Tips on Healthy Aging
Of the 54 million Americans aged 65 years and older, about 22% report fair to poor health. But growing older should never be synonymous with poor health and frailty. While it’s no secret that aging increases the risk of developing new medical problems, or experiencing challenges like mobility or memory issues, a few healthy lifestyle tweaks can not only help you take control of your aging experience, they will keep you thriving as you age.
Maintaining proper physical and mental health drastically minimizes the risk for unsuccessful aging. Staying active, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, limiting alcohol intake, and staying mentally engaged will help you maintain a fulfilling and independent life. Doing all of those things may sound challenging, but the truth is that a few small changes here and there can make a big difference.
Staying active is easier than it sounds. Just by increasing the number of steps you take per day lowers your risk of death significantly. While high-energy activities such as jogging or weight-training are good, studies show that less rigorous movement still counts as exercise. Doing things that keep your body moving, like gardening, going for short walks, chasing after grandkids, and walking around the grocery store, all count towards your steps per day.
Try this: challenge yourself to be active and on your feet for at least 30 minutes every day.
Making smart food choices is good for your body and mind. A well-balanced, Mediterranean-style diet, which includes fresh produce, whole grains, and healthy fats, may reduce your risk for heart disease and have a positive impact on cognition.
Try this: over the course of one week, choose to eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains instead of processed food snacks; opt for healthful fats like nuts and olive oil instead of butter; and eat moderate amounts of dairy and fish while keeping other meats to a minimum.
Managing your mental stress is another key to healthy aging. Long-term stress directly affects your health and increases risk for heart disease, depression, memory issues, and digestive problems. You can decrease the effects of stress on your health by participating in activities like regular exercise, daily meditation or mindfulness sessions, connecting with friends and loved ones on a regular basis, and volunteering in your community.
Try this: Wherever you are, take a few seconds to get as comfortable as possible, close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
- Inhale for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
- Release your breath for 4 seconds.
Repeat this 2-3 times then open your eyes. Set a daily reminder on your phone to do this breathing exercise at least once per day.
These seemingly small activities and changes to your daily routine can create amazing health benefits for you and your loved ones. Make the decision today to include a few simple, healthier choices to experience a longer, fuller, more joyful life.
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