While most of us may not be fans of actual “aging”, if we think about it, we know that we do want to age well. We know that we want to do everything possible to be as healthy as we can, for as long as possible.
But do we have control over that? Scientific studies indicate that we do indeed have some control over our health as we move into our 3rd act. Quite possibly, we have more control than we realize. What are some of the things that we can easily do to increase our likelihood to age well?
How much control do really we have?
Truthfully, we have more control over our health than previously thought. Studies done in the last 20 years indicate that there are factors that affect our health that we previously didn’t understand. (See below for the “secret keys”). Also, studies have proven that even if we don’t start to make changes until later in life, they can still affect our lives in a positive way.
Because of this, it’s never too late to start making some changes that will enhance your quality of life and perhaps even your health!
What are the keys to age well from any age?
The keys we know (but need to be better at)
Getting enough rest/sleep. We know this. Our parents knew this, perhaps even better than we did. The challenge is that through our adulthood, we decided that being “busy” was valiant and is what made us worthy. Take a step back from that; there is no longer a need to rush. Rest when you want to. Read here for more information on how to get enough rest.
Exercise. We’ve all heard it before, exercise to stay healthy. But why? Even moderate stretching helps with mobility (and flexibility) and moderate and consistent walking strengthens your heart. A recent Swedish study shows that even when people don’t start to exercise until their later years, exercise is the number one contributor to healthy longevity. Have a look here or here for some ideas (that you might even like) on exercising.
Eating well. For those of us who are in our 60’s, we were really the first generation who may have grown up on processed foods. For anyone older, you likely ate whole, real foods growing up. That’s all that is needed now. Of course, it’s better to increase your veggie intake, cut out red meat and lower your salt intake. But if you really want the easiest step you can take, it’s to ditch anything processed. That means anything that comes in a box or from a fast food restaurant.
You don’t need a chef, you don’t have to spend a lot of money or make it look fancy like the photo, just eat real, whole foods. Of course, if you want to do the other things, you certainly can! For more tips, click here.
The secret keys
Here are the keys that could add health and longevity to your life, no matter when you start. These are things that we don’t usually think of as having to do with health, but they do:
Be social. Recent studies have shown that loneliness and isolation is terrible for our mental health. This also becomes terrible for our physical health as time goes on. According to: 3 Great Ways to Thwart Senior Loneliness, “Social isolation can lead to depression, impact cognitive health and has been shown to potentially impact immunodeficiencies, heart issues, weight management and many other physical conditions. Isolation and loneliness have been linked to higher risks of mortality in our older population.”
Find some purpose. This doesn’t have to mean “the purpose of your life”. This means, find something to do on a regular basis that you enjoy, that fills your days with pleasure. It could be a hobby, learning something new or even spending time in nature. But it should be something you really enjoy and look forward to doing. Anticipation has medical benefits! Read Looking Forward to 2022 for more information about anticipation.
Learn to manage change. Life as we know it changes through the decades, but even more than that, it can change daily, as we’ve seen during the recent pandemic. Building resilience is critical to our mental health and we are now starting to understand our physical health as well. Talking over tough times with friends or a counsellor, focusing on the things to be grateful for and taking daily actions to build resilience will help you weather stormy seas.
Play games! What? How can something fun be good for you? Studies have actually shown that people who learns languages and even play brain games might have a better chance of warding off Alzheimer’s and other memory related diseases. Just as our bodies need to exercise, so do our brains! Have a peek at 5 Excellent Benefits of Puzzling for the Older Mind for more information and ideas.
We all want to age well. As the legendary Betty White said in 2011, “So you may not be as fast on your feet, and the image in your mirror may be a little disappointing, but if you are still functioning and not in pain, gratitude should be the name of the game.”
The truth is, we can be both grateful and proactive.
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