Fitness is the key to all the rest. It’s hard to eat healthy if you aren’t fit. Lethargy due to poor conditioning can trigger appetites and unhealthy eating. There’s a contagion of the spirit to feeling good in body and that in turn leads to good feeling for the spirit and to good judgment for the mind.
Aerobic conditioning is key to maintaining a healthy heart and lungs to sustain vitality through the inevitable declines of age. This does not mean that you have to become a fitness whiz. One of the challenges is that the fitness trainers and kinesthesiologists (the new name for those who pursue physical education in college) don’t understand those who only want the minimum of exercise to maintain a healthy life.
People who choose exercise as a career have difficulty understanding and accepting that there are others who don’t love sports and exercise as they do. You may be one of those who loves athletics in which case it’s unlikely that you need much encouragement from this page. But for those of you who prefer a book or conversation to exercise, we want to help you to reach the minimum that can allow you to prosper for many years into the future.
Dr. Sally Norton in the UK, a nutrition specialist, calls sugar addicting in the same way that crack cocaine can be. She notes that addiction to sugar is as dangerous as alcohol and tobacco because it increases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Moreover, as with many other addictions, the more sugar we eat, the more we need to satisfy and achieve a high. [Click on this paragraph for the source].
Start a chart and give yourself a credit point for every week that you forego deserts and similar sweets. Give yourself two points for weeks in which you eat no more than a slice of bread or a roll or bagel per day. To realize the payoff get yourself a scale to track how you are doing. Your goal should be to achieve an ideal weight for your height, gender, and body type. See if simply foregoing sweets and breads doesn’t allow your weight to move slowly toward the ideal. If you’re like most people, you’ll find that after a week or two you no longer crave sweets and breads. It's best to make avoiding sweets or bingeing on bread a lifelong pursuit. [Click on this paragraph for the body mass index (BMI) guidelines to aim for.]
Tip: A scale like that from Nokia can track weight and other critical measures, e.g. blood pressure, for you automatically. While Nokia is good, there are other products available and you can find one that best meets your needs.
Walk for health
A primary goal is simply to maintain sufficient mobility so that you are not limited in what you can do and where you can go. Walking has emerged as an acceptable antidote to a life of inactivity. The best way to start is to buy a pedometer and track the number of steps that you take in the course of the day. The Fitbit Zip, for instance, is a readily available pedometer that is easy to carry with you and use.
Here are some quasi-scientific measures of how you’re doing and what's possible.
3,000 steps a day
You’ll be able to function but will lack energy and will experience frequent fatigue
4,500 – 5,500 steps a day
Measurable gain in “health-related quality of life”
7,000 steps a day
Gain in measures of immunity
10,000 steps a day
Resistance to “metabolic syndrome” = a cluster of abnormalities associated with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
11,000 – 12,000 steps a day
Improved weight status per body mass index (BMI)
Building muscle mass can help moderate obesity and stave off age related ailments. This can be accomplished through a regimented strength routine with Fitness Center weights or more simply by lifting boxes or cans of food; doing leg squats and other muscle building exercise; or by isometric exercise that you may be able to work into your normal daily routine.
The way healthcare is delivered is changing which can make it difficult to get the medical advice you need. Ads for pharmaceuticals say, "Ask your Doctor," but when you go to the Doctor, she or he is likely to have just ten minutes and there's little time for conversation. Today's physician is not the friendly family Doctor of times past who came to your home with a black bag and tongue depressors. Click on this paragraph for a discussion of what's changed and what you might do about it.
Of course, a conventional scale can do the job if you simply track your progress and give yourself the satisfaction of knowing that you are moving steadily toward good health.
Depending on your age this may seem trivial or it may seem essential. As it turns out, diminished balance is one of the key indicators of aging and it can have fatal consequences. Hence, it is highly desirable at the first signs of an unexpected loss of balance to look for balance enhancement classes or to start a simple regimen of balance enhancement.
One of the most telling indicators is to try to step sidewise over a low, say three inch square, impediment on the floor. You may be surprised at how difficult that can be.