Once you've reached age 58, you may think your health is dictated by your genes and the lifestyle choices you made when you were younger. But there's still plenty of time to start or continue healthy habits that will make your golden years enjoyable.
Fitness at 58
Fitness at 58 and beyond improves the release of sex hormones, heart health, flexibility, mood and self image, the Mayo Clinic says. You're no longer chasing toddlers, but regular exercise gives you energy to work, travel, keep up with younger family and friends and engage in volunteer activities.
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A study in the March 2018 journal Aging Cell showed that cyclists, both women and men aged 55 to 79, had immune systems similar to people in their 20s and 30s who didn't exercise. The cyclists also kept their body fat and cholesterol levels constant as they aged, as well as their muscle mass and strength. Even if you're just regaining fitness at 58 or 60, cycling a good way for older people to get back in shape, according to Harvard Health, because it's low impact, easy on the joints, and builds some of that muscle mass you lose as you age.
Exercises for 58 and Older
AARP suggests these activities as some of the best exercises for men and women 50 and older to build strength and muscle or regain lost muscle mass:
- Do squats and lunges, to increase lower body strength
- Practice balance. A study of women 60 and older who went through a 12-week balance program showed the women increased their strength and improved their balance.
- Strengthen your core and stabilize your back with plank-style exercises. Keeping back pain at bay can improve quality of life and lengthen your life by 13 percent, AARP says.
- Join a team. You get the benefits of social interaction and exercise.
- Do high intensity interval training (HIIT). Even doing short bursts of fast walking helps lower inflammation, boost immunity and improve blood pressure and heart health.
The findings in the cycling study also apply to people who do any form of exercise. A study of nearly 6,000 men in the January 2012 issue of the International Journal of Obesity showed that men who got at least 150 minutes of exercise each week were able to prevent age-related weight gain.
Men who do progressive resistance training, by lifting weights that get progressively heavier, can regain lost muscle mass well into their 80s, according to Harvard Health. "Older men can indeed increase muscle mass lost as a consequence of aging," says Dr. Thomas W. Storer, of Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital. "It takes work, dedication, and a plan, but it is never too late to rebuild muscle and maintain it."
Read More: Exercise for Senior Citizens
Eating Well at 58
As you reach age 58, you want to eat a healthy diet. AARP has some tips about healthy eating for older adults, including those interested in losing weight at 58:
- Feed your muscles. Older women who ate a daily diet of 25 grams of fiber, and one-third of their calories from healthy fats like fish, nuts and olive oil, helped build their strength.
- Eat fiber. It helps you live longer. AARP says for every 10 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories, participants in a study lived 5.4 years longer.
- AARP cited a March 2017 study in JAMA which found that even small but healthy changes in diet led to a death risk as much as 17 percent lower.
- Increase your calcium. According to the Mayo Clinic, women 51 and over should get 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day. Men at age 58 should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. Dairy products, broccoli, kale, salmon and tofu are good sources.
- Get enough vitamin D. Men and women 51 and over should get 15 milligrams of vitamin D each day, says the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. Good sources are tuna, salmon, eggs, fortified milk and vitamin D supplements.
To lose weight at 58, the Mayo Clinic says you need to stay active and eat healthy. Your metabolism is slowing down, which means you'll burn calories more slowly, so the Mayo Clinic says you can combat this by staying active and eating fruits, vegetables and lean protein, especially fish. You should also limit sugar and foods high in saturated fat to lose weight at age 58.
Read More: Nutrition & Diet for People Over 60
Heart Health at 58
For men, the key to heart health is to stay active and maintain a healthy weight, says Harvard Health. Healthy eating and exercise keep your blood pressure down, your cholesterol down and your stress levels down. These, along with not smoking and drinking excessively, go a long way toward healthy hearts in 58-year-old men.
For women, menopause doesn't cause heart problems, says the American Heart Association. What menopause does is help raise your blood pressure and increase your LDL, or so-called "bad" cholesterol. Menopause also helps your HDL, or "good" cholesterol, to decrease. Your triglycerides, or fat in the bloodstream, also increase.
Men and women should follow a healthy diet of veggies, fruits, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts. Limit red meat, sugary foods and drinks. Try to get 150 to 300 minutes of physical activity each week.
Also, visit your doctor on a regular basis, and make sure you get all the tests your doctor recommends. Make sure your doctor knows your family history and all your risk factors.
- Aging Cell: "Major Features of Immunesenescence, Including Reduced Thymic Output, Are Ameliorated by High Levels of Physical Activity in Adulthood"
- Mayo Clinic: "Aging: What to Expect"
- AARP: "Your Guide to a Healthier, Happier, Longer Life"
- American Heart Association: "Menopause and Heart Disease"
- JAMA: "Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States"
- Harvard Health: "The Essentials to Keep a Man's Heart Healthy"
- International Journal of Obesity: "Physical Activity and Weight Gain Prevention in Older Men"
- National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine: "Dietary Reference Intakes"
- Harvard Health: "The Top 5 Benefits of Cycling"
- Harvard Health: "Preserve Your Muscle Mass"