Guide Get Up and Go: Strategies for Active Living After 50

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Section Navigation. Physical Activity Basics. Minus Related Pages. How much physical activity do you need? Physical Activity Guidelines. Guidance for preschool-aged children ages 3 to 5 years.


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Evidence for even more health benefits of physical activity. Discussion of sedentary behavior. Tested strategies for physical activity promotion. Removal of bout length requirement—every little bit counts! Top of Page. Don't compare yourself to that second cousin who runs a marathon every week and grows her own wheatgrass.

Start today by just considering one or two simple changes that you can make to put more energy in your tank and feel better day by day. Create one new habit at a time. If you know that you would feel better if you changed your diet, pick one change to focus on. To change a habit, the trick is that small steps support lasting change. Take a walk. If you feel tired and the craving monster is beginning to make noise, you might consider taking a five-minute walk. Go outside and walk around the block, stretch your legs, enjoy the weather.

It is amazing how invigorating a short walk can be. Drink water. As we age it is important that we make sure we drink enough water.

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Staying fully hydrated helps increase our metabolic rate and ensures that our metabolism is as healthy as possible. It is also the most efficient nutrient when it comes to supporting you during exercise.

When your body is dehydrated, one of the first signs is a feeling of fatigue. Make sure to reach for a glass of water when you feel zapped of your energy reserves. Do strength training. Lifting weights or engaging in some other form of resistance exercise is one of the best ways for people over 50 to boost their energy levels. The benefits of strength training for seniors include building muscle mass and maintaining our strength. Additionally, being stronger makes our bodies more efficient and this effect carries over into our overall sense of energy. Take your vitamins.


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Taking high-quality supplements on a daily basis can help you feel better overall, and they have a myriad of advantages to your day to day wellbeing. Working with a health care professional can help you determine which nutrients are right for you.

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Breathe deeply. Elizabeth Frates is a physiatrist and wellness coach who teaches at Harvard and has worked with stroke and spinal injury patients to help them achieve their optimal level of wellness. She coaches people on increasing energy and one of her fundamental tips is to do deep breathing to revive the parasympathetic system. Improve heart and brain health with breathing techniques like the method: four breaths in, hold for a count of seven and exhale for a count of 8. Get enough sleep. Advice for sleeping better is all over the place.

It sounds odd but there are those that insist that determining how much sleep you actually need can reduce that amount of time you spend in bed worrying about not being able to sleep. Apparently, this does help some people find more restful sleep. While this is a method some feel encourages better sleep, make sure you stay safe and consult your doctor before trying it out for yourself. Residential subdivision communities have not only effectively reduced active travel but also, with their lack of parks, created limitations for leisure time activity.

Highway interchanges were designed to meet the transportation goals of the United States, that is, to move as many cars as rapidly as possible. Not only are they designed not to accommodate walking or biking, but walking or biking on interstate highways is against the law. The postage stamp images of residential subdivisions and highway interchanges represent to Sallis one of the reasons Americans are among the least active and most obese people in the world.

For Sallis, the evidence is clear that built environments matter. He presented an example of the evidence linking community design and health.


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As part of the Neighborhood Quality of Life Study of Adults NQLS , he and his research team recruited participants from low- and high-income communities in the Seattle, Washington, and Baltimore, Maryland, regions; measured their physical activity with accelerometers; and evaluated the walkability of the different communities Sallis et al.

They found that people living in walkable neighborhoods were active 5 to 7 minutes more every day than those living in other neighborhoods. One might question whether 5 to 7 minutes per day is enough to justify changes in zoning and transportation policies, Sallis said. But 7 more minutes of physical activity per day, he explained, translates into 50 min-. Sallis, Ph.

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That 50 minutes amounts to nearly 2 days of the minute per day physical activity guideline. When viewed over the course of 1 year, it amounts to about miles of walking, which, at calories spent per mile, translates to about 10, extra calories expended per year. Those 10, expended calories could, in theory, prevent a weight gain of about 3 pounds. Consistent with this reasoning, Sallis and colleagues found substantially lower rates of obesity and overweight in the walkable communities.

Sallis cautioned that not all evidence for a link between walkability and health is as clear or consistent as what he and his research team found in the study. Nonetheless, he and his colleagues have observed similar trends in other work and across age ranges.

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Sallis mentioned a physical activity meeting he had attended in Atlanta, Georgia, where he and a colleague decided to take a walk but were able to go only a couple of miles because the sidewalk ended abruptly. He then showed an image of a woman pushing a stroller and walking with a child along the edge of a busy street with no sidewalks.

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The data were collected using MAPS-Mini, an observational assessment tool that people carry with them while walking down a street to identify what is present. The items were selected based on correlations with physical activity, guidelines and recommendations, and modifiability. FIGURE A streetscape designed for vehicles and dangerous for active travel top , compared with an activity-friendly streetscape designed for all users bottom. Sallis presented results showing that streetlights, benches, and buffers i. He interpreted these findings to mean that not all features are important for all age groups and that getting the details right may be most important for children and adults.

Active transport increased as the total score increased, with a more than percent difference in active transport days per week between the least and most walkable streetscapes Sallis et al. To Sallis, the linear nature of the correlation means a small improvement in the streetscape can lead to a small improvement in active transport, while improving the streetscape as much as possible can lead to a big improvement. In terms of policy bright spots related to active-living streetscapes, Sallis mentioned the adoption of complete streets policies across the country—an increasing trend in recent years, with more than such policies being adopted by local and state governments by The challenge now, he said, is to study the quality of these policies and whether they are actually being implemented and funded.

An unfortunate trend, Sallis observed, is the observed decline in active transportation in youth McDonald, Between and , car travel to and from school increased from less than 20 percent to above 50 percent , while walking and biking to and from school decreased from more than 40 percent to around 12 percent.