What does healthy aging mean? It is a commitment consisting of a healthy diet, exercise, and brain stimulation.
Like everything worthwhile in our lives, it takes effort. To achieve maximum results, it takes a clearly defined plan and working it over an extended period of time.
For the whole month of September, let's make a conscious effort to promote healthy aging. If you have yet to make that decision, it is the perfect time to commit yourself to a new lifestyle of healthy living. There is not a perfect road map, but focusing on a long-term plan and working it daily will help you achieve success.
Many of the experts recommend following these tips:
Exercise: To determine the best program that is right for you, it is important to ask yourself a few simple questions that the Mayo Clinic suggests:
- What is your current fitness level? You probably have a good idea of where you are, but it is a good idea to establish fitness goals to measure results. What is your pulse rate, how long does it take to walk a mile or how many half sit-ups can you do, etc.
- What are your goals? Are you striving to lose weight or have more energy?
- What are the activities that you enjoy? This is the most important topic since it is more likely that you will stay with it if you enjoy what you are doing. Walking, yoga, tai chi, tennis, or swimming are excellent cardio activities to consider.
- Will you consider strength training? Using light weights or bands are important tools to integrate into your plan to prevent injuries.
Social Connections: Social engagement is crucial for healthy aging. Studies show social connections can prevent disease and strengthen the immune system for older adults. Gillian Sandstrom, senior lecturer in the department of psychology at the University of Essex in England found that people who talk to acquaintances daily tend to be happier than people who have fewer interactions. No matter your age, social connections can be easily forged at assisted living communities, local senior centers, bridge clubs, book clubs or even YMCAs.
Social connections can be challenging for some. One of the best ways to establish long-term relationships is through volunteering. In an article published in the Washington Post, research suggests that volunteers aren't just helping the communities they serve. People who volunteer experience a boost in mental health which goes a long way at a time when 1/3 of all Americans are feeling anxious and depressed.
Healthy Diet: There are a variety of ways to accomplish a healthy diet. To keep it easy, WebMD recommends putting an emphasis on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, lean meats, seafood, eggs, beans, and fiber-rich foods. Also, remember to stay hydrated throughout the day drinking plenty of fluids. Water, tea, and coffee are best.
- Work puzzles
- Card games
- Build your vocabulary
- Learn a new dance
- Use all your senses
- Learn or teach a new skill to a friend
- Listen or learn to play music
- Take a new route home from work or the grocery store
- Learn a new language
Even though getting enough sleep is not one of our healthy aging tips, it is imperative to get your rest. Sleep plays a crucial role throughout life no matter your age. Since September is Healthy Aging Month, this is the perfect time to find a way to improve on your own good health. Let's get with it!