Having the get-up-and-go to maintain a busy retirement requires taking good care of your health.
Even if you’re in pretty tip-top condition – as more than 80 per cent of Starts at 60 readers say they are – some essential maintenance is needed to keep your body running like a well-oiled machine.
Here’s some key areas it’s advisable to stay on top of to ensure you can continue your active, independent lifestyle.
Most of us know the basic rules for a healthy diet, but not everyone may be aware that our nutritional needs can change as we age.
As a result, the current recommended daily intake levels for adults aged over 70 years are higher than younger adults for protein, calcium, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin B6. The increased calcium requirements for women starts from 51 years
Those guidelines say women aged 51-70 should eat a minimum of five servings of vegetables, a minimum of two servings of fruit, four servings of grains or cereals, two servings of protein and four servings of dairy products per day. For men in the same age group, five-and-a-half servings of vegies and legumes, two servings of fruit, six servings of grains or cereals and two-and-a-half servings each of protein and dairy are recommended.
But it can be tricky to get the right amount of each food group every day, particularly if your appetite’s shrunk as you’ve got older or cooking meals for just one or two people seems like too much hassle. In fact, a survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that Aussies aged 71-plus were much more likely than other age groups to be consuming too little riboflavin, while women and men aged 51-70 were getting too little calcium.
When you’re struggling to get the correct combo of foods for optimum health, a nutritional supplement such as Sustagen® Hospital Formula Active can help deliver the required nutrients because it’s high in protein for muscle health, calcium and vitamin D for bone health, and magnesium and iron for energy.
As well as getting the right nutrients, your snacks between meals may need to change over the years. The non-profit Nutrition Australia says it’s important to remember that although older people tend to feel less thirsty, drinking fluid at least six times a day is important (coffee and tea count!), as is choosing fibre-rich foods such as wholegrains, fruits and legumes to combat the sluggish bowels that sometimes come with age.
We all naturally lose muscle and bone mass as we get older, and if not addressed, this can increase your chance of injury and even affect your balance, leading to falls – all of which makes maintaining and building muscle and strengthening your bones increasingly important in your 60s and beyond.
Exercise is one way to do so; regular exercise has been shown in many studies to help preserve bone mass and strength, while also slowing down the loss of muscle mass. Experts recommend that the exercise needs to be weight-bearing, which means that it’s done on your feet so you bear your own weight, and involve progressive resistance, so becomes more challenging over time.
The ideal way to ensure your body makes optimal use of your protein intake is to spread your consumption of the nutrient across all your meals, instead of having a protein-heavy dinner but skimping on it at breakfast and lunch.
If you struggle to boost your protein intake through food alone, a nutritional supplement such as Sustagen® Hospital Formula Active can help because it’s designed to deliver the essential nutrients for an active lifestyle, including plenty of protein to support healthy muscles and bones.
Alongside strong muscles and bones, good balance is key to an active and independent lifestyle. And studies have suggested that there are also exercises that can help maintain our balance skills.
Scientists found that a group of independent, healthy 60-to-80-year olds had better balance after completing a six-week program of knee squats, heel raises, head rotations and rotational jumps (jumping 90 degrees to the left or right with your head and body in the same direction as your feet). The improvements occurred even though the study participants did the exercises for just 16 minutes four times a week.
Nutritional supplements can only be of assistance where dietary intake is inadequate. Please seek advice on your individual dietary needs from an Accredited Practicing Dietitian or your healthcare professional. Sustagen® Hospital Formula is a formulated meal replacement and cannot be used as a total diet replacement. Consume as part of a varied and balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.