Top Healthy Aging Tips
As part of September’s Healthy Aging Month, we want to celebrate the wonderful aspects of growing older—greater wisdom, more freedom and a deeper appreciation for life. While aging usually has a negative connotation in our society, getting older doesn’t have to be something that we feel ashamed of.
Instead, we can focus on healthy aging and the feeling that you’re getting better with age. Healthy aging is all about increasing longevity by taking proactive steps to:
- Prevent chronic disease
- Maintain your physical health
- Optimize your mental and emotional wellbeing
Let’s look at the top healthy aging tips to help you live a fuller, healthier life. These tips to live longer cover the physical, mental and emotional aspects of aging so you can experience greater enjoyment in life as you grow older.
1. Maintain A Healthy Diet
Following a healthy diet is one of the most essential tips for how to live longer. Your diet provides you with critical nutrients that help keep your body in proper working condition and prevent chronic disease associated with aging.
Though there are endless dietary tips to live longer, here are a few basics for aging adults to follow:
- Add fiber to maintain healthy and regular digestion
- Get enough nutrients—vitamins and minerals—to prevent disease
- Avoid processed foods and refined sugars that offer few nutrients
- Practice portion control to avoid consuming more than you need
What you choose to eat over the long-term can have a dramatic impact on the health of every system in your body from your heart, to your digestive tract, to your brain. Additionally, making healthy changes to your diet can help you control and even reverse many existing conditions you may be at risk for, including diabetes and heart disease.
2. Exercise Regularly and Consistently
Physical activity is a critical aspect to long-term mobility and overall longevity. According to experts, it’s never too late to start an active lifestyle and begin reaping the benefits. It’s more important to start with moderate but regular activity than to exercise intensely but sporadically.
Exercise is important for your cardiovascular health and preventing chronic disease. Daily walks are an excellent practice for older adults, but there are other forms of light exercise to try your hand at. Tai chi and yoga for healthy aging have proven to be excellent for healing chronic conditions like fibromyalgia and other arthritic conditions. These activities stretch your muscles and tissues, improve circulation and increase mobility and range of motion, all of which tend to decline with age if not maintained.
While exercise certainly falls under the category of physical health, it also contributes to your emotional and mental wellbeing more than many people realize. When we exercise, our bodies release chemicals into our brains, making us feel happy and energized. Older adults who suffer from anxiety and depression can help manage these conditions with ongoing exercise.
3. Maintain Social Connection
Several studies have looked at the impact of loneliness on older adults and how it relates to their overall health. Part of healthy aging is maintaining your friendships and continuing to engage in social activity. Humans are hardwired for social connection, requiring it to feel happy and to live with purpose.
But social connection is also good for disease prevention. One study found that among older women with large social networks, there was a lower rate of dementia. The study showed that having strong social connections may actually protect you from future cognitive decline.
4. Get Enough Sleep
As you age, you may find that your sleep habits change. When you were younger, you might have felt you were able to get away with 6-7 hours per night. However, older adults tend to need more sleep but many find it increasingly difficult to sleep soundly through the night.
If you experience more chronic pain as you age, this can cause you to wake up during the night. Restless sleep can cause irritability, memory loss and even depression. Part of healthy aging means prioritizing your sleep so you can feel more rested each morning. Avoid drinking caffeine or exercising within three hours before bedtime, and try not to nap in the late afternoons.
5. Keep a Positive Outlook
Over the years, several studies have looked into the impact that having a positive outlook has on overall health. One study showed that people who consider themselves optimists had a lower risk of heart failure compared to those who identified as pessimists.
Overall, research is finding that the ability to make the best of life’s situations actually leads to a longer life, better immunity, greater disease survival and better pain tolerance. The good news is that even if you’ve never considered yourself to be an optimist before, a positive attitude is a learned skill and can be cultivated on a daily basis.
6. Prioritize Learning and Skill Development
An expected part of getting older is experiencing a change in your daily routine and priorities you once had. Having your children leave home, followed by eventually retiring from work causes many people to look for new meaning in life. Part of embracing healthy aging is maintaining the belief that you’re never too old to learn a new topic or pick up a new skill.
In fact, you may find that you’re finally able to dedicate the time to a hobby or topic you once loved but couldn’t make the time for. Continuing your skills development and learning journey is critical to maintaining healthy cognitive function. Learn a new language, play a musical instrument or take up painting. Hobbies that engage your creativity and critical thinking can help prevent memory loss.
7. Reduce Stress
Research is consistently pointing to the harmful long-term effects of chronic stress. Many older adults begin to feel a different level of anxiety or even depression later in life. There may be new financial obligations that arise, loved ones may pass away or you may be faced with unexpected health problems.
Being aware of the factors in life that create stress and cause depression is the first step. Once you’re aware of what causes stress, you can begin to find ways to minimize it and handle it in a constructive way. Many of the above tips offer excellent methods for managing stress, such as practicing a hobby, exercising regularly and getting enough deep, restful sleep.
8. Take Charge of Your Health
Finally, one of the most essential aspects of healthy aging is your ability to take charge of your own health. Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you’re destined for poor health and immobility. You can fully maintain an active, enjoyable life provided you take preventative health measures and don’t neglect the basics such as diet, exercise and sleep.
To stay proactive in their health, older adults are encouraged to undergo regular disease screening, particularly for conditions they may be at risk of developing. Aging women should schedule regular breast and cervical cancer screenings, while all older adults should be screened for colorectal cancers.
If you’re at risk for heart disease or diabetes, be sure to have your blood pressure and blood sugar levels tested regularly. These are both manageable diseases that don’t need to result in serious health complications. Being proactive means you’ll need to report changes in your health to your physician and schedule routine check-ups.
Healthy Aging With Relax The Back
A major component of healthy aging is preventing debilitating spinal conditions. To maintain a healthy, active lifestyle into your later years, it’s critical to protect and strengthen your spine. Maintaining a neutral posture throughout your day ensures that you’re relieving all pressure from your spine so that there is equal space between each of your vertebral discs.
Neutral posture can prevent several spinal conditions, including degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis. For healthy aging for your spine, use the right support products that encourage neutral posture at work, home and as you travel. Shop all Relax The Back support products, recliners and ergonomic furniture to promote better spine health so you can live a longer, healthier life free from pain.