Living a healthy lifestyle is even more important as we age. From slowing metabolism to an increase in chronic illnesses, seniors face a number of challenges their younger peers do not.
If you want the New Year to be healthier than the last, there are some things you can do to improve your fitness level and get a jump start on 2016. Here are 10 things you can do to make 2016 the year of healthy aging.
1) Get Plenty of Exercise
Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, makes it easier to keep blood pressure under control, and even improves the metabolism of the medications you take. Staying active also strengthens your muscles and makes it easier to avoid dangerous falls. There is even some evidence that regular exercise can reduce the risk of dementia.
Exercise does not have to be vigorous to be effective. Stretching, yoga, water aerobics, seated exercises, and walking are all great ways to get moving and stay in shape.
2) Exercise Your Mind
Exercising your body is important, but keeping your mind active is just as essential. Mental exercise helps you maintain cognitive function as you age and can reduce the risk of aging-related memory loss.
Reading books and magazines, taking part in brain games and challenges and doing crossword puzzles are all fun ways to keep your brain active as you age.
3) Eat a Healthy Diet
Aging can create changes in the sense of smell or taste, and that can make eating a healthy diet more challenging. Seniors can also experience slower digestion and metabolism than their younger counterparts, and that makes maintaining a healthy diet even more critical.
Eat foods high in fiber and ones rich in antioxidants and other vitamins. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are all great choices. Limit your consumption of processed meats, high-fat foods, and sweet snacks.
4) Schedule Regular Dental, Hearing, Vision and Other Health Checkups
Taking care of your health is even more important as you age. Check with your doctor about recommended immunizations, including an annual flu shot, and see your dentist every six months.
Schedule annual visits to have your hearing checked, and see your eye doctor every 1-2 years. Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol level, and get regular mammograms, pelvic and prostate exams, colorectal screenings and thyroid exams.
5) Keep Stress Under Control
Stress is a major problem for many seniors, so take time to relax and manage how you feel. There are plenty of ways to reduce your stress level and improve your overall mental health.
Things like meditation, regular sleep and wake cycles and listening to great music can all improve your mood and reduce the stress you feel. Try to go to bed and wake up the same time every day, and always maintain a good sense of humor.
6) Maintain Your Connections
Maintaining your sense of purpose and your connection to the community is important as you age. Look for ways to get out in the community and stay engaged with those around you. Whether you take up a new hobby, volunteer for a worthy cause or get involved in social groups, you will feel great.
7) Embrace Your Spirituality
Staying optimistic and spiritually engaged is an important part of healthy aging. Spirituality and a positive attitude have been linked to longer life and better health, as well as decreased stress and a reduced risk of chronic disease.
Whether you go to church or synagogue or just meditate and pray in your backyard, maintaining a connection with the divine can reduce loneliness, help you manage stress more effectively and keep depression at bay.
8) Kick Your Bad Habits
Drinking to excess and smoking are bad habits for people of any age, but the risk of alcohol consumption and nicotine use increase as you get older. If you have not yet given up smoking, make 2016 the year you throw away your ashtrays and kick the habit.
Limiting your consumption of alcohol can also improve your health. There is nothing wrong with moderate drinking or a glass of wine with dinner, but if you drink too much cutting back could make a real difference.
9) Acknowledge and Express Your Feelings
Hiding your feelings will just make a bad situation worse. Do not be afraid to express yourself and tell people how you really feel. You know your mind and body better than anyone else, and you need to pay attention to the signals your brain and body are sending you. Listen to what your mind and body have to say, then respond.
10) Volunteer to Help Others
Volunteering is good for the community, but it is just as good for you. Studies have shown a link between volunteerism and lower mortality, so an altruistic attitude could lengthen your life as well as improve it.
Volunteering for a cause you believe in allows you to maintain social exposure and stay connected to the community. This connection is important as you age, so get out there and find some volunteer opportunities.
If you want to make 2016 the best year ever, the tips above can help you get started. From eating a healthy diet and reducing stress to staying mentally sharp, there are plenty of things you can do to feel great as you age.