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Special Guest Post: Fit Over Fifty

Posted Oct 29 2012 4:55am

Today’s guest post comes from a very special person… my mom!  I asked my mom to write a guest post ages ago because she is a perfect example of someone living a healthy, balanced lifestyle.  She’s a constant inspiration to me and I hope her tips come in handy for you or someone in your life!

Hi everybody! My name is Jan Morris and I am Andrea’s Mom. I’m 56 years old and with the help of her good influence and a few things I’ve discovered on my own, I feel like I have some tips and ideas to help anyone- especially older folks get into better shape.. First of all I know that most of the readers out there are in their 20′s and don’t need this kind of advice ( so I kept telling Andrea when she asked me to write this), but if you have anybody like me in your life, or you are an older reader yourself then please keep reading! 
Also, I need to add that I am not any kind of fitness expert. So this is not coming from a professional. Please ask your doctor about any advice I give if you have physical issues or disabilities before you start an exercise program!

Okay, so let me tell you who I am… I’m a person who has always done some exercise but I’ve never been a runner,  a bodybuilder, or serious exerciser in any way.  I’ve done 1/2 hour to an hour of moderate (emphasis on moderate) exercise about 3 times a week most of my adult life….I eat smallish meals quite a few times a day, with lots of fruit (cuz I love it) and not nearly enough veggies (always a struggle to get them in), skim milk and proteins like chicken and fish. (We won’t mention the ice cream and other unhealthy stuff I do eat because this is Andrea’s healthy blog).  Enough said- here are my: 

 Top 5 Tips for Staying healthy over 50 
1.  KEEP MOVING Above and beyond anything else (except stretching: see #3) I believe that staying active is the most important thing you can do for your health. By active I don’t mean you have to join a gym, or run a marathon, or even take up a sport. You can get the physical activity you need for the health benefits of exercise (lower blood pressure, lessen pain, ease depression, maintain cognitive function- the list goes on and on) by incorporating a few easy changes into your lifestyle. 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week should be enough to see these changes. And you don’t even have to do the 30 minutes all at once. So three 10 minutes walks at a brisk pace would do it. Yard work is good exercise so get outside and rake leaves! Make it a rule to never drive (unless the weather is bad, or you’re carrying groceries, etc.) if the errand is less than a mile away. Also, don’t use elevators. Besides the fact that they’re full of germs from all the people using them, if you just take the stairs you get the health benefits of the exercise. 

2.  DON’T SIT for long periods of time. This is a proven health killer! Get up every 10 minutes, stretch a tiny bit- (like shrugging your shoulders and lifting your arms over your head while taking a deep breath) and do something. If you’re on the phone, walk around or just stand and talk. It’s much better for you than sitting.  
3.  STRETCH!!! (and leave your low-back pain behind). As we get older we lose our flexibility.  I know for a fact that not stretching (for fear of hurting my fragile lower back) over the years only led to more back pain, decreased mobility and general lessening of the quality of my life. When I realized that I could stretch without pulling my back out I started to get my life back.  So, here’s how you do it:  NEVER EVER STRETCH WITHOUT A 5 MINUTE WARM- UP FIRST!!!!! Did I get your attention? Good, because this is where I got in trouble in the past when I tried to stretch.You need to raise your core body temperature 2 degrees to be “warmed up”. This means running gently, walking really briskly, stair climbing or any aerobic activity that gets your heart-rate up, for at least 5 minutes. Then when you start your stretches your muscles will be able to give and lengthen with the stretch, which is what you want.   Next, get a foam roller!! Here’s some info on them in case you don’t know:  http://sportsmedicine. flexibilityandstretching/ss/ FoamRoller.htm  Best $20 you’ll ever spend because it will help warm up your muscles and gently stretch them at the same time. If you have lower back pain really concentrate on your hamstrings, quads and IT bands (those are the muscles that run along  the outside of each leg) with the foam roller. Use your body weight to ease the tension and pain out of the stiff muscles. After foam rolling for a few minutes start your real stretches. I started with chair-yoga on You-Tube, and that worked really well. Here is a link to one I like that stretches your whole body: 
I end my stretching routine (or if I’m in a hurry I go right to this part after a warm-up ) with more hamstring stretching. Here is a short video with a couple of good hamstring stretches: 
Don’t expect miracles overnight with back pain, but if you keep at this for a few months I promise you will be amazed at how much it helps!! REALLY!! After at least 20 years of living with a very fragile back, and the last 5 years or so with daily back pain I no longer have any pain in my lower back. Honest. It took about 6 months of simple daily stretches (about 15-30 minutes) to achieve this. No expensive physical therapy, no drugs (except some ibuprofen or tylenol now and then), and no surgery. 
4.  EAT MORE OFTEN This is easier to do if you have free time during the day, of course. But if you can, think of it like this: turn your 3 meals a day into 4 or 5. Instead of having a glass of orange juice, 2 eggs and toast for breakfast, eat an orange (much better for you than just the juice) or a banana (or have a bowl of cut-up fruit like I do every morning with my coffee), then have your toast (whole grain) and maybe a glass of milk a 1/2 hr or hour later. At mid-morning- say 10 am- cook up your eggs with some veggies thrown in. You can add broccoli, mushrooms, onions or whatever you have leftover in the fridge. sometimes I’ll put a little cheese in there so it’s like an omelet. Then you’re set to go until lunchtime. I do the same thing at lunch- rather than having a sandwich and a cup of soup I’ll have half the sandwich and soup, then I can eat the other half of the sandwich later in the afternoon when I’m hungry again. If you eating out, NEVER eat a whole entree from a restaurant. Split an entree with a friend, or if you have to order one take half of it home for later.    
5.  BE GRATEFUL As I’m sure all of you know, life is rarely perfect. Things like pain (physical or otherwise), relationships, finances, and general stress or anxiety negatively affect our health. But studies show that having a grateful attitude goes a long way to counteract this. I know I can get so caught up in some small worry or irritation that my whole day gets ruined over it. If I make a conscious effort to think about the things in my life that I’m grateful for- the big ones like my husband and daughter, or maybe the fact that I can go to the grocery store and buy the food I want, or that we have beds to sleep in at night and clean running water- this grateful attitude helps put the other issues in perspective. The November 2011 Harvard Health Newsletter says: “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Here’s a link to the whole article which I highly recommend reading: Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/ 2011/November/in-praise-of- gratitude  
Thanks for reading this everybody! So here are 2 more tips (these are a bonus for making it all the way to the end of the article-lol) From my own Mom, “Use it or Lose it”. And from my Dad, and just as important, “Don’t forget to have some fun!”   Take care, and be healthy!
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