The fitness choices we make have a wide-ranging impact. Proper women’s health spans decades, not years. Youth makes us feel so terribly immune to injury, illness and ageing. Yet the building blocks to how our bodies maintain fitness and stay in working order are influenced by the choices we make much earlier.
Women often understand the influence of the seasons of life. Puberty is marked with profound change. So too is pregnancy and motherhood. Menopause and moving into the later stages of life is another distinct demarcation point.
But there’s also the in between years to consider. Staying healthy in the later stages of life and/or disease and illness prevention begins now. This is both empowering and a little daunting.
That’s why we’ve decided to breakdown some of the ways you can help your body stay fitter and healthier right into old age and beyond through the fitness choices you make now
Posture is super important
We might think about posture in terms of the school ma’am or our own mothers yelling “stand up straight” and “sit up!”. Turns out, they are right to be concerned.
Poor posture isn’t only about presentation, confidence or looking good. Posture helps ward of back issues, can aid in reducing the impact on joints and aids with breathing.
Think about it. If you’re hunched over the desk all day, slouched in a chair or burying your head in your shoulders when walking, your body is twisting. That unnatural movement can strain muscles, place a lot more pressure on joints and tendons, and can start to change the shape of your body over time.
Plus, you don’t get to expand your chest properly to breathe. That in turn can influence lung function, core strength and how well your body is serviced by oxygen.
By thinking about your posture now and making fitness choices that support good posture, you may be able to avoid a lot of issues later in life. Height shrinkage, back pain, neck issues and provide your joints, heart and circulatory system the right environment to remain healthy for longer.
Pilates works from a place of correcting posture in a natural way. It’s about activating your core to stand and sit well. It’s about lubricating the joints and building strength in the limbs to help balance the effort your body exerts. And it ensures your back’s many nerves are attached to a healthy, strong spine.
It also works with your body’s natural resistance and fitness level. That means it lowers the stress on muscles, tendons and joints to make for safe exercise, now and into older age.
You are what you eat
Obesity is a problem for 1 in 3 older women. Unfortunately, carrying extra kilos increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and can have major life impacts. Due to hormonal changes in the body, it becomes more difficult to remain within a healthy weight range as women get older. Part of ensuring this is not a significant issue in later life is looking after diet in the 30s and 40s.
Food relates to our fitness choices because it’s the fuel our body needs to remain healthy for longer. What, when and how we eat influences our propensity for weight gain. How much we move, and exercise also influences our weight gain. Not enough sleep increases the likelihood of weight issues. Alcohol consumption can also be a contributing factor.
The issue can also become a vicious cycle. The more weight you carry, the greater strain on legs, heart and lungs. The more strain, the more uncomfortable and unpleasant exercise and even day to day movement such as chasing the kids, walking the dog or moving about becomes.
Women can often find themselves in emotional eating patterns where as the comfort with body image lowers, the tendency to comfort eat rises.
Food and what to eat has become huge business. As women, we’re often forced to ditch this and ditch that. We’re made to feel strange about food and are often mislead by marketing campaigns, bad health claims and fad diets. This can be hard to navigate. It can also be hard to manage from a workload level when you’re expected to spend a lot of time preparing food that your family won’t eat.
Part of Body Beyond Birth is our recipe section. We engaged a dietician and a nutritionist to ensure we give the right sort of advice when it comes to food. And by the right advice, we don’t mean something that will sell our next product or based on unobtainable food mythology. We mean healthy, easy to prepare and family-friendly recipes that don’t break the bank or require 17 food processors to make dinner each night.
That way, you can eat for wellness now that lasts in the future as well.
One of the biggest issues women face in the later stages of life are issues with memory, diminished intellectual capacity and diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
While we might not know all the pieces of the puzzle in terms of prevention with reduced memory and cognitive function in old age, we do know that the following areas help prevent issues:
- Regular exercise- it helps to help the brain function healthy
- Problem solving and stimulating the mind- this isn’t about playing memory apps. This is about thinking our way through issues and keeping our minds nimble. You can do this through puzzles, learning new things, reading, craft and more
- Stress reduction- a healthy release of endorphins via exercise can help protect memory and mental capacity
- Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol- again, this helps keep brain function healthy
- Reduce alcohol consumption- alcohol impairs brain tissue and can also depress your brain, leading to mental status changes
- Eating well – antioxidants can help clear the mind and the body to help you maintain health
The fitness choices you make help protect mental acuity. You may already see a pattern of exercise, mindfulness, general health and diet emerging. By choosing to maintain the basic blocks of health, you can stay healthier for longer. Pilates based Body Beyond Birth is all this and more.
It’s all about balance
One of the greatest fears with older women is their capacity to fall badly. Falling for women is not only about the impact of the fall. It’s also about the risk of osteo-related conditions that can weaken bones and reduce their ability to function. Older women can die from falling. At the very least, being unsteady on your feet can increase the need for walking aids early in life.
This can impact confidence, independence, safety in the home and even how long you can remain in the home.
The fitness choices you make now help strengthen bones, create lean muscles and lubricate joints. What you can focus on now is ensuring you have a strong core and great balance as well as bone and muscle health.
If you exercise well and stretch on a regular basis, this makes your body far more able to balance and to call on your inner workings to help you stay upright. Activating your core strength is part of this process, but so too is ensuring your body can handle those times where it needs extra oxygen, quick moving joints and limber muscles.
By choosing exercise such as Pilates and yoga, you give yourself a better chance of remaining steady in old age for longer. Pilates and yoga are about balance and ensuring your limbs are strong. Stretching makes muscles limber, the blood circulates, and the joints are held in position and lubricated well.
By making great balance a focus now, you prepare yourself for one of the leading causes of injury and loss of independence for older women.
Enjoy being the sassy older woman
We think it’s safe to say we’re all inspired by the women that are still dancing, creating, making, kicking their fashionable look and having fun in their 80s and 90s. As mums, we probably also see on a regular basis the difference between the children interacting with grandma or great grandma when it comes to health.
One of the best ways to ensure you’re here to see your grandkids and great-grandkids and to enjoy your children now is to place emphasis on being healthy. You are the woman your family needs. You’re the one they rely on for day-to-day life as well as the want during milestones in the future.
Looking after your health now is about being there in the future. If not for yourself, do it for your family now and for future generations.