How to Be Fit at Fifty+

Keeping fit in your fifties and beyond, is no simple feat. As the years advance, I find my body says to me, “Just let me sag, just let me eat; it’s part of old age…” All these body arguments go against the fact that, as humans, we need to exercise and watch our food intake at whatever age, and if we don’t, we will pay for it big time in bodies that are less agile, sick and overweight. As I watched my weight creep up to a level I was not comfortable with, I rebelled against my complacent body and thought, “This is it. I’m getting back to the weight I used to be, pre-body-metabolism-slowdown, and I’m going to get in shape.” Even though it was only 10 pounds, I knew it was going to be a colossal struggle. I joined an online weight monitoring organization, and kept track of everything that went into my mouth, because at this age, just exercising is not enough to lose weight, although it is vital.

So, I stepped up my exercise program to include at least 3 times a week at the gym, two 40-minute walks a day, and, in the summer, biking when I wasn’t walking. At the gym I usually do 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer or cross trainer with ramp, or hour-long classes related to firming up various parts of the body, using light weights and bands. I also used the weight machines to firm up arms, abs, hips, and legs. I was amazed that when I teamed this up with cutting the calories and large portions, the weight began to drop off, and my body became more efficient at keeping it off, even though it still complained about sore and tired muscles!

In our 21st Century world there are just too many opportunities to eat high-calorie food and to sit and use technology, whether it be texting and surfing on your phone, watching movies and TV, sitting too long at outdoor patios and drinking and eating too much, or just sitting in your car on your way to work. Sitting is very hard on the human body; it was made to move and be active. Our ancestors spent little time sitting- there was too much to be done, just to survive. One of my most active pastimes is gardening, and I do it for exercise, but also to enjoy my own organic fruits and vegetables in the summer, and flowers from spring to fall, not to mention the connection it gives me to the earth and to all the creatures that inhabit it. There is no better exercise than emptying a compost bin and planting and weeding a garden. Sore muscles, yes, but good for the body!

In all, there are many ways to keep fit that don’t cost a lot. Yes, the gym does cost, but it is minimal in relation to the benefit. Compare it to the cost of buying pop or junk food. Every day I try to think of how I can get exercise in the simplest ways, “Can I ride my bike to the store for milk? Can I walk to the library? Why not?” I will also save on gas, which has become a more and more expensive part of life. I’ll show those oil companies I can get along without them, at least some of the time, and become even more fit.