Secrets to getting fit after 60
We all know how important it is to be fit no matter your age. After all, staying mobile, limber, and strong is key to enjoying everything that makes this chapter of your life so fulfilling: travel, gardening, keeping up with the grandkids, and more.
But just because you know you should do something doesn’t mean you know how to do it. It seems a new study is released every day telling us to do this or that to stay fit. Which ones are worth paying attention to? We’ve rounded up the most important things to know about fitness in older adults, based on the latest science around exercise and diet. Talk them over with your doctor to create a fitness plan that works for you.
1. Strength and balance work together.
Given how common falling is among older adults, maintaining strength and balance becomes increasingly important as you age. Incorporating strength training into your fitness routine can build up muscles needed for balance, helping to reduce your risk of falls.
“Building strength is the most important factor when it comes to a movement program for older people,” says Emily Light, a certified yoga therapist and nutritionist in Portland, Oregon. “And that includes the strength and coordination needed for balance.” Increasing strength may also help relieve tense muscles and improve flexibility. “Most folks think stretching is what’s needed for tight muscles, but it’s often strength that the body is asking for,” Light says.
Blue Medicare Advantage members: You can stay fit at a SilverSneakers gym. Find one near you
2. Weight-bearing exercise builds bones.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 13% of Americans age 50 and older have osteoporosis, while about 43% have low bone mass. Weight-bearing exercise is one of the best ways to combat bone loss as you age. Weight-bearing exercise doesn’t only mean lifting weights; it’s simply any type of activity you do on your feet with your weight supported by your bones. That’s why digging in the garden counts.
3. Friends make fitness fun.
Need motivation to get your heart pumping? Find a workout buddy to keep you company (and help hold you accountable). Exercising with a friend (or grandkid!) can turn a dreaded chore into something to look forward to. And you’re far less likely to skip a workout when you know another person is counting on you.
4. Rest days make you stronger.
It may be counterintuitive, but taking time off to recover from workouts actually helps you build strength. That’s because exercise causes microscopic tears in your muscles. Rest allows your body to heal those tears — and grow in the process. On the other hand, overexercising strains the muscles, increasing your risk of injury. Rest days also allow your body to replenish glycogen, the carbohydrates stored in muscles that give you energy during workouts.
5. To get fit, you need the right fuel.
Like any other machine, your body performs best when it has the right fuel. The American Heart Association recommends following these steps two hours before exercising:
- Drink plenty of water to ensure you’re well hydrated.
- Eat healthy carbs like oatmeal, brown rice, and whole-wheat toast, along with some fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid high-protein foods. They take a while to digest, and you’ll need that energy during your workout.
Osteoporosis stats: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City’s Blue Medicare Advantage includes both HMO and PPO plans with Medicare contracts. Enrollment in Blue Medicare Advantage depends on contract renewal.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The HMO products are offered by Blue-Advantage Plus of Kansas City, Inc. and the PPO products are offered by Missouri Valley Life and Health Insurance Company, both independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, and wholly-owned subsidiaries of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.