As we age, we expect our bodies to change. We may be a little slower, our joints may make some noise and we feel those aches and pains.

Senior couple having fun. Gardeners and water hose.It is easy to use any one of these as an excuse for not making healthy choices in our lives. This is all part of aging we expect so there is not anything we can do. It does not have to be that way. There are things you can do that may not only help you live longer but live better.

Start with Diet

There is a saying that you cannot out exercise a bad diet. This means that burning off that extra piece of cake or pizza later is not a way to manage your weight.

Make small changes that will eventually become habits and part of your heart healthy lifestyle. Use these tips to make easy lasting changes to your diet.

Control your portion size

Senior ready to eat healthy salad - Alpine Cardiology

Read labels – serving sizes may surprise you

  • Serve your meals on smaller plates – this will give you the illusion that you are eating larger servings.
  • Choose low calorie, nutrient rich food – because fruits and vegetables are lower in calories, the serving sizes are bigger.
  • Limit high-calorie, high sodium food – the serving sizes for these types of foods seem too small and we tend to add just a “little bit more.”
  • Keep track of number of servings – 3 meals a day and low-calorie snacks should be your goal.

Plan ahead

Create your menu for the week and grocery shop with that menu in mind. Keeping your shopping focused on your menu will reduce the likelihood of bringing home unhealthy snacks. Planning your menu will also mean that you will be unlikely to grab something unhealthy when trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Lastly by planning your menu ahead of time, you can also plan in an occasional treat.

Adding movement into your day

Group of seniors of all abilities out walking - Alpine CardiologyAs mentioned, you cannot out exercise a bad diet, nor should we rely on exercise only for our healthy lifestyle. Whether you are trying to lose weight or get stronger, movement is important and can improve your daily life.

Exercise is Hard

  • Adding movement can be challenging when we are tired, slower, or hurting and moving sometimes makes it worse. Start slowly, just like you are making minor changes to your diet, you can slowly add more movement.
  • Make a walking plan. Start with just 5 minutes if needed and increase by a few minutes every week until you are comfortably walking 30 minutes a day.
  • Add weight resistance training – weight training is important for bone and muscle health. Carry a 3-pound weight on your daily walks. Increase the weight as you become comfortable.
  • Group activities – Many communities have senior centers or community centers that offer group activities. Look for something that fits your fitness level such as Yoga or Pilates eventually adding in some cardio.

Consistency is Key

Senior Woman training with weights while sitting - Alpine CardiologyRemember small changes make big differences. Following a regular healthy diet and exercise routine has not only the benefit of keeping you healthy but you will you are feeling better. Your energy will increase, and you may find yourself moving a little faster. You may experience a decrease in joint pain and start reaching for heavier weights or taking longer walks.

Find something that motivates you to stick with it. The goal of playing on the floor with the grandkids, taking a trip, or just wanting to get up in the morning without pain. Find that motivator and visual achieving that goal.

Do not give up

Alpine Cardiology - Grandfather and grandson having funIf you have a day of questionable choices do not use that as an excuse to quit you healthy eating plan. If slips are the exception instead of the rule your will balance out healthy eating over the long run. What is important is that you are following a heart healthy diet most of the time.

Not exercising for a couple of days will not cancel out all your hard work. Get back on track and use what you have learned to help you stay on track.

Talk to your Healthcare Team

Share your concerns and goals with your doctor. Be honest about your eating habits, how much you exercise/move and any pain you experience.

Your doctor can help guide you towards a sustainable healthy lifestyle. Dr. Bobish is accepting new patients. Call her at 989-448-7002 and make an appointment to talk to her about getting healthy and heart-smart!