Read Time: 4 minutes
Aging is inevitable. Bodies change and fitness levels decline. While getting older cannot be avoided, aging can be enjoyed in a happy and healthy way. Below are three habits for healthier aging.
Food is fuel for the body. Everything that is consumed will have either a positive or negative affect on the body. Good health long into the golden years starts with eating right. As age increases, the body will change. Digestion may take longer, chewing may be more difficult, and foods may begin to lose taste. When these things start to happen, talk with a medical professional or nutritionist to get back into a healthy eating plan.
A healthy diet starts with water. The human body is about 60% water. Water is crucial for overall health. The general rule of thumb is eight 8-ounce classes per day. A healthy diet contains a balance of fiber, healthy fats, protein and antioxidants. Fiber lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, and aids in digestion. Examples of fiber-rich foods include broccoli, lentils, quinoa, nuts, and most fruits. Nuts also double as a healthy fat source. Healthy fats such as omega-3s improve cognitive function and heart health. Fatty fish such as salmon and sardines are excellent sources of healthy fats.
Exercise is important for all ages. From developing children to aging seniors, exercise is not restricted by age. Movement keeps bones and joints healthy. Exercise can lower blood pressure and decrease chances of heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Even chronic conditions like arthritis can be managed through movement. Muscle strength and balance are also improved by exercise. Exercise is highly recommended as a treatment for anxiety and depression as movement has been proven to decrease stress and improve mood.
On average, adults should strive for a minimum of 20-30 minutes of medium intensity exercise a day. This adds up to approximately 150 minutes a week. Cardio-rich activities are ideal as these tend to work every muscle group. For those with heart conditions or busy schedules, simple tasks such as sweeping or vacuuming, a walk around the block, or playing fetch with a dog can work. Every movement adds up.
Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Sleep is the body’s chance to recharge and heal. Not getting enough sleep can lead to irritability, loss of focus, depression, and weight gain. Heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes can also be triggered by persistent sleep deprivation. Fatigue also increases the chance of falling and getting injured. Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule is critical for overall health.
Avoid stimulants such as coffee and alcohol later in the day. A glass of wine at dinner may be relaxing, but drinking too much will not improve sleep. In fact, excess alcohol makes staying asleep more difficult. Though going to bed on a full stomach may sound tempting, digesting the food can make staying asleep harder. Exercising in the evening is a great way to get rid of post-work stress, but this can also stimulate the body and mind for many hours afterwards. Finish all workouts 3-4 hours before the ideal bedtime. Developing a bedtime routine will trigger the body and mind to start winding down and preparing to sleep. Relaxing music, low lighting, and reducing screen time are all great ways to start the body’s winddown in preparation of sleep.
Eat for the body’s changing needs. Exercise for total body health. Develop a healthy sleep routine. These are key habits for healthier aging. Patients should consult with a healthcare provider for more specific recommendations regarding a healthy lifestyle and healthy aging.