Nutrition and fitness at 60 +.
What are the most important things ?
Blog time : as i write it’s near to the end of a very wet and windy August, not like summer at all and iv’e just had to take a week off training due to a minor injury coupled with something like PF pain in one foot. Yesterday i hit the trail again with a little bit more weight over my now standard training route of 8 miles into town ; i often use my walking time to think about things i am doing and blog posts that i am working on here- yesterday i was thinking about the fundamental points of getting fit and staying fit throughout my 60’s so….
Point 1, maintaining mobility.
We have a saying in the combined world of nursing and medicine – “off legs”, and what we mean by that is a person who has lost their mobility to such a great extent that they are quite literally off their legs and maybe confined to chair, wheelchair or bed. Usually when that happens it’s because of a major health problem coupled with advancing old age and generalised weakness , often with added sarcopenia and balance problems and the end result is often a rapid and terminal decline.
Although not nearly the same i had that kind of experience 2 years ago when i had my knee replacement, although i wasn’t strictly ‘off-legs’ for very long, indeed it was a goal to get me up and moving on the first post-operative day but not being able to be normally mobile caused me a lot of muscle loss which has taken me a long time to regain. If anything it taught me that a simple and single joint problem was already reducing my mobility before surgery and while my goals are different and much higher now i now understand why both surgeon and physio considered ‘normal’ function and mobility their main goal.
I don’t write much about my former world of nursing and healthcare although i still think that way and see many problems through that lens, in this context though i immediately see all of the problems that come with reduced mobility and ultimately the ‘off legs’ problem and how much better an older person is when they can still move under their own steam, get about and maintain some independence….not just all of the physical problems that come with sitting or laying for long periods but the mental and psychological decline that happens too. It’s as though we really are animals that have evolved to walk around upright and that there is something unique just about our movement that is more crucial than mere physical travel.
Whatever….during yesterday’s walk i wondered whether i could have done anything different that could have prevented me from having that knee replacement just as i often have to wonder what it is that i have just done that has caused me so much of a different and crippling joint pain….in my case back pain. Strangely, when i did get back to work i had a huge increase in long term back pain possibly as a direct result of rebuilding and re-aligning my knee……then at about the same time i seemed to be developing new joint pain but this time crucially in my hands and i seemed to be losing a different kind of joint function , that of being able to hold, grip and use tools.
In retrospect i don’t think i could have done anything different with my knee as the surgeon pointed out that it was always slightly out of alignment and always grinding away at one side of the joint, then with my back problems…..well, 35 years of nursing and much of that long before we had proper lifting equipment has a big part in that one. The strange one here is the new and emerging joint pain in my hands that i was noticing increasingly last year, i was starting to drop tools or lose grip of them when i was working or my hands would feel ‘claw’ like in the evening : that’s all gone and just with a change in diet. I suspect that being overweight didn’t help either my knee and mobility or my long term back problems and losing some 15% of my body weight has certainly helped with all of that.
That’s all just history and lessons learned though and what i’m much more concerned with at 62 is how i can not just maintain maximum mobility but increase my ‘fitness of mobility’ for the things i want to do during this decade of life. Today then i did my best to come up with 5 fundamental points to keep my joints in good order and stay maximally mobile for as long as possible.
- Maintain a lower overall body weight/BMI but with a body composition for me that must be lower fat (especially visceral fat) and higher muscle mass than i am right now.
- Attend to the nutrition, this needs and is going to get it’s own post although for now i can say : reduce to minimum my sugar and especially fructose intake, reduce all other carbohydrates (especially all grains), stop using unsaturated fats completely, reduce plant poisons generally, add more fatty meat and more saturated fats. In short : reduce all inflammatory dietary toxins.
- Do physical work and exercise that promotes and maintains muscle mass : walk a lot, lift weights, lift my weight, move and exercise in as many planes and environments as possible. In short : walk, run, swim, climb and shift heavy things around.
- Have planned periods of rest and recovery.