Five Tips for Living Healthfully as We Age
Aging is inevitable. But living with pain, disease and less vitality as we age is not. The good news is that there are several things we can do to mitigate the effects of growing older – we can actually create a healthful aging process through lifestyle and thought choices.
A study conducted at Yale University showed that people who had negative thoughts and feelings about aging had an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. On the flip side, a separate Yale study demonstrated that positive attitudes about aging could extend one’s life by 7-1/2 years! Optimists are much more likely to stay healthy than their pessimistic peers. Here are some other ways you can create wellness even as you age.
Move with purpose
Physical activity is critical for maintaining good health and staving off the negative effects of aging. Even when started later in life, exercise can lower your risk for a host of ailments, including chronic diseases, physical disability and even memory loss. And you don’t have to spend hours at the gym to get positive results from exercise. A study conducted at the University of Sydney in Australia suggested that by replacing one hour of sitting each day with walking, we can reduce our chance of early death by 12 to 14 percent. Don’t have an hour to spare? Break it up into smaller increments. Three 20-minute walks work just as well as one hourlong stroll.
Eat more healthfully
Nutrition also plays a critical role in how well we age. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, a poor diet and physical inactivity are the leading contributors to premature death in the US. Mediterranean-style diets – which place an emphasis on eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and eating moderate amounts of fish while using healthy fats and oils like those found in nuts, olives and avocados – have been particularly successful in helping people age well. The Harvard Health Letter suggests following such a diet can reduce your risk for heart attack, stroke and premature death.
Make time for friends
Human connection is essential for a healthy life. People who are socially active tend to be healthier in both mind and body. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who were socially active in their 50s and 60s had slower rates of memory decline compared to those who were more isolated. Another study conducted at Brigham Young University found that the social isolation and loneliness are as dangerous to health as obesity. So, give your friends a call and head out to a movie or dinner. Take a morning stroll with your neighbor. If you find it hard to meet people, volunteer. You’ll not only make some great connections, you’ll find a new purpose in life, which can also enhance your well-being.
Get more sleep
Studies have shown the sleep – even in the form of a quick nap – helps us maintain optimum health in a number of ways. It helps prevent disease, including heart disease, diabetes and obesity. It helps clean the brain, reducing your risk for dementia. It helps you maintain a healthy weight. It improves your mood and allows you to perform better with day-to-day tasks, allowing you to create success in life. It may even help us live longer.
Keep a positive attitude
We can’t always control what happens in our life, but we always have control over how we react to adversity. The American Heart Association found that heart disease patients who had positive attitudes exercised more and had a 42 percent less chance of dying. By following the tips above and keeping a positive attitude about life, your life can remain vibrant, active and purposeful, even as you age.