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Change at Any Age

Staying active and fit (physically, mentally and emotionally) after 50 is not as hard as you might think. But you have to overcome some obstacles we all face, no matter our age.

Article
Michele Chiappetta
Photos
Sarah Eliza Roberts
Posted
April 28, 2019

Staying fit as we age is advantageous in many ways. The benefits of keeping active include improved energy levels, decreased risk of falling and breaking bones, faster recovery after an illness or surgery, clearer thinking, feeling happier, staying independent longer, and more. Sounds like a recipe for a healthier, more satisfying life, doesn’t it?

So, why are so many people reluctant to work toward staying fit after 50? It turns out many of us just let ourselves get busy with daily activities, and we don’t make time to maintain our well-being. We often get discouraged because we don’t know where to begin. Or, we may look at the numbers on the scale and think it’s too late — or too hard — to make this better.

Not so, says Teresa Moyer, a local yoga instructor and personal trainer. Moyer is turning 50 this year, and with her athletic experience coupled with her personal experience staying fit, she has plenty of practical, encouraging advice for women (and men) who want to age well and take care of themselves emotionally, intellectually, socially and physically.

“The majority of women my age can think, ‘It’s too late; I’m past my prime.’ But you’re only as old, or as young, as you feel,” she says. “If you’re mobile and active, then you’re keeping your body where it needs to be.”

Moyer has followed her advice over the years, looking for ways to balance a busy daily routine and raising a family with caring for her health. Raised on a ranch and active as a child, Moyer also played sports as a youth, married a coach, and put her children in sports. But that doesn’t mean she always took care of herself.

Teresa Moyer, a local yoga instructor and personal trainer, is turning 50 in 2019, and with her athletic experience coupled with her personal experience staying fit, she has plenty of practical, encouraging advice for women (and men) who want to age well and take care of themselves emotionally, intellectually, socially and physically. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
Teresa Moyer, a local yoga instructor and personal trainer, is turning 50 in 2019, and with her athletic experience coupled with her personal experience staying fit, she has plenty of practical, encouraging advice for women (and men) who want to age well and take care of themselves emotionally, intellectually, socially and physically. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

“I was either coaching my children, or I was a team mom for every sport they played,” she notes. “It wasn’t until our children were nearing college age that I decided it was time to do something for me.”

What she decided to do was to get her certification as a yoga instructor and personal trainer, working with people of all ages, experiences, and backgrounds. “Age doesn’t have to deter your fitness,” she says. “I have a 70-year-old woman in class right now doing box jumps. It’s all possible. You have to overcome those obstacles to staying fit that we all face.”

The first area to tackle is how to start or maintain an exercise regimen. Moyer suggests beginning by asking yourself a few questions: What are your goals? What do you want to achieve, and how much are you willing to do to be successful? What motivates you? Then look at your schedule to carve out time in your daily routine to fit in the activities that will help you achieve your fitness goals.

“Take a moment to reflect on your level of commitment, then make a conscious effort to do some forward thinking,” says Moyer. “You are in control of the outcome. Once you change your perspective, you can change your entire life.”

For many people, one of the biggest obstacles to stepping out into an actual workout plan is budget, but you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to stay fit. “Budget can be a huge hurdle for a lot of people. But I don’t think you have to have expensive equipment,” Moyer says. There are plenty of workout routines available on YouTube, for example, and exercises using body weight can save you on buying equipment.

For many people, one of the biggest obstacles to stepping out into an actual workout plan is budget, but you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to stay fit. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
For many people, one of the biggest obstacles to stepping out into an actual workout plan is budget, but you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to stay fit. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

Another barrier that’s easier to beat than you might think? Figuring out your routine and learning to do it correctly. “You can walk in (to a gym or studio) and be overwhelmed,” says Moyer. To fight that feeling, work with the gym instructors to set up a routine, or hire a personal trainer for an orientation session.

Ask not just to understand the gym equipment but to learn some simple exercises you can do anywhere. “It’s nice to be taught some basic fundamental moves that you can take with you to a park, in your hotel, inside your Airbnb, even when you travel,” she says.

And rather than rushing through a routine, take time to do it right, so you don’t hurt yourself. “I would rather you slow down, be intentional, engage the muscle and get a good rep rather than rush it and cut the rep short,” she says. If you struggle with a move or have an injury, let your trainer know so they can give you some different options. Often, there are modifications to a move that will work better for you.

Also, you’ll be more likely to avoid injuries if you merely learn to pay attention to your body and not overdo your workouts. “Day to day, our bodies can feel differently,” she says. “What’s a breeze today may be challenging tomorrow, and vice versa. So, it’s important to be kind to yourself. Age doesn’t matter as much as how you feel that day. If you listen to your body and trust it, you know where the line is. If you don’t, you’ll push yourself too hard. If something doesn’t feel right, come out of the pose, don’t take it as deep, do a different move.”

To maintain a good weight as you age, Moyer suggests choosing organic foods and finding healthy recipes you can make at home. And if you eat out, choose healthy options. “Many restaurants have so many healthy options,” she notes. Other ways to improve your eating habits include eating less meat, more vegetables, and adding superfoods — foods that are dense in nutrients and good for you, like nuts, berries, salmon, broccoli, beans, and quinoa.

In addition to staying fit physically, Moyer says there’s a lot we can do as we age to stay fit mentally and emotionally. “Self-care — whether it’s taking a class, a brisk walk, jog, yoga, spin, finding things you can do for yourself that allow your body to reset — are so invaluable,” she says. Meditation, exercise, a mani/pedi, a walk outdoors at one of Tulsa’s many wonderful parks — all are beneficial to your mental and physical wellness. “Don’t think of them as a chore but as something you’re giving back to yourself,” she suggests. Take care of yourself, because you deserve it.

Ultimately, as we age, it’s important to stay focused on why fitness matters to us. “For me, it’s the way that I feel,” says Moyer. “It’s that sense of accomplishment, the way your entire body functions better. You’re happier, and you’re able to portray that happiness to other people.”