenty of benefits that come from a strong upper body such as supporting your own body, carrying things in your daily life, and also holding on to things when needed.
The idea is to keep training until you feel confident again carrying your own bodyweight around, and then you would slowly regain the stability that you once had when you were younger.
How to eat and drink as I age?
Well, if you have goals of living a healthy lifestyle, you must surely include your nutrition plans as well. Although nutrition wouldn’t differ much no matter your age, there are a few things that have to be pointed out for those going through the aging process. Here we have our dietitian who will breakdown a few key tips for you to follow:
- Eat more protein to slow down muscle loss such as meat and eggs or soy and tofu if you are vegetarian.
- Get enough dietary fats from good sources such as nuts, seeds, and avocados to improve micronutrient absorption.
- Hydrate sufficiently because your thirst mechanism might not be as effective anymore especially if you exercise (sweat)
- Take care of your teeth! This is important as well to help you eat better and enjoy your food.
If you have goals of improving your body composition (less fat, leaner) then you would need to pay attention to calories but please do refer to your doctor before doing anything out of the ordinary. This advice is only for those without any health concerns.
Walking and then eventually running
This is a great way to improve overall health and it is so easy to be done! Walking has tremendous benefits such as lowering the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and cancer (6). You should aim for getting in 150 minutes per week but even getting an hour in per week seems to be enough to help you live a longer and healthier life (7).
Here are four ways that we can help suggest you begin your walking routine:
- Walk To Your Nearest Stores – Whether it is your neighborhood café or the grocery store near you, try to walk to those places the next time you plan to go there. If it is too far, you can drive there but park a little bit further than usual and get in the steps from the increased distance.
- Get in 2 Small Walks A Day – Break it down into a morning and evening session where you do 5 minutes each, and then as it gets easier, increase it to 10 minutes and eventually 15 minutes. Pretty soon, you will be getting in 30 minutes of walk a day and 5 times a week would put you at the desired 150 minutes mark. Tadaa!
- Improve The Walking Experience – Most of the time, people find walking or running boring because they just aim to finish the dreadful 30 minutes walk. Instead, find ways to make it an enjoyable session that you look forward to. For example, listen to your favourite podcast, make a walk date with your spouse (win-win for both!), walk together with your beloved pet or even grandchildren, or find the scenery you truly enjoy seeing.
- Buy A Pedometer – This is a useful tool to keep you in check as it shows how many steps you have taken that day with just a flick of your wrist. You can usually get one around a hundred ringgit and it comes with plenty of other functions as well. Aim for 10,000 steps a day but begin with small increments from what you are doing today.
And eventually, when you get to the stage where you find walking too easy or a little bit boring, you can then progress to running! It is a great way to make your bones even stronger and running is an effective way to battle osteopenia but that is another topic for another day. Back to running, here are a few tips you can try if you want to get started:
(1) Flack KD, Davy KP, Huber MAW, et al.. Aging, resistance training, and diabetes prevention. J. Aging Res. 2011; 2011: 127315.
(2) Marcell TJ. Sarcopenia: causes, consequences, and preventions. J. Gerontol. A. Biol. Sci. Med. Sci. 2003; 58: M911–6.
(3) Gorelick PB, Scuteri A, Black SE, Decarli C, Greenberg SM, Iadecola C, Launer LJ, Laurent S, Lopez OL, Nyenhuis D, Petersen RC, Schneider JA, Tzourio C, Arnett DK, Bennett DA, Chui HC, Higashida RT, Lindquist R, Nilsson PM, Roman GC, Sellke FW, Seshadri S. Vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia: a statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke 42: 2672–2713, 2011.
(4) Reimers, C. D., Knapp, G., & Reimers, A. K. (2012). Does physical activity increase life expectancy? A review of the literature. Journal of aging research, 2012, 243958. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/243958
(5) University of Birmingham. (2018, March 8). A lifetime of regular exercise slows down aging, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 30, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180308143123.htm
(6) Walking in relation to mortality in a large prospective cohort of older U.S. adults. Published early online October 19, 2017 in American Journal of Preventive Medicine. First author Alpa V. Patel, PhD, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Ga.