Maintaining an active fitness lifestyle and routine in your 40s and 50s is not always the norm – but it can be uniquely rewarding.
As an active woman in that age bracket, I would like to share some thoughts on what has helped me to maintain a level of energy and fitness that has been beneficial for me, with the hope that I might be able to encourage some of you in your journey to fitness into your 50s.
1. Accept that it’s not as easy as it used to be.
Can I eat whatever I like and not gain weight? No. Do I have to exercise regularly just to maintain my weight? Yes. Now that we have No. 1 out of the way, the fun begins.
2. Explore what you enjoy doing.
Do you enjoy yoga, hiking, exercise boot camp, swimming, spinning, running or just taking a brisk walk with your dog? There are many classes at local gyms and community organizations that allow you to try many of these different classes/programs. Some people like purchasing a “Class Pass,” which gives you the freedom to try different classes in your community at a reduced rate and doesn’t lock you into a specific gym.
Not into exercise? Then try building physical activity into your regular schedule.
“To get more walking in, park in the furthest parking spot to your destination,” suggests Helga Van Herle, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at Keck School of Medicine and a cardiologist from the USC Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute. “And instead of taking an elevator, try walking up the stairs. Climbing five flights of stairs five times a week burns approximately 302 calories. That could result in a loss of 15 pounds a year.”
3. Are you competitive by nature?
Even if you answered “no” to this question, you can compete with your own record over time — challenge yourself! Can you run or walk a bit further this week? Can you add a day to your workout schedule? If yes, the sky is the limit. What about trying a competitive stair climb? Many of the people I work with have tried it and there are many great charitable causes to support. Find a cause that you’re passionate about, and I’ll bet they have a 5k, a stair climb or some other active event that you can join in. Tapping into your competitive side can be a great motivator.
4. Skip the lunch/dinner date and do a walking/workout get-together.
The days of always hanging out with friends over food and drink are so last year! Sure, a great meal can be terrific, but why not try meeting at a yoga class or going for a hike? Surround yourself with people who support you in your goals. Find out what they like to do, and perhaps you can join them as well.
5. Be mindful of your diet, but don’t deprive yourself.
I love cookies, froyo, cake, cheese, pizza, etc. as much as the next person, but I also realize that I can’t eat all of them every day and expect to fit into my clothes or to feel great when I wake up the next day. A “food hangover” is just gross! Give yourself a bit of leeway, but remember that you are not 23 — and most of us don’t want to be.
6. Be confident and be the CEO of your body.
I have become addicted to feeling great! When I don’t sleep well or eat poorly for a day or two, I can really feel it. Be gentle on yourself as you continue this journey to determining what works for your fit lifestyle. Remember that you are in charge. Be selfish about this. Act as if your life depends on it, because it does!
By Karen A. Chapman, healthcare administrator
If you are in the Los Angeles area and are looking for a new primary care physician, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment.