It is important to embrace the reality of getting older and the need to take better care of ourselves. Aging gracefully involves having a positive mindset, accepting the lifestyle changes we must make, and embracing those changes for the better.
Adoption of the habits provided in this article has proven to create the healthiest path for aging. In support of Healthy Aging Month, the following list contains practices you can follow to improve your likelihood of aging in the best way possible.
Staying active is important to maintain a youthful appearance, good health, and proper body function, especially in a person's golden years. Staying active helps to jump-start the metabolism as well. Just 45 minutes of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week, will aid in a strong heart, healthy weight, positive mood, and optimal cognitive function. Healthy activity also provides you with an opportunity to make new friends with similar goals. Before beginning new physical activity, remember to consult a doctor, listen to your body, avoid overexertion, and most importantly, have fun!
One of the best things you can do for your health is to have a well-balanced diet. Proper nutrition is the foundation for healthy living, from energy levels to physical appearance. Start each day with a diverse plate, incorporating dark leafy greens, lean meats, and red, orange, or other colorful foods. Avoid anything white or processed as much as possible. Fruits and vegetables such as kale, spinach, blueberries, beets, oranges, and peppers are fantastic sources of iron, vitamins, antioxidants, and calcium – all essential nutrients for healthy aging.
Staying hydrated helps keep you regular and improves your energy levels and brain function. Coincidentally, it also helps keep skin healthier and reduce signs of aging. Experts recommend drinking at least eight glasses of water each day, as well as avoiding alcohol, as it can be drying to the skin.
Sleep deprivation is a growing epidemic across the U.S. Insufficient sleep increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and other chronic illnesses. It may also result in bags under the eyes and dull skin. Experts recommend adequate sleep for people of all ages. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night, and adults over the age of 65 generally need seven to eight hours of sleep.
Extreme and chronic stress in daily life can contribute to faster aging and more age-related health issues for some individuals. To reduce stress, psychologists advise patients to engage in relaxing hobbies or other activities they enjoy. For example, watching a favorite television show, reading a book, practicing yoga, or taking a walk around the neighborhood may all help in stress reduction. Individuals who have particularly high levels of stress or chronic stress might need help from a professional counselor. Counselors can teach patients effective strategies for removing and dealing with stress and the anger, sadness, and other emotions that it may bring. Practicing meditation, doing deep breathing exercises, and spending time with pets can also help some patients in reducing their overall stress levels.
Challenging your brain makes it perform better. Take the opportunity to learn new and varied information and activities. Participate in group activities. Consistently find things that are meaningful and engaging to you. These might include international travel, spiritual pursuits, hobbies such as reading or painting, new social groups, volunteering, lifelong learning by returning to school or spending more time with loved ones.
Taking care of your teeth not only protects your smile, but also reduces your risk of gum disease, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, and bacterial pneumonia. Along with daily oral care, it’s important to see a dentist regularly. According to the American Dental Association, a dentist can spot signs of nutritional deficiencies, infection, cancer, and other illnesses, such as diabetes. They recommend brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using a mouth rinse.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ and, if treated with care, will better protect your body from the elements and better hold up through your lifespan. Wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outside and get yearly skin cancer screenings.
Making regular visits to a doctor can help identify health problems early or even before they start. Frequency of visits will depend on your age, lifestyle, family history, and existing conditions. Your doctor can advise how often you should go in for checkups and screening tests as you age. Also, see a doctor anytime you experience concerning symptoms.
Being happy and keeping your stress level low goes a long way in helping you live and age well. Do things you enjoy or spend time with friends and loved ones. Maintaining positive and enriching relationships improves mental and physical well-being and longevity. Engaging in activities you enjoy will only fuel your happiness and therefore your health. Spend time in nature, pursue a new hobby, volunteer — whatever brings you joy.
Are all 10 of these objectives possible to achieve? Yes, but it’s not always easy. As someone who travels for work, I often find myself eating on the run, not making the best food selections and skipping exercise. What I do follow is the need to treat my body and mind the way I treat my retirement savings account – make more deposits than withdrawals. By focusing more on progress than perfection, and more on how you feel than how you look, you’re already ahead of the game.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brad Whitney, CSP has been a Loss Control Manager with The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. since 2012. He holds the designation of Certified Safety Professional from the BCSP. He is also an active member of the Las Vegas chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers. Brad received his bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Oregon State University.