Seniors | Tips for healthy living: Eat right, exercise

Staying on top of your health and fitness goals often becomes more difficult as you try to find enough time in the day to balance the schedules of work and life in general. Improper nutrition, joint and muscle soreness and inactivity are additional challenges. Here are three simple tips to overcoming these challenges in order to continue living a healthy, active lifestyle.

First, get proper nutrition. Erica Wasser, registered nutritionist and nutrition coach with Life Time fitness centers, recommends taking a multivitamin daily, and limiting eating processed or packaged foods by making meals that will last.

Biking is a great way to stay in shape. photo/brandpoint

“Instead of cooking one chicken breast, cook three,” says Wasser. “Add one to a salad, eat one with a side of steamed vegetables and use the last in a sandwich or wrap.”

Smart snacking is also important. Focus on items like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, almonds, seeds, vegetables and hard-boiled eggs. Try to avoid granola bars and 100-calorie packs; instead, prewash and cut vegetables and fruit for easy snacks, and prepare bags of mixed nuts and seeds.

Settling on a routine of eating healthy, nutritious and protein-based meals and snacks will keep your energy up and your diet balanced for a healthy, fit life.

Second, take notice of what your body is telling you. Are your joints sore? Does your back hurt from sitting in a chair most of the day? If so, choose exercises that will keep you fit while minimizing the impact on your joints or back and improving muscle strength and stamina.

Check out the local community pool or stop by a fitness facility with pools to see what type of aqua instruction they offer.

“We offer aqua aerobics classes that focus on non-weight-bearing cardio components and stretching,” says Wasser. “The buoyancy of water helps take pressure off joints and allows everyone to get a great, total body workout.” She adds that yoga, mat Pilates and reformer Pilates can stretch your body, reducing back pain and limiting stress on joints.

Simple chair or balance-ball exercises will also help build core muscle strength and stamina without taxing your body. Consider these exercises:

• Sit with good posture and lift your arms above your head, at a 12 o’clock position. Visualize a clock and gently circle your arms clockwise until they reach the 12 o’clock position again. Reverse the movement. Add soup cans or hand weights for difficulty. Repeat eight times.

• Sit straight and tuck your elbows into your sides, holding your forearms and hands out at a 90-degree angle. Slowly rotate your torso to the side as far as you comfortably can, making sure to keep the rest of your body stationary. Rotate back to center and repeat to the other side. Add soup cans or hand weights for difficulty. Repeat eight times.

• Sit straight with your feet planted shoulder width apart. Slowly raise one leg up as far as you can comfortably go, or parallel to the floor. Hold for three seconds and slowly return to starting position. Alternate legs, repeating eight times for each leg.

If you’re used to a more active lifestyle, keep it up. Make sure you’re taking the proper supplements to help your body recover quickly and keep adding intensity to your workouts so they don’t become stale.

Third, conquer the inactivity battle. Don’t confine yourself to your home after a long day. Go to a local mall and window shop or people watch with friends. Join a local exercise class or start a walking and talking group in your neighborhood.

“It’s important to remember that being active doesn’t have to mean completing a total-body workout,” says Wasser. “Anything that gets you up and moving can significantly add to your health and fitness as you get older.” She also suggests scheduling  daily or weekly activities to ensure you’re held accountable. — brandpoint