Aging gracefully. It’s a big subject with much to unwrap. But don’t let that scare you. At MyHealthAngel, we are about more than putting forth reliable information regarding your senior years. We pride ourselves on also making it digestible and something anybody can utilize. In that spirit, let’s take the next step in optimizing your health.
Mind Your Body
It’s important to know that when we refer to the subject of your health, we’re really talking about two subjects – your physical health and your mental health. But here’s the interesting part. While the two are separate subjects, they are interconnected and dependent on each other more than you may realize. In other words, how you treat your body will affect the quality of your mind and vice versa. With that as our mantra, let’s proceed.
Food – Fuel or Fun?
The quick answer is both. Food is absolutely our fuel, but it should also be enjoyable. There’s a lot to be said for consciously savoring every bite of the food you consume. Walking away from a meal completely satiated is one of the ways to control overeating and needless snacking. But what are the foods you should be eating and how should you prepare them?
For starters, you should always consult your primary care physician before making any major adjustments to your eating regimen. That said, it’s usually safe to concentrate on consuming more whole foods and less processed foods. The most beneficial ingredients are typically found around the perimeter of your local grocery store – fresh meat and seafood, fresh produce and certain dairy items. In terms of the aisles in the middle, your focus should be on whole grain products, healthy oils, nuts (if there are no allergies) and dried items like rice, pastas and legumes. If these foods comprise the majority of you’re eating, pat yourself on the back because you’re doing well.
Now that you procured the right items, how should you prepare them? Not to worry because MyHealthAngel has you covered with our Recipe of the Month page. Quick, simple and easy-to-prepare recipes that use the ingredients listed above to make healthy meals. The best part is they are truly delicious! It’s important to note a well-balanced and healthy diet not only keeps a body fit, but it’s also been proven to promote brain function and cognitive longevity.
Exercise – Just Get Moving
Just like a healthy diet, regular exercise is crucial for maintaining a fit body and a fit mind. But before we go further, let us once again advise you to consult your primary care physician before starting a new exercise regimen. Chances are, if you’re up for the challenge, your doctor will most likely not stand in your way. Nonetheless, it’s always smart to play it safe.
Exercise does not have to be strenuous or lengthy to be effective. A brisk walk for thirty minutes, 3 or 4 times a week will yield benefits. It’s advisable to walk in pairs or groups not only for safety reasons, but also for motivation and accountability to a workout partner or partners. If you’re looking for a great, safe place to walk that isn’t affected weather elements, look to your local indoor shopping mall. Get there when it opens in the morning when the crowds are minimal, and you’ll be sure to find other seniors also getting their walking in.
Two other forms of exercise beneficial to seniors are water aerobics and dance. They are both low impact exercises, so they are easier on bones and joints. Each also requires a mental component, like following instructions or memorizing steps, which keep a brain stimulated and active. If you are looking for a water aerobics or dance class geared toward seniors, we suggest contacting your local senior center or YMCA. And if you are looking for workouts that purely stimulate the mind, look no further than our online Brain Games, fun online activities that will keep your brain active and exercised.
Get Your Sleep!
One irony of aging is while you may have a little more time for sleep, it becomes physically more difficult to get a good night’s rest. The main culprit would be insomnia, as it affects 30-48% of older individuals. This lack of sleep results in both physical and mental fatigue, neither of which is good for long term, physical and mental health. Many people turn to various prescription drugs to solve the problem. While medication is necessary for some, making some changes to your lifestyle could be just what the doctor ordered.
For starters, take a good look at your bed, especially your mattress. If it’s over 10-years old, you are due for a new one. But, even if it’s less than a decade old, it may no longer be the right mattress for you. It happens. The soft, cushy bed that at one time felt so comfortable may now cause of aches and pains that either keep you from falling asleep, or wake you up throughout the night. A new mattress can be an expensive investment, but considering we spend almost a third of our lives in bed, it is a worthy one.
There are a few other things you need to be mindful of when it comes to sleep. The first two being temperature and light. Our bodies sleep best in cool and dark environments. Invest in blackout curtains and wait till you wake up in the morning to turn on the heater. The difference in your sleep could be life changing.
Eliminate noise and electronics. No matter how you may feel about it, sleeping with the TV on or viewing any electronic devices (phones, tablets, laptops) directly before bed is not a good idea, as many studies have shown these practices to disrupt sleep patterns. Speaking of patterns, develop a few good ones regarding your sleep. Limit your eating, especially any consumption of sugar or caffeine, several hours prior to nodding off. Also, realize that regulating your daily mealtimes, exercise and the time you go to bed and wake up will only help to promote optimal sleep.
Nothing ages a body or mind like stress. Ongoing stress has been linked to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and personality disorders. It’s been shown to shrink parts of the brain that handle emotions, metabolism and memory. In terms of physical health, chronic stress can lead to cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks and strokes. Stress is also a trigger for persistent inflammation in the body, which can lead to a range of health problems including diabetes.
But ridding yourself of stress is easier said than done, right? Maybe not. Take a look at a recent blog post on our website titled The Best Techniques to Relieve Stress, Anxiety and Negativity. It contains a list of easy and proven methods for regulating stress that anyone can implement into their life. Sometimes the smallest changes can have the biggest effects. We hope you enjoyed our quick look at aging gracefully.