September is Healthy Aging Month! Read below for simple tips on staying healthy as you age.1. Stay active!
Maintaining a physically active lifestyle as you age is one of the best ways to stay healthy, look younger and prevent many chronic health conditions, including diabetes, depression, arthritis, heart disease and more.
TIP: Do not concern yourself with an ‘exercise routine’. Not everyone is cut out to join a gym. It is more important to have an overall active lifestyle. Find something that you enjoy and stick to it! If you like swimming, join a YMCA or find a gym that has a pool. If you enjoy spending time in nature, go hiking in the woods. There are plenty of clubs that meet regularly to hike, which will give you a chance to meet others who have similar interests, as well. This is a great place to find local groups: www.meetup.com
Community is an important aspect of human nature. Studies have shown that women who have a strong group of friends are happier and live longer, healthier lives than those who don’t. It is easy to let work, kids and household responsibilities get in the way of friendships, and this leads to isolation. Cultivate your relationships, make them a priority and treat them accordingly.
TIP: Start or join a group with your neighbors- get together once a month to play games. Invite a neighbor to take walks with you after dinner. Start a community garden co-op. With a regularly scheduled activity, you are much more likely to continue the routine. Join a local meetup group. There are meetup groups for everything from yoga to cooking to dancing. Joining a local group of people that enjoy the same hobby as you do is a great way to meet others with similar interests on a regular basis.
3. Your mind is a muscle–use it or lose it
Our brains need regular stimulation to stay clear and active. By challenging yourself and learning new things on a regular basis, you can help to slow or prevent cognitive decline, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
TIP: Do something mentally challenging every day. Read books, do brain games and puzzles. There are several different programs, such as Lumosity, which provide games and puzzles that are designed to help improve cognitive function.
4. Be proactive about your health
The majority of Americans eat far too much sugar, sodium and processed foods. The effects on our health are catastrophic. One of the surest ways to stay healthy as we age is to eat fresh, whole, organic foods. Getting enough sleep will also have a major impact on your health and wellbeing. Consistently getting a good night’s sleep is one of the easiest ways to improve health. Drinking a sufficient amount of water is also important. Being properly hydrated increases energy, improves organ and cellular function and improves appearance.
TIP: The main staple of your diet should be fruit and vegetables. Meat should be a once-a-day side dish, not the main course. A plant-based diet has been shown to improve health exponentially, particularly if you stay away from the processed and chemical-laden foods that permeate our grocery stores. Look for organics and food that has the fewest ingredients- making it as close to its natural state as possible. A simple equation to tell you how much water you should drink daily is divide your weight (in pounds) in half. That is the number of ounces of water you should drink daily. For example, if you weight 160 lbs., you should drink at least 80 ounces of water daily.
5. Reduce stress
The fast-paced lifestyles of many Americans today is having a detrimental effect on our health. We originally evolved a stress response that causes our brains to release chemicals that allow us run faster, increases muscle strength, and react more quickly. This is natural and healthy in short bursts (such as running from a saber-toothed tiger). The trouble comes in when we experience a prolonged stress response that does not shut off. For example, a stressful job may keep your stress response on all day, day after day. When this occurs, the stress chemicals are released consistently, in abundance and they become harmful to our health, damaging brain cells, and leading to depression, memory loss, fatigue, weight gain, decreased ability to fight off infections and more. Some doctors now believe that over 90% of all illness is caused or worsened by stress.
TIP: We will never rid our lives of stress. We can, however, change how we deal with stress. Stay in perspective. There are always going to be things that we cannot control. Learn to adapt to change, rather than fight it, and look for the positive aspects of it. Take the time to learn some relaxation techniques that will shut off the stress response, such as yoga, breathing exercises, or walking outside. Exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress, as it causes the brain to release the feel-good chemicals that can counteract the stress response.