2008-03-21 / Health & Wellness

Health tips for feeling nifty after 50

Young baby boomers are feeling younger than ever. Despite their advancing age, boomers continue to feel mentally fit, but physically, they are starting to feel the aches and pains of aging. By taking the right steps before pain slows them down, boomers can maintain their active lifestyle long into their senior years.

The Pain Poll, sponsored by the makers of Tylenol and supported by the Arthritis Foundation, found that more than three-quarters of baby boomers think that "50 is the new 40." But eight in 10 said that their bodies could not do the things they used to do.

Overall, the Pain Poll found that 92 percent of 50-somethings have experienced aches and pains, and 52 percent said they experience aches and pains on a daily basis.

The following simple tips can help boomers keep moving as they keep aging.

•A little goes a long weigh. For overweight boomers, losing just five to 10 pounds can lessen the stress on knees and hips and help reduce arthritis pain. For every 11 pounds lost, boomers may be reducing their risk of joint pain and stiffness by as much as 50 percent. For every pound lost, the pressure on the knees is reduced by four times.

•Cut calories to lose pounds. Cutting even 250 calories a day means losing a half-pound a week. Look for small ways to cut calories out of an everyday diet. For example, drop the fries from a fastfood order and cut out 300 calories or more. Drink water instead of soda or fruit juices; switch to no-fat or low-fat dairy products; use noncaloric sweetener instead of sugar; replace highercalorie ingredients like cheese and meats in omelets, sandwiches and sauces with vegetables and commit to fruit as a snack instead of chips, candy and other high-calorie treats.

•Get stronger, move better. Muscles are the "shock absorbers" for the joints. If muscles are weak, they are less able to protect the joints.

•Learn to bend. Joint stiffness is a symptom of arthritis that gets worse without exercise. Flexibility exercises can help joints be less stiff and can make them move more easily.

•Slow and steady. For most healthy adults, their exercise goal might be working out most days of the week, for about 30 minutes each time. For people with arthritis, a good starting goal might be exercising three days a week, 10 to 15 minutes each time.

•Have heart. Most healthy adults should aim for a target heart rate of 60 to 80 percent of their maximum heart rate during exercise. A goal for people with arthritis might be a target heart rate of 40 to 50 percent.

•Everyday activities help. Everyday activities translate into burned calories. Gardening for 30 to 45 minutes or washing and waxing a car can burn up to 150 calories. Raking leaves for an hour can burn 300 calories.

Talk to a doctor before beginning or revising an exercise program.

This story provided by North American Precis Syndicate Inc.

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