Author: Karen Tickner, BS, MES
Getting older is inevitable! While you can’t control your age, you can slow the speed of aging by making positive choices and taking action along the way. By paying attention to how you take care of your body, mind, and spirit, you can create a pace for how fast or slow your body ages. Keep reading for simple ways to keep your body tuned up and your mind tuned in. And the good news is that it’s never too late to get started!
A healthy body
1. Keep it movin’
Regular physical activity has been shown to have a myriad of health benefits! Keeping yourself moving for at least 30 minutes during the day can improve bone density, increase and maintain stamina, improve cardiovascular fitness, maintain motor skills, and improve balance, just to name a few! Physical activity could be anything from walking the dog, washing the car, or joining a line-dancing class! In addition to that, adding in a few sessions of formal exercise per week could take things even further, allowing you to see even bigger gains in those areas! A body that starts in motion, stays in motion – though it’s easy to lose movement momentum as we age, making an effort to keep on moving will have big benefits in the long run.
2. Stay hydrated
Hydration plays a huge role in being physically healthy and also feeling healthy. Generally, most people don’t drink enough water throughout the day. However, staying hydrated can help you feel more energized, less tired, and more aware, as well as help your circulation and skin. Yes, drinking more water will help you stay hydrated, but so will limiting salty foods, watching your alcohol consumption, and being mindful of how much caffeine you drink.
3. Make healthy food choices
What you put in your mouth makes a big difference in how you feel overall. Eating nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains, and avoiding highly processed foods can help you feel better day to day as well as keep you moving and healthy as you age. A well-rounded, healthy diet will promote heart, bone, and joint health!
A healthy mind
1. Find a hobby
Finding new and meaningful hobbies can help you maintain a sense of purpose and keep you engaged throughout the course of your life. In fact, studies have shown that participating in activities you enjoy could prevent health problems as you age, including dementia! Keeping your mind happy and busy with something that you truly enjoy can keep you sharp and focused!
2. Continue learning
Just like finding a hobby, exercising your brain can keep you going as you age! Your brain is like other muscles in older age – use it or lose it! Staying mentally fit might mean that you explore unfamiliar territories that require new knowledge! It could be anything from learning a new language to learning to play an instrument for the first time, or both. The trick is to keep your brain challenged. Be a lifelong learner.
A healthy spirit
1. Stress less
Of course, stressing less is easier said than done, but finding ways to relax is important to your health! Feeling stressed out over a long period of time can impact heart health, memory loss, fatigue, and the ability to fight off and recover from infection. Though it’s tough to avoid stressful situations, we can learn how to better cope with them! Make an effort to take care of yourself when you are stressed by getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating nutritious foods. Find support in a loved one or counselor about your stress, and try some relaxation techniques, like yoga or meditation. Remember to always keep things in perspective, and learn to accept and adapt to the things you cannot control.
Studies have shown that people who have strong social lives live 50% longer than those who don’t! Simply said, having the support of friends and family is extremely beneficial as we age. Does that mean that you need to be social all the time? No. But it is important to get out and have meaningful interactions and establish relationships with your peers. This can be done through educational classes, volunteering, or meeting friends at the coffee shop. Many seniors live alone. To avoid loneliness, depression, and a sedentary lifestyle, find a social network where you feel supported, happy, and included.
Those are a few things to keep in mind as we strive to take care of our minds, bodies, and spirits as we get older!