Have you ever opened your glove compartment, looking for sun glasses or bubble gum, and come across your car’s maintenance guide, that little book you got when you bought the car, promised yourself that you would look through one day, threw in the glove box and promptly forgot about?
Needless to say, I have.
And I did just stumble across it the other day, while changing registration papers, titles and all that “moving to a new state” stuff. Let’s not talk about all of the things that I learned, that I should have learned 6 years ago. I could have sworn I didn’t have bluetooth.
But never mind.
That little exercise inspired me to pull together a little list of self care basics for being active, especially focused on the “over 30 crowd”. If you’re under 30 these tips will also work for you, and it’s not too late to start these healthy habits.
But you won’t.
You’re young. You’re healthy. You’ll never get old. You’re indestructible.
…but I digress….
OK, some simple stuff that will help you stay active into your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond….
- Forget the past. I know. you used to lift 250. You used to run a sub-20:00 5k. You used to dunk. Yeah, and I used to have hair. Reset your standards. do your best, but don’t compare your now to your then. Enjoy the fact that you are still able to do the things that you do. There are plenty who can’t.
- Ease your way into it. Especially if you are just starting or re-starting. Don’t go crazy hard the first time back. At ANYTHING. That’s a recipe for injury, or being so sore the next ay that you don’t want to go back. Actually, start easier than you think you should. Be bored the first time or two. A bonus note. If you decide to start back with a trainer right away, don’t let them push you faster than you want to go. He or she may look really impressive in their slightly too tight polo shirt with the logo, but their main motivation is often to get you to continue to buy sessions and/or supplements. In spite of all of the certs they tell you about, it’s YOUR body we’re talking about here.
- Stretching. As I’ve said before in these little missives, as you get older balance, coordination and flexibility are some of the first things that start to decrease. Some of the benefits of stretching include; Improving your performance. Decreasing your risk of injuries Helping your joints move through their full range of motion. Increasing muscle blood flow and enabling your muscles to work more effectively. Another bonus note; You can hurt yourself if you stretch cold muscles. Before stretching, warm up with light walking, jogging or biking at low intensity for 5 to 10 minutes. Even better, stretch after your workout when your muscles are warm. Also, no bouncing, and don’t stretch to the point of pain.
- Denial is not a river in Egypt. For years, this was my first treatment of any ache, pain or potential injury I sustained. Ignore it. It will go away. Sometimes it worked. More often it made a small problem into a bigger problem. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY!! It will let you know.
- R.I.C.E. might not be N.I.C.E. For a long time now, the recommended treatment for soft tissue injuries has been R.I.C.E. ( rest, ice, compression, elevation). But recent studies have shown that neither compression nor elevation really impact recovery one way or another. And how much rest?. In a study by T.L. Mehlhoff et. al., 52 adults with an elbow dislocation who were treated with varying amounts of immobility at the elbow were monitored for their range of motion and pain over a time period of almost three years. It was found that the longer the duration of immobilization, the more difficult it was to re-mobilize the patient’s joint . The immobilization of injured joints also can have the effect of increasing pain. P.O.L.I.C.E.D. is a new acronym that gives a more comprehensive approach to dealing with most soft tissue injuries. This acronym, which stands for Protection, Optimal Loading, Ice, Core strength, Education, and Diet suggests that a wide range of components play a role in the healing process. But really? POLICED? Sounds very “1984”. I think the marketing folks need to massage that one.
And a few old favorites….
- Sleep. While you sleep, your blood pressure goes down, giving your heart and blood vessels a bit of a rest. Adequate sleep also impacts your performance, especially in endurance sports like running, biking or swimming. And lack of sleep adversely affects weight management ( like, it makes you hungry, OK?)
- Diet. Minimize saturated fats, red meat, booze, that kind of thing. Get some fruits & veggies into your diet. You don’t need to go vegan / gluten free / keto crazy, but balance, you know. Diet is such a huge percentage of overall wellness, and that window of healthy vs indulgent gets smaller as the years go by. Trust me. Totally unrelated note. There’s a Netflix series called “Bad Vegan”. It’s not about vegan lifestyle, but’s it’s a crazy comment on what control people are willing to relinquish to other people, who may or may not have their best interests at heart.
- I told you it was unrelated.
OK, that’s it. Get out there. Be active. enjoy the body that our creator gave you. And consider these little suggestions which I’ve acquired through much trial and error. Much trial. Many errors.