Sometimes people assume that falls and injuries, cancer, and chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease are a natural part of growing older. But research tells us that these conditions might occur because we are not active enough or are not eating a healthy diet. If we choose to be active and eat a healthy diet, in combination, we can slow down the progress of diabetes, heart diseases and some cancers. They also help to prevent falls and injuries.
As we get older, we need fewer calories, but our need for nutrients remains the same and even increases in some cases. This makes meal planning important.
The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Adults 65 Years and Older recommends that older adults:
• take part in endurance (aerobic) activities, such as brisk walking and cycling at least 150 minutes per week, in sessions of 10 minutes or more
• do activities that improve strength at least two days per week
• do exercises or activities that enhance balance and flexibility.
Being active every day is a step towards better health and a desirable body weight. Being active in a way that suits the individual will help ensure that they are active on a regular basis.
How do diet and exercise affect bones and muscles?
As we get older we lose bone strength and muscle mass. Here are some ways to keep bones and muscles strong:
• Eat enough protein.
• Include calcium in your diet. The recommendation is that you get 1,200 mg calcium a day, either through your diet or supplements or both.
• Include vitamin D in your diet. You need 800 to 2,000 IU vitamin D from your diet, supplements, or both. Dietary sources of vitamin D include fortified milk and fish (salmon, mackerel, and herring).
• Do weight-bearing activities like walking or lifting.
• Do exercises that help build muscle
As a fitness practitioner you can ensure that you offer appropriate classes that are welcoming for older adults that will benefit their strength, balance and endurance: