How Lifestyle Impacts Healthy Aging
As we grow older, most of us begin to pay more attention to our health and wellness. While researchers haven’t yet discovered a fountain of youth, they do offer sound advice on how to keep at your best during your retirement years. Here are a few ways you can adopt a healthier lifestyle, from staying social to not sitting too much.
Lifestyle, Aging, and Wellness
By incorporating these leading research-based steps into your life, you can look and feel better at every age.
- Get up and move.
Most of us know the vital role exercise plays in aging well. The rule of thumb health care professionals usually suggest is getting 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. They also say most people should work strength training in to a few of those days. But besides working out, there is another way you can avoid or delay health problems during retirement: avoid sitting too much.
A sedentary lifestyle is considered nearly as risky for your health as smoking! The COVID-19 pandemic worsened an already rising pandemic of people spending too much time watching television and playing on devices and smartphones.
You can start with small steps to decrease the amount of time you spend sitting. Try walking around the house as you talk on the phone. To make that easier, connect Bluetooth headphones to your smartphone. If you like to catch up with friends on Facebook, put your device or laptop on the counter and stand while you scroll through your news feed. Make it a habit to consciously track the amount of time you’ve been sitting, and get up to move around every hour.
- Eat nutritious foods.
A healthy diet is a key lifestyle choice when it comes to aging well. Eating a well-balanced diet is advice you’ve probably heard before from your primary care physician. The struggle for many seniors is figuring out what that means. It’s true that nutritional needs change as we grow older. The MyPlate program has loads of great tools and tips for healthy-minded older adults, including an online quiz you can take to assess your nutrition and learn how to improve it.
Your doctor might also have recommendations on what type of eating plan is best for your personal health. A Mediterranean-style diet, for example, is linked to lower levels of “bad” cholesterol, fewer incidences of cancer, lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease, and an overall healthier heart.
- Manage stress.
Chronic stress is another factor that impacts health. When you experience too much stress in your life, it can contribute to high blood pressure, obesity, depression, and so much more. That’s compounded when people use bad habits, like over-consuming alcohol or smoking, to try to cope.
Some more positive ways to manage daily stress include gardening, walking, swimming, and cycling. Meditation, journaling, chair yoga, and Pilates are a few others.
- Stay engaged.
Pursuing new passions and reconnecting with old ones is just plain fun. But it could also help you live a longer, healthier life. Socializing and staying engaged with the community around you reduces the likelihood of isolation. It’s also connected with a more positive outlook on life.
Researchers who study aging and socializing have observed a link to longevity and quality of life. They even found that the benefits associated with being part of social groups are comparable to those of regular physical exercise.
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