Top 5 Myths About Aging and Fitness…And A Few Truths!
It’s my birthday! I’m turning 53 this year and I’ve managed to gain a bit of wisdom over the years.
I’ve learned that the small computers in our hands can simultaneously be the most helpful tools and the most life-sucking devices ever invented. I’ve also gleaned that most of the rules for living life over 50 don’t really apply any longer. We can actually be getting stronger and healthier in those mid-life years because we’re so much smarter. There’s a much better understanding of how the body and brain age and what we can do to be enjoying fuller, more active lives no matter what age we are!
Now, some rules have turned out to be true for me, so let me hit you with those truths now.
I can't eat whatever I want anymore. Never thought I’d see the day when a chili cheese burger washed down with a coffee milkshake (caramel & chocolate drizzle, of course) would be off the menu for me. I’d need to plan for the sugar-induced coma, as well as some serious gastrointestinal distress if I polished off that meal now.
I can't drink like I used to. See the explanation above about the coma and the gastro- distress, please. Then add the fact that it would just be straight-up alcohol poisoning now. I find that I don’t even like the smell of most alcoholic beverages now…except for rum and Angostura bitters. I am the product of Caribbean parentage!!
I can’t pull off a couch potato weekend like I used to. Sure, I love a good Hulu binge session! But now my mood, my energy, my focus all take a nose-dive if I veg too much. I actually start getting a headache, my body aches, and my digestive system practically quits. I need to get up and move around, get some fresh air, and interact with other humans on a regular basis. My body actually thanks me now for moving!
I definitely can't stay up as late as I used to. Why in the world I thought hanging out all night, squeezing in a 2 hour nap, then going full throttle through the next day was a sign of my brilliance and endurance, I’ll never know! Talk about youth being wasted on the young. I never appreciated napping like I do now. It’s an art form!
But just because I’m getting older doesn't mean I have to give up everything I love…and neither do you! In fact, there are plenty of things we can do to stay active and fit as we age.
Pilates, Anyone? Yeah, you knew I was going to say that.
Here are the top 5 myths about aging and fitness:
Myth #1. We have to give up everything that tastes good…aka Junk Food!
While it's true that we may need to make some adjustments to our diets as we age, that doesn't mean we have to give up all of our favorite junk foods. With some portion control and smarter food choices, you can still enjoy an indulgence without wrecking your health. Moderation really is the key.
And don’t think slapping the “organic” label on it makes a crap food healthy. Pretty much any food or beverage you know has no nutritional value, but you enjoy the hell out of devouring it, is a junk food treat. And moderation doesn’t mean you have it on any day ending in “Y”. What's important is that we focus on nutrient-rich foods and drinks, then make them tasty and enjoyable so that we WANT to eat them. Then, when you indulge in junk, you’ll feel the difference in your body, and you won’t crave the empty foods as much.
Myth #2. Exercise is too hard as we get older so we should only walk for fitness.
I’m always surprised when this myth pops up.
If 10,000 steps a day really was the ultimate bringer of strength and flexibility, then everyone would be 6-pack toting fitness model hitting perfect spits. Lots of people get more that 10,000 steps going in a day and still have that jiggle in the middle or wouldn’t be able to hold a proper plank position for more than 5 seconds. Of course, walking is fantastic exercise and it has wonderful health benefits, but walking alone will never get anyone to that all-around fit feeling the way weight bearing, flexibility focused training will…like when you have a consistent Pilates practice. Just love counting those steps, though? Then, absolutely, keep on walking! Just be sure to add an activity that keeps you strengthening and stretching your body.
Myth #3. We don't really need to exercise if we're not trying to lose weight.
Let's get one thing straight - exercise is not just for people who are trying to lose weight. What you weight is only ONE indicator of overall health. There are many good reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with weight. For one thing, exercise can help to improve your overall health by reducing your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. It can also help to boost your mood, improve your mental focus, increase your energy levels, and improve your sleep quality. It strengthens our bones and muscles so we’re less prone to injury, and it helps us heal more rapidly in the event of injury. And let's not forget that exercise can also help to increase your lifespan!
Myth # 4. Pilates is really only for young people who are already fit, like dancers and athletes, so someone over 50 wouldn’t get any benefit from Pilates.
As we age, it's more important than ever to take care of our bodies. We all want to live healthy, active lives well into our golden years. Unfortunately, many people believe that once they hit a certain age, it's all downhill from there. This simply isn't true! Anyone at any age can benefit from the physical and mental challenges of Pilates.
This system of exercises works to improve flexibility, strength, and posture. Developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, Pilates was originally intended as a rehabilitation method for injured soldiers. Sure, professional athletes, actors and dancers keep the buzz going, but that’s just press. Nowadays, people of all ages and abilities enjoy the benefits of Pilates, because it can be customized for your needs. Whether you're looking for improved posture, increased muscle strength, increased bone density, improved joint mobility, better mental health, increased balance or coordination, Pilates can help you get you there.
Myth #5. We have to give up our favorite activities as we age.
Just because you're getting older doesn't mean you have to quit your favorite activities. What’s your jam? Do you love playing tennis, golfing, hiking, biking, gardening, or swimming, then by all means, continue doing those things! Exercise should be something that you enjoy, not something that you dread. Did you know that a fun session of play with your grandkids is great workout? Finding an activity that you love will make it much easier for you to stay motivated and stick with it. If you enjoy an activity that’s more sedentary, consider adding a fitness element too it. For example, maybe you like to paint or knit. You could walk to a local park (or to an art class or knitting class) with a backpack of your supplies. You’d be walking in fresh air and perhaps getting a bit of weight-bearing work depending on what your carry…then there’s the walk home! And who knows? You might even find a new favorite activity as you explore different combinations.
The Bottom Line
So, please don’t give up on your favorite foods and activities quite yet! There are plenty of ways to stay active and fit as we age. Yes, Pilates is a great way to start – it can be modified for any age or fitness level. And consider adding some new physical challenges to keep things interesting. Take a look at what you’ve been eating lately and see if there’s room for improvement.
Just remember to always consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program or before changing your diet.
Are you already staying active and fit as you age? Tell me more!!