How To Achieve Healthy Aging
There is no denying that our bodies and minds change as we get older. However, while there are some factors we can’t control, how we feel as we age depends on many factors that are within our control. Older adults can live longer, healthier lives and truly enjoy their golden years if they choose to build a healthy lifestyle.
It’s never too early or too late to ditch bad habits and add good ones, so let’s look at 7 essential habits for aging well.
Keep moving! One of the most important things you can do for your health at any age is to be physically active. Regular exercise helps keep brain cells healthy by increasing blood flow and delivering them more oxygen. It also helps you control your weight, boost your mood, keep your bones and muscles strong, sleep better, and decreases your risk of disease. No matter what your age or condition, there is a type of physical activity that's right for you. The important thing is to aim to be active every day.
Stay connected. Older adults who feel connected to others are more likely to thrive than those who do not. Protect your emotional health by staying in touch with friends, family, and the community. Also, engaging in meaningful community activities like volunteer work leads to feeling healthier and less depressed.
Care for your mental health. As we age, our stressors change and so does our ability to deal with them. But long-term stress can damage brain cells, cause memory loss, lead to depression, and decrease your body’s ability to fight off and recover from infection. It’s vital to develop strategies and habits that decrease feelings of stress and allow you to relax. Foster a positive attitude toward life and make it a priority to do things that make you happy. Also, keep your brain active and challenged to protect your memory and mental sharpness over the long haul.
Eat nutrient-rich foods. Our metabolism slows down as we age so older adults may lose their appetite and generally need less food overall. It is essential to choose food that is very nutrient-dense like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein so you get plenty of nourishment from smaller amounts of food. Either plant or animal protein is fine, but be sure to include it everyday since adequate protein prevents the muscle loss that can occur with age. Also, include healthy fats like those found in avocados, nuts, seeds, fish, and olive oil for brain and heart health. Finally, remember to eat plenty of fibre and drink lots of water to help you avoid constipation, which is more common in older adults.
Supplement. After age 50, your body does need more of some vitamins and minerals from foods or supplements than before. Calcium and vitamin D are needed to maintain bone health, B12 becomes harder to absorb from foods as we age, and omega-3’s are important for reducing inflammation wherever it comes up in the body.
Quit Smoking. There is hardly a better decision you could make for your health than to quit smoking. And it’s never too late to quit. Your body begins to heal within 20 minutes of your last cigarette. Your chance of a heart attack goes down immediately and within a year, your odds of heart disease drop by half. Find the help you need to kick this bad habit as soon as possible.
Get enough sleep. As we age we tend to have a harder time falling and staying asleep than when we were younger. The truth is, older adults need just as much sleep as younger adults - seven to nine hours per night - but often get much less. Lack of sleep can cause depression, irritability and memory problems. Be sure to adapt to the natural rhythm of your body and go to bed earlier if necessary so you increase your likelihood of sleeping well.
The second half of your life can bring some of your most rewarding decades. Be sure to implement these lifestyle habits so you can fully enjoy the wonderful years ahead of you.