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Start Each Day Awake and Refreshed Naturally

For many people, as they get older getting the proper amount of sleep just doesn’t seem possible. If you have trouble falling asleep every night or a few times in a week, you’re not alone. Scientific research shows that over 40 million Americans suffer from some sort of chronic long-term sleeping disorder.

There are many contributing factors, some short-term and many that lead to nightly insomnia. As a result, some people try to self-medicate with pills or alcohol and this can lead to a life of dependency and a future stay at an inpatient drug rehab center.

How much sleep do you need?

The average person requires anywhere from seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep. When your body doesn’t get the amount it needs you wake up tired. This feeling will travel with you throughout the rest of your day. As a result, your memories from the prior day can become vague and your concentration levels challenged. This can affect your ability to drive, operate machinery and perform at your best at work.

Sleep patterns

Don’t you wish you could go back to your teens when going to bed actually meant falling asleep in minutes? If you go to bed and spend hours each night trying to fall asleep, it may be time to change up your bedtime routine. When you’re young you’re active throughout the day and by the time you head off to bed, you’re exhausted. So what changes happen that make it difficult to sleep when you are older?

First, stress can take a toll on not only your body but also your mind. If you worry about final exams, bills or your job, any one of these things can keep you up at night. Clear your mind before you head off to bed. Exercise a few hours prior to bedtime can actually release the stress and replace it with good feelings that relax you. For others establishing a bedtime routine that includes a warm bath just prior to bed, relaxes the body and helps them fall asleep faster. And, yet others believe that a glass of warm milk does the trick.

What to eliminate hours before bedtime?

Many people already know not to drink a cup of coffee before bed and expect to climb in the sack and catch some zzzs. But there are other things that maybe you’re not aware of like exercise. While exercise helps to release endorphins which make you feel good, exercise also energizes you, which is the last thing you want right before bedtime. Instead, get in your exercise a few hours before bedtime and then take a hot bath to relax the muscles. Spicy foods can also prevent you from acquiring a good night’s sleep. When you eat these foods late at night you often get heartburn shortly after. And, once you lie down the heartburn worsens, keeping you awake longer.

Create an environment for sleeping

Going to bed should mean going to sleep. If you spend hours trying to fall asleep you may be able to achieve a good night’s sleep by making a few simple changes to the environment in your bedroom. In order to sleep you need a dark room. If you fall asleep with the television on, turn it off. Not only will the noise keep you up, but the flickering light from dark to bright on the screen will also prevent solid sleep. If you have a street light that shines in your window, cover it up with a black-out curtain. Some people can’t sleep because it’s too quiet so they use a fan to create white noise; this can actually soothe you off to sleep because it’s a steady sound. The point is to eliminate the distractions in the room.

Seniors and the difficulty of sleeping more than five or six hours

For many seniors, as they get older they find that acquiring seven or eight hours of sleep just isn’t possible and they start taking naps. These naps are actually most of the problem. In order to break the cycle of taking a two-hour nap each day you need to stay up regardless of how tired you may feel. A few days of doing this and you’ll find that you’re able to fall asleep and stay asleep. For other seniors, it’s their retirement that caused their lack of sleep. The way to get back your good sleeping habits is to establish a routine. Just like your former work week, set an alarm and get up the same time each day.

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Do you feel to old to start exercising?

According to the findings of a study from the University of Dundee, published in the journal Age and Ageing, the most powerful ‘deterrent’ among the over-65s is a lack of interest, and disbelief that exercise can enhance and/or lengthen life. Yet one study on 90-year-old women in a nursing home found that 12 weeks of strength training took the equivalent of 20 years off their thigh muscle age, resulting in improved walking and mobility.
The message about physical activity isn’t working.

“Regular physical activity is vital for healthy aging. It can help delay, prevent, or manage many costly chronic diseases faced by adults 50 years or older. Physical activity can also reduce the risk of premature death”

People know the message and don’t believe it or don’t think it applies to them.

Sports England are providing a £10 million pot of funding to help older adults (55+) to get active
“Opened the first phase of our Inactivity Fund, which will focus on projects that help older adults (55+) to get active. We will be making up to £10 million of National Lottery funding available. We’re targeting older adults first because our insight tells us this age group is much more likely to be inactive: 42 per cent of people aged 55+ are inactive compared to 29 per cent of the population as a whole.”

They are encouraging innovative ideas, anything ANYTHING to get people moving more.

I have to confess innovative isn’t really my area of expertise, I see myself as a sort of middle of the road plodder rather than out of the box thinker but it started me wondering what could get the older demographic moving.

Firstly it’s hard to picture yourself doing something if you don’t see any representation of yourself out there doing that thing. Most physical activity advertising shows very happy, polished people who are never, ever sweating or actually looking like the are exerting themselves. Every hair in place and lovely clothing. (see images on this very blog!)  There might be a few genetically blessed people who do look like that, but it’s not the majority. This is me post exercise.
post exercise
And Womens Health haven’t to my knowledge (but would LOVE to be corrected) ever shown a 80 year old lady using a resistance band whilst seated on the front cover…

And it’s not just being represented it’s also about knowing what is available. Leisure centres are very good at publicising months free membership and the fashionable activities they offer (hot yoga anyone?) but how about the activities they offer for those people with health conditions or impairments? Instead of saying 50+ classes how about calling them beginner, or gentle or slow. Emphasise it will be inclusive to all. 50+ doesn’t mean anything, I know 50 yrs olds who can run marathons and 21 yr olds who get out of breath walking up stairs but a lot of non-exercises lack the confidence to start, let them know the class will be tailored for them so taking away the fear.

Giving grants to companies to install showers and changing facilities at work in exchange for them allowing employees time to exercise in the day. (healthy employees means less sick days before anyone starts getting disgruntled by this.)

How about making all changing cubicles actually big enough for a person to change in. Providing shower stalls that have hand rails for those who need assistance (and whilst they are there putting a towel hook in a space which means the towel won’t get wet!!)

Physical activity needs to be accessible. I know the argument that you can pull on a pair of shoes and go for a walk or a run by just stepping outside your door but some people don’t like running or walking and if they don’t like doing something (or don’t like doing something alone) they are probably not going to make it a long term habit.

Of course it’s not feasible to build leisure centres in every village in the UK (but I do believe we should ensure every leisure centre built in the UK now has a pool) but how about providing transport for those in the rural areas? Or provide grants to village halls to get fitness classes started up for beginners?

More (free) respite care available so adults who are also carers can have the time to do some physical activity knowing that the person they look after is being looked after safely. Free or heavily subsidised creches available for parents who want to exercise but have small children.

I think we need to concentrate our resources on the people who want to exercise. Make it easy for them. If someone doesn’t want to exercise there is little we can do about it. However maybe we can do something about people who do want to but can’t for a reason we can provide a solution to.

Hopefully some one out there is having truly innovative ideas that will get people who don’t want to exercise moving but until then how about we start with some basics for the ones who do?

What stops you from moving more? What would you like to see improve?

The post Do you feel to old to start exercising? appeared first on Whole Life Fitness.

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