By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Cardio workouts? More yogurt? Local experts offer up advice on how to best maintain your health as you get older.
If you are fortunate enough to be in midlife and enjoy good health, you likely want to try to maintain it. Local experts offered their best advice for staying in good health.
Tips from Cameron Apt, athletic trainer and exercise specialist with URMC:
• “Get moving. If there’s an activity you like doing, do it. Stop doing something someone else told you to do. If you like an activity, you’ll keep doing it.
• “Every few years, they say strength is for longevity and then it’s cardio for longevity. It’s some of both. If you can find someone to teach you how to lift with proper mechanics, do that and add body weight for resistance training. You need to do something you like for your heart — cardio — and something for the muscles. Running is great for cardio but it’s not the best if you don’t do it properly. Using an elliptical machine is easy on the joints.
• “Numerous sports can help you stay fit. Bike riding is a top exercise.
• “Musculature can be a little intimidating if you’ve never been in the gym. Don’t pick up the biggest weight you can find. Find someone who can teach you the movements. You can be self-sufficient with body weight exercise. Get a chin-up bar and some weights at home.
• “You don’t have to do something crazy, but just a little bit more than your current state. Our bodies adapt to current situations. In order to make a change, make something a little harder. After a few weeks, that becomes the baseline, so make it a little bit harder.”
• “Do all the screenings and preventive care. You have to look out for things like heart disease and things like diabetes.
• “Know the signs of heart disease. Heart disease can run in families.
• “Watch the cholesterol. It can go up, particularly if the high cholesterol runs in the family. Some, even if they eat a healthful diet, will have high cholesterol.
• “When exercising, you should see how you feel. You may feel some shortness of breath. That is a sign you are not in good shape. Anytime you feel tightness or pain in your chest, you should see a provider right away.
• “Avoid a high sugar and high carbohydrate diet. Healthy lifestyle is to eat natural foods you cook at home. It’s basically raw food you cook yourself at home that’s organic. Least ingredients. The best food has one ingredient: an apple, a banana. Rotate what you eat so you have variety.
• “Limit sweet fruits like dates, watermelon and also honey. People think they can eat as much as they want, but they do have sugar in them.
• “Most doctors believe that once a year, have your blood sugar and cholesterol checked. It’s covered by insurance because it’s so important.
• “Colonoscopy should be done to prevent colon cancer as the risk goes up as you get older. If you have family history, you should check with a doctor as you may need a colonoscopy earlier. Usually, it’s after age 50. Repeat it after 5 years.
• “As you get older, the bone density goes down, especially in females. We check the bone density because in the elderly, the fracture is a very high mortality rate.”
• “At least once a year, have an eye exam to check pressure for glaucoma and to check for cataracts. They check the retina for degeneration. That can happen in older age and is a common cause of blindness. We have treatment for it. There are interventions that can slow the process and can save sight for some years.
• “For older adults, fall prevention programs are very important.
• “Walking is probably the best exercise. I know a lot of people spend money on gyms and machines, but walking is the most helpful. It has shown to reduce inflammation, increase circulation to the brain and heart and it’s the safest. Walking is also a safe and free exercise. Yoga and tai chi are helpful. Even five minutes in the morning and at night for stretches help. It helps balance the body outside and inside and prevent many problems. It helps your joints and ligaments stay strong.
• “Try to relieve stress. Deep breathing and walking are part of that.
• “Drink enough water. People don’t pay attention that water is free and has a tremendous benefit. It detoxifies the body. For every cell of the body, water is needed.”
Tips from Marge Pickering Picone, nutritionist and owner of Professional Nutrition Services in Webster:
• “I work with electrolytes to boost oxygenation to the blood and brain.
• “I encourage clients to a really wonderful five-type collogen peptide powder. It helps them keep from having leaky gut. It helps the digestive system, strengthens bones and muscles and works to improve their skin. It’s anti-aging. It supports bones and joints, skin, hair, nails, tissue repair and boosts the immune system. It gives them some protein.
• “A quality enzyme is good as well. I do a lot of research and pick particular product lines because of what it offers people. None come from the same place. Be aware of what you’re buying.
• “Eat well. Cut down on gluten and sugars. Be more aware that everything doesn’t have to be fried. You can use an air fryer, as it’s better than conventionally fried foods.
• “Get good sleep.
• “Keep your exercise for what’s appropriate to your abilities and age. Try tai chi, yoga, swimming or walking. It’s perfectly fine. You can do Silver Sneakers through your insurance company or go online to find exercise programs.
• “In your 50s, manage stress and engage in self-care. It’s like putting your oxygen mask on first on an airplane. Take care of yourself before you care for others.”