Most people think about fitness in their younger years, especially their 20’s and 30’s. These are the years of life when you still have time and energy to dedicate to getting fit and building muscle.
You work hard at the gym and take the best muscle building supplements. You’re spurred on to greater fitness accomplishments by each success along the way.
But then things change. As you age, your appetite steadily declines. You eat fewer calories each day.
As a result, you get fewer of the essential nutrients you need to stay at peak health. But it gets worse. Your body becomes far less efficient at absorbing many of these nutrients. So even if you are eating enough, you may not be benefiting from them.
Whether you’re getting old yourself or taking care of a loved one that is up in years, fitness and health for seniors is important. Nothing can totally reverse the aging process. But research shows that a balanced exercise routine and a healthy diet - supplemented with a daily multivitamin - can make a big difference.
There are simple ways seniors can stay in shape. Consider a 2014 report that looked at over 1,600 frail adults between age 70 and 89. Half of them were randomly assigned to an exercise program. This included walking, balancing exercises, and strength exercises.
What did the researchers observe? After 2.5 years, the exercising group was significantly less likely to become disabled or have “an episode of physical disability.”
There's an important lesson here. Notice that even small efforts towards fitness can make a big difference for older adults. Their fitness goals should include:
Older adults may lack several essential vitamins and minerals. This can be because of a poor diet, poor vitamin absorption, and decreased appetite.
Here are some of the most important, yet most difficult to obtain nutrients for older adults. Plus, some ideas on how to add them into a diet - whether it’s your own or that of a loved one.
Aging leads to poor absorption of this vitamin. So even if an older person’s diet has enough of it, their bodies may not be able to access the vitamin. Eating foods rich in vitamin B12 - like dairy products, eggs, poultry, meat, and fish - will ensure proper levels.
This nutrient is present and plentiful in fruits, vegetables, and fortified grains. Don’t skimp on folic acid; deficiency can lead to anemia.
The body needs calcium to build and maintain strong, healthy bones. But research shows that, as people age, they tend to eat fewer foods that are good sources of calcium. What happens as a result?
Calcium is critical for growing and strengthening the bones. So a lack of it can lead to brittle bones and unnecessary fractures.
There’s another risk to consuming too little calcium. The body will pull it out of the bones to use it for other essential functions. Getting plenty of calcium each day is the smart way to avoid this. But it’s not always easy.
Another problem: older people aren’t always eager to eat. If you’re caring for a loved one, how can you persuade them to eat calcium rich foods?
One idea is to make yogurt smoothies. Add in juice or fresh fruit for flavor. By combining key ingredients with some good flavors, you can offer a nutritious drink that’s also quite healthy.
The body is rather good at producing vitamin D all on its own. It just needs to be exposed to sunlight. This is the problem for some older people. If they don’t get outside much to be in the sun, they may wind up with a vitamin D deficiency.
The real trouble is that vitamin D is protects you from several serious illnesses. Research has suggested that vitamin D may protect you from rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, some forms of cancer, and some autoimmune diseases. And there’s even an increased risk of falling for seniors deficient in vitamin D.
What can you do if your loved one can’t get out much? Make sure they eat foods fortified with vitamin D, like milk, yogurt, cereal, and juice. Eggs, salmon, and tuna are amongst the few foods that contain vitamin D.
The best way to live long and healthy is to stay fit and eat a balanced diet. It’s the same for older adults as it is for younger people who want to get in shape.
A daily multivitamin will help ensure that you get all the essential daily vitamins. And muscle building supplements - such as whey protein - are great for supplying you with necessary macronutrients.
Whether you’re getting older yourself or caring for older family members, make sure fitness and nutrition are priorities. With a bit of effort, you can see significant health benefits.