Monday Medical: Staying 'Fit at 50 and beyond'

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For more than six years, I have been editing all of the columns that appear on Mondays and writing quite a few of them. During that time, I have slipped further and further away from being a personal role model for healthy living.

Those of you who are fellow baby boomers may relate to the causes and the symptoms of middle-aged malaise:

- Working more and exercising less.

- Raising your children while worrying about your aging parents.

- Slumping over the computer keyboard.

- Munching mindlessly in the evenings.

- Stepping on the scale and seeing a number that would have horrified you in your youth.

- Putting yourself last.

Well, take a deep breath. I am about to put my money where my mouth has been and do something to reverse my downhill slide. I am joining SportsMed's Fit at 50 and Beyond Club.

This new program is designed for people who are approaching 50, already in their 50s or into their 60s and beyond. SportsMed Director Susan Ring is putting together a year-long line-up featuring physicians and fitness experts to present lectures and lead exercise classes.

This isn't just another workout program. The club format will introduce different types of exercise. We will be exploring Yoga, balance, Pilates and Tai Chi, to name a few. One key goal is to teach people exercises that will not put further strain on knees and other joints that have taken a licking over the years and perhaps aren't as sturdy as they used to be.

Fit at 50 and Beyond is all about giving people the knowledge and inspiration to look younger and feel healthier. The program's total-body approach to fitness is based on the six elements of fitness formulated by the American Physical Therapy Association. These are: aerobic capacity, body structure, body composition, body balance, muscular flexibility and muscular strength.

This program is not going to be all exercise all the time, however. Because eating right and keeping your skin looking young and healthy are key components of aging well, those topics will get their fair share of attention. Coordination and balance will also be covered.

The first class will include a screening for posture. I can almost hear the collective rustling as my loyal readers straighten their shoulders and sit up straighter. If you're habitually round-shouldered, take this little test. Go look in a mirror and do a before-and-after pose. See how much younger you look when you're not slouching.

And how would you like to have more energy at the end of the day? This is an achievable goal. With the right kind of knowledge, any reasonably healthy individual can attain and maintain a more robust lifestyle.

Fit at 50 and Beyond is aimed at improving life for those of us who are no longer quite as flexible, strong and slim as we once were. Class lecturers and leaders will weave together information, exercise, encouragement and measurement.

That sounds like a formula for success and more fun than trying to squeeze into those jeans that have grown too tight for comfort.

<p>Christine McKelvie is public relations director of Yampa Valley Medical Center.</p>

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