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Staying Healthy in Midlife, and Beyond

(Image credit: Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime)

Last Sunday, I went to a dear friend's 55th birthday dinner, and while this should have been a joyous occasion, there were some definite ominous overtones. You see, she's kind of freaking out about, well, life.

At 55, some doors are opened that we would prefer remain shut. You qualify for the senior discount at many stores and you can now apply to live in many retirement villages. Score? You may look and feel like you're in your forties, but in the eyes of much of the world, you're a senior citizen.

It's definitely a weird transition, so perhaps it's no wonder that so many people let their diet and exercise routines slip. But that might be the worst thing you can do.

You probably don't need clinical proof to believe that exercise is good for you, but it's there regardless. Not only is exercise good for building and maintaining strong bones and muscles, but fitness may ward off chronic diseases such as Alzheimer's, congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease and Type 2 diabetes, according to study published in August  in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

This researchers cross-referenced data from the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study, which has tracked participants' health status since 1970, with Medicare claims of participants. They found that those who exercised regularly were less likely to develop chronic diseases, and were more likely to live a longer life than those who were not fit.

If you're already in a routine, kudos to you, don't stop doing what you're doing. But if you haven't been working out, it's time to get started. Here are some tips for getting off the couch and getting yourself healthy again.

  1. Start slow. Don't feel pressure to keep up with anyone, or impress the strangers at the gym. For the first two weeks of your new routine, just focus on doing something every day. Get up and go for a leisurely stroll, or go to the gym and do some light cardio. By doing this, you're breaking the cycle of inactivity.
  2. Work your way towards a goal. Most of us are goal-oriented people. So, go ahead and set a goal; just make sure it's realistic. If you've never run a day in your life, you're probably not going to be ready for a marathon in two months. Don't set yourself up for failure.
  3. Add variety into your workout. Maybe on Monday you'll do yoga and on Wednesday it's strength training. Switch things up as much as possible to keep it interesting.

Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!

Deborah Enos
Deborah Enos, CN, also known as "The One-Minute Wellness Coach," is The Health Coach for busy, working people. She pares her good-health messages down to simple and fast bullet points that can impact lives in 60 seconds or less. Deborah serves as a board member of the American Heart Association.  In addition to writing the Healthy Bites column for Live Science, Deborah is a regular on FOX Business News, NBC and ABC, and is a frequent contributor to The Costco Connection, Parade Magazine, Self Magazine, Good Housekeeping and USA Today. Deborah is also The One Minute Wellness Coach for The Doctors TV Show.