Today is National Senior Health and Fitness Day. It is celebrated every year on the last Wednesday of May.
This past year I’ve come out of the closet. After 25 years or highlighting and coloring my hair, I am now OPENLY GRAY! Well, at least half of my hair is. The other half still has a way to go.
Allowing my mane to do its own thing was a big step for me. I guess, for me, it is acceptance that I have officially become a “senior” citizen and I must admit, I feel pretty dang wonderful…for an old lady!
I’m in good company. Our world is aging rapidly. It’s estimated that people 60+ years old will rise in numbers from 900 million to 2 billion by 2050. Wow! That’s a heck of a lot of people that know all the words to the Beatles songs, what a phone booth and mercurochrome is, and how to put an adaptor in a 45 RPM. Face it, Seniors rock.
So, in honor of today and all seniors (Yay us!)) I thought it might be appropriate to explore a few ways to keep the good vibrations going and improve our quality of life as we age. And, rather than preaching “Do this,” and “Do that,” I thought it might be fun to look at a few things that we, as seniors, should never do again.
So, if you are 60 or above, here are a few things you should NOT do:
Last year, one of my front veneers cracked and came off. It took a week to get a new one made and “installed” back in my mouth. It’s the only time that I was ever glad that I had to wear a mask everywhere I went. Nobody should be embarrassed to smile.
Many think that losing your teeth is just a part of getting old. It’s not true. (Whew!) Your teeth should last a lifetime, and your oral health actually contributes to your overall health and longevity.
For me, for many years, it was easy to let seeing a dentist twice a year slide. But since I turned 60, I make it a priority. It’s pretty east to keep your teeth healthy: avoid sugary/starchy foods, brush and floss every day, and see a dentist regularly. But this is hard to do, at least for me. In order to brush long enough, I use a handy phone app called Brush DJ. It’s free and it plays any music that you have on your phone or device and makes a little “ding” sound when you have brushed one of the 4 quadrants of your teeth for 30 seconds. Then I use a cordless water pick until all the water runs out. I hate to floss. So far, so good.
If you have defied time by living past 60, chances are that you have a lot to smile about. Take care of your teeth so that you beam from ear to ear proudly!
I had a friend tell me once, that nicotine is the perfect drug: it calms you down when you are jittery and picks you up when you are down. It’s hard to quit. And yet, the National Institute of Health proclaims that tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death, estimating that smoking can rob you of a decade of life.
The good news is, that no matter how you quit, your body is remarkably forgiving. Your blood pressure and circulation improve almost immediately. Your risk of getting cancer decreases exponentially every year after your quit. And, you’ll look younger and smell better too!
Okay gang, we are not in college anymore. Drat! Unfortunately, many people our age didn’t get the memo on this. Recent studies found that 10% of people over 65 are binge drinkers. Binge drinking is defined as having 4 or more drinks in one sitting. The study also found that 10% to 15% of all drinkers don’t drink heavily until they are older in age. I’m in no way saying to stop drinking, but just don’t overdo it. Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, physical injury and harmful interactions with drugs. Moderation is the key. Experts say, for seniors, women should keep it at about one drink per day, and men should stop at two.
The older we get, our bodies need to move more, not less. Experts tell us that regular exercise improves sleep quality, prevents bone loss, boosts metabolism and improves muscle mass in folks over 60. Being sedentary not only can make you fat, but rapidly increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and dementia. The American Heart Association recommends get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. Moderate can include brisk walking or gardening; vigorous can include running, swimming, hiking or biking.
Capt’n Clean and I have Fitbits and we make it a contest each week to see who gets in the most steps. We love our gym, although we rarely go together. We have just started getting more serious about hiking, and we both walk…a lot! Whatever form of exercise you prefer, remember, it doesn’t have to burn 1000’s of calories, you just need to move!
Over the past 30 years, there has been a major dietary shift to eating more processed foods. Most processed foods include more sodium, sugar, saturated fat and less fiber. The result has been more heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Do your body a favor and eat clean as much as possible, fresh foods high in fiber and low in sodium and sugar.
Everything in your body is going to work better if you are hydrated. We all know this. But did you know that:
• As we age, hunger and thirst tend to diminish? This means that even when you aren’t thirsty, your body could be craving fluids.
• Older adults have body composition changes which, over time, leave less water in the body than at a younger age.
• Seniors, overall, are more likely to take medications that increase the risk of dehydrations.
• Older adults don’t regulate temperatures as efficiently as younger people. This means that during exercise, seniors are more likely to become dehydrated through sweating.
Wow! It’s all kind of stacked against us as far as hydration.
So how can you stay hydrated even though you are not thirsty? Eat foods that have a high fluid content, like watermelon (it is almost summer, ya know). Keep a water bottle with you at all times and swig on it constantly. If you don’t like water, drop in a slice of lime, lemon or your favorite fruit to make it more appealing. Set times each day to drink water – like when you wake up, before a meal, after a meal, etc. Finally, drink water before you exercise as well as afterwards, that’s a given.
I racked my brain trying to think of an exercise that seniors probably shouldn’t do. I could only come up with one: parkour. Since parkour is all about falling down and up walls, ledges, staircases and buildings I figured it probably wasn’t something seniors should attempt. Heck, I lost my spidey legs in my 30s.
Then I found out that a lot of seniors are doing it regularly. And, they are actually pretty good at it. Check this guy out.
If that doesn’t inspire you, nothing will. You can be healthy and fit no matter how old you are and how gray your hair is. If the sky is your limit, then go there. Twinkle, twinkle Wimpy Girl.
Friends follow and forward Wimpy Girl.. (Hint, hint)
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