Staying healthy Over 50
Staying healthy over 50 comes with different challenges than when I was younger. I have always been active and having been a Nurse for nearly 40 years I am very aware of illness and health prevention. As a young nurse I was a health zealot – I watched what I ate, didn’t drink alcohol and exercised at a gym from the age of 19. This was 1979 at a time when gym use was unusual, far from the norm it is today. I have always attended aerobic classes, back in the day when the ‘thing’ was Going For The Burn with Jane Fonda, in fact I even remember following a Jane Fonda workout with colleagues during break times on night shifts at around 4am! That was real commitment to staying healthy.
I was probably the fittest I’ve ever been in my mid 40’s – I never thought I could run, thought I couldn’t breathe, but after training with a Personal Trainer and running with a friend I completed the Manchester 10K at the age of 46! I was so proud of myself. Then my mother became ill and my running, exercising and commitment to staying healthy took a backseat. Fitness, like anything, becomes a habit and I lost that habit. Following this period I then entered a stage in my Nursing Career that was very demanding, physically and emotionally draining. I lost my desire to go to exercise, All I wanted to do was collapse on the sofa at the end of a shift or rest on my days off in preparation for the next run of demanding shifts. I was in a permanent state of exhaustion, sometimes working days and night shifts in the same week.
The years of working as a nurse also took its toll on my joints. I was diagnosed with a chronic back problem – Facet Joint Syndrome and Osteo Arthritis. In my 50’s and having made the decision to retire at 55 I did very little exercise apart from walking, I felt I had earned my spurs and could stop exercising. I resented the fact that I had to continue to be committed to staying healthy by attending regular exercise classes. The only exercise I did after retirement was learning to swim, something I had never learned as a child. I attended a weekly class for 45 minutes for about 5 months, that was the extent of my efforts. Once I could swim a couple of breadths of the pool I stopped. I only wanted to learn to be able to enjoy the swimming pool on holiday.
The only factor that motivated me to return was the ever ongoing mission to lose weight – read my thoughts on my menopausal weight gain. I started attending Zumba classes, I loved these, enjoying the music, but I did not attend classes weekly, it was very sporadic. Finally at the end of last year, 2017, I decided to join the gym at my local Leisure Centre, what I saw was many women my age or older, looking trim, fabulous and happy. The penny dropped and I realised that continuing to exercise over 50 was a vital part of well being and staying healthy. These ladies were an inspiration.
I then hit another set back in January this year when I fell and injured my knee. Following an MRI and a Consultation I was diagnosed with PatelloFemoral Arthritis, an incidental finding to the injury, and I was advised not to engage in any impact activities – bringing the end of my Zumba career! Because of the pain from the injury I suffered to my knee cap – I had micro fractures, my fitness activity came to a close again for another couple of months.
I am now pleased to say I have been back regularly attending the gym since July and my habit is back! One of the exercises I have done has caused a flare up of my knee problem again, but this time I have continued to attend and just modify my activity.
The big lesson I have learned is that exercise is essential to good health. Following an exercise session and I have showered. I feel fabulous, my skin is glowing and I sleep much better. Even my hot flushes during the night seem a little bit less. Yes, it may bring on aches and pains, but I think the benefits far outweigh the negatives. So ladies, keep going! I saw it as a chore for a couple of years, now I embrace and enjoy it!
Yesterday I attended my GP Practice for a Health MOT. I self referred to monitor my health. Next week I hope to update you with my reasons for doing this and the results.
What is your favourite exercise? Do you or your older female relatives stay active in their 50’s and retirement? Let me know what they do, their health and well being strategies – I love to find new methods.
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