From High-Tech to Low-Tech, Great Gear For Getting Fit

The best fitness gear you can get requires no expense! It’s at the end of your legs: your own two feet. Walking (or jogging or running) as much as you can in any given week will burn calories and keep you cardiovascularly fit. Being on the move is considered one of the key factors in staying healthy and living longer (as well as enhancing one’s stability, litheness, and mind function).

The pioneering body device is Fitbit. Other devices have grown up around it. Credit: Fitbit
The pioneering body device is Fitbit. Other devices have grown up around it.
Credit: Fitbit

But in the digital, tech-centric world we all live in today, even our simple walking regimens can be enhanced by a bit of 21st-century gear, the most popular being Fitbit. The dandy little waterproof device straps on your wrist and keeps track of exactly how much you’re actually walking any given day. The basic device ($80 on Amazon) monitors the number of steps you take and lets you set personal goals you can track. It also monitors your sleep so you know how long and even how peacefully you’ve slept. For a bit more moolah, there are more sophisticated trackers available, like the Apple Watch,  that do such amazing things as alert you when you’ve been idle for a certain length of time, and track your heart rate, skin temperature, and blood oxygenation.


Can you do that? Weights are critical to seniors' fitness. Credit: GymRat
Can you do that? Weights are critical to seniors’ fitness.
Credit: GymRat

The most essential low-tech fitness gear for seniors? Without question, weights. Every official health organization recommends that seniors, whatever their age, incorporate regular strength training into their weekly regimen. In Part Two of this series, the UCSF medical director I was interviewing recommended I get a bone scan since I hadn’t had one since my 50s. The new scan showed that I had osteopenia, meaning lower-than-normal bone mass, now widely considered to be a natural aging process, and one that, in many instances, can be dealt with naturally without drugs. I was told to make sure I was getting enough calcium and to do regular weight-bearing activities. In addition to my weekly half-hour weight class, I now do a half-hour of weights two more times a week. Start out with a weight that’s comfortable (but not too!), then once your round of reps becomes too comfortable, go up a weight. I’m currently using three-pound weights, but I’m about to switch to my five-pound weights. You can find many different weight exercises for seniors online, so it’s easy to create your own program; just be sure you’re getting all the muscle groups.

An update on my own personal fitness journey: I continue to make slow yet steady progress to decrease my weight and measurements and increase my core strength, balance, cardiovascular capability, and stamina. I rarely miss any of my four weekly exercise classes (aerobics, stretching, and weights), which I’ve become a little addicted to. I see a marked improvement in my balance (I can grab an ankle and bring it up behind me for a quad stretch without teetering at all, but I still can’t do burpees, which the 78-year-old woman next to me does without batting an eyelash!). I’ve quit Weight Watcher’s, but I continue to keep a food diary and I’ve cut out some bad eating habits that I miss not at all (such as potato chips with sandwiches). I make it a point to say no to myself dietarily several times a day. When I started this fitness series on May 1st, I weighed 166 pounds; today I weighed in at 156 pounds. At this rate, it would take me another year to reach my target weight of 130 pounds, so I plan on making some major changes in my diet regimen in the coming three months. Stay tuned!

A Dietary P.S.—

How sweet it isn’t! I religiously check the nutrition facts on labels for the daily value percentages, but I didn’t even notice all these years that there is NO percentage listed for sugar until my daughter watched the excellent documentary, Fed Up, and informed me of this fact (thanks, sugar lobby!). I discovered that one Margarita accounts for my entire daily allowance! So if you’re interested in keeping track yourself, know that the American Heart Association recommends 37.5 grams of sugar per day for men and 25 grams per day for women (keep in mind that many unprocessed foods contain sugar naturally); also, before you sugar up, consider the harm sugar can do to aging teeth.

Check out this site if you’d like to know more about sugar and how much is good for you.

Editor Note:  We congratulate Rose Marie for her perseverance.  She has made progress and shared her lessons along the way.  Thank you, Rose Marie, we are all impressed by your commitment to self-improvement. Also note that mention of products was not paid for or supported in any way.

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