Mirella Monte, second from the left, with her walking group. Monte believes by keeping up an active lifestyle, she can be an example in healthy living to her children and grandchildren.

Healthy lifestyle gives seniors their best life

By 
  • August 31, 2011

TORONTO - Mirella Monte walks more than 6 km five days a week. She meets her walking group at 6:30 a.m. and then does a tour of the neighbourhood in about one hour and 10 minutes. Monte is one healthy 68-year-old.

“There’s a lot my children and my grandchildren can give me but I have something to give back too,” said Monte. “I can be an example to them in what I can do.”

Monte is the picture of good health. In addition to walking, she is on a bowling team and takes exercise classes for people over 50 when the weather is sub par.

Her healthy eating supplements her active lifestyle.

“We don’t buy any prepared food,” said Monte. “We cook our food.” In her household, they eat a bit of everything: lots of soup, vegetables, fruits and meat — although they seem to want less meat the older they get, she said.

And in order to keep her mind healthy, Monte helps other people. She has a friend who lives at Villa Colombo retirement home, so she tries to visit her every week.

“I strongly believe you have to be busy all the time if you’re retired,” she said. “There has to be some purpose in everybody’s life and if you are healthy, you should have some purpose outside yourself.”

Not surprisingly, exercise and healthy eating will help the senior demographic live their best life, said personal trainer Michael Carrera.

“Any time you do aerobic-type activity, you increase circulation and that really has a great impact on the heart,” said Carrera, a parishioner at St. Benedict’s parish in Toronto. “It has a great impact on blood pressure, improving cholesterol and better health in general.”

And the increase in blood flow to the heart means you’re getting blood to the mind.

“When you get more blood to the mind, it actually increases the protein in the mind that helps memory, helps co-ordination, helps balance and all the other aspects of the nervous system that we’re involved in on a daily basis.”

One important aspect of any exercise regimen is weight training, said Carrera.

“Weight training is very important for seniors because as we age — especially after 45 — we begin to lose our muscle mass. And a lot of people can delay the onset of this loss by following a weight training program.”

Carrera recommends using resistance bands over dumbbells as they’re easier on the joints and are more forgiving if you have incorrect form or if you make a mistake.

As for eating, he suggests a diet rich in whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta), abundant in fruits and vegetables, moderate in protein and reducing your intake of refined sugars.

“Then you want to have the spiritual component which really brings everything together from a mind, body and spirit perspective,” said Carrera.  

“So in terms of gratitude and spending time with family and friends and really using this newfound body, newfound strength and newfound energy you have and actually putting it to work for you so you can get it back in other ways.”

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