Aging is an unstoppable force. No one can turn back time. But what we can do is soften the effects of aging by staying healthy through a combination of things. The collective process of focusing on exercise, attitude, nutrition, and general health should position you to enjoy your senior years through optimal health.
The word “exercise” may conjure up images of TV aerobics classes or athletes sweating at the gym. However, exercise comes in many forms. But you don’t have to have a completely structured workout regimen to get your exercise.
For older adults, most exercise comes in the form of just staying active. Walking and stair climbing is a popular form of exercise that can be done with friends on a casual schedule. Gardening and doing yard work can also count as exercise.
According to the surgeon general, exercise helps older adults maintain their ability to live independently. It reduces fracture risk, as well as the risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes. Another underappreciated benefit is that exercise reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Several psychological studies on aging and attitude have shown a strong correlation between positive attitudes toward aging and better health. Older adults that had positive attitudes were also less frail.
In case you might think that their attitudes were better because they were in better health, one of the studies made sure to follow the participants for a few years to see if there were any changes in health and attitude over time.
Even after medications and life circumstances were controlled for, the adults with negative attitudes had slower walking speed and worse cognitive abilities two years later than their positive-thinking counterparts.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) agrees that one of the best things you can do to maintain your health as you age is to eat healthily. Eating healthily helps manage your weight and ensures that you get proper nutrition.
There are a number of things that can make it harder to get proper nutrition when you are older. Some people are worried about being on a fixed income and hesitate to spend their money on food. Others may have physical problems that make eating more difficult, such as dentures, acid reflux, or medications that suppress appetite.
Fortunately, the NIA has put together a page of blog posts to address some of the most common questions about eating healthy as a senior adult. Almost any barrier you might face should be addressed there.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” There’s a lot of truth to this saying when it comes to preventative health care. Older adults sometimes resist going to the doctor unless they are sick or in crises. (Some younger adults do this, too.)
Their concerns may be financial, or maybe they have a lack of transportation. Others just grew up in a culture where you didn’t see a doctor for well checks.
No matter what the reason, this is not the best approach to aging well. Being proactive about going to the doctor to get regular tests and monitorings can prevent you from developing a serious health condition. Whether it’s something like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, many conditions can be managed better if they are caught early. Waiting until you are symptomatic can make your overall health or recovery process a lot worse.
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