As we age, our bodies change in both good and bad ways. Focus on healthy habits - particularly ones that help with common issues of aging - and you'll find that you can still be active, healthy and happy for years to come. Do your part to make your older years your golden years with these five tips for healthy aging.
Live an active life
Staying active is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health and lifestyle. When older people lose the ability to do things, it is often because they stopped being active. Active seniors maintain their independence longer and physically active people tend to fall less - reducing your risk of injury and related health issues.
Making exercise part of your life can also help you prevent and provide relief from many common chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, depression and arthritis. Even moderate exercise and physical activity can improve the health of people who are frail or who have diseases that accompany aging. The key is to be active! If you don't enjoy going to the gym, go on a walk or bike ride every day. Try to include both cardio and muscle strengthening activities. Consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program and get moving for better health!
It's never too late to make the shift to a healthier diet. Focus on foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods while avoiding sweet, salty, and highly processed foods. Eating more whole-grain foods with fiber, fruits and vegetables or drinking more water may also help with constipation. Keep in mind that each person has different dietary needs – follow your doctor's suggestions regarding dietary restrictions.
A healthy, balanced diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, some kinds of cancer, and anemia. Healthy eating can also reduce high blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Even if you already have one of these chronic diseases, a healthy diet and regular exercise can help you better manage them. As an added bonus, healthy foods help you keep up your energy level making it easier to stay active.
Exercise Your Brain
Everyone's brain activity declines as they age. However, you can do things to counteract that shift and keep your mind sharp and aware. In fact, cognitive stimulation through active learning has been shown to slow mental decline in many individuals.
The key is to look for opportunities to learn new things and challenge your brain! Take dance lessons, learn a new language, attend lectures at a local university, learn to play a musical instrument, do crossword puzzles, or read a book. Staying socially active can help too - lively conversation and the company of good friends helps keep your brain active.Be Socially Active
It can be easy to socially isolate ourselves as we age. Resist that urge and you'll reap the rewards of friendships and a healthier life. A weekly shared meal, a subscription to the local theater, a regular walking date can all help you age healthier and happier. If you know of a friend or family member who seems lonely - a common problem after experiencing a significant loss or life change - reach out to them and make plans together. Your social life is an important component of your overall health.
Get Enough Sleep
As we age our sleep patterns tend to change. You might find yourself sleeping less deeply and waking up more often. Or you might get sleepier earlier in the day and wake up earlier in the morning. These shifts are natural but it is important to work with those changes and make sure you're still getting enough sleep each night. Studies recommend seven to nine hours each night. If you're regularly getting less than that you run the risk of depression, increased risk of falling, and memory problems.
If you have problems falling asleep, try to develop a regular bedtime routine. Keep your bedroom dark and noise-free — avoid watching television or surfing the internet while in bed. Many people also find that staying away from caffeine late in the day can help them get a better night's rest.
Your primary care doctor can help give you more ideas for healthy aging and help you stay on top of important screening tests and other health care needs. Have you seen your doctor recently? Call Logansport Memorial's primary care department and make an appointment today: (574) 722-4921.
Many of our Family Medicine physicians are accepting patients.