As time marches on, joints that didn't use to ache suddenly ache, and things you used to do with ease are slightly more challenging. There's no denying that getting older can be a pain. But because you're a baby boomer, you're determined to make your "third act" purposeful and active. This is a generation of 'do-ers' and that doesn't stop as you age.
Whether working, traveling or learning a new skill, the challenge we face in our 50s, 60s and beyond is to stay healthy and fit so we can enjoy our lives and continue contributing to the world. But how? We see our bodies change right before our eyes, as our middles get thicker and our muscles get smaller. Joints creak, aches and pains are a near-daily occurrence, and injuries seem to pop up more often. We have bones to keep healthy and injuries and illnesses to handle.
What's a person to do? Instead of getting overwhelmed and calling it quits or overdoing it by hitting the gym for hours at a time, create what I call a "Moving Life" instead. In your Moving Life, activity is built in as a natural part of your day. If you're sedentary for most of the week or you've been a weekend warrior up to this point, incorporating some or all of these ideas for adding movement to your day could lead to improvements in your overall wellness.
When you create a Moving Life, you'll improve your health and keep your spirit growing. You'll become flexible to life's changes, realistic about what's possible and learn to treat yourself with grace and kindness.
Here's to Your Moving Life
- Walk and walk often. Walking helps control the stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to weight gain.
- Lift heavy things. Weight training helps build muscle and burn calories, but you don't have to go to the gym—bodyweight strength training exercises can be done at home.
- Consider jumping on the high-intensity interval training bandwagon to improve your cardiovascular health. The popular workout also helps you burn fat and maintain muscle, plus has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity.
- Take five deep breaths every time you stop at a traffic light. You'll be taking a mindfulness break that can help control the stress hormone cortisol.
- Park farther away from your office, the grocery, mall or friend's house. Start thinking of the "primo" spots as the ones that give you a chance to take a walk.
- Get a puppy. The boundless energy of a puppy will get you out and moving every day.
- Work in the garden. There's nothing like digging in the dirt to soothe your soul and strengthen your body.
- Take the stairs. Avoid the elevator or escalator and hoof it for improved strength and endurance.
- Put on some music and dance! It's not only good for balance, mobility and endurance, but your mood will lift with the music.
- Reach up to the top shelf on your tippy toes. What's up there anyway? When was the last time you looked? Squat down to see what's hiding on the lowest shelf, too. Challenge yourself to "go low" and work up to doing it without using your hands for support.
- Don't stop moving when you're recovering from injury or illness. Knee problem? Exercise your core and upper body. Shoulder problem? Do some leg exercises or walking. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist to develop a program that will allow you to move without aggravating your injury.
- Stimulate your brain and body. Try new activities that appeal to your sense of fun like hiking, photography or belly dancing. Get out of your comfort zone and find something that makes you smile.
- Find an accountability buddy. Having someone to meet for a walk can help you be consistent. The time will fly by during your workout and you'll have more fun.
- Challenge your balance. Can you pick up a package from the floor while balancing on one foot? Use it or lose it is the mantra for balance, so work on your functional fitness a few times a week.
- Get down to the floor and back up again, no hands! You need strength, balance and flexibility for this and it's a skill that might come in handy someday.
- Play with your grandkids. Sit on the floor, push the swings, kick the soccer ball around—not only will you enjoy quality time with your cutest loved ones, but you get the added benefit of lots of laughter, too.
- Plan an active vacation. Sitting on the beach in the sun is great, but plan an adventure that gets you moving. Look into areas that offer kayaking, hiking or other outdoor adventures so you can see the sights while challenging your body.
- Don't look at your body as the enemy. Aging is an accomplishment so offer yourself some grace and kindness.