Not everything in life is a "given." We can never say with complete certainty that we'll be in the same job, relationship, home, or state of health, as we are right now. Life is fraught with change -- both wanted and unwanted, good and bad.
This is especially true for those of us who are being squeezed into that sandwich between children, aging parents, and everything else that life has to offer.
After turning 50 a few years ago, I came to understand--and believe in--a few fundamental truths, which have helped simplify my thinking, and my approach to positive living.
One of them is this: all roads lead to fitness. Here's why: If we don't take care of our bodies, minds and spirits as we age, we won't have the strength and stamina to do everything we have to do, and want to do. It's a simple concept that motivates me to keep on my own road to fitness, every day. These three parts of our whole are intricately intertwined: when we exercise (body), we're also doing something that research shows benefits our brain cells (mind), and reports (both scientific and anecdotal) confirm that moving your body makes you feel good and better about yourself (spirit). If you feel fit and good about your overall wellbeing (including how you look, another positive benefit of exercising), you'll be much more inclined to pursue opportunities and confront challenges. One positive dot connects to another.
That's the essence of 'positive living' . . . and fitness is at the very core.
Finding time for fitness isn't always easy, though. I know this from personal experience. When I turned 50 a few years ago, I was 15 lbs heavier, and was ready to give up and give in. My health check numbers were not great and my first bone density test showed that I was perilously close to osteoporosis. My life and health were spinning out of control. What saved me was deciding to research and write The Best of Everything After 50. I forced myself to interview all kinds of experts, including those involved in fitness and nutrition. What I learned changed my life.
I pared my workout program to three essential elements that anyone, at any age and fitness level can do:
- Cardio--I run slowly with walk breaks every other day (click here to see how to get started)
- Strength Training--I do a 3-exercise 15-minute program every day that has significantly improved my fitness (click here to see one of the key exercises in the program)
- Balance--Several times a day I stand on one foot, then switch, to improve my sense of balance
But why should you do the Plank every day? Here are the top 5 reasons:
- You can do it anywhere, anytime, and it's free-- There's no need to go to a gym or trainer to do this move. Just get down on a rug or yoga mat and try to hold the correct pose (see video) for 60 seconds or more. If you can, take a 10 second break and do it again. Aim for three sets (preferably combined with push-ups--click here to see a short video--and the squat (video coming soon!).)
- It helps fight osteoporosis--According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 9 million American adults have osteoporosis and over 48 million more have low bone mass, placing them at risk for osteoporosis and broken bones. But, you don't always know you have this disease until you break something. Take control and do this exercise to build better bones.
- It works better than sit-ups and crunches to strengthen your core: I gave up doing sit-ups and crunches when I added the Plank to my daily program. If done properly, every part of your body is held tight and taut (like a plank), engaging the core like no other exercise.
- You'll see definition in your arms you never thought you'd see again--After 50, our arms can often look a bit flabby, and for sure they will lose strength if we don't work them out. By doing the Plank every day, especially if you push yourself to hold the pose for over 60 seconds at a time, you'll see noticeable changes in the look and tone of your arms.
- It's a form of meditation--The Plank can put you into an incredible mindful Zen-like state because you're holding everything tight and still . . . while breathing deeply . . . for 60 seconds or more.
Stay in touch and let me know how you're doing! Until next time, remember this:
We can't control getting older . . . but . . . we can control how we do it!
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Check out my new series on the AARP YouTube Channel -- The Best of Everything -- where I talk about health, fitness, sex, style, and everything in between. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and read my weekly column--Best of Everything After 50--on aarp.org. For more tips on living your best life after 50 visit www.bestofeverythingafter50.com.