CARVILLE: Senior fitness checklist |

CARVILLE: Senior fitness checklist

As a senior, it isn’t always easy to maintain a fitness routine because of other things that often seem to get in the way — errands, appointments, even just slowing down a little. The latest example is the recent PG&E power outage.

As we age, we lose some height and muscle mass, but that doesn’t mean we can’t live an active and independent life. So, the question is how do we incorporate the daily activities of life into a routine that maintains the health, strength and flexibility we have left?

Below is a simple checklist.


Small changes in your eating habits can help you lose weight and lower your risk of age-related disease.

1. If you are slightly overweight, losing just 5 percent of your body weight yields huge benefits.

2. Avoid processed meat.

3. Eat vegetables.

4. Skip packaged foods which usually contain excessive sugar and fat.

Remember author Michael Pollan’s quote “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Can’t be better eating advice than that.


Exercise with some intensity, then rest. This is not really intimidating. This winter spend a few minutes at the gym on exercise machines that measure your activity so you can gradually improve over time. Remember your ‘activity’ is relative to you and to no one else.

Exercise scientists have found that interval training leads to muscle improvement at the cellular level. Just 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, including warmup and cool-down, yields tremendous benefits. Do what you enjoy – rowing machines or treadmills or stationary cycling or swimming. When feel yourself breathing harder and you are getting important health benefits.

Build strength by placing stress on your muscles. Use free weights or modern cable machines. Your muscles will respond to the push and pull of lifting and will build and strengthen muscle tissue.

One minute of lifting – which is eight to 10 repetitions – is the key. Repeat until you grow tired, then stop and give yourself a break by soaking in the hot tub.


It really is that simple – eat well and move more. The problem is that we don’t always take the time to follow these common-sense guidelines.

Often it takes ‘a scare’ to shock us into action. Sometimes the ‘scare’ is fatal or disabling and then it is too late to change our ways.


Try to make those ‘eating’ changes today. When shopping in the supermarket, purchase the items on the perimeter. Supermarket layout has the ‘best stuff’ (fruit-vegetables, fresh meat-fish, dairy) on the perimeter. The candy, canned food, chips are all in the interior aisles. Try shopping only on the perimeter for a month to see if you don’t lose some weight and feel better.

Try to make those ‘movement’ changes tomorrow. Whatever you decide to do… just do it. If you need some help, consult a personal trainer at the gym who can assess your physical condition and set up an exercise plan that is tailored to your particular needs and limitations.

After you get ‘your individual plan,’ you can continue to workout with a trainer or go own your own while changing your workout every month or two.

I want to re-emphasize that this is all quite simple. It just requires some action on your part. In a couple of months, you will notice a big difference … and living a healthy life into your 80’s and beyond.

Phil Carville is a co-owner of the South Yuba Club. He is happy to respond to questions or comments. You can reach him at

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