7 Ways to Stay Strong and Healthy as We Age

Written by Team Optimity

2 min read

Fact: Canadians are living longer than ever before. Another fact: Older people are still experiencing age-related health complications at a similar age of onset as the previous generation. Lesser-known truth: While people are living longer, they are living longer with underlying health complications. 

The health problems older people face are often related to chronic disease, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Fortunately, there are lots of ways (regardless of age) we can prevent or delay the onset of disease and stay healthy in our grey years.  

In February 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) released guidelines as part of their aging strategy towards “a world where adults will live not only longer but healthier lives.” Get this: two of the six recommendations focus on physical activity. They recommended that older people take part in diverse exercises, that include strength/resistance training, balance, flexibility, and aerobic training. 

Canada’s physical activity guidelines for adults over 65 follow the WHO’s recommendations. As for adults aged 18-65 years, older adults should accumulate:

  • 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week in bouts of ten minutes or more (think: Two renditions of ‘No Diggity’ by Blackstreet)
  • At least two days per week of  muscle and bone strengthening activities 

Older adults should also perform physical activities to enhance balance and prevent falls. Each year, about 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for a fall injury. That’s because as we get older, we start to lose muscle mass, strength, and flexibility, and can have problems with balance. Studies report that after age 50, you lose about 15% of your muscle strength each decade. 

The key to bucking this trend? Stay active as you age. Here are a seven tips to get you started:

1. Be active often.

  • It’s safer and more effective to be physically active often, such as everyday or every second day, rather than just one long workout on the weekend. 

2. Do an online workout

  • From yoga to cardio, there’s a wealth of workouts online with minimal equipment required. Choose one that suits your pace and pull out the mat for a sweat sesh.
  • Make a friendship date out of it on Zoom. It will help you stay motivated.

3. Maintain your muscles with weight bearing activities.

  • Examples of COVID-safe weight bearing activities include: walking, dancing, climbing stairs, gardening, yoga, and tai chi.

4. Avoid sitting for long periods of time. 

  • If you are doing something that requires sitting, try to get up and move around or stretch every 20-30 minutes. It makes a world of difference. 

5. Eat a healthy diet. 

  • Aim to eat food that contains protein at each meal, such as lean meats, fish, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, eggs, and lower fat dairy products. Protein helps build muscle and, when combined with resistance training, can help you stay mobile and avoid falls. 

6. Ensure you’re getting enough Vitamin D (sunshine pill) and Calcium.

  • Follow the Canadian guidelines for calcium and vitamin D. Calcium keeps your bones and muscles healthy and strong. Vitamin D allows your body to absorb calcium. Talk with your doctor about how much vitamin D and calcium you need.

7. Keep on top of medical appointments. 

  • Schedule regular checkups even while we’re inside with your doctor. Be sure to ask about screening tests you may need as you get older. 

How are you staying active while we’re not able to gather outside?

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