With your diet and fitness in check, you’re well on your way to getting the most out of life during your senior years. Remembering all the other aspects involved in living a healthy lifestyle can be a bit of a juggling act but here we’ve listed some top tips for ageing healthily to make sure you continue to live life to the full.
Live an active life
Regular exercise is one of the greatest keys to physical and mental wellbeing. Living an active life will help you stay fit enough to maintain your independence well into old age. As you know, regular exercise can prevent or even provide relief from many common illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, and arthritis, to name a few. That’s why we’ve put it at the top of the list!
The key is to stay active, so do something you will enjoy. If you are not the type of person who will stick to a regular gym routine, go for a walk or ride your bike every day instead. Try to incorporate aerobic, balance, and muscle-strengthening activities into your routine. Think about what works best for you but most importantly, have fun.
Eat healthy foods
The majority of adults in the UK consume more than double the recommended daily allowance of salt, which can lead to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease; most of this comes from processed convenience foods.
Eat fresh, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods and try to avoid sweet, salty, and highly processed foods as much as possible. That doesn’t mean that these are off limits completely but should be kept to an occasional treat.
Maintain an active brain
Some cognitive decline is normal as we age but studies have shown that a lifestyle which includes cognitive stimulation through active learning slows cognitive decline, meaning fewer ‘senior moments’.
Never stop learning and challenging your mind. Take dance lessons, learn a new language, enrol on a course, learn to play a musical instrument, or read a book – you’re never too old.
Maintain your relationships
28% of older adults live alone, one of the main causes of loneliness. Life changes as we get older such as retirement, health issues, or the loss of a spouse, can unfortunately lead to social isolation, which can negatively affect our mental health.
Maintaining communication with family and friends is a great way to avoid loneliness. Schedule regular time to meet with friends and family over coffee or around a common interest. You’ll be surprised what a mood booster it is.
Community is key
Studies have found that older adults who engage in meaningful community activities such as volunteer work feel healthier and less depressed. If you find yourself with plenty of free time on your hands why not try joining a planning committee, volunteer or play dominoes at your local nursing home? Not only will your mental health benefit, you’ll be helping others along the way.
Get enough sleep
Surprisingly humans can go longer without food than without sleep. Contrary to popular belief older adults need just as much sleep as younger adults, ideally seven to nine hours each night. However, in reality most of us are getting much less quality shut eye than that. Lack of sleep can cause depression, irritability and memory problems as well as putting you at an increased risk of falling.
Try to develop a regular bedtime routine to help you drift off a bit easier. Keep your bedroom dark and noise-free and avoid watching television while in bed. Getting out in the fresh air each day can help along with avoiding caffeine late in the day.
As we age, the things which causes us stress can change, as well as our ability to deal with it. Long-term stress can lead to depression, memory loss and fatigue, as well as affecting our ability to fight off and recover from infection. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 90% of illness is either caused by or complicated by stress, therefore it’s important to address it quickly.
Although we can’t avoid stressful situations completely, we can learn better coping techniques. Take care of yourself when you are stressed by getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating nutritious foods. Talking to a loved one about the issue can be a big help, as can relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, yoga or meditation.
Take charge of your health
Finally, the majority of our health is controlled by our own actions, with other contributing factors being our environment, genes and social factors. Therefore, it’s important to take an active interest in your health by making lifestyle changes, going for regular health checks and raising any health concerns you might have. It’s only going to benefit you in the long run.