Stay fit as you age with these tips from Hilary De Vries, assistant director of fitness and wellness for BC Campus Recreation, and Sheila Tucker, executive dietitian at Boston College and lecturer at the Connell School of Nursing.
1) Keep Moving
The best way to maintain the level of fitness required for independent living is to stay active before and after retirement, ideally exercising for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. An optimal regimen includes cardiovascular and strength training and other activities that test flexibility and balance.
2) Watch Your Mouth
There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” food, but there are healthy and unhealthy dietary patterns. Overall, strive to eat a variety of foods and nutrients—and it’s best to choose foods close to their natural form. For instance, try to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables and one-quarter with whole grains. Making even one of these changes can help set the stage for healthy aging.
3) Know Your ABCs
We can’t always absorb the nutrients we need from the foods we eat. Using dietary supplements can help shift the balance back in our favor. In particular, vitamins D and B-12 simply aren’t absorbed as well after age 70, so a daily boost could prove beneficial.
4) Get Social
Partner up to reach your exercise and dietary goals. Join family, friends, or other support groups to stay on track, especially if you’re someone who benefits from a little motivation. Plus staying engaged with others helps keep your brain sharp and responsive. So do what you did in college and pay attention to your social life.
5) Seek Expert Advice First
Always consult your physician before starting any new exercise program. And, if you have a chronic condition or other risk factor, ask for a referral to a medically-supervised fitness center with certified exercise physiologists. It’s also best to rely on your doctor or dietitian to help develop realistic and safe strategies for addressing your personal nutrition needs, including the use of dietary supplements.