A recent study confirms what you may have suspected. Adults tend to become much less active as they reach their midlife years.
Researchers at the University of Texas have completed the first large scale study of activity levels among subjects 38 to 50 years old. As they followed them for ten years, they expected that intense activity would decrease, but they were surprised to find a decline in ordinary daily activities like walking as well.
It’s a serious issue because, as we age, we lose bone and muscle mass and gain weight more easily. Our heart also becomes smaller and less flexible.
On the other hand, research shows that even elderly adults can start to turn back the clock with regular and appropriate exercise.
If you want to beat the odds, it’s important to start making choices at midlife that will lower your risk for serious conditions like obesity, cancer, diabetes, and dementia.
Consider these tips for staying active and living healthy.
- Condition your heart. Cardiovascular exercise is key to keeping your heart muscles flexible and powerful. Interval training where you alternate between higher and lower intensity movements seems to be especially effective. Start out gradually and talk with your doctor if you have any questions.
- Train for strength. According to some estimates, our muscle mass declines by almost 10% for each decade after 30. Lifting weights or using your body weight can help you hold onto your muscle and bone. Being leaner will also enable you to burn more calories even at rest.
- Build your core. Your abdominal and back muscles are especially important for healthy aging and overall strength and balance. While spot reduction is a myth, firming up your midsection will help you to look less flabby if extra pounds have been settling around your waist.
- Stretch out. Flexibility exercises protect your mobility and extend your range of motion. They may even reduce the discomfort associated with arthritis and back conditions. Finish each workout with some stretches or do them while you watch TV.
- Work on balance. Being steady on your feet reduces the risk of falls and may sharpen your thinking. Practice yoga and Pilates. Stand on one foot while you brew coffee or brush your teeth.
- Make adjustments. You can enjoy time on the courts even if your tennis game is slower than it used to be. Play doubles or switch to pickle ball. Many sports and pastimes can be modified for older bodies.
- Move more. Use your daily routines to maintain fitness and lose weight. Walk to the store instead of driving. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Check your posture. Correct alignment reduces pressure on your joints so you can move more comfortably and efficiently. Make it a habit to lift and broaden your chest and knit your hips and pelvis together.
- Eat less. Most experts believe that weight loss has more to do with our diet than with exercising. If you want to slim down, fill your plate with vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and other whole foods.
- Sleep well. A lack of sleep can trigger weight gain, and you may find it more difficult to sleep through the night as you approach middle age. Try natural remedies like going to bed early and limiting alcohol, caffeine, and screen time.
- Manage stress. Many physical and mental health symptoms can be aggravated by stress. Aging is easier when you rely on safe methods of relaxation like daily meditation or taking a walk outdoors.
Make your midlife years the start of a healthy and fit future. Staying active will give you the strength and energy you need to continue enjoying the things you love.