Thursday, April 12, 2018

How To Stay Youthful As You Get Older

Getting older and aging gracefully is often a concern to many people, as worries over health care and pensions mount and the average age of retirement increases as many people choose (or are forced by circumstances) to retire later and later. It is a relevant issue across the country as America’s population is aging, and by 2050 it is estimated that a whopping 22.5% of the population will be over 65 years old. Staying youthful in your mind, body, and spirit is vital if you want to help ward off illnesses associated with old age, and keep active well into your 60’s and beyond. In order to stay youthful as you age, it is important to keep physically and mentally active and healthy and to ensure that you are in a supportive environment and surrounded by caring people who can help you retain your independence.

The Importance of Being Physical

As people age, they often slow down and do less exercise, as there are more aches and pains to contend with and they find they are less flexible and supple then they were when they were younger. However, as you age, it is important to do more exercise and take better care of your body. Being physically active can help you to stay independent for longer as well as helping you to live longer, with regular exercise keeping your heart and body fit and healthy. You are never too old to begin exercising, and gentle activities such as a walk or a yoga class are suitable for any age and fitness level. Be sure not to push yourself too far too fast as there is no competition and it is best to take things at your body’s own pace, but try to exercise for at least 30 minutes five times per week.

Dietary Choices

It is true when they say ‘you are what you eat.’ Your diet also has a big role to play in keeping your body physically healthy and youthful. Be sure to get regular helpings of fruit and vegetables, and aim for five portions per day. These can include canned or frozen fruit and vegetables, as well as juice. Try to eat a range of colors too, as each naturally colored fruit or vegetable contains its own nutrients and vitamins, for example, bright blueberries contain a powerful antioxidant that may help to protect against cancer and heart disease, whereas green vegetables are typically high in iron. Make sure that your daily diet is rich in protein, as people need to increase their intake of protein as they age and it can also help to defend against osteoporosis. You can obtain it through animal proteins or chickpeas, beans, and lentils. Calcium is also important when it comes to fighting osteoporosis and improving the health of your bones. Dairy is a great source of calcium and vitamin D, and the recommended amount is three servings of dairy products a day. If you are lactose-intolerant or cutting out dairy from your diet, then drink a plant-based calcium enriched milk substitute, such as almond or oat milk drink. As with all good diets, balance is the key. Try to ensure that you eat a well-balanced diet, with lots of fiber to help control blood sugar and lower blood cholesterol levels. Remember to keep hydrated by drinking lots of water to boost the overall health of your body.

Being Socially Active Keeps You Youthful

While it is important to focus on your body in terms of staying healthy, it is equally important to be aware of the benefits that being socially active can have on your life. Regular social activity can result in improvements in your mental wellbeing and your quality of life, as can surrounding yourself with a supportive environment which can help protect against the risk of depression. If you are considering moving into a care home, then ensure it is one that offers a sense of community and regular activities where you can join in and meet others. If you would rather stay in your own home surrounded by your own things then research the best in-home care you can get to ensure your life is as comfortable as possible. For example, Families Choice Home Care provide compassionate caregivers who can offer a range of services to help you remain independent in your own home. Technology can also be a big boost to enable you to remain independent later in life. There are an ever-growing range of health and safety tools that can make it easier to live independently, from sensors that can detect if you have fallen and will call for help to apps that can remind you to take your medication. The internet can also offer an easy way to keep connected to any friends or family who doesn’t live nearby and can also allow you to connect to new social networks and combat feelings of isolation.

Keeping mentally active helps your mind to stay youthful

Keeping your mind healthy and being mentally active is a powerful way to reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimers as well as helping to improve your quality of life. Try doing cryptic crosswords or Sudoku puzzles regularly to stretch your brain, or take a local or online class to learn a new skill to keep your mind active. Recent neurological studies have suggested that learning a new language may be key when it comes to reducing the risk of dementia, helping to preserve brain function as you age, so why not pick a country you’d like to visit and begin to learn their language.

As well as learning new skills later in life, you can keep mentally active in a variety of other ways, for example continuing working or volunteering within your local community. Volunteering can give multiple benefits, including keeping socially active within the local community, helping a local cause, keeping your mind and body active, and providing a rewarding sense of purpose and achievement. Lastly, but by no means least, surround yourself with young people and those who you love to help keep your spirit young and your heart happy.

On a personal note, here's my walking story for National Walking Day a couple of years ago with an update.

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