Hello friend! In this post, you will learn how to keep fit for over 60s. We will discuss the habits and exercises you need to stay fit as you age.
While staying fit and healthy might seem like a complicated chore that requires a lot of time and effort it actually boils down to a few very simple principles. What’s even more exciting is that leading a lifestyle that keeps you healthy and fit will also likely save you money and make everything you do more enjoyable.
I’m sure you’re familiar with how most people approach ”getting in shape” and you might have firsthand experience with this too. Most of the year (or years) people don’t pay attention to exercise and diet until something sets them off to make a change.
They then proceed with vigorous (or even torturous) exercise routines and ridiculously low-calorie diets for a few weeks or months. They get a bit of result but feel horrible and give up because this lifestyle seems impossible to endure. This is not being fit. Or healthy.
Then there are those folks who seem to stay fit and healthy effortlessly. They stay at a healthy weight year after year, they have a certain lightness to their step and everything about them radiates effortless health.
When you go out with these people they often eat just like everybody else, so you draw a conclusion that they have ”a superior metabolism” or ”exceptional genes”. The truth is in most cases a lot more mundane. They simply have good habits most of the time.
Let me elaborate.
Staying Fit Is All About Habits
The truth is that aside from actual medical conditions staying fit and healthy is all about habits. That is why a single larger meal or even a whole weekend of binge eating during the holidays won’t cause you to balloon up if your diet and exercise are in check for the rest of the week (or year).
While there is definitely some variability between metabolism in people it’s mostly due to their actual size, gender, and activity levels.
A sedentary 110 lbs senior lady will most definitely have a slower metabolism and energy requirements than a 220 lbs young male athlete.
But if we take two people that are around the same age, weight, sex, and activity levels, the gap will be a lot smaller.
There are outliers (there always are in nature) but they are rare. Most people fall close to average by definition, so it’s always important to presume you are not exceptional and rule out other variables when trying to lose weight for example.
The most important variable is your habits and routines. People don’t typically get fat overnight or in a few weeks. Especially if they are not overweight since childhood.
Most people gain weight very gradually. If you gain 5lbs per year, that’s only 0.014 lbs per day. But that’s also 50 lbs in 10 years. Which do you suppose is easier to lose, what you overate in a day or a decade?
This same applies to every facet of fitness. Bodyweight and fat mass, diet, exercise as well as things like sleep and mental health. Your everyday choices are what matter.
What If I’m 60 And Out Of Shape?
So our everyday choices dictate how fit we are. Other choices lead to poor health and some choices improve your chances of leading a healthy life into old age.
The older you get the more choices you have behind you, which will affect your starting point from now on. But don’t worry, no matter where you are at, making better choices from now on will always be beneficial and improve your fitness gradually.
So if you are out of shape and are wondering if it’s still possible to get fit, the good news is that it’s very likely. Or it’s at least possible to get fitter than you are now. You just have to develop good habits and remove bad ones.
That’s one thing about “getting fit”. Everyone will have a different definition of being fit. Some people consider running a marathon fit while others will settle for being able to walk a couple of flights of stairs without running out of breath. For most people being fit is something in between.
For the purpose of this post, I will define being fit as: Being in healthy weight with good enough physical fitness for everyday activities combined with good sleep and mental health. So pretty basic stuff that unfortunately many seniors don’t have.
But the chances are you might already be fit and are simply looking for ways to stay that way after 60. The news are even better for you. You’ve formed good habits already and you don’t need to change that many things as you age.
Aging will make keeping fit a bit harder, but it still boils down to the same basics. Eat healthy, exercise, sleep enough and do things you enjoy to keep your mental health good.
Bodyweight And Fat Mass
The first thing you need to look after is your body weight. I’m sure you are aware of the many risks involved with being overweight.
The truth is that being overweight isn’t that detrimental to your health and physical performance until late middle age. Presuming you are not overtly obese of course.
Bodyfat is more than just excesses weight you have to carry around. It’s metabolically and hormonally active tissue that affects many metabolic processes.
Your body fat affects your satiety and dietary habits and is associated with all sorts of negative health effects like increased risk of type two diabetes and heart disease. Learn more about losing fat here
Healthy body weight will depend on your frame and muscle mass besides fat mass. Basically, the more muscle mass you have as you age the better, and the less fat mass you have the better. You don’t of course need to look like a bodybuilder but it’s beneficial to have strong muscles and relatively low body fat.
This is because just like fat has many negative health effects, muscle has many positive health effects. They support your joints and bones, make you move better and faster. Learn more about muscle mass here
The two things that affect your fat and muscle mass are your diet and exercise routines.
A healthy diet provides all the nutrients your body needs to replenish itself and enough calories to fuel your activities. If you eat too much you will gain weight and if you eat too little you will lose weight. Pretty common sense.
Like we talked about earlier, it only requires a very slight surplus of calories daily to gain weight. That’s why it’s important to have routines for controlling your body weight. Weigh yourself at least once a weak and follow the trend for several weeks. If you seem to be gaining unwanted weight, simply reduce your daily portions a bit and keep monitoring for a change.
But calories of course aren’t everything. You need enough protein and healthy fats to keep your body regenerating and hormones going. This means eating nutritious foods instead of processed sugary stuff.
You can read more about a healthy diet for senior people here.
Exercise has three important functions when you want to keep fit after 60. Firstly it will help you maintain your body weight and lose fat as you will consume more calories. Secondly, exercise will improve your cardiovascular health, increasing the odds of avoiding heart disease. Thirdly, exercise will help you build muscle mass which will help you fight aging.
Cardiovascular exercise like walking, jogging, cycling or rowing is best for improving cardiovascular health and endurance.
Strength training or any form of resistance training like bodyweight exercise or resistance bands are better for improving and maintaining muscle mass and strength.
Sleep is probably to most important thing for your health and fitness. If you can’t sleep, everything else starts to deteriorate and you stop following your routines. Which will naturally lead to bad outcomes.
More importantly, sleep deprivation has several negative hormonal and cognitive effects that will make staying fit that much harder. You start to crave sugar as your stress hormones will be high and it will impact your ability to think.
So make sleep a priority. It’s normal to sleep a bit less as you age but you should still aim to sleep 7 to 8 hours every night.
Here are some tips for improving your sleeping conditions.
Finally, another important block of being healthy and fit is mental health. If you are anxious or depressed constantly, it will affect your fitness. Not to mention you will not feel happy.
So if you have any mental health issues it’s important to get them sorted out. Consult a medical professional, go to therapy, take medication, whatever you need get it fixed sooner than later.
Depression can lead to under or overeating and both depression and anxiety will drive your stress hormones up, causing metabolic damage. When you are happy your body is happy as well.
Some general tips for mental health are to keep healthy routines for sleep, diet, and exercise as we talked about but it’s also important to do things you like. Socialize, go to nature, travel, listen to music. Whatever your thing is, do it every to enjoy life more.
That’s it for today. Staying fit over 60 is as simple as staying fit at any age. It just requires focusing and developing habits in the important
What we didn’t cover was things like smoking, alcohol, and drugs. Those are naturally something you should always try to avoid but indulging in alcohol once in a blue moon is not going to make you unfit if you have your routines in check. You’re an adult, you know if something is a bad habit that poses too much of risk. Act accordingly.
I hope you enjoyed the post, thanks for reading and see you next time!