Getting older, it happens to all of us. We have aches and pains that didn’t exist in our 20’s, we slow down, we move less, and we forget stuff!! Isn’t it just part of aging? This is normal…..right?? It may be what society says is normal but it doesn’t have to be YOUR reality.
Research shows that we are likely to live an average of 10 more years than our parents did but it is also showing that our quality of life is not as good as theirs. By the year 2030 they are predicting almost 20% of the total US population will be 65+.
So what can we do to give us the best possible chance at a long healthy life? You may not have control over every area that affects your health as you age but there are many things you can do to ensure good health well into your later years. Here are just a few:
- Have a positive outlook – This is always going to be at the top of my list! Our thoughts determine our choices; our choices determine our future. If we continuously focus on the negative, we will make choices that will negatively affect our lives. If you can change one thing today….this would be the one to start with. Our thoughts are the beginning of it all….and we DO have control over them. See my post “The Power of Choice” for how to take control of your thoughts.
- Make healthy eating choices – Eat a clean, balanced diet. Get rid of the junk!! Start off with little changes, try some new foods, be creative. You never know if you like something unless you try it! Eating smaller meals throughout the day spacing them out about every three hours helps to keep you full and also boosts the metabolism.
- Reduce your calorie intake – We don’t need the same amount of calories we ate when we were 20! Based on research, we don’t need as many calories as we get older do to the fact that as we age, our metabolism slows. You want to make sure you get enough, but not too much. How much you need depends on your activity level during the day. Is your job active or sedentary? Do you exercise regularly or not? Just remember…small meals scattered throughout the day.
- Increase your exercise – MOVE!!!! Exercise is vital to a healthy, long life. It helps with everything from weight control, to energy levels, stress reduction and quality of sleep! You don’t have to hit the gym for hours. A brisk 30 minute walk does wonders! Can’t do a full 30 minutes at one time….break it down into smaller increments. There have been multiple studies done that shows doing 3 workouts of 10 minutes each is just as beneficial as doing 1 workout of 30 minutes. Add some strength training in there as well. As we age, we lose muscle so you have to use them or you lose them! Again, nothing major but you do want to have strength training as part of your weekly regime.
- Reduce your stress – Stress negatively affects your health! You may say “Well, I know that!” But do you know how? Let me say that some stress can be a good thing. It helps us to avoid danger and keeps us alert. But when the body is continuously under stress it can lead to symptoms such as elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and sleep problems. Research indicates it can also worsen certain symptoms or diseases. So try some breathing exercises when you feel yourself becoming stressed. Go for a walk if possible. Ask yourself what is stressing you, do you have any control over it, and if not…let it go. Yes, it really can be that easy…go back to number one (your thoughts) to find out how!
- Get enough sleep – Sleep deprivation may lead to symptoms similar to depression or anxiety. Energy levels are negatively impacted. Did you know that research shows sleep deprivation increases your appetite and increases the cravings for carbohydrates? No wonder we reach for that doughnut in the morning and bag of chips in the afternoon! And I thought it was just lack of willpower!! Sleep deprivation decreases your immune function and can lead to cardiovascular problems. So try to get at least 7 hours, turn off the electronics 30 minutes before bedtime and reduce caffeine after about several hours before bedtime.
As we age, we don’t have to get “old”. We can age and still having energy, health and quality of life. I hope this has been helpful. Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts!