Healthy aging is something we should all be thinking about. It’s one aspect of our lives that we all experience and we can’t avoid. Fortunately, with all we know about how our body ages, we can age more gracefully and with more active and healthy lives than ever before. The following tips to age well are appropriate for all ages. The sooner we begin incorporating them into our lifestyle, the better prepared we will be as we get older.
Healthy Eating – As we age, our bodies need fewer calories, but approximately the same amount of nutrients. Be sure to eat nutrient dense foods, which are foods that pack a lot of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients your body needs into a small amount of calories. Examples are fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. Be aware of how much sodium you consume (it’s often hidden in processed foods). Too much sodium can lead to hypertension and cardiovascular disease and causes water retention.
Maintain a healthy body weight - This often becomes more challenging as we get older, due to loss of muscle mass which is a normal consequence of aging. Losing muscle mass increases frailty and causes our body to burn fewer calories, leading to weight gain. Being overweight may increase your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and bone mass concerns.
Exercise regularly – Physical activity helps preserve and increase muscle and bone strength and mass. More bone and muscle mass helps burn more calories and prevent bone breakage. It
also helps us maintain our strength and function to perform the daily activities of living – sitting, standing, climbing stairs, getting up and down from the floor, for example. Exercise also provides: fewer heart risks, improved sleep and memory, less depression and pain, arthritis relief and fewer falls. Be sure to incorporate cardiovascular (endurance), strengthening, balance and flexibility exercises. Choose what you like to do to improve adherence.
Maintain your brain – Challenging your mind slows cognitive decline and could ward off Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Read the newspaper, work on a crossword puzzle, learn a language, attend local lectures, take dance lessons, or read a book.
Stay connected – Volunteering, spending time with family/friends or out in the community, reduces the risk factors for loneliness and depression.
Also, don’t smoke, get regular checkups, screenings and immunizations, take all medications as directed by your doctor, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, practice fall prevention and reduce stress.
Let me know if you have other questions. This is my specialty as a personal trainer and I’d love to help!