The Top 10 Steps to Sizzle in Your 70’s

The Top 10 Steps to Sizzle in Your 70’s

Exercising in later years of life helps to ward off infectious and harmful diseases and conditions

Perhaps healthy, energized aging can be summarized in just five words, “Use it or lose it.” The nation’s top experts on active aging all point to the same finding in study after study. Want longevity? Want a boost in energy? Want health? Exercise.

It’s the elixir of life and the healthiest way to combat fatigue according to the country’s leading voices on older adults, Stanford’s Walter Bortz, MD, University of California’s Claudia Kawas, MD and Harvard’s John Ratey, MD.

Ratey says that “exercise is the single most powerful tool you have to optimize brain function.”

Bortz observed, “Frailty is the common pathology of most older persons…because they lost their physical vitality…fitness is cheap, safe, universally effective and available. What drug can make these claims?”

Kawas, after following 14,000 folks from 1981 until the present found that one of the top differentiators among those who live past 90 and those who don’t is exercise.

The Centenarian Population study found the following to be among the 6 keys to healthy aging:

  • Walking or hiking at least weekly
  • The International Council on Active Aging suggests wearing a step counter throughout the day to count how many steps you take. They note that less active people tend to take about 4,000 steps or fewer per day. ICAA suggests that you aim to do 250 to 1,000 additional steps of brisk walking, until you reach 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day.
  • Cardio and strength training
  • Gardening

Perhaps you’ve been thinking that it’s time to start or get back into a fitness routine, especially if you’ve been experiencing a lack of energy. A common question among many older Americans is how to get more energy from exercise. Well, according to a study at the University of Georgia, engaging in as little as 20 minutes of low-to-moderate aerobic exercise three days a week will lead to feeling less fatigued and more energized in just six weeks. Adding resistance training will increase the strength of your muscles, help you maintain balance, coordination and mobility and maintain the integrity of your bones—all necessary for boosting energy.

While it’s not exactly clear how exercise boosts energy, we do know that regular exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to the body, improving cardiovascular health. A corresponding increase in hormone production, including testosterone, human growth hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone and catecholamines increases your metabolism, which tends to slow in older Americans. Another benefit of regular exercise is that it helps regulate blood sugar levels to ward off fatigue.

Whether you are a “young-old” (65-74 years), “middle-old” (75-84 years), “old-old” (85-99 years) or among the “oldest-old” (100 years or more), to quote Walter Bortz, MD, “It’s never too late to start, but it’s always too soon to stop.”

So, let’s assume you’ve seen your physician for medical clearance, you’ve looked at the options in your community for the kind of activity and exercise you’d enjoy doing, you’ve identified a friend or someone with whom you can “make a date” and be accountable with, and you have realistic, specific, short and longer terms goals that you’ve written down… then you are ready to turbo-charge your energy!

How much exercise do “young-olds” and “middle-olds” need? General guidelines tell us that this group requires at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity such as brisk walking every week. Muscle strengthening activities that work the whole body should on done two or more days a week. The good news is that these activities can be spread out during the day, in ten-minute blocks of time. Remember to stay within your comfort level. If you have been inactive for a while it’s wise to keep your heart rate between 50% and 75% of your maximum, which is generally 220 minus your age.

Another way to determine your appropriate level of exertion is the “Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion.” It’s an easier way to determine your level of exertion – you rate how hard you feel you’re working on a scale of 0 to 10. An example of a level 4, “moderate” level, is brisk walking that requires a moderate amount of effort but that doesn’t take your breath away. A level 3 might be walking through a store but without speeding up your breathing. Bicycling or swimming that gets your heart pounding and makes your breath very fast would probably be a level 5 or 6.

Of course, always watch yourself for overexertion, and gradually move to higher levels of exertion in 5-10% increments of intensity. Good breathing techniques, good posture, and always adding a slow cool-down are important elements of a workout for anyone, especially older adults.

Low-impact exercises that rely on using your own body-weight and the benefits of gravity are great for older adults. Your goals should focus on to building your strength, gaining flexibility and balance, improving functional movement, and increasing endurance, coordination and agility.

The Total Gym machine allows for a controllable, safe and comfortable start to general resistance exercises. There are a variety of exercises that can be done on the Total Gym machine. It’s unique design and gravity method is great for those just starting an exercise program. It can workout virtually any part of your body on the Total Gym machine…

You can focus on your abs with sit ups, resistance crunches or trunk rotations—and with a simple change in the angle of the glide board, you can start-off easy and gradually challenge yourself as your fitness level improves.

Does your back need some strengthening and flexibility? Rows and pull-ups are part of the Total Gym routine for help in getting in and out of a chair, car or just carrying groceries.

Chest presses, chest pullovers, shoulder presses, deltoid raises, biceps curls, triceps extensions, and chin ups are great for upper body strength and will also help with reaching, pulling, pushing and posture.

The Total Gym allows you to focus on lower body strength and conditioning, as well, with leg curls, squats, lunges, calf raises all essential for balance, daily functioning, independence and mobility.

Of course, always remember that stretching before and after a workout, on the Total Gym or otherwise, is essential.

If you aren’t sure just what type of exercises are right for the goals you’ve chosen, or aren’t fully comfortable with how to do a workout properly, consider securing the assistance of a certified fitness professional to guide you through a workout.

The commitment to exercise in the later years can be life changing and can transform your quality of life immensely. Diet, positive attitude, and relationships are also important aging well, but exercise is the side-effect free, safe when done properly, and inexpensive way to add energized years to your life and an active life to your years.

Dr. Michael Mantell

Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has been providing psychological and coaching services for nearly 5 decades and continues to empower positive change among his global clients to enhance life in every way. He is a highly sought-after healthcare professional coach, an executive and team building consultant, and a longtime specialist in cognitive behavioral coaching.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Dear friends,
    Never thought excercise could be so vital for energy building. It’s amazing.
    I am over 70 years young , but now I have started feeling fatigued. As a result I have taken retirement from my job of Sales since 5 years ago. But after such a hectic life , retirement seems very boring.
    I have been offered an opportunity to be active again, due to fatigue I am not sure whether I can carry a 9 to 7 job with lot of traveling.
    Please advise !
    Javaid Khawaja
    BSc. Hons. Econ London

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