Aging happens to everyone.  Unfortunately, middle age is accompanied by several challenges that can interfere with staying cognitively, psychologically, socially, and physically functionally fit.  Sadly, a large majority of individuals in midlife are not prepared for the health changes they experience during this.  It is during midlife that many people begin experiencing a reduction in sex hormones, increased body fat, loss of muscle mass, and the onset of chronic diseases and conditions.  In addition, many middle aged individuals are faced with complicating work-life demands that add stress or reduce time available for adequate rest. Most adults are aware of the need for implementing healthy lifestyle behaviors such as proper nutrition and exercise, yet lack the time or energy to do so.  This results in a conflict between what we need for our health and the social and environmental pressures we face on a daily basis. The irony is, regular exercise or physical activity is the primary factor in preventing, slowing, or even reversing normal age-related declines in physical, cognitive, and social well-being.  Being functionally fit allows  one to enjoy increased levels of motivation, energy, and vigor needed to engage in daily work-life activities.  Here are a few simple ways to add exercise and physical activity to you daily routine.

  • Invest in home exercise equipment.  Hand weights, bands, or a physioball. Or, get a gym membership close to work or home.
  • If you have aches and pains or are new to exercise, start with mobility and stability exercise that help restore proper range of motion and strength at injury prone areas of the body.
  • Start with a mild to moderate walking program that slowly builds aerobic endurance safely.
  • Limit exercise sessions to 30 minutes 5 to 7 days each week for the first 1-3 months. Don’t over do it. It should be relaxing and fun. Not stressful.
  • Progress to a few compound exercises designed to build overall strength and maintain bone mass. (Squat/leg press, push-ups, rows, glute bridges…) Add moderate cardiovascular intervals to increase energy and raise your metabolism.
  • Make time for a fun physically active hobby. (Dancing, biking, horseback riding, hiking, swimming, tennis…)  Being physically active should be enjoyable. Join a group of friends if possible.
  • Work on body composition.  Use an app (like MyFitnessPal) to track caloric intake. Avoid high calorie, processed, junk food and sugar.  Drink water, not coke.  Enlist you spouse or friends to eat healthy with you.  Follow a meal plan you enjoy at first until you get the hang of it.
  • Get enough rest and reduce stress whenever possible.
  • Finally, get regular checkups (doctor, dentist…) and no smoking.

Staying healthy and functionally fit can enable you to enjoy doing the things you love to do.  By making a healthy lifestyle a habit, you can live better, longer!  Investing time to take care of yourself in midlife will better enable you to enjoy and meet the challenges of life!