In my forties, I never really paid that much attention to the topic of healthy aging. I was more concerned with planning my financial future than the future of my health. It wasn’t until I hit 55 that I began to realize that “getting old is what lies ahead”.
I want to prepare for that inevitability.
I have friends who aren’t much older than 40, but they’re already starting to complain about aching joints, bad knees and sore backs. They are experiencing the yearly waist expansion that seems hard to escape with each passing year (almost 3/4 of adults over 60 are overweight or obese).
How do you outrun the health consequences of not being in shape if you hate running? Or if you hate going to the gym? Here are my over 40 exercise tips:
i) Find Your Passion in Life
ii) Turn Your Goals into Affirmations
iii) Keep it Simple
iv) Think “Movement”, not “Exercise”
v) Get Outside
Staying active and fit is as much of a mindset as much as it is physical activity. So I use the strategies above to help my private clients when they seem to lack motivation. Let’s briefly look at them:
FIND YOUR PASSION IN LIFE
This is something that my father taught me. He’s 89 years old (that’s him above collecting maple sap), and in great physical shape (but he’s never been to a gym, nor has he ever been a a runner). He noticed that many of his retired friends were slowing down. They would spend their extra leisure time on mundane stuff: lingering longer over meals, sleeping, watching TV, surfing the Internet and doing household chores. They’d fulfilled the dream of having lots of leisure time, but it was being wasted on a boring retirement with unfulfilled leisure pursuits.
“People who don’t have a passion in life outside their work, literally don’t know what to do with themselves when they stop working”, my father used to say. He knows what he’s talking about. My dad loves the outdoors, and every spring taps maple trees and makes his own maple syrup. He owns 2 canoes. He plays pool (at a very high level), and organizes an annual charity tournament that bears his name. And every Christmas, he plays Santa Claus– something that he takes seriously and gives him great pleasure.
There are lots of activities you can pursue (travel, golf, home renovations, gardening, fishing, etc), but it’s one thing to have a hobby and another thing to have a purpose or passion.
What about getting a university degree?
Organizing an adventure race?
Writing a book?
If you find your life purpose, you’ll need to stay in good health and physical shape so that you can pursue it, and enjoy it. Retirement health is one of the best retirement gifts you can give yourself.
TURN YOUR GOALS INTO AFFIRMATIONS
Lots of stuff has been written about goal setting, although most people don’t know what they really want. Goals provide direction and stimulate action. And we have to focus on what we want to achieve, not what we want to avoid.
Here are some examples of negative thinking:
- I really hate exercise.
- Why is it so hard for me to lose weight?
- I just can’t motivate myself to workout.
- I hate running.
- I can’t.
On the other hand, here are some examples of positive self-talk:
- What can I do in the next 5 minutes that will keep me in shape?
- How great will I feel after I finish my training?
- I love eating healthy foods.
- My metabolism is getting faster every day.
- Training in the morning is exhilarating.
- I’ll do it.
Rather than focusing only on goals, think of focusing on a positive mind-set. Think of why you want to achieve good health and fitness.
Next, write out a short goal list in the form of affirmations. Use the following formula:
Affirmation Formula: “I” + (insert a verb in the PRESENT tense). Relate that to what you want (not what you want to avoid).
“I wake up every morning to fit my workout in before breakfast — yes, I’m a morning person.”
“I am grateful for how I am able to not only travel, but to hike in the mountains.”
“I am developing good habits that are ingrained in my lifestyle so I can maintain an active one.”
“I deserve to be healthy and fit.”
“I plan my leisure time around active outdoor activities.”
KEEP IT SIMPLE
“I have to exercise. What should I do?” Many people struggle because they over-analyze things, with the result is that they never take action.
It doesn’t take a big, complicated plan. You don’t need to find a “perfect” routine. It could be as simple as doing 10 squats every time you find yourself sitting for prolonged periods of time.
Got 2 minutes? Work on some pushups.
You don’t need to put on gym clothes and you don’t need a water bottle.
Stop analyzing and start moving.
(By the way, I had been sitting for a while writing this blog post, so I just took a break to do 12 minutes of dumbbell cleans, squats and pushups. I didn’t plan it, I just did it).
THINK MOVEMENT, NOT EXERCISE
Related to the above point, if you are less active than you used to be — the only really important thing is that you move. Every day.
Go for a walk. Take the dog.
Climb the stairs.
Rake the leaves (and jump in the pile).
Practice getting up and down off the floor.
I’m convinced of the benefits of being outside, especially in nature. A natural environment just MAKES you want to move. Breathe deeply. Explore. De-stress.
It’s good for you soul — and your cortisol levels.
Use these 5 simple tips and get moving today!