There are 77 million Baby Boomers and 93 million Gen Xers, the Americans born before the mid 1980s. This large population is aging in an era that finds us less active, more socially isolated and living longer. In a 2004 report, the leading causes of death for people in these groups are heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, accidents and diabetes. What do these things have in common?
They are, to a great extent, preventable. A book by Chris Crowley and Dr. Henry Lodge, Younger Next Year, discovered that approximately 70% of these premature deaths are lifestyle related. 70 percent!
Generation Ageless outlines, while healthcare and healthy aging are the two main concerns of this population, only 47.4% rated their food intake at home as healthy and, when eating out, only 17.4% made healthy choices.
Perhaps it’s because we are overwhelmed with options on tv talk shows, the web, books, friends, weight loss programs and more, people aren’t sure what to do. The good news is that there are really a few key things to staying fit over 40!
STOP EATING JUNK
Some junk food is easy to spot, it’s the items that take up the majority of the shelf space in your local market. It can be high in calories, highly processed and loaded with chemicals. It’s often an inexpensive copy of a real food, think Velveeta versus an organic cheddar from pasture raised, grass fed dairy cows.
Junk food generally contains very little, if any, nutritional value. It’s ingredient list often shows high levels of sugar, fat, salt and very low vitamin, mineral, protein and fiber content. Surprisingly, many diet foods that say they are lowfat, sugarfree, low calorie are the worse choices you can make due to the high level of chemical additives and processing.
WATCH YOUR CALORIES
Finding the right caloric intake for your age, body type and activity level is helpful in making healthy choices and reaching, and maintaining, a healthy weight. Body fat contributes to insulin resistance, inflammation and estrogen production. Excess estrogen production may promote cell growth, including cancer cells. Maintaining a healthy weight and lean muscle, without becoming underweight is a key way to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases.
- If you’re not sure what your daily calorie intake should be, contact me for assistance. The American Institute for Cancer Research has helpful quizzes on their site, here is the link for the Weight Loss quiz: http://www.aicr.org/reduce-your-cancer-risk/weight/weight-loss-myths-facts.html Choose more nutrient-dense foods instead of highly processed junk foods. Have you heard the term “eat from the food rainbow”? Choose a balanced diet, without eliminating any major food group, here are some examples:
- A wide variety of organic fruits & vegetables
- Healthy whole grains; whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal (watch out for added sugar)
- Soy, almond, coconut or rice milk (watch out for added sugar)
- Fat free, or low fat dairy products
- Wild caught seafood
- Free range grass fed poultry and eggs (free range, NOT cage free)
- Organic nuts, beans and seeds
MOVE YOUR BODY
This is a challenging area for many people because they don’t think they have the time or they say they are too tired. If you haven’t been getting much exercise lately, or perhaps in years, pace yourself and work it in gradually.
If you are really out of shape, start with a lighter schedule such as 60 minutes of physical activity a week. It is better to break that 60 minutes into smaller 10-15 minute increments through out the week. This can be walking, doing a plank exercise, yoga or calisthenics. As you begin to gain stamina, you will feel less tired and more motivated and begin increasing the amount of time each week.
The goal is to shoot for 150 minutes each week of exercise, that’s on 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. Even the busiest person can find 30 minutes a day several days a week! Choose something you enjoy whether it’s walking, dance class, yoga, running, weightlifting, whatever is fun for you and you’ll really look forward to it.
Many people find it much easier and a lot more fun to start an activity, or a food plan, with a friend or accountability partner. If you like walking or hiking, set up the days and times you will meet and walk together. You will both be less likely to quit and you will enjoy it more. There are also online and virtual work out buddies and accountability partners and these groups are actually a lot of fun! Grab yourself a fitness tracker, like Fitbit or Apple Watch, and you will find a whole new world of workouts, coaches and fitness buddies.
If weight loss is your goal, the recommended weekly activity level is 300 minutes each week. If you work out 5 days a week for just an hour each of those days, you’ve got your 300 minutes! You will see the best results if a portion, 2 days of the 5, of your fitness program is dedicated to increasing lean muscle and muscle strength. If weight lifting is not your thing, use resistance bands or hand weights to help you get stronger.
Beginning in our 30s, our growth hormone begins to decline. Growth hormone is produced in the pituitary gland and stimulates cell regeneration. The effects of hormone imbalance are related to low energy, weight gain, low sex drive, poor concentration, memory loss, mood swings, sleep disorders and fatigue.
Any of these things can have a negative effect on your quality of life. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may benefit by taking a look at a homeopathic way to balance your hormones, CLICK HERE for more information.
Age truly is a state of mind. Access to high quality organic non-gmo foods, unlimited information and advances in modern medicine are giving us an opportunity to live amazing, vital and long lives. Easy steps and sensible choices, with everything in moderation, is the key to making the most out of the rest of your life.