How to Stay Fit Into the Golden Years

Updated on April 21, 2020
cat on a soapbox profile image

Catherine believes that core strength and positive energy flow are keys to good health and longevity. Basic stretching is a daily practice.

Tai Chi teaches balance, concentration, and relaxation through continuous movement.
Tai Chi teaches balance, concentration, and relaxation through continuous movement.

Our bodies perform for us in amazing ways, most of which we take for granted. It isn't until we hit a serious bump in the road that we realize just how important it is to keep in shape.

Aches and pains which limit full range of motion can lead to muscle atrophy. Our muscles may begin to complain after a strenuous workout or a long day in the garden, and we will reach for the pain relievers, put our feet up, and forget about it. Eventually though, bouncing back will be more of a challenge.

Our hands often get stiff from repetitive motions, and normal joint wear and tear can bring about bursitis, tendonitis, and damaged ligaments. Pain further limits movement, locks joints, and damages connective tissue. A sedentary lifestyle wastes muscles. Poor eating habits cause our stomachs to bulge and sag leading to back weakness. A lack of deep sleep, which frequently accompanies stress and aging, affects our muscles' ability to properly recover.

Many of us will develop osteoarthritis. The rubbery cartilage that cushions our joints begins to wear thin. We also lose the lubrication from synovial fluids. As bone rubs against bone, our bodies in defense produce thickened growths called osteophytes. These "bone spurs" cause sharp pain with movement and soon have us heading for the doctor's office. Regardless of condition, there is still a practical approach to wellness and keeping fit both before and after any surgery.

A nutritious diet promotes good cellular structure, healthy weight, and increased energy.
A nutritious diet promotes good cellular structure, healthy weight, and increased energy.

Eat Sensibly

  • Eat for better health.
  • Consume smaller portions throughout the day instead of 3 large meals for sustained energy and healthy blood sugar levels.
  • Start the day with a good breakfast. It has been shown to help the metabolism work at peak performance and reduce weight gain.
  • Drink ample water. It helps the lymphatic system flush out the toxins which accumulate in our joints and tissues and aids kidney function.
  • Reduce processed foods. They typically contain high amounts of sodium and sugar.

Recommendations for the average diet is 2000 calories per day, and this includes a good balance of protein and carbohydrates with both soluble and insoluble fiber and antioxidants. When consuming alcohol, consider those calories in the daily count. Are they worth it? Sensible eating over time will result in practical weight-loss, healthy blood pressure, and more vigor.

Warm Up When Waking Up

Stay Flexible

Stretch daily. Regular stretching helps to prevent injury by improving blood flow to muscles. Exercises can be done in a chair or from the side of a bed if necessary. There is truth in the adage "use it or lose it." It is important to keep muscles flexible and strong. Even short-term confinement to a bed or wheelchair following surgery or injury can lead to some muscle atrophy. Instead of jumping out of bed in the morning, try easing into it with a wonderful all-over body stretch.

Laughter and companionship are keys to well-being and longevity.
Laughter and companionship are keys to well-being and longevity.

Keep the Mind and Body Active

  • Make movement part of your daily routine. Activities like gardening, dog walking , taking stairs instead of the elevator, and doing general household chores are weight-bearing and necessary for maintaining bone strength. Getting out in the fresh air and sunshine is good for mental well-being, lung function, and the absorption of vitamin D. Stay active, both in mind and body. It helps to promote longevity and ward off depression.
  • Consider postponing retirement, working part-time, or volunteering in the community. They keep the mind sharp, give us purpose and confidence, teach new skills, and encourage interaction with others.
  • Maintain friendships. Having people to share our thoughts and experiences gives us something to look forward to. Getting together often to share activities, play games, and chat is good for our well-being. Our friends give us validation and support. Laughter is good medicine. We are apt to get out and enjoy a happier and healthier life with a companion.

Gardening is a great way to maintain flexibility and strength while getting fresh air.
Gardening is a great way to maintain flexibility and strength while getting fresh air.

Consider Reasonable Fitness Options

Whenever possible, aim for both cardio and weight-bearing exercise. This will promote good heart health and strong muscle tone. Good options for low impact exercise are: Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Pilates, pool aerobics, casual walking, and Yoga. They all go a long way in improving flexibility, strength, coordination, alignment, and balance.

Maintain a strong core to take the stress off of the back, hips, and knees. Good balance helps to prevent falls and contributes to a more even gait.

Since water makes us buoyant. pool exercise is by far the best program for those with osteo-arthritis and other limiting conditions that make full weight.-bearing difficult. The pool offers both excellent cardio and flexibility workouts and is recommended as a good start for physical therapy.

There are many low-cost community options available to seniors, the disabled, and others on fixed incomes. Many medicare plans include Silver Sneakers programs. Check with your local YMCA and community senior centers. The social interaction is an added health bonus. There are workouts for all levels of ability including those with severe spinal injury and nerve damage. Exercise is an integral part of wellness from both a physical and mental standpoint.

Manage Wellness

  • Keep physically active.If a stiff hip or knee interferes with everyday enjoyment, a cane or hiking stick will help with stability and allow for longer walks w/ reduced pain.
  • Take vitamins. Daily supplements of magnesium and calcium work to help muscles, joints and bones. Make sure Vitamin D levels are not low.
  • Stop pain before it starts.After exercise, self-help methods for pain relief include ice packs, OTC anti- inflammatory medications, and topical muscle pain relief products. When used right after strenuous activity or injury, they go far in preventing pain and crippling flare-ups.
  • Have a relaxing soak in Epsom salts to prepare the body for sleep.
  • Visit wellness practitioners. Periodic chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, acupressure, and light massage are also excellent ways to insure proper alignment, improved blood flow, and good nerve function.
  • Remain sexually active.The release of endorphins and dopamine naturally relieve pain and bring much needed pleasure in our harried world. Sexual intimacy can be adapted for physical limitations rather than eliminated. It is another key to overall well-being and longevity.
  • Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Enjoy a cup of herbal tea and practice ways to calm the mind and reduce stress before falling asleep. Devotional prayer and meditation are good examples.

Good health is one of our greatest assets, and taking the proper steps to insure the wellness of our bodies is a no-nonsense investment.

A calming cup of herbal tea before bed promotes good sleep.
A calming cup of herbal tea before bed promotes good sleep.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Catherine Tally


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • cat on a soapbox profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Tally 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi peachy.

      Thank you! You 're right about that. The benefit is there for anyone as long as one starts out slowly.

      All the best!


    • peachpurple profile image


      5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      true, you can exercise at any age, any time, good for health

    • cat on a soapbox profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Tally 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Audrey,

      You're welcome! Thank YOU for being the first to comment. I am happy to hear that you do yoga. It's amazing how it keeps one so fit while fine- tuning the very important mind/body connection. Take care!


    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      I love yoga--and it helps me feel centered and relaxed and keeps my joints feeling generally well--Thank you for this hub!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)