With advancing age, you might have more life experiences and you may gain valuable insights into the world around you, but your health declines and you’re at the risk of falling ill with a chronic disease. That is unless you take initiative to age healthy.
But what does it mean to age healthy? Well, it doesn’t mean to look a decade younger than you are. It simply means to take certain measures to retain our health and faculties with advancing age. Read on, as we break down some scientifically proven tips you can employ to not just stay healthy later in life, but also enjoy greater independence.
Physical exertion and exercise can greatly influence the quality of your life at any age, but it becomes the foundation of good health in old age. You may not be too fond of physical activity, but it’s a scientific fact that regular exercise can prolong your life span and improve the overall quality of your life. Simply put, with regular exercise, you live longer and better.
Take osteoporosis for instance. As we grow older, our bones become more and more brittle, and in absence of regular strength exercise, you’re likely to suffer from it. There are also specific exercises that can help you maintain balance later in life which, in turn, is excellent fall prevention. Take the stairways instead of the elevator and go out for a stroll every evening.
Your diet is directly tied to risk factors for various diseases. A balanced diet means you won’t gain an appreciable amount of weight as you age and you won’t suffer from vitamin deficiency. Typically, these deficiencies can lead to a number of health problems, such as muscle decline and body aches. On the flip side, healthy food can minimize the risks of heart problems and diabetes.
But what is a healthy diet? A recommended diet would have a minimal amount of solid and unhealthy fats, processed sugar, and salt intake (more sodium in your food can lead to high blood pressure). It should have protein, healthy fats, Vitamin D sources (dairy products including yogurt and milk), fruits and vegetables. Note that later in life, your body doesn’t demand as many calories but it requires more nutrients.
Pick up a hobby
Learn to play an instrument, how to draw or paint, dance, or cultivate a garden. Find an activity that interests you. This can not only boost your confidence and focus; it also betters your mental health. It strengthens your mental faculties – can result in sharper memory, better sleep, and more self-esteem. And since you enjoy your leisure activity, it can play a role in stress relief as well.
If the hobby requires you to move, for instance, walking, swimming, dancing, or stretching, it can help fortify your immune system and slow down the aging process. It can also prevent chronic diseases like arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.
Falls are one of the most common causes of physical disabilities later in life, and it can spell anxiety for most seniors. One in every four individuals older than 60, experience falls which can lead to fractures and head injuries. Poor coordination and diminished flexibility are some of the primary causes. Blurry vision and some side effects from medications can also cause seniors to lose balance. Then there’s the matter of making their immediate living space free from clutter and tripping hazards.
Regular eye-checkups, proper lighting, fall prevention alarms, and bed rails can go a long way in preventing falls. Since your bones aren’t as strong, you can take calcium and vitamin D supplements to help strengthen them.
Get enough sleep
Did you know that studies have shown that getting adequate sleep can positively influence your mental well-being and can lower the risk of chronic illnesses, depression, and obesity later in life? Getting 7 hours of rest every night is the cornerstone of healthy aging.
Visit your doctor
It is equally important that you get regular checkups, go through preventive testing, and get health screenings so you can identify potential health problems before they get worse and you develop the symptoms. Get checkups for your blood pressure annually since it can lead to several different chronic illnesses. It can cause heart and kidney diseases, and even lead to partial or complete blindness.
Schedule screenings for bones, prostate, colon, and weight from time to time, so your doctor can take measures to curb an illness should they identify it. Once every few years, get your cholesterol levels checked as high cholesterol can result in strokes and heart diseases.
Keeping your stress levels low can slow down aging symptoms on your skin and even reduce the risk of heart diseases. You can try meditation, Tai Chi (which is essentially meditation with gentle movements), different breathing exercises and yoga.
Keep a close eye on your mental health
In addition to keeping your body engaged in physical activities, find ways to stimulate your brain as well. You can invest time and effort in learning new skills, or playing games specifically designed for the elderly to promote brain activity.
Try and improve your mood and see aging in a positive light – that is, try and embrace aging. Cultivate meaningful relationships, socialize, spend quality time with your loved ones. Or if it is possible, get a pet. Many studies have shown that having a pet can elevate your mood and relieve stress. If you’ve been feeling blue and down in the dumps for longer than two weeks, you might be suffering from depression. If that’s the case, reach out to your doctor or your loved ones.
Staying hydrated throughout the day can keep your skin younger and help improve your mood and higher brain functions. If you have trouble determining how much water intake you need on average, discuss it with your doctor.
Quit smoking and cut down on alcohol consumption
Tobacco products are the leading cause of heart disease, lung cancer, and breathing problems. If you stop smoking, your lungs can start regenerating and repairing themselves within 20 minutes of quitting. It also lowers the risk of stroke and heart attack by 50%. There is a number of different ways you can opt to give up nicotine addiction.
Aging is inevitable. Every day you age a little, but if you try and see this as positive growth, you might come to the realization that growing old isn’t really a shortcoming. These tips won’t show results overnight but you can gradually incorporate them into your lifestyle, and they will help you age gracefully.