Health and fitness challenges can happen at any age, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle is something that should be reassessed throughout various stages in life. Dr. Mark Adickes, chief of the division of sports medicine and associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, addresses specific health and fitness challenges for middle-aged adults and gives tips on how to overcome them.
“The biggest challenge middle-aged adults face is budgeting the time required to exercise and to prepare or buy the right food,” Adickes said.
According to Adickes, three important factors in maintaining health in middle age include:
- Cardiovascular fitness – running, biking, swimming and rowing
- Muscle strength – weight training, barre workouts and Pilates
- Flexibility – yoga and Pilates
He said that the time dedicated to exercise must be etched in stone.
“Once a habit has been formed, it is not difficult to maintain,” he said.
However, Adickes cautions not to go to any extremes. He suggests deciding on a reasonable workout that can be done in an hour and seeking out professional help designing and performing an exercise regimen if needed.
However, exercise alone does not get the job done, Adickes said.
“Input, or nutrition, is actually just as important as output, or exercise,” he said. “Nutrition needs to be a lifestyle choice, so find a healthy eating pattern that works for you. Make your diet something that can be sustained, and allow for a cheat meal once a week.”
In terms of diet, stick to lean protein, vegetables and fruit. Avoid sugar and consume alcohol in moderation. Adickes also recommends a daily weigh-in.
“You are going to mess up – get back on the horse when you fall off,” he said.
Always be sure to consult with a physician before beginning a diet or fitness regimen. Also be sure to check with a physician on annual checkups, including a colonoscopy.