If you’re in the 6th decade of life, like me, you might be wondering what it takes to be a fit 60 year old woman. After all, we’ve been around for awhile, and the body is showing signs of age. You know what I mean. The metabolism has slowed, and so our stamina isn’t what it used to be.
Our body shape has changed, belly fat is our buddy, our skin is sagging in places that used to be taught and firm, and our face is, well, different.
What happens to our body as we age? What does the typical 60 year old body look like?
- Our skin is drier, and on the plus side we’re less likely to experience breakouts and other skin-related issues. But, that drier skin is more fragile, and the lines/wrinkles that we noticed in our younger years are more pronounced.
- Our bones could be in pretty good shape if we’ve been active throughout our life. But, with age and particularly with inactivity we’ll notice aching in our joints as well as creaking, cracking, and popping noises, which are not usually serious. A healthy weight and strength training are two of the best ways to help our bones stay strong.
- Our heart has the potential to pump about the same volume of blood as a younger heart, as long as it’s healthy. Heart disease can affect that greatly, so the best way to combat it is to keep moving. Keep moving. Keep moving!
- Our metabolism slows about 5% per decade, which can lead to weight gain. Stay active and watch the calorie intake to combat a slowing metabolism in midlife.
Even so, being fit at 60 years of age is not off the table, friend. We can be strong, healthy women at any age if we put our mind and heart behind the body and make wise lifestyle choices. And I’m not suggesting that we all become top athletes, climb mountains, break records, walk tens of thousands of steps daily, or attain celebrity status because of our amazing accomplishments. Kudos to you if that describes something you’ve been able to do, but my focus is on the vast majority of us girls who want to be our best, healthy, vibrant selves as we age.
All that said, where do we start? For me, it starts in my head and in my heart, and from there works its way down into the day-to-day practical actions and activities that give me results.
Please note that I am not a professional health or fitness expert, I am a woman in my 60s who has learned how to live a healthy lifestyle through a lot of research and practical application, and has a passion for sharing this knowledge with other women in midlife.
How to be a Fit 60 Year Old Woman? C-O-M-M-I-T!
We need to COMMIT to ourselves, friends. Let’s take a closer look at what that means.
C is for CARE
If we don’t really and truly care about ourselves enough to be willing to put in the work to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle as a woman over 60, there’s a good chance that nothing much is going to happen. We need to care.
O is for OWN
We have to own our actions, or lack of them, when it comes to working toward being a fit 60 year old woman (or 55 year old, or 64 year old, or 70 year old…you fill in the number). Blaming someone else for actions and decisions that you make yourself is not going to help you move forward and live a healthy lifestyle. Actually, that mindset will probably make you pretty miserable.
M is for MEASURE
If you’ve decided to change your lifestyle and work toward being healthier, more fit, and live longer, there is value in keeping track of progress. Throw in another ‘M’ word, moderation, to remember that you don’t have to constantly step on the scale, or measure the waistline, etc. That is only going to frustrate and even discourage you. Use good judgement and don’t over do tracking, but do check your progress periodically.
M is for MANAGE
Living a healthy lifestyle, day after day, requires some level of management. If you want to be a fit 60 year old woman it takes some planning, and then following through on the plan consistently. It’s like any other goal, task, or activity, and needs some thoughtful oversight and periodic assessment.
I is for INVEST
If you want to see the results and become fit, healthy, and strong as a woman in midlife, there will be an investment required. You’ll invest some time and possibly some money, too, in order to reach the goal. Bottom line? You’re worth it, my friend!
T is for TENACIOUS
Big word, yes. But it’s important as women over 60 that we don’t give up when it seems like nothing is changing except that we’re getting older every day. Becoming stronger and more fit takes time, effort, and patience. Be tenacious and don’t be discouraged.
5 Characteristics of a Fit, Healthy Woman in Midlife
So, we’ve learned that we need to COMMIT to the process of becoming a fit 60 year old woman, and that’s significant. There are other qualities, characteristics, and mindsets that will also help us on our journey to live a healthy lifestyle.
1 | Positive attitude
It’s so much easier to say, or to write down on paper, than it is to live out every day. But it is so true. If you approach change or challenge in your life with a positive attitude it really does make a difference, in a good way.
As women over 60 we’re never going to turn back the clock, even a minute of time. It’s gone, we’re here today, and we have the opportunity to make it the best day we possibly can.
If we get out of bed with a smile on our face, start out the morning with a healthy routine, and set our focus on a positive outcome, we’ll feel better and have a realistic yet positive approach to the day.
And, a healthy evening routine gives us stability and the opportunity to stay committed to wise choices as we end our day.
2 | Try something new
I don’t know about you, but I can be kind of set in my ways at the ripe old age of 66. So when it comes to fitness I can be a little close-minded sometimes about trying a different type of exercise. I like what I’m doing now, thank you very much.
But, I’m really only hindering my own progress and overall abilities by taking that narrow viewpoint. Whether it’s a different form of exercise, a food or recipe I haven’t tried before, a unique relaxation technique, or any other health-related activity, I take the approach of giving it a try (more than once!), and sometimes it turns out to be the best thing for me.
So please keep an open mind when it comes to your nutrition, fitness, and exercise routines. Go ahead and try something new. You might even like it.
3 | Patience and forgiveness
If you’ve made the decision to live a healthier lifestyle, committed to being a fit 60 year old woman, I can assure you that along the path to health you’ll falter, you’ll have times of being discouraged, you’ll fall off the ‘healthy eating’ wagon, and other types of things that we do as human beings. Our tendency is to be very hard on ourselves, give ourselves a good scolding, and sometimes even think about giving up.
Please don’t give up, my friend. Be patient with yourself, be forgiving, and get back on the wagon to a fit and healthy lifestyle. It’s one snack, one meal, one missed workout…it’s not the end of the world.
4 | Push yourself
If you’re healthy and don’t have medical restrictions, give yourself permission to push your limits sometimes. We may be women over 60 but we’re not ready to be put out to pasture yet! The times when we’re really pushing to finish that exercise set, or walking that last 1/2 mile, or using a heavier weight, are the activities that could be helping to shape a stronger, fitter body.
So go ahead, push yourself. You can do it!
5 | Have fun
Life isn’t always a party, or a barrel of laughs. We all know that. But, we should still be having some fun. And a healthy lifestyle really can be fun.
Consider partnering up with a spouse, significant other, or friend, to help stay motivated and enjoy the time workout out, trying healthy recipes, and such. Keeping fit shouldn’t be a chore or a bummer, it should be a natural part of your life. A good, healthy, enjoyable, essential part of your life!
It can be difficult to remain motivated, encouraged, and feel supported when you’re trying to establish a healthy habits and lose weight. Did you know that your smart phone can be a very effective tool for accomplishing your goals to live a healthier life? Learn more about MIGHTY HEALTH, the healthy lifestyle app created for women and men over 50
The Fundamentals of a Fit, Healthy Lifestyle After 60
We’ve prepared our minds, hearts, and of course our bodies, to become fit, strong, and healthy as women over 60. So the next logical step in this guide is to discuss the practical application: what we eat, what we drink, we we do.
It is always essential to make sure that you are healthy enough to engage in exercise, particularly if you’ve had health issues in the past or if they are ongoing. Be sure to check with your medical provider before starting any new type of exercise, aerobic or strength training.
The same goes for nutrition and diet. If there is a particular food or foods that you must, or can’t eat, adhere to that restriction.
You’ve probably seen, read, and heard about eating healthy a million times. If you read this blog, you’ve seen it hundreds of times. But it is true. Eating well as we grow older provides so many benefits to our health and longevity. There are a number of healthy eating plans we can choose to follow, of course. Or, we can choose to put our own meals together, making wise choices (most of the time, anyway!).
So, what should we put on our plate as women in our 60s?
- choose from the five food groups, including colorful veggies, legumes and beans, whole and high fiber grains, lean meats, poultry and fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and some dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)
- limit foods high in saturated fat, such as pastries, processed meats, fast food junky stuff, potato chips, biscuits, etc.
- limit foods high in salt, and try to avoid adding salt to your food when you cook or eat. If you do use salt, use it sparingly.
- limit foods with added sugars, such as sweets, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks, soft drinks
- try to swap out foods high in saturated fats with those containing mostly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Examples would be to swap out butter, cream, margarine, and coconut oil for unsaturated fats from oils, spreads, nut butters and avocado
- limit alcohol to no more than 2 drinks per day, less is preferred.
- if you do consume the high fat/sugar/salt foods, keep them to a minimum. My downfall is sugar between the 3, so I try to keep my consumption low. It’s always a challenge because I love my sweets. 🙂
What is the takeaway after reviewing this list? We can all keep things simple by choosing fresh fruits and veggies, keeping the meats lean, consuming more chicken and fish, using olive oil, drinking lots of water, limiting alcohol, and cutting way back on our consumption of processed foods that contain salt, sugar, and fat.
As you get older, you need to drink more water. Even if you’re not thirsty, drink water. And while you’re filling the water glass, keep in mind that when you drink soda pop, coffee, and alcohol, you can become dehydrated as a result.
Why do we need to drink more water as we age?
As we get older, our body changes the way it regulates our temperature. Hydration is key in regulating our body temperature, and helping fight off other health problems, and our thirst center, the hypothalamus, isn’t as active as it used to be. So, our brain doesn’t always give the signal that we need to drink. We have to make that effort consciously.
When we exercise as older adults, our bodies don’t adjust the rate of sweat loss to prevent further dehydration. This can result in more strain on our heart, affect our kidneys, and create an electrolyte imbalance, which can be very serious.
The best way to hydrate is with good, old fashioned water. Our body can process it without having to process any other additives (sugar and other ingredients) simultaneously, as it would have to do with things like soda and other beverages.
Warning signs of dehydration include:
- dry skin and lips
- dark urine
- infrequent urination
- muscle cramps in legs, fee, and hands
- low blood pressure
- elevated heart rate
- general fatigue
Keeping our bodies hydrated not only prevents dehydration and the illness that can result, but it’s so good for our skin and helps us look younger as well as feel better by ridding our body of unwanted toxins. As a fit 60 year old woman we will always drink plenty of water!
I was with a group of friends recently, in their 60s and beyond, and one woman stated rather proudly that she doesn’t exercise. At all. Ever.
Being the non-confrontational person that I am, I didn’t get in her face and ask her why in the world she would take that unhealthy approach with her body, particularly as she is able to exercise if she chooses. Does it make her happy knowing that she is probably shaving years off of her life by choosing not to take care of her body? I don’t get it.
But that circles back to the discussion about being willing to COMMIT and what that means to us as women in our 60s. We need to care enough about ourselves and respect ourselves enough to get up and get active.
And if you are in the “I don’t exercise” camp, no matter the reason, there is no judgement here. Just know this: it is never to late to start exercising.
What should we be doing to be a fit woman 60 year old woman? A combination of aerobic exercise, and strength training including functional fitness should be part of our regular exercise routines if we are physically able to do so.
If regular exercise is something you haven’t been doing, talk it over with your doctor first, perhaps undergo a physical, to make sure you are able to exercise. Review your plan with the doctor, too, so they know what your plan and goals are.
A study has shown that by exercising more after the age of 60 people can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by 11%. And, those who become sedentary after the age of 60 increase their risk of cardiovascular disease by 27%.
Here is a helpful chart that gives several workout options for people over the age of 60:
If you’re not sure where to start, consider Option #1 above. It’s simple and involves simple brisk walking 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week, plus strength training at least twice per week.
How I Exercise as a Woman in My 60s
My daily exercise routine varies somewhat from day to day, and it is not so structured that I set a clock by it. But, I include these components and am committed to them:
- an indoor walking workout is part of my morning routine on most days. I walk inside my home (yes, in lots of circles!), march in place, do some light jogging, hold small hand weights, and do some light stretches before and after, for about 30 minutes.
- a daily goal is to get in at least 10,000 steps, maybe more, depending on what I’m doing that day as well as other exercises I’ll be doing. Weather permitting, I always choose to be outdoors, but indoors works just as well. Walls don’t stop me.
- a strength training, or aerobic, or strength + functional fitness workout. At present I’m really happy and motivated with the video workouts offered through Mighty Health. These are usually 25 – 35 minutes in length. If I’m going to be home all day I might do two workouts, depending on what else I have going and my energy level.
- a ride on the stationary bike before making dinner is also part of my routine several days per week. I like the variety of cycling in addition to walking.
High intensity workouts are not something I participate in much, but I make a conscious effort to utilize LISS cardio when possible. That stands for Low Intensity Steady State aerobic exercise.
How to be a fit 60 year old women? (Remember, fill in YOUR age, whether in your 60s or enjoying a different decade of life!) It takes the willingness to commit, to maintain a healthy overall perspective, and make wise choices in what we eat and what we do.
It is NEVER too late to begin a healthier lifestyle. Why not start today?
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