Beat the Blahs

Boosting Energy 
in the Young at Heart

According to a recent study in the Journal of Gerontology, feeling old and tired don’t have to go hand in hand. In fact, there are many ways we can boost our energy as we age! While a lack of energy may indicate an underlying medical condition, sometimes just some small changes in your activity level, food choices and sleep patterns can turn feeling fatigued into feeling fabulous!

Slowing down as we age is normal. As we get older, we can’t expect to have the same energy we had when we were in our teens and early twenties. This being said, a desire to have more energy is clear evidence of vitality and a healthy appreciation for life.

The National Institute on Aging advises that people over 50 make a point to get regular exercise. Not only will this increase your energy level, it can also increase your strength! In fact, a study by Frank Mayer, et al, found that after the age of 40, we lose one-quarter to one-third of a pound of muscle each year, which in turn leads to a loss of strength of 1 to 2 percent per year. Evidence from a number of studies has shown that even the frail elderly can benefit from strength training, as it can improve overall strength and improved walking speed.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go to the gym to get regular exercise! Brisk walking, gardening, dancing, biking, aquatic exercises and even playing vigorously with your grandchildren all count! Just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or activity several times a week is enough to make a positive difference.

Aging is the most important factor affecting your sleep rhythm, according to Harvard Medical School physician Julie K. Silver. What this means is that you are likely to have an increased risk of insomnia as you get older. Even if you DON’T experience insomnia, you are still likely to spend less time in DEEP sleep. Getting a good night’s rest is critical in maintaining a healthy energy level during the day. Following are some simple tips that may help improve your sleep and, in turn, increase your energy.

+ Try to avoid napping during the day

+ Try to adopt a less busy schedule and reduce your daily responsibilities.

+ Go to bed at the same time every night and follow a nightly routine.

Eat well to feel well! The link between what you eat and how energetic you feel isn’t always obvious, but it’s there. Eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods promotes better vitality and higher energy levels. Unfortunately, when you’re tired and feeling low on energy, you tend to crave foods that are sweet or salty and low on nutrients. Combat those cravings by keeping nutrient-rich foods on hand. AARP suggests snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, yogurt or hard-boiled eggs. If you eat fewer, smaller, higher-protein meals throughout the day, you might also enjoy higher energy levels.

If you or your loved one continue to feel fatigued after practicing the above tips, consult your doctor! Often when a senior feels a significant lack of energy or listlessness, there’s an underlying medical issue that typically can be treated once identified. In addition, the elderly typically are more likely to report fatigue, lack of energy, or just “feeling tired all the time” rather that reporting symptoms such as pain or depression. The good news is that for most complaints that can lead to ongoing fatigue, treatments are available. Making an appointment with a physician is the first step to teasing out the underlying causes for the lack of energy so you can get back on track for the sake of your health and well-being.

So how do you boost your energy as you age? It’s simple:

+ Engage in regular exercise and physical activities.

+ Get more sleep, better sleep.

+ Eat meals and snacks that are rich in nutrients and as fresh 
 as possible.

  • Consult your doctor if you notice red flags that indicate that something more may be going on that could be affecting your energy level.

Remember, age is just a number. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “You are never too old to set another goal or dream another dream.” Energy is yours for the having with just a little bit of effort!

Mina Acquaye, R.N., B.S.N., M.P.H, CHCE, is founder, CEO and administrator of Excell Home Care, Hospice and Personal Care in south Oklahoma City. She can be reached at 631.0521 or mina@excellcares.com.