Determined, vivacious, passionate – a lot of words describe America’s estimated 78 million baby boomers. This spirited group is redefining their golden years, staying active by working, traveling and enjoying the great outdoors. They know that in order to live life to the fullest, they must make their health a priority, and many are dramatically affecting their personal well-being with a few key activities that take 10 minutes or less a day to complete.
Tavis Piattoly is a sports dietitian, expert nutritionist and co-founder of My Sports Dietitian. He stresses that small daily activities can have a cumulative effect on health, and therefore encourages baby boomers to consistently stay active and eat well.
He suggests five ways boomers can keep their health on track in 10 minutes each day:
1. Quick exercises
“Exercise should be enjoyable, so whether it is a brisk walk, strength training or participating in a sport, enjoying what you do will increase your chance of sticking with that activity,” says Piattoly.
He recommends boomers incorporate strength training into their workout routine to prevent loss of muscle tissues – a concern that increases with aging. Here are three simple exercises:
Chair squats – Use any chair and perform 10 to 12 repetitions standing up and sitting down. To increase difficulty, hold a light dumbbell to add resistance.
Wall push-ups – Place arms against a wall and perform 10 to 12 push-ups. If this is too easy, get into the push-up position on the floor, using your knees for support.
Dumbbell curls or soup-can bicep curls – Use a light to moderate weight dumbbell (2 to 10 pounds) and perform 10 to 12 bicep curls. Don’t have dumbbells? Substitute soup cans.
2. Nutrient-dense foods
It takes only minutes to eat a snack or a meal, and what’s on your plate fuels your overall health. Piattoly recommends starting with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables.
“As we age, our immune system is not as strong as it once was to fight off infections and illnesses, and fruits and veggies could play a big role in fighting off heart disease, cancer and age-related diseases,” he says
Next, Piattoly recommends eating lean protein like farm-raised eggs, extra lean beef or omega-3-rich salmon at every meal. “Since we lose muscle mass at a rate of around 1 percent per year starting at age 35, a diet rich in protein may minimize the rate at which we lose muscle,” he says.
Piattoly also suggests a balance of healthy fats. “Focus on a mix of healthy fats from sources like olive oil, avocados, almonds, sunflower seeds, pistachios and natural peanut butter.”
3. Select supplements
“Omega-3 fatty acids, especially from fish oil, are beneficial for both brain and cardiovascular health,” Piattoly says, noting that multiple research studies have demonstrated that fish oil supplementation is linked with lower levels of beta-amyloid protein, which may lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition, research shows fish oil supplementation can reduce arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death, improve triglyceride levels, and increase HDL (good cholesterol). “I recommend taking between 2000 and 3000 mg per day of triglyceride-based fish oil. I personally take and recommend Nordic Naturals. They’re the leading manufacturer of omega-3 supplements and all their products are tested for purity and safety.”
Additionally, because between 50 to 75 percent of the population has a vitamin D deficiency, Piattoly recommends a vitamin D supplement. “Optimal levels of vitamin D may reduce your risk for cancer and heart disease, as well as improve bone health. Shoot for 2000 IU per day but be sure to speak with your doctor to determine how much you should take,” he says.
4. Embrace technology
Numerous applications for smartphones and tablets make it easy to track your exercise progress, stay motivated and eat healthy. Best of all, most apps are free and only take a few minutes a day to use.
“I’m a big fan of MyFitnessPal, a nice fitness and nutrition app where you can track your activity and what you eat. You can visit www.myfitnesspal.com or download the app to your smartphone.”
5. Be social
“One of the best things boomers can do is form a social network of friends who enjoy living a healthier lifestyle,” says Piattoly. “Surrounding yourself with active people increases your opportunities for healthy activities. Habits are contagious, so associate with people who enjoy regular exercise.”