Think about it-when we hit our forties and fifties there’s a strong emphasis in our country about getting ready for retirement. But how about all those lifestyle changes we need to make to stay healthy and fit during those years. I know many folks who hit their fifties – they look in the mirror and they don’t recognize themselves because they’re so out of shape.
For fifty-six-year-old government worker Barbara Seabrease takes an active lifestyle seriously because of the changes she noticed as she aged.
“As I got into 50 I could feel that I had put on more weight than I wanted to, especially in my middle and my thighs I didn’t have as much energy, I felt, as I used to have.”
Boomers and seniors are the forgotten demographic in America’s obesity battle. That’s why Dr. Michael Gloth wrote “Fit at Fifty and Beyond,” a common-sense approach to help these folks understand and combat the affects of aging. “We’ve changed, our environment has changed, but our genes haven’t changed. So everything is programmed to eat, eat, eat, eat, eat. So we have to use our higher intellect to overcome those primitive programmed urges that we have I think it is under recognized as a problem and part of the reason is that you have a lot of folks around you who are in the same state.”
Dr. Gloth, a Johns Hopkins gerontologist, has spent his life listening to and helping the elderly. He knew this age group was his passion early on, when he was a hospital orderly. “I worked the night shift, took care of patients on a unit that had mostly people over the age of 70. My shift would start to quiet down somewhere around maybe 4 o’clock in the morning. When that happened, as it turns out, a lot of older adults have their sleep cycles change and they start to wake up pretty early in the morning. I would occasionally see a light go on down the hall, I’d go down to check and make sure everything was OK and usually it was just somebody up for the day and they might be reading the newspaper, etc. I would find myself in conversations with individuals that were part of the wisest, most experienced, very respectful group of people we had in the whole hospital. Ironically, a lot of physicians didn’t really see enthusiastic about taking care of them. I thought, wow, if I could become a physician, that’s the group I’d like to have as my focus for medical care.”
Barbara isn’t to that age yet, but she wants to make sure her golden years are active years. “As soon as I get up in the mornings. It has to be, I have to do that first thing in the morning, do my exercises. I have a routine I do every morning. I do stretching. I do exercises. I need to do that first thing. I feel like I get a better start for the day.”
Though she collects ceramic bulldogs, the real things – Baxter and Bubbles – help in Barbara’s fitness routine. And she takes to two wheels for peace, solitude and cardiac conditioning.
“It just makes you feel so free just to get out there and ride your bike. On a beautiful day, it just makes you feel so good. If I go for a walk, I can be real stressed. I come home from work and I’m tired and I go outside and walk around the house even. When I come home from work, I take my dogs outside and we have a little joke: “Do you want to walk around the house?” and we’ll walk around the house two or three times and then I feel better. It just gives me energy to go outside and take a walk..”
Seniors recognize they’re getting a little older, there are some changes that have taken place and some of the changes, they don’t like. Some of the things we talk about can get them back to feeling the way they were when they were younger.
Dr. Gloth’s book “Fit At Fifty And Beyond” is full of healthy tips for exercise and mealtimes. It also talks about how to combat disease like diabetes and hypertension prevalent in the boomer/senior set.
“Having people improve the way they eat, maintaining better strength and function, working to get in better shape and in better condition – all of these things are associated with improvements in survival. The reality of it is, some of these exercise interventions, some of these nutritional interventions, can actually help you live longer. But it’s not so important just to add years to your life, this also helps you to add life to your years.”
It is so important for people to realize that this is the chance that we have to take care of ourselves. What we put into our body to eat and how we take care of our body for exercise, we are the only ones that have control to do that and it will take care of us for the rest of our lives.
Remember-it’s YOUR LIFE…Live It Well!