We laugh at the elderly for thinking that girdles and jazzercise will keep them young forever. Even I laugh. The oldest, most Russian man in the world goes to my gym in the mornings. He wears an adidas-esque track suit, gold chains, and a fur hat while he walks on the treadmill. He takes off the hat when he goes upstairs and lifts tiny yellow 2 pound weights for about 10 minutes. But he likes it, he’s there every morning, he knows everyone, and he’s fit, and that’s what matters. There are a few tricks those fab 50+ers can teach us about getting fit, and being happier while doing it.
The Fit, Fab, 50s
The elderly keep active. When was the last time you went to a pottery class that had young people in it, or had the time to attend tai chi? Not only are the elderly more active, they've been more active for their entire lives. If you are anything like me, you probably hate mornings. Even though you love going to the gym, you can skip weeks at a time if you fall off track. I would recommend scheduling active outings with friends, and making exercise a part of your day.
There are a few ways to include both of things. Lifestyle changes like bicycling to work, or walking to the grocery store can end up being major changes. If you just want to nip out for a simple carton of milk, that extra five minutes walking will make all the difference. No, you can’t use the “but my ice cream will melt” excuse. Your frozen food will survive those 5 minutes. Signing up for classes — even non-athletic ones like painting or language-learning — will help you get more active. It may sound counter-intuitive to sign up for classes that you spend sitting down in, but the extra activities are great motivators and get you off the couch and into the world. As an added bonus, if you get up early for any of your activities, getting that morning sunlight can help you shed additional pounds.
Eat well and eat home-cooked
Every culture alive has silly diets: Russian models who practice the cotton ball diet, Americans and our love of Atkins, and South Korea’s blood-type diet. Beyond some of the insane 1950s nutrition fads, one of which promoted replacing your morning fruit with a teaspoon of sugar in your tea or coffee, the actual diet that people followed was fairly healthy. There were more vegetables, and less processed food. Though sugary cereals have been around for almost a century, but there was definitely a focus on eating well and making healthy home-cooked meals.
There are a few ways to bring this mentality into your modern life. Packing plenty of fruits and vegetables will help you to avoid 'cheat' snacking between meals, and motivate you to go home and do some cooking. It helps me to have lots of fresh vegetation in my fridge. I feel so bad whenever I throw away food, so I always try to include fresh stuff in new and exciting recipes. I try to stay away from frozen or dry goods, which can sit around for months and months before I have to do anything with them. In short: cooking doesn't mean that you have to make boring, or even completely healthy meals every night. You can make something horribly bad for you like cheese stuffed lamb meatballs and balance it out with a pine nut kale salad, or make baked carrot fries and pair it with an edamame quinoa side dish. What cooking for yourself, however, does mean is that you’ll be saving money, getting more leaves in your diet, and become more in touch with what you're eating.
Old people can be cranky sometimes. Despite that, statistics reveal that they are enjoying life more than young people. They are going to more social activities and escaping the couch trap.
The real secret is to enjoy life. Do what you want today: that could mean rollerblading, or painting a horrible picture of the strange dream you had last night, or reading the funny pages of a newspaper. The best thing that you can do for yourself is to do what you want to do. No excuses. Take a word from the elderly, and be brave. Many older adults even stroll into the hospital with confidence before going under the knife. While plastic surgery is more risky for the elderly, they do it five times as much on their face. The elderly are going out, enjoying life and walking with the confidence that younger people sometimes lack.
Don't give in to your Netflix addiction. The elderly have a lot teach us about fitness- they've aged so well for a reason.
About the Author
Mary Grace lives in the beautiful Boise, Idaho. She loves hiking, skiing, and repairing vintage bicycles. If you have any comments or questions about what she has written up above, please feel free to tweet her @marmygrace, or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.