There is a saying that old age doesn’t come alone. Common conditions associated with progressing years are numerous, and previously many people just accepted them as part of life. But research has shown that diet and exercise can work to reduce the risk of conditions such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, vascular disease and diabetes. Other signs common when aging which can be impacted by diet and a healthy lifestyle are osteoporosis, certain cancers, hair and nail diseases, and visual and memory problems.
A diet for an average person must be balanced and provide the correct amounts of vitamins and minerals required to sustain a healthy body. It must also avoid too much saturated fat. Older people require this but in addition it’s a good idea to consider vitamin supplements, additional minerals and ensure that lots of fluid is taken daily.
We all need proteins, limited amounts of fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in our diet to remain healthy. A balanced diet aims to supply everything in the correct amounts. Fruit and vegetables are high in fiber too. This helps reduce constipation and aids regularity.
The amount of food eaten is also something to be addressed. If you eat a balanced diet but eat too much then you will still gain weight. Ensure moderate portion sizes and aim to eat around 2,000 calories a day. An important point is that ‘empty calories’ should be avoided. A food containing empty calories is one which does not have good nutritional value but has a high calorific content. This would be things like chips, cakes, cookies and alcohol.
Although it is stated that people should always drink plenty of water it should be noted that some people with heart or kidney conditions may be advised by their doctors to avoid too much fluids. They may also be told to avoid salt. Other people may be put on specialized diets, for example people with diabetes may be put on a carbohydrate controlled diet.
Disease prevention and promotion of a good lifestyle are some of the benefits of exercise. The exercise must be regular and moderately aerobic to provide the best benefits. Routine physical activity in older people has been seen to have a therapeutic effect on many conditions such as lowering the risk of stroke, heart disease and some cancers. Exercising regularly has also been seen to help lower cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. By strengthening muscles and helping balance the risk of falling can also be lowered. All these small individual points combine to provide benefits to the patient.
Health benefits of exercise are numerous. For example it can build up physical endurance and aid delivery of oxygen to tissues. It is also important to help maintain healthy muscles and bones and keeps the heart and lungs healthy. It has also been found that cholesterol levels can be reduced because of exercise and most people sleep better and are normally in a better mood too.
Most national and international health agencies now promote the taking of regular exercise. They take regular exercise to mean around 3 to 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes each time for elderly people. A moderately aerobic workout would be a successful exercise. This is one which increases the heart rate to no more than 75% of maximum heart rate. To calculate your maximum heart rate just subtract your age from the number 220.
Good exercises for the older person are walking and swimming. If an exercise machine is used then guidance on how to use it safely must be given before exercising, but these are safe and can help produce a good and varied workout. Exercises dealing with balance, flexibility and resistance exercises can also be beneficial. Yoga is a good way to incorporate these types of exercise into a routine.
It is better to exercise with a friend or in a class and if any symptoms like chest pain or tightness or excessive shortness of breath occur then stop and have a rest. Your doctor should also be informed of the episode.