We are living longer – thanks to advances in modern medicine. As we age, it’s more important than ever that we focus on living a healthy lifestyle – from diet, to exercise, to maintaining a healthy mindset and nurturing our minds.
September is Healthy Aging Month, which was designated in order to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older.
Healthy Aging Month is about acting how you feel — instead of acting your age! This month also encourages seniors to take charge of their well-being, health, and mind. Remember, it’s never too late to reinvent yourself or form new healthy habits!
The numbers of people over 45 are growing every year. In fact, there are over 76 million baby boomers and 82.1 million gen Xers over the age of 50 with many of them looking to stay active and vibrant as long as possible.
September is a perfect time to celebrate Healthy Aging Month as it correlates with the “back to school” tradition of beginning new tasks, habits, or activities. It is an ideal time to rejuvenate and launch positive initiatives that can impact physical, social, financial, and mental wellness.
Tips for Healthy Aging from the CDC:
- Do Not Act Your Age – You read that right. You are as young as you feel, so act the age you feel, not the age on your drivers’ license. Who says someone in their 60s can’t have blue hair or someone in their 70s can’t run a 5k.
- Be Positive – A positive attitude goes a long way to taking positive actions. Turn off the negative news, social media, and even people, and just focus on the good. You’ll be surprised at how quickly positive thoughts and vibes can affect your mood, health, and actions. Mood is contagious, you might just find that your positive vibes start affecting those around you!
- Get Moving – If you are not accustomed to exercise, consult your doctor before starting an exercise routine and be sure to start slowly to allow plenty of time to get used to each level of activity. Exercise can be as simple as walking just ten or fifteen minutes a day, three to four times a week and increasing as you go. For those who are more active, try taking up tennis or joining a club where you can swim or use the exercise equipment. Even just taking a dance class or senior yoga, gardening or mowing the lawn had incredible benefits! There are countless ways to stay active that will keep your body moving.
- Maintain A Healthy Diet – Many Americans aren’t aware of proper portion sizes and inevitably eat larger portions than recommended, and we all know overeating leads to obesity — which could lead to even bigger health concerns such as diabetes or heart disease. Plus as we age, our metabolism slows down and we need fewer calories. Healthy eating is a big part of staying healthy, and the USDA emphasizes the need for more vegetables and fruits in the American diet – recommending five a day. Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and try to avoid excessive processed foods. Boosting the amount of fresh vegetables in our diet is an easy way to feel full without a lot of calories. The USDA suggests an easy way to balance nutrition: your plate should have slightly less than one quarter proteins (lean meat, fish, poultry or legumes) and fruits, slightly more than one quarter grains and vegetables. Additionally, stay hydrated by drink a lot of water, at least 6-8 glasses per day.
- Stay Social – Don’t be afraid to make new friends, and make an effort to see your old friends, too. A sedentary lifestyle devoid of interaction with friends and family lead to health issues and isolation can lead to depression. Instead of feeling lonely and bored reach out and invite friends and family over! Or you can socialize with others by volunteering, joining a class or bringing a caregiver — which may in to help you look forward to activities such as cooking with their help, playing cards/games, or simply talking. If you can no longer drive, look for transportation services that can help you get out and attend social events. If you’re computer literate, schedule Facetime conversations with children and grandchildren. Just by interact with and talk to someone daily, you will do your mind and mental health a world of good.
- Balance Both Your Body & Mind – Keep your mind active by reading the newspaper (or read on your tablet) while you eat breakfast. Keeping your mind active and engaged may ward off brain chemistry changes that could lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Working on puzzles, reading books are also great for the mind and will help reduce stress that comes with aging problems. You can even take up a new creative hobby! For your body, perhaps practice yoga to improve your flexibility and balance. It is also great for the mind and will help reduce stress that comes with aging problems.
- Get Regular Check-Ups and Yearly Physicals – Don’t ignore symptoms. If you’re not feeling well, don’t “wait for it to go away.” While you don’t need to visit the doctor for every ailment, know yourself and your body well enough to detect if there is something out of the ordinary. Don’t neglect regular medical checkups; have an annual physical examination and schedule the tests your doctor recommends. This would include your eye doctor and dentist as well as your physician. Many diseases can be prevented when caught early if you remain diligent about your health. Take medications and vitamins/supplements as prescribed in order to ensure you are feeling your best.
It’s never too late to take a proactive, positive approach to aging. This September, make it a priority to plan your approach and take the necessary steps toward creating and maintaining a healthy, vibrant lifestyle.