Aging. All of us do it. But aging well? Now that’s a different story. Not all of us have figured out how to age well, but surprisingly, it doesn’t require lots of expensive creams, injections, or pills. All it takes are healthy lifestyle habits anyone can employ along with making a genuine commitment to healthy living.
How do we know this? Well, a study published shows a person’s life span is largely determined by both genetics and lifestyle choices. But here’s the kicker: Genetics account for only 20% to 30%of a person’s chance of living to age 85. The other 70% to 80%? Those are lifestyle choices, like smoking, alcohol intake, exercise, and diet.
Let’s dive deeper into those healthy living habits for seniors and look at ways you can integrate more healthy living into your daily life so you can live the best life as you age – and, quite possibly, live happier and healthier longer.
No.1: Get moving and keep moving.
Forgive us. This is an obvious one, but there’s a reason we listed it first. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 4 adults between the ages of 50 and 64 aren’t physically active on a regular basis. And those numbers just keep increasing as we get older. Physicians say we should get at least 2.5 hours of aerobic exercise a week. That’s really only 30 minutes of heart-pumping exercise a day! So to move more and sit less, park as far away as you can from the grocery store entrance and walk briskly to the door. Do multiple arm curls with your full bags of groceries as you walk back to your car. Better yet, hop on a bike for short trips to the store. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. When you look around, you’ll find all kinds of exercise hacks in your day-to-day routine.
No.2: It’s never too late to eat healthy.
Seriously! If you’re eating lots of processed meats like hot dogs, deli, and sausages, cut back or cut them out of your diet. That goes for packaged foods like frozen pizzas, candy bars, cookies, crackers, and the like. If you’re a snacker, try to nibble on baby carrots, slices of cucumber or peppers, or even broccoli florets. Mix it up with handfuls of mixed nuts or Greek yogurt with raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries. Should you completely cut out ice cream and potato chips? Absolutely not – moderation is key here. Make a bowl of ice cream or a handful of chips a reward after 30 minutes of brisk exercise!
No.3: Drink water.
Water is one of our best friends when it comes to staving off aging. It keeps us hydrated, of course, which is crucial because older adults often lose their sensation of thirst. But drinking lots of water is also beneficial for maintaining urinary, digestive, and kidney health, boosting brain function, and enhancing our metabolism. Water also helps maintain our skins’ elasticity, which means our wrinkles won’t show as much.
No.4: Love the skin you’re in.
At about 20 square feet, your skin is your body’s biggest organ. And because older skin is thinner, older adults are more vulnerable to sunburn. So cover up when you go outside – wear long shirts and pants and a sun hat (your scalp is very susceptible to burning). Apply a sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher at least 20 minutes before you go outside and don’t neglect reapplication. Try to also stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
No.5: Sleep more if you can.
Getting a good night’s sleep is so important to aging well; experts suggest if you’re over 65 you should get at least seven hours a night. Sleep lowers our risk of disease, supports our metabolism, improves our memory, and helps our brain repair itself. But many older adults struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep. If that’s you, don’t automatically turn to a pharmacological solution, which tends to help only in the short term. Instead, talk to your doctor about behavior modification techniques.
No.6: Stay engaged and connected.
If we’ve learned anything from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s human beings need each other. People are social creatures, and isolation can lead to higher levels of anxiety, depression, and even premature mortality. Social isolation is also bad for the brain with negative consequences for cognitive and mental health. Conversely, staying socially engaged helps ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, reduce stress and lower our blood pressure. It also simply makes us feel happier and more relevant. So make a new friend or five. Join a club. Start or renew a hobby. Volunteer or reenter the workforce. Do whatever it takes to stay engaged in the world around you and connected with people who matter to you.
No.7: Give back what you’ve got.
Remember that part in tip No.6 about feeling relevant? There’s no better way to feel relevant than by sharing your knowledge and experience with others. You may have had a long and successful career in a particular field. Or you may have years of experience in fly fishing or baking bread or rebuilding hot rod engines. You can bet lots of people would love to tap into what you’ve learned, so find a way to give back to teach what you know.
No.8: Love and let go of the rest.
There’s an old saying that holding on to anger and resentment is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die. There are numerous health advantages to forgiveness – namely, it allows us to take control of the hurt, anger, and disappointment we’re feeling and make the decision for ourselves to let go of it. It’s not always easy, but it’s so beneficial to our mental health, our stress level, and our overall happiness. Letting go of a grudge and forgiving someone frees us up to let in the love from others who genuinely care about us. That’s a huge benefit. After all, there’s another saying: The best revenge is living well.
No. 9: One final healthy living tip. Look into Viamonte at Walnut Creek.
Choosing a retirement lifestyle like Viamonte at Walnut Creek can help you live happier and healthier thanks to our long list of resident programs and amenities. You’ll also find great comfort and peace of mind in our continuing care concept, right on campus. Learn more about us by calling 925.621.6600 or visiting our website.