What’s the best way to age well? From improving your diet and smart exercising to knowing when to go for health screenings and managing risk factors for disease, we’ve got the best tips on how to positively influence your health. No matter what age you are, you can adopt a healthy aging lifestyle.
1. Get Moving
Retirement is often viewed as a time to take it easy, but research shows that a lack of physical activity is harmful to our health. Regular exercise is the cornerstone of every healthy aging program, because seniors who exercise regularly not only live longer — they live better. Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week, so why not mix it up a little? You may feel you’re doing enough with a daily lap swim or your regular tai chi class, but it’s important not to focus on only one activity. Look for ways to incorporate a variety of exercise that will improve your endurance, strength, balance and flexibility.
2. Watch Your Weight
Many things affect your weight, including genetics, age, gender, and even how much you sleep. Some of those factors can make it hard to lose weight or keep it off, which can lead to health problems related to being overweight or obese. There’s a greater risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, and some types of cancer. However, thinner is not necessarily better. Very thin older adults are frailer and have a higher risk of mortality. Because there’s no one-size-fits-all formula, it’s important to talk with a doctor or other health professional about maintaining an ideal weight as you age.
3. Plan Your Plate
Older adults may find that their dietary needs change and they need fewer calories. It becomes more important than ever to pack each calorie with as much goodness as possible. Nix the high-fat meats, sugary desserts and sodas. Instead, choose nutrient-dense food consisting mostly of lean meats, fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes and beans, and low-fat dairy. Ask your doctor to check the micronutrient levels in your blood to make sure you’re taking in the correct amounts of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, B-12, folate and so on.
4. Do Stuff You Love
Taking part in activities that you find fun or relaxing is good for your mental health. A long-running study found that leisure activities like reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments and dancing reduced participants’ risk of dementia. It doesn’t matter if you choose an activity for your own enjoyment or one that benefits others (such as volunteering), you’ll benefit from the purpose and structure it adds to your days.
5. Stay Social
Social connections that are meaningful and stimulating will keep you thriving. Interacting with other people gives your brain a workout. You use your thinking, attention and language skills, and your knowledge of current events, and it’s a fun way to express your personality. Build a supportive social network by getting to know people who share your interests. This can be done through group activities, outings, clubs, classes and other social situations.
6. Keep Learning
Refuse to set a limit on your abilities just because you’re growing older. Healthy aging means pushing yourself out of your comfort zone once in a while. So pick something that challenges you and requires regular practice to be good at it. You’ll help your brain health by generating new neurons, and increase your cognitive functioning, health and overall well-being. An activity that combines mental learning with physical movement (e.g., yoga, pottery or playing a musical instrument) will really fire up your brain.
7. Be Proactive
Notice a change to your physical or brain health? Reach out to a professional for advice. Bored with your usual routine? Sign up for a class that will challenge you in some way. Need to widen your social circle? Look for activities where you can make new friends. Healthy aging isn’t an automatic process — you need to keep working at it.
When all aspects of health — body, mind and spirit — are in balance, you’ll know. You’ll feel in control and confident. At Canterbury Court, we’ll help you achieve that feeling of confidence. We understand healthy aging means something different for every person, and we’re committed to helping you design a lifestyle for top-to-toe wellness. Contact us to learn more.