As we age, prioritising Diet quality and exercise for optimal musculoskeletal health gets more important. Body composition changes,(1) with a 30–50% decrease in skeletal muscle between the ages of 40 and 80. (2) If you are already 60, now is the time to incorporate more effective exercise and nutrition.
The good news is that an increase in physical activity and regular exercise can largely negate these effects of ageing. (3) Resistance training and yoga are our top picks for better physical capability, alongside walking 10 000 steps daily. Adaptations of both the neuromuscular system (to coordinate movements) and the cardiopulmonary system (to more effectively distribute oxygen and nutrients around the body) (4) are just some of the benefits of a healthy, balanced exercise routine.
Yoga to Stay Youthful
Whether it feels a little out of your comfort zone or you’re a seasoned yogi, practising yoga has many proven benefits. Found to have positive effects on cellular ageing, mobility, balance, mental health, and prevention of cognitive decline,(7) yoga classes for over 60’s are designed with respect for your unique needs in mind.
Suitable for beginners and providing a holistic, low impact style of exercise, studies show medium improvements in physical mobility in people aged 60+ years who practice yoga. (8) Popular options like Chair Yoga are making accessibility easier for more people in this age group and here at Livewell Clinics we are big advocates for this gentle and ancient practice.
The type of diet that supports an active lifestyle is equally important to exercise. Older adults require more protein per kilogram of body weight (1) since consuming protein-rich foods helps to support muscle maintenance. Protein undernutrition results in physical weakness and poor physical function, so the importance of dietary protein cannot be underestimated for older adults. (1)(5)(6)
Protein is known to be more satiating than other macronutrients (2) so making sure you’re not just filling up on one type of macronutrient is important. Your plate should also contain moderate amounts of healthy fats and complex carbohydrates to ensure your nutritional needs are being met. Ideally, a variety of animal and plant-based proteins should be consumed 3 times a day, achieving around 25–30 grams per serve. (2)
Pick your protein:
- Animal protein contains the highest biological value protein and includes meat, poultry and seafood, dairy and eggs (1)
- Plant-based protein includes tofu, legumes, quinoa, nuts and seeds. Although generally lower in protein, sustainably sourced plant proteins help to minimise the adverse health effects and environmental effects of excess animal protein consumption(2)
- Protein supplements include animal-based products like whey and collagen or plant-based sources such as pea, rice and hemp. A great way to top up extra protein requirements and a convenient way to consume a protein-rich snack post-exercise, findings show that protein supplementation during an exercise training program increases gains in muscle mass and strength in older adults over 50 (6)
Do What Is Best for You
Exercise and eating enough protein simply go hand in hand. With a natural decline in exercise capacity over 60(3) there is a need to work smarter, not harder. A little extra thought to the type and quantity of exercise and your eating habits will ultimately avoid overexertion and muscular atrophy (muscle loss).
Let us help you to Live Well
Getting some advice ensures your efforts are serving you well. Having your diet assessed by a Naturopath, Nutritionist or Dietician can help to tailor your eating style, define your exact protein requirements and support healthy muscle recovery. There’s nothing quite like that exhilarating feeling from exercise – so let’s support your body to stay fabulous beyond your 50s!