Keeping your muscles and bones strong is key to lifelong independence. Another big benefit: Yale University doctors say healthy muscles and bones cut your risk of diabetes, heart disease and arthritis by 50 percent! Here are five things you can start doing now.
Sit down, stand up.
The number-one predictor of independence for women in their 90s? Strong thighs, which make getting out of chairs and gliding over sidewalks a breeze. To boost thigh strength by 30 percent in one month, try this simple chair exercise: Slowly sit down, then stand back up without using your hands. Repeat 10 times, three times daily. Nancy Lonsdorf, M.D., author of The Ageless Woman ($31.47, Buy on Amazon), explains that thigh muscles strengthen rapidly once they’re stimulated.
Dip into guacamole.
Eating four avocados weekly helps prevent muscle breakdown — and can cut your risk of bone fractures by 35 percent. Ohio State University researchers say plant fats in avocados speed the repair of worn and aging muscles and heighten the production of the bone-building hormone osteocalcin.
Rake up weed trimmings.
Just 10 minutes of resistance exercise daily can prevent bone thinning and increase your muscle strength by 48 percent, making you five times more likely to stay active and independent as you age. The best news? Researchers at Lubbock’s Texas Tech University say lifestyle workouts like doing yard work and carrying grocery bags are as effective as lifting weights!
Nosh on oatmeal.
Spanish researchers say eating one cup of oatmeal and 1 ⁄4 cup of nuts daily can help strengthen bones thanks to minerals like magnesium and manganese that cut your risk of breaks by 45 percent!
Bask in the sun.
Getting 20 minutes of sun daily cuts bone loss and muscle shrinkage by 33 percent and will give you the stamina to do chores or putter around 30 percent longer, say Cornell researchers. Rheumatologist Graeme Jones, M.D., explains sunshine prompts your skin to make vitamin D, which puts the brakes on aging.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.