FLPSDE's in-house nutritionist has put together five helpful tips for staying active well into your golden years. Taking notes from Blue Zones where people live the longest with the best quality of life, these changes could keep you riding bikes and boards for decades to come!
Never Stop Moving
The secret to staying active well into your 80s and 90s is daily movement. Elders will tell you the biggest dip in their activity level didn't come from age but rather a life event or injury that interfered with their daily movement. When we stop moving, our muscles get soft our joints get stiff, and our bones weaken. Daily activity also boosts the immune system, helping us fight illness and injury, which can be more difficult to recover from later in life.
People living in Blue Zones (highest percentage of people living 100+ years), attribute much of their longevity to walking everywhere. If you want to maintain a vibrant and fulfilling life full of activity, make it a goal to go for a walk every day. Listen to an audiobook or podcast, or enjoy the sounds of nature.
Incorporate Yoga Practice
Preventing injury is one of the greatest ways to keep yourself spry with age. Incorporating a yoga or stretch/resistance practice into your schedule will benefit your performance in several ways, not limited to injury prevention. First, yoga stretches and lengthens the muscle tissues, which allows for greater range of motion, flexibility and pain management. Second, yoga introduces balance training, which helps athletes become more aware of their body to optimize performance. Third, yoga engages the mind during activity, training us to focus our energy where it's needed and letting go of the rest. This mindful fitness is helpful for reducing stress hormones and gaining mental stamina. The best thing about yoga is anyone can do it anywhere. You don't have to be young or flexible to start, all you have to be is consistent to reap the benefits. So, whether you're 18 or 65, on a surf trip or at home, all you need is a flat surface to work on your flexibility, balance and focus.
Eat Less Animals & More Plants
The nutrients we need to be our healthiest selves are packed in plants, period. No matter the diet fad or scientific study, there is no data that argues against eating more plants. However, there are countless opportunities for you to learn about the risks of eating too many animal products. Grilled chicken, hamburgers, eggs, bacon, and mac n cheese are staples in the standard American diet, however, these foods are offering more long-term health risks than they are nutrition. The best way to enjoy animal foods, is in moderation, ethically produced without additives and locally-sourced. While leafy greens, vegetables, beans and whole grains are giving us energy, fighting cancer, and improving hormone balance, animal products like cheese, 2% milk and hot dogs, increase our risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and other inflammatory diseases.
NutritionFacts.org - Reducing animal product consumption while also increasing whole plant food intake has many potential benefits, based on research studies, including: slows the aging process, slows the shrinking of muscle mass as a person ages, helps lower LDL cholesterol levels, and more. Research studies have found potential links between the intake of animal products and risks of the following diseases and conditions: autoimmune, and inflammatory disorders, cancer, dementia, diabetes, and more.
Recovery happens when we sleep. If you're not getting quality rest - ideally eight hours per night - ask yourself why. For most, better sleep follows establishing a routine, making some diet changes and learning to calm the mind. If you're applying some of the tips above, you should have used some energy during the day, which sets you up for better rest. Also, cleaning up your diet to get rid of added sugars and processed junk will help your body wind down naturally. Another healthy diet habit to get into is not eating within 2-3 hours of bedtime; your body uses energy to digest food so late dinners or bedtime snacks could be what's keeping you up.
Finally, prioritizing rest means making your sleep routine and environment sacred. Try to pick a bedtime and stick to it, then, craft your space for optimum rest. Some tips for optimizing your sleep space include: setting your thermostat to a lower temperature (68-71ºF), using a weighted blanket, putting screens away at least one hour before shuteye, reading or journaling to relax the mind, drinking a calming tea, using lavender essential oils and a fan or white noise machine.
Less Alcohol More Water
Alcohol can be detrimental to performance in many ways, but consistent alcohol use doesn't support long-term vitality. The infamous "beer belly" is indicative of unhealthy visceral fat (the fat that surrounds the internal organs), which puts us at risk for stroke and heart attack. Most liquors and popular bar drinks are high in sugar and/or loaded with artificial ingredients, which can lead to high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
The thing your body needs most for peak performance is water. If you struggle with choosing water as you're go-to beverage, try adding lemon or cucumber for fresh flavor. Performance beverages like Gatorade aren't necessary and actually include unhealthy ingredients like sugar (about as much as a soda, actually), and cancer-causing additives made from petroleum including Red 40 and Yellow 5.
Wondering how much water should you be drinking daily? Take your body weight and divide it in half; as a rule of thumb, this number is the minimum amount of water, in ounces, you should be drinking daily. For example: 160 (lbs) / 2 = 80 (oz) of water/day - aka, four FLPSDE bottles full! Anyone with an active lifestyle should drink more.