What you do now to stay healthy physically will assure you improved health in the long term because you are building a more secure foundation for the aging process.
Everything from building bone into young adulthood, being active for a strong heart, to even establishing a routine of nutrition/mental health/strengthening sets you up for a better quality of life in your future. This can save you from being racked with pain or worry that the foundation you built may not be enough.
Of course, unfortunately as we age, our bodies do go through degeneration, but if you can build a stronger foundation, this can lessen the process and allow for easier healing.
So what can you do now to take care of your body to have a life with significantly less pain in the future? Here are 7 tips to help you on your way to improved quality of life as you age.
1. Continue Moving
A body in motion stays in motion. Remember that from physics? It is much easier to continue being active in any way you can, than to stop and try to start up again. First you have the mental block to get over. You were in the habit of for e.g. parking as close to the door so you don’t have to walk far or asking someone else to get you something. Then you have your body telling you that you haven’t moved this way in awhile. So begin with baby steps. Park 2 car lengths further away or get up 50% of the time to get what you need.
2. Pick an Activity You Enjoy or Always wanted to try
If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, will you continue doing it? Probably not. If hiking is your thing, find trails you haven’t experienced yet. Each time you go out, go somewhere different. The novelty keeps you intrigued. If you don’t like walking, go for an activity you haven’t tried yet that may intrigue you. I hear rage rooms are all the rage now – haha. Maybe you try Pickleball.
3. Cross Train
Cross training is essential. If you do a specific sport or dance, you are always using the same muscles. Muscles need to be confused to stay on “top of their game” and become more efficient. For instance in dancing, if you keep taking ballet, try adding a jazz class or if you always take from the same teacher, try another teacher who has a different style. If you always go biking, add in Pilates. By adding in different styles/variety, it not only keeps you interested, but also creates increased strength and endurance.
4. Rest and Recovery Time
Your body does need time to recuperate and “heal” after activity. Give yourself 1-2 days off per week. Muscles need 24-48 hours of recovery. Saying that, if you are doing a weight training program, each day concentrate on a different body part – leg one day, arms one day. That also gives your muscles time to recover. But the most important point is to listen to your body when it says it has had enough. Doing all arms in 1 session can be very difficult as arm work extracts more oxygen. I find alternating arms and legs and abdominals in a workout helps to not overstrain one part. If you have a day where you are feeling muscle fatigue and you did take a day off, don’t try to push yourself to go through another workout. Fatigue is the time where most injuries occur.
5. Listen to Your Limits
Yes it may be cool to try a black diamond ski slope, but if you have never done it and you did not prepare for it or you have only been doing the bunny slopes, now is not the time to go for it. You can make it a goal to try to achieve one day, which mentally will keep you going doing your activity, but remember you need to listen to what your body can handle now. Maybe you don’t reach that lofty goal, take baby steps to get there, and if you don’t achieve it think the slope you are on is YOUR black diamond.
6. Warm-up and Cool Down
I have written extensively in the past on this subject. Hopefully by now you realize how important this is for your body. When you are young, you think you can do anything, but you may pay the price as you age. When you are older, it takes longer to warmup the body to perform an activity. We lose the viscoelastic quality in our muscles and bones as we age, so it takes longer to lubricate them. I laugh how I tell people it sometimes takes 1 ½ hours for my body to warm up for dancing and by that time the class is over or I am fatigued. Try doing warmups that simulate the activity you are planning to do to prep the muscles. For instance, backwards and sideways walking before a hike or walking and then building up speed gradually for that run.
7. Work with an Expert
Proper care of the body requires support of a specialized professional who can observe deviations in the body or movements that could be potential causes for injury. These trained specialists can then educate you on what is happening in the body and how to correct this. Physical therapists not only work with injuries, but also work on preventing injuries and setting up home programs to correct deviations, strengthen areas of weakness, and change harmful movement patterns.
By caring for your body now, you can save yourself years of pain, reduce the risk of injury, and improve your quality of life as you age. Contact us by clicking here to schedule your Free 20 minute Discovery call to discuss what your issues are and begin a plan of health so you have the life you are wishing for.
To Your Health,