Aging may be inevitable, but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of a happy and fulfilling lifestyle.
To maintain health and happiness as you age requires you get regular exercise, eat a nutritious and balanced diet, get enough sleep, reduce stress, and keep a good social life.
More on each of these below.
Regular physical activity is vital for a happy, healthy body at any age. It helps you maintain an active lifestyle as well as your independence. In addition, exercise lowers stress levels, reduces the risk of heart disease and depression, and can even function as a social outlet.
Walking is one of the easiest ways to get active. It’s great for your heart, and it keeps your leg muscles healthy and strong. It also
keeps your brain healthy by delivering more blood and oxygen to brain cells. Plus, if you walk outside, you get plenty of sunshine and fresh air.
No need to walk for hours a day – start with as little as 10 minutes at first, slowly working up to 30 minutes per day. Walk fast enough to feel yourself breathing hard.
Walking is a great exercise, but to maximize the effectiveness of your exercise routine, you’ll want to do some strength and flexibility training. Strength training makes your muscles and bones stronger, grows your muscle mass, and helps to burn body fat.
You can join a gym if you’d like, but you can get a full workout with just your own body. Make sure you have an exercise for every major muscle group in the body. Here are some examples:
- Pushups – Chest
- Squats – Legs
- Lunges – Legs
- Pullups – Back
- Planks – Abs/core
- Leg lifts – Abs/core
If you become adept at any of these, you can perform more difficult variations to further strengthen your muscles.
Balance training strengthens the legs, back, and muscles around your spine. Try these balance exercises:
- The balance on one foot
- Heel to Toe walking
- Leg raises – back and side
Older bodies are more prone to injury, so check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
Your metabolism slows down as you age, so you have to be more vigilant about consuming a nutritious, well-balanced diet. This means cutting down on sweets as well as salty and processed foods.
Opt for fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. These foods will provide all the nutrients your body needs; it’s also more difficult to overeat these types of foods, helping to regulate your appetite.
Get Plenty of Quality Sleep
Sleep underpins a lot of your health decision-making during the day. Without enough sleep, your body will crave foods that could cause you to gain weight. Your body won’t recover as well from your exercise, either, and your tiredness may tempt you to skip
Lack of sleep also leaves you less focused, more irritable, and it puts you at an increased risk of falling.
To get better sleep, establish a sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Keep your room cool, and make
sure it’s free of noise or light. Cut down on caffeine past noon, and avoid reading, watching TV, or using your smartphone/tablet in bed.
Everyone gets stressed now and then; long-term stress is unhealthy, though. Long-term stress can worsen your memory, make you fatigued, lead to depression, and can even increase susceptibility to physical illness.
As we get older, though, stressors change, along with our ability to cope and handle stress. If you’re feeling stressed, talk it out with a loved one. Keep at your exercise routine and healthy diet as well, as these can help with stress. Try relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga as well. Lastly, accept things in life that you can’t change; this will help you release stress related to whatever it is you can’t change.
Socializing with friends and family is very important for both your physical and mental health. It helps to reduce stress and feel more positive. Studies have linked a more active social life among seniors with lower rates of Alzheimer’s as well.
Try to schedule a regular time throughout the week where you meet up with a friend or family member. This could be over a meal, watching a sporting event, seeing a movie, or anything else you enjoy. You could even turn your workout routine into a social even by finding a workout partner or two.