Discover your Exercise Style and Stick With It!

First find something that you love to do . . .

Find something you love to do. It’s fun and it’s good for you!

In our last post you took a quiz to discover your ideal diet.  Here are a couple of quizzes to help you discover your exercise style and stick with it!  All it takes is finding something you love.

When I was 30, my husband and I moved to New Hampshire.  I did no exercise at all.  In fact, I got a side ache when I tried to walk only a short mile home after dropping my car off for service.  The whole thing was made worse by living through my first New Hampshire winter after living in Texas.   I mostly stayed under the covers reading books and eating peanut butter sandwiches.  I gained over 20 pounds that winter!  As the weather began to warm, my fit next-door neighbor took pity on me and invited me to take a walk.

We began slowly, just walking around the neighborhood, but soon we were walking five-miles-an-hour through the lovely New Hampshire countryside.  The walking made me feel good.  It gave me energy and a sense of control.  The conversation that I shared with my new friend as we walked made it even more fun. That simple invitation to walk led me to fall in love with exercise.

Soon, I joined a gym and added classes and working with weights to the mix.  Over the next 38 years, I’ve engaged in many kinds of exercise, but all of it has been fun.  I only do things that are fun for me. That’s the point.  We need to find things we love to do.  That way, we’re in it for the long haul.  I still do some kind of exercise six days a week.

Exercise is the best medicine . . .

Here’s another success story.  Dixie and I have a friend named Jim who retired and wanted to learn a new sport.  So he took up tennis, playing several times a week.  At his prior yearly physical, he had been told that he had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.

After six months of playing tennis, but doing nothing else different, Jim went back to the doctor where he discovered that his blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar were all within the normal range.  When he told his physician that the only thing he’d done differently was to play tennis, the doctor said maybe he should get a racket and take up the game too!  It turned out that playing tennis was the best medicine.

“TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY. IT’S THE ONLY PLACE YOU HAVE TO LIVE.”  Jim Rohn

This isn’t about holding your nose and doing something awful that is good for you.  It’s about finding something you love to do and enjoying it most days of the week.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Dance by yourself or in a class (line dancing, ballroom dancing, tap dancing, ballet, aerobics, Zumba).
  • Walk briskly with a friend or with your spouse or by yourself.  Walk around your house during commercials.
  • Jog or run.
  • Take an aerobics class.
  • Explore Yoga or Pilates.
  • Swim or just walk or run in the pool.  It’s great for your joints.
  • Take a hike.  Enjoying nature makes this all even better.
  • Go for a bike ride.
  • Hire a personal trainer and develop a personal workout.
  • Begin lifting some weights.  Even cans out of your pantry will work.
  • Buy an exercise video and do it in the privacy of your own home.
  • Find an exercise program on television and do it three or four times a week.
  • Join a running group and begin to train.
  • Consider kayaking or canoeing.

    Learn to Tango! Dancing is great exercise.
  • And here are a few more . . .

  • Learn a new sport.   Golf?  Bocce?  Shuffleboard?  Pickle Ball?
  • Play tennis.
  • Walk the golf course.
  • Do something again that you used to enjoy.  Racquetball.  Volleyball.  Softball.
  • Train for a race.
  • Walk your dog.
  • Take a spin class.  You can go at your own pace and it gives great fitness results.
  • Find a new winter sport – skiing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing.
  • Try out rock or wall climbing.
  • Join a fitness challenge.  It’s a great way to stay motivated for a set period of time.
  • Take a Boot Camp class.  Some people love them!
  • Subscribe to a fitness magazine.  It will inspire you.
  • Keep a fitness journal.  How far did you walk, run, ski, and swim?  How did you feel?
  • Set some measurable fitness goals.
  • Reward yourself – not with food – but perhaps with a new workout outfit or some particularly nice golf balls.

Then stick with exercise for the long term . . .

 Once you’ve found something – or many things – you like to do, keep doing them.  You’ll see benefits within a very few weeks.  Amazingly enough, older people who begin exercising gain more benefits than those who are younger.  Aside from the obvious health benefits, you’ll gain a sense of pride and accomplishment from taking charge of your health.  Here are some things to help you stick with it.

  • Bring a friend along.  It’s always fun to do something together.
  • Make it competitive.  Some people enjoy exercise more when it’s part of a competition.
  • Join a team.  Once you’ve made that commitment, you’re required to show up.
  • Use music or podcasts to inspire your workouts.  Studies show that listening to music while running, for instance, makes exercise seem easier.
  • Join a gym or your local YMCA.  You’ll have some skin in the game, and you’ll make friends in the classes, as well.
  • Create a fitness journal to chart your progress.
  • Reward yourself with something big if you do something big.  When we finally stopped smoking, we went on a cruise!

Let us know about your own journey toward fitness!  We’d love to share it.

Pam

writers@richlyaged.com

Optimum Health – the Key to Vibrant Longevity

Overview

As part of our exploration of positive aging, we’ve just finished a series on building extraordinary relationships.  We know that concentrating on those we love yields strong benefits of happiness in this time of our lives.  But there’s something else we need to concentrate on – and that’s ourselves.  We’re responsible for creating optimum health – the key to vibrant longevity.  All we need is a plan!  Let’s start with exercise.

Take control to create optimum health and vibrant longevity

What does exercise do for you?

 If there were a pill that would help you manage your weight, improve your health, reduce your stress, make you look and feel better, and possibly live longer, would you take it?  Of course, you would.  Although there’s no pill that will do all that, there is a simple thing we can do each day to gain those benefits.  It’s called “exercise,” and it can be the fountain of youth for retirees.

Regular exercise provides a myriad of health benefits to everyone, but especially to seniors.  It improves blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, and cognitive function.  It lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s, obesity, heart disease, and colon cancer – to name just a few.

It improves our mood and gives us energy, and it may even make us live longer.  According to Dr. I-Min Lee of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard professor,  a middle-aged person who gets the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise – defined as the level of brisk walking – can expect a 1-to-7 return:  seven extra minutes of life gained for each minute of exercising.

Protect your pocketbook by protecting your health.

If that’s not enough to get you off the couch, consider your pocket book.  In order to prevent spending much of our retirement savings on health-related or medical expenses, we need to invest in a healthy lifestyle and avoid being sedentary.

If we want retirement to be a time not to slow down – but to explore new adventures, we need our health.  It’s worth more than gold.

And it’s never too late to begin.  Health benefits can be gained into the 90’s and even beyond.  Just get started.

Embrace Healthy Living

Begin by making a commitment to working toward a healthy lifestyle. Our health is largely a result of our own decisions.

According to a groundbreaking study on Successful Aging sponsored by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, only 30% of how we age can be attributed to our genes.  The remaining 70% is determined by our lifestyle choices.

A life of television watching has its consequences.  We boomers do like our TV. According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than four hours of TV every day (or 28 hours a week.  That’s two months of nonstop TV watching per year.  In a 65-year life, that person will have spent nine years glued to the tube!

Moving toward optimum health doesn’t have to be done all at once, and it doesn’t require drastic changes.  Instead, it means taking a series of small, incremental steps toward the healthy life you seek.  Like the legs on a three-legged stool, this kind of lifestyle rests on three supports:  solid nutrition, regular exercise, and a reduction in stress.

What about diet?

Eat right for optimum health

Since our metabolism slows as we age, we need less food to make the energy we need.  That’s why so many seniors suffer from creeping weight gain. The addition of only a pound a year can result in a significant and unwelcome change in our bodies by the time we retire.  The National Institute of Health recommends that we choose nutrient-dense foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, and poultry, rather than calorie-heavy foods like candy and chips.

That’s easier said than done, especially when it seems that almost everything we do revolves around food and drink.  Exercise can be the saving grace here!  The NIT also recommends getting 150 minutes a week of physical activity.  That sounds like a lot, but it’s easier than you think and will be discussed in detail in this chapter.  Somehow it’s easier to take a walk when you realize you can trade it for a bit more food.  We’ll be talking more about diet later in this series.

Controlling stress is important!

Exercise can also help to reduce the stress we all deal with every day.  Aerobic exercise causes the release of endorphins that help us feel better.  People manage stress in all kinds of ways, so you’ll need to find what works best for you.  It might be learning to meditate or practicing yoga, or it might just be getting outside to enjoy nature or sitting quietly to reflect on the good things in your life.  We’ll explore some of the options for controlling stress in this series.

The good news is that you are in control.  You can take charge of your health at any age and make adjustments to create optimum health and vibrant longevity.

We hope you’ll join us in this part of the adventure!

Pam

writers@richlyaged.com