Move it or lose it: Following a healthful lifestyle | Opinion

Mickey Mantle once said, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”

The latest research shows that no matter how old or fit you are, it is never too late to start enhancing the quality of your life through a healthful lifestyle. Exercise alone will not do it. You also need to balance your fitness routine with a beneficial diet.

Following are some nutrition and diet tips to help older exercisers and athletes create a winning food plan that is appropriate for every sport, including the sport of living life to its fullest!

Do older athletes require a different diet from younger people who exercise?

Research suggests older athletes have no significantly different nutritional needs other than needing to optimize their sports diets so they will have every possible edge over younger folks. The biggest nutrition concern of older exercisers should be to routinely eat quality calories from nutrient-dense, health-protective foods. Eating the right foods can aid top performance, enhance recovery from hard workouts and reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer osteoporosis and other debilitating diseases of aging.

Are there recommendations for older Americans who are beginning an exercise program simply to lose weight?

Although seniors should be exercising for health and fitness, anyone who wants to lose weight needs to monitor calories. If you exercise, you will not necessarily lose weight. Usually, someone who is out of condition can walk for only about 20 to 30 minutes before tiring. Depending on the walking speed, this will burn between 100 and 200 calories. However, statistics show that people who are out of condition eat calorie-laden snacks after exercising because they feel they deserve them. Depending on the chosen snack and the amount of it the exerciser eats, the treat may add more calories than the exercise burned. Other out-of-condition folks just nap the rest of the day and do not expend anymore calories because they are exhausted. This kind of “exercise” does not aid in weight loss.

Instead, if you cut out 100 calories from your diet each day, you can lose 10 pounds of weight a year. Taking a long walk each day can use up another 100 calories. So, if you eliminate 100 calories plus spend another 100 calories walking, the total is 200 calories less each day. This combination of calorie-cutting and exercising can result in a 20-pound weight loss over the course of a year. The key is to make little changes that accumulate over time to cause big changes.

Are low-carbohydrate diets recommended for older exercisers?

You need carbohydrates to fuel your muscles with glycogen. If you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, your muscles will be poorly fueled, and workouts will not be enjoyable. It is not carbohydrates that are fattening. It is excess calories that cause you to gain weight. Multi-grain bagels, rye crackers, brown rice and oatmeal are just a few examples of wholesome grain foods that both fuel muscles and protect against cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Carb-rich bananas, orange juice, yogurt and smoothies are also good choices. Focus your meals on wholesome carbs for exercise energy and overall health. It is also recommended that you should never start a food program that you do not want to maintain for the rest of your life.

If you would like more information on “Move It or Lose It” feel free to contact Gail Gilman, Family Life Consultant, M.Ed., C.F.C.S. and Professor Emeritus – University of Minnesota at [email protected] Be sure to watch for more Family Living Focus™ information in next week’s paper.

Gail Gilman, Family Life Consultant, M.Ed., C.F.C.S. and Professor Emeritus – University of Minnesota at [email protected]

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