A friend of mine once asked me what kind of fitness program would work for his older parents.
When I explained that I could design an exercise plan to suit anyone at any age, he told me that he thought his parents, in their mid-to-late 60s, would be resistant to any kind of exercise, but he still wanted them to get some activity in their everyday life.
My friend, John, was a bit worried that his mother and father were becoming a little too sedentary. He wanted to make sure they still had energy, muscle strength and bone density to carry them through an active retirement.
That’s an important thing to remember – as we age, we naturally lose muscle and bone density. It takes work to keep our body in shape to enjoy our twilight years. It’s not necessarily the same work we need when we’re in our 20s looking for great six-pack abs or when we’re in our 30s aiming to run our first marathon. It takes a different approach as we age to keep our body and mind active to do what we want them to do.
So back to my advice for John: I told him that his parents should take up dancing. I suggested ballroom dancing because dancing in itself is a great exercise that gets the body moving, significantly increasing bone density and muscle strength.
John took the idea back to mom and dad, and they loved it. They tried a couple different dance types before they settled on country line dancing. They go about twice a week for about an hour each session. In addition to the great exercise they get while out on the floor, they’ve made a few new friends with whom they now get to enjoy their active lifestyle.
Dancing isn’t just an activity I suggest for older couples. It’s a great form of exercise for everyone from children through seniors. And it’s not just about bone density and muscle strength.
For those worried about burning calories, dancing tackles that, too. In fact, an hour of ballroom dancing will burn somewhere in the range of 250-400 calories. Obviously, factors like dance speed, age, gender and weight will all affect caloric expenditure.
For this week’s easy fit mini recipe I suggest you try my turkey burger. Take a pound of turkey breast and combine with one egg, a quarter cup of dried bread crumbs, a third cup of diced onions, a teaspoon of spicy mustard and a touch of black pepper.
Mix all of the ingrediants and form into four patties. Place the burgers on a hot charcoal grill and cook for 7-8 minutes on each side. Serve with lettuce and tomato on a whole wheat bun.