For men over 50, the most common barriers to healthy living and exercise revolve around lack of time and enjoyment. The good news is that for time-pressed individuals, you can train smarter instead of longer while enjoying your favorite activities, says Jessica Matthews, exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. With a few changes to your daily routine, you can train to stay healthy and revive your mind, body and soul.
Regain Your Youth
“As we age, we often times lose sight of some of the activities that brought us great joy during our younger years, such as playing on a sports team,” says Matthews. Overcome this and relive those youthful years by joining a sports team. From joining a recreational sports team to organizing pick-up games in your neighborhood, it’s important to find activities that you enjoy so that physical activity becomes something you look forward to versus something you feel like you have to do, says Matthews.
Take the Stairs
A good training program begins with finding subtle ways to get more active throughout your current day. “From taking the stairs whenever possible to taking walk breaks at work, adding more movement to your day adds up to big results in terms of improving your health,” says Matthews. Skip the elevator and escalator and opt for an added dose of exercise whenever possible.
Work With a Trainer
Even though you may think you know your body best, it may simplify your training to enlist the help of a certified trainer. A certified trainer can develop a customized workout program based on your unique health and fitness goals, as well as your current fitness level, says Matthews. “It’s important to adopt a well-rounded workout routine that combines cardio-respiratory activity, resistance training and flexibility training,” she says.
Get Your Heart Pumping
Industry guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of heart pumping activity each week in order to stay healthy and prevent disease, says Matthews. Take every opportunity to increase your heart rate through cardio-respiratory activity, such as walking, aerobics, dancing and bike riding. Squeeze in some power walking while taking Fido on a walk or run in place while catching up on your latest television shows. The key to a healthy training program is movement.
Strengthen Your Muscles
Aim to engage in strength training at least two to three days a week, allowing at least 48 hours between working the same muscle groups, recommends Matthews. “Start each workout with a dynamic warm-up, with exercises like arm circles and leg swings which help to increase body temperature and take the joints through the full range of motion,” she says. Improve your flexibility before and after strength training by stretching to a certain point without movement.
If your job requires you to sit in front of a computer all day, find ways to stretch your muscles in subtle ways. Stand up when on conference calls or briskly pace while brainstorming your tasks for the day. Avoid sitting for more than 20 minutes at a time. Take frequent breaks to perform leg lifts and lunges, stretch your arms and shoulders and run in place.
Limit Processed Foods
It’s tempting to grab an afternoon snack from the vending machine, but processed foods will only hinder your training efforts. When possible, skip processed foods and refined sugars and instead opt for whole food options, says Matthews. “Add more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains to your diet and limit your consumption of fast-food, high-sodium pre-packaged meals and nutrient-deficient junk foods and candies,” she says.
Keep your body refreshed throughout the day by staying properly hydrated before, during and after workouts. Opt for plenty of water while limiting the consumption of sodas, juice cocktails and energy drinks, says Matthews. “Small changes to your diet go a long way in terms of your overall health,” she says.
Find Your Passion
“When it comes to incorporating healthy habits into your daily routine and leading an overall active, healthy lifestyle, it is so important to do what you love and in turn, love what you do,” says Matthews. Find physical activities that resonate with you. From yoga classes, kayaking with friends to playing sports with your kids and grandkids, when you find activities you enjoy, a healthy, active lifestyle will be something you truly commit to for the long-haul, says Matthews.