Fitness in Old Age, No Sweat!

It is necessary that as you enter your mid-lives, you learn to take extra care for your body to avoid health problems that are very common at that age. Taking a proper diet, exercising regularly, makes your lives fuller, mind happier, and body more younger.

As you start aging, you will lose:
* 20 percent of your body’s water content.
* 60 percent of your ability to taste.
* 35 percent of your ability to pump blood.
* About 3 inches in height.

As far as your health is concerned, you:
* Become more susceptible to cold and heat.
* Suffer from osteoporosis, kidney, bladder problems, and constipation.
* Lose some mental functioning due to the loss of brain neurons, and thus become more forgetful.

Fitness over fifty
In order to reverse or slow the effects of aging, you need to have a well-balanced life. You need to exercise regularly, adopt good eating habits, quit smoking and drinking, and live a happy and healthy life.

Nutritious food for a healthy life:
A proper diet should include all the necessary nutrients to revitalize the body. Following are some of the important nutrients, their purpose, and the recommended intake.

Protein is essential for building nearly every part of the body-the brain, bones, heart, muscles, and even the blood. It is made up of 22 amino acids, otherwise known as the ‘building blocks of life’. An adult requires 0.75 g of protein per kg of body weight per day. Protein is found in foods like fish, eggs, beef, whole wheat, milk, liver, soy beans, beans, peanuts, brown rice and peas. It is recommended that people over 60 take 1.2 g of protein per kg of body weight per day. This is necessary to maintain the lean body mass, and keep the immune system active. This intake should be reduced to 0.8 g if the person suffers from diabetes or kidney problems.

Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential in small amounts for the growth and development of our body. They act as enzymes (catalysts) which facilitate many of the body processes. If the person has a well balanced diet already, then he doesn’t need artificial vitamin supplements.

Our body uses many minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium for strong teeth and bone; zinc for growth; chromium for carbohydrate metabolism; and copper and iron for hemoglobin production. As with vitamins, same goes for minerals too; if the person is eating a well balanced diet already, mineral supplements are not necessary.

Fiber is the part of the food, that is not digestible. It helps to move the food through the intestine by increasing their peristaltic action. Foods containing fiber are whole grain cereals, fibrous vegetables, and root vegetables like carrot, beet, turnips and other leafy vegetables. This is an important component of a diet taken in old age as a healthy intake of fibers will help in regular bowel movements.

Thus your diet should have the combination of all the nutrients listed above and it should also come in proper quantity. In your daily diet you should have the following:

* 2-4 servings of fruit.
* 3-5 servings of vegetables.
* 6-8 servings of whole grain products like bread for carbohydrates.
* 1-2 servings of meat per day.
* One glass of milk, or 1-3 servings of dairy products per day.

Physical fitness is essential for a healthy and happy life. Exercise helps you in this age in many ways. A person who has been exercising regularly will look and feel younger than a person who has not been exercising. If you have been leading a sedentary life till now, you can start exercising and slow the aging process to look and feel much younger.

Therefore make it a point to exercise at least 30 minutes every day. You can swim, jog, brisk-walk, play your favorite sport, cycle or practice yoga.

The following are a few exercises, which you can include in your fitness program:

* For strengthening chest muscles and triceps do press-ups. If you are unable to do regular press-ups, then you can do knee press-ups which are relatively easier.

* For upper leg muscles, hold on to a table and do squats.

* For lower leg muscles, hold on to a table and then rise up on your toes. Do this exercise one leg at a time. This exercise tones your calf muscles.

* Relax and massage your muscles after you finish exercising. Proper rest after exercising is as crucial as the exercise itself.