Aging is a natural and unavoidable part of life, and it is up to you to make the most of it. No matter how old you are, it is never too soon – or too late – to start thinking about healthy aging.
Ideally, you will have already been practicing healthy habits throughout your life. Still, even the smallest changes in your habits or lifestyle can have a significant impact.
September is Healthy Aging Month. Here are seven tips to get you started.
Move More & Sit Less
Physical activity can help prevent many of the health problems that come with age. It can also help you continue doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly and twice-weekly muscle-strengthening activities. Find ways to incorporate more movement into your daily life. Try chair exercises, yoga, or find a walking buddy. It is OK to start small – but start!
Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
A well-balanced diet can help reduce the risk of many diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and even certain cancers. Start by making small changes like reducing your intake of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Pick lean proteins and whole grains and try to work fruits and vegetables into every meal.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults age 65 and older get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. If you have difficulty sleeping, speak with your doctor. There are treatable sleep disorders and other medical considerations to explore with your healthcare team that can help get you back to those necessary hours of sleep at night.
Smoking cessation represents the single most important step that smokers can take to improve the length and quality of their lives. Smoking is associated with many diseases and conditions, including heart disease, lung disease, and even cancer. It is never too late to quit for good. Not sure where to start? The American Cancer Society has some great resources you can use.
Stimulate Your Brain
Research shows activities that keep the brain active may delay memory decline that leads to dementia. Many activities can keep your mind busy. Read books, play games, learn a new skill, or volunteer in your community. These activities can help prevent severe cognitive impairment as you age, and they are also fun!
Visit Your Doctor Regularly
Regular communication with your physician is a great way to curb some of aging’s adverse effects. Make it a priority to see your doctor as recommended and follow through on all recommended preventative testing. Make sure you are staying up to date with your vaccinations, too. It also helps to come prepared to get the most out of your appointment.
Aging is something no one can avoid, so why not embrace the process? By focusing on the good, you can shift your thinking about what it means to grow old. Focus on what you can do – not on any limitations you may have. Instead of feeling like your best years are behind you, enjoy where you are today and look forward to what is to come. Sometimes all it takes is a little perspective.
When it comes to healthy aging, remember that small improvements can help you age with confidence and stay independent longer.