How To Live To Be 100
No one wants to be reminded of the years passing by, but as nutrition author Christine Rosenbloom tells it, we need to embrace aging because “not everyone gets the privilege to get old.”
“Aging well can and should start long before we get our Medicare card,” Rosenbloom says.
During her 30-year tenure at Georgia State, Rosenbloom developed a course titled “How to Live to Be 100” to encourage students to think about how they could build a base of healthy habits that could serve them for a lifetime. She’s the co-author of “Food and Fitness After 50,” which emphasizes how food and fitness play an important role in getting the most out of an active life.
“There is so much we can do to eat well, move well and be well as we age,” she said. “If we don’t use it, we’ll lose it.”
Rosenbloom says it doesn’t take the latest fad diet, handfuls of supplements, fancy exercise equipment or hours in the gym each day to get or stay fit.
Below she shares some tips on how folks of all ages can get, and stay, healthy.
Your mantra is eat well, move well and be well. What are some tips for eating well?
Everyone wants to know the best diet for good health, but there isn’t one. There are a lot of good ones, though. Whatever diet you choose, be sure to include carbohydrates, protein and fat. We need all three of these macronutrients for good health, so don’t fall for the low-carb, or high-fat or all-protein diets.
Focus on nutrient-rich foods. Choose foods with fewer calories and more nutrients, like an orange instead of an orange drink, or unsalted almonds instead of chips — but be sure to enjoy meals and mealtime. If your diet is so restrictive that you stop enjoying meals, then stop that diet!
Also, monitor your weight to avoid weight creep as you age. Gaining a pound or two each year doesn’t sound like a big deal, but after 20 years, that can add up to a 30- or 40-pound weight gain. Stay vigilant by weighing yourself every morning or trying on your favorite pants every week to gauge your girth.
What about exercising, or moving well?
We begin to lose muscle mass around age 40, and we lose 10 to 15 percent of muscle mass and strength every 10 years. Decreased muscle mass leads to decreased strength and can lead to sarcopenia — literally, vanishing flesh. The good news is that muscle responds to being challenged. With as little as 10 to 15 minutes of strength training a couple of times a week, you can turn back the clock on aging muscle.
Sit less and move more by incorporating “activity snacks” into your day. Take five- or 10-minute breaks throughout the day and move around. Try walking lunges in your office hallway or walking up and down the stairs to supplement your regular exercise routine.
And lastly, how can we “be well?”
Research on adult development reveals that what makes people happy is social connection and relationships, not wealth or health. Social support can help us in good times and bad. Connect with family, friends or your community to strengthen your relationships for good health.
Also, get a good night’s sleep. Sleep helps us repair and regenerate nerve connections and boosts immune function. Aim for seven to eight hours a night. Keep your room dark and cool for better sleep. And hide your cellphone!
Your book, “Food and Fitness After 50,” talks about being “functionally fit.” What does that mean?
Folks at 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 20 years. We think everyone would agree that they want to live their later years in good health, being as fit and independent as possible. My definition of functionally fit is being able to lift my suitcase into the overhead bin when traveling and lifting a 50-pound bag of dog food to feed my two big dogs. How we eat and how active we are play a big part in meeting our goals.
Christine Rosenbloom is a registered dietitian and professor emerita. She is the co-author of “Food and Fitness After 50” and writes a weekly blog, “Fit to Eat.” You can find more information on her book and blog at chrisrosenbloom.com.