Losing your mobility is a scary process that you can’t fully understand until it happens to you. Unfortunately, there will be a time when you’re not as swift or as flexible as you once were, a time when you lose your strength and dexterity, making even the simplest tasks difficult. While there’s no way to prevent that deterioration, there are a few ways to slow it down or delay it for many years.
If you do everything on this list, you should stay fitter, stronger, and healthier for much longer.
Exercise at Least 3 Times a Week
Experts recommend that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, preferably spaced out over multiple days. In reality, however, you should be getting as much as you can.
Try to do a little very often, as opposed to cramming all of your exercise into a single day. It’s better to walk for 30 minutes every day than do an hour of hard aerobic exercise once a week, especially if you’re a senior.
Just remember that “exercise” doesn’t mean you have to sweat. It doesn’t mean going to the gym or following the actions of super-fit Lycra-wearing fitness experts on YouTube. It covers anything that gets your body moving and your heart pumping, and the more of this that you do, the healthier you will be.
Walk, cycle, jog—find something that you like and keep doing it. Even if you’re only playing darts or pool for a few hours a week, as long as you’re moving, you’ll be fine.
Stretch and Move Every Day
Whether you’re exercising every day or limiting yourself to just a few routines every week, it’s important to stretch as often as you can.
It will help with agility and strength, but it also minimizes tears and stiffness. It’s not going to make you super strong or fit, and it won’t burn many calories either, but when the goal is to maintain your mobility for as long as possible, regular stretching is essential.
You can stretch right on your living room floor. As long as you have a little space and some spare time, you have everything you need. You can also buy a foam roller to help you stretch.
Do Resistance Exercises
Resistance exercises are great for building muscle. If you’re younger and stronger, you should consider lifting weights. On the other hand, if you’re inexperienced or have some mobility issues, resistance bands and bodyweight exercises will suffice.
One of the biggest misunderstandings with weightlifting is that everyone will get big and bulky. For instance, many women reject the idea of lifting weights because they don’t want to get big and bulky and only want to be “toned.”
However, you get toned by building muscle, and unless you plan on training hard and for many years, you really don’t need to worry about getting “too big.”
A couple of resistance sessions every week will be enough to improve your strength, agility, and even your balance. It could help with bone density and injury resistance as well, and it may even have a positive impact on your body composition.
Get Plenty of Protein
You need protein to build muscle and keep you strong and healthy, but don’t overdo it. You’re not competing for Mr. Olympia. You simply need to keep those levels high so that your body has enough to repair and grow, especially if you’re doing resistance exercises a couple of times a week.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to eat meat or fish to get an adequate amount of protein, so you’re not excused just because you’re vegetarian or vegan. You can get lots of high-quality protein from nuts, seeds, lentils, legumes, and leafy green vegetables.
Drink Lots of Water
The benefits of water have been exaggerated somewhat. There are some self-proclaimed health experts who insist water is the cure for everything and that whether you’re fatigued, sick, or depressed, you just need a little more water.
That’s not quite true, but if you’re not getting an adequate amount of water, your risk of suffering from an array of illnesses increases significantly. You are more likely to suffer from chronic constipation, fatigue, and much more. Adequate water consumption can make a massive difference if you’re used to not getting enough.
Monitor Your Nutrient Intake
Are you getting enough calcium and vitamin D? Are you consuming sufficient B12 and B6? What about Omega-3 fatty acids? These things should be monitored because while you don’t need to meet those RDAs exactly every single day, you should certainly try to avoid any major deficiencies.
If you don’t, and they persist for many years, you may experience some serious health problems further down the line.
You can use some basic apps for monitoring your diet that check your daily consumption, but you should also get some blood tests to see if there are any absorption issues preventing you from getting your fill of key nutrients.
Maintain a Strong Social Circle
Your friends keep you strong. It sounds like a cheesy Facebook meme, but it’s true.
Research suggests that seniors with fewer friends are more likely to have a shorter life expectancy and suffer from a host of chronic psychological and physical conditions. This makes sense because when you withdraw from society, you find yourself getting depressed and anxious. It means you don’t have anyone to join you for a walk or a run, and no one to accompany you to a baseball game or even a bar.
It also means that you don’t have anyone to call when you need a little help, whether you’re moving to a new house, visiting the emergency room, or keeping a doctor’s appointment.
As we age, we tend to lose track of our friends. The expansive friendship circles that we had in our teens, 20s, and 30s fade into a few old friends that we barely talk to anymore. If you find yourself in the same position, it’s not too late. Join some community classes, take a course, and/or use social media, as you can make new friends at any age.