Dec 05, 2023
As people age, their bodies endure changes that can sometimes be difficult to manage. With aging, people may find that they don’t have the energy that they used to, are not able to do things that they could when they were younger, are not able to lift as much or walk as fast, and they’re not getting good sleep as well. With aging, people may start to see changes in their skin, hair, and they may experience changes in their mood and memory. Aging may also make people more susceptible to diseases and health problems. It is a well-acceptable fact that the aging process is inevitable but poor health need not be a part of growing older. More often than not, poor health is defined by the mere absence of disease. This is not right. There are things that you can do to age gracefully and live a healthy, happy, and productive life as you get older.
WHAT IS HEALTHY AGING?
Aging is a biological and physiological process that happens in our bodies. The functional alteration of cell and organ-related mechanisms contributes to the functional decline of the individual. Healthy aging is developing or maintaining functional ability (mental ability, physical capacity, psychological capacity, social-wellbeing) in older age. In this blog, we will explore some of the best ways to promote healthy aging.
MAINTAIN REGULAR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Physical activity is the cornerstone of healthy aging. Engage in regular exercise to maintain physical fitness, strength, endurance, mobility, flexibility, balance, and increase energy levels. Being physically active lowers the risk of osteoporosis, helps prevent falls, and contributes to an improved sense of balance and coordination which is essential for healthy aging.
• Walking for 30 minutes a day can help maintain your cardiovascular health and strength training with dumbbells, and resistance bands can help build muscle strength, bone strength, and help in weight management.
• Exercising for 30 minutes daily helps keep the blood pressure in check, contributes to cognitive stimulation, growth of neurons, helps prevent dementia (impaired ability to remember), can help prevent diabetes, cardiovascular disorder, and Parkinson’s.
• If you don’t get the motivation to exercise, then find your exercise group, social interaction reduces feelings of isolation and helps maintain an active social life.
• Engaging in activities that keep your body moving like walking the dog, taking stairs, cycling, sideway walking, toe walking, and yoga significantly decreases daily stress and loneliness, promotes a positive attitude towards life, and improves self-esteem.
EAT HEALTHY DIET
Foods and beverages have a profound impact on our health, now and in the years to come. Dietary habit is one of the modifiable factors for preventing age-related diseases. The way we eat throughout our lives impacts the way we age. Poor nutrition weakens the immune system, makes us vulnerable to diseases, causes unhealthy weight changes, leads to muscle loss, weak bones, and loss of independence.
• Science has proven that a well-balanced diet that includes nutritious foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, lean protein, foods low in sugar, and saturated fats keeps the body healthy and reduces the risk of age-related diseases.
• Eat nutritious meals mindfully and drink enough fluids to stay hydrated. Not everyone can meet their nutrient needs through food alone, fortified foods and nutrient-dense supplements can help.
• Healthy diet can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases commonly associated with aging like diabetes, cancer, stroke, heart disease, and neurodegenerative conditions.
• A healthy diet can maintain a healthy weight, manage blood sugar, and arthritis, reduce the risk of cancer, prevent the progression of eye disease, keep bones and muscles strong, and help maintain brain health. It’s important to understand that our nutritional needs change with age. Older adults typically need fewer calories but more protein, calcium, fiber and vitamin D, and minerals. Add more sweet potatoes, black beans, tomatoes, broccoli, beets, seafood, avocados, and chickpeas to your diet.
AIM FOR QUALITY SLEEP
Good quality sleep is not a luxury, it’s not something that, as we age, should compromise. Adequate sleep plays a vital role in maintaining overall physical and mental well-being. It is crucial to get the recommended hours of sleep. Sleep deprivation is associated with developing insulin resistance, obesity, mood disturbances, stress, depression, decreased productivity, immune dysfunction, heart disease, impaired motor skill, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, weight gain, high blood sugar levels, more susceptibility to illnesses, and a shorter life span.
• Good sleep helps our body to conserve energy and focus on repairing damage from the day before.
• It’s important to maintain a regular sleep schedule, create a comfortable sleep environment, and practice good sleep hygiene.
• A good aim of getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night comes with the benefits of improved memory, better mental health, improved memory, reduce risks of falls, and improved immune function.
• Establish healthy sleep habits by maintaining regular bedtime, wake up time, less exposure to stress triggers, practicing relaxation exercises like meditation, not consuming caffeinated beverages before bed, limiting daytime naps, exercising daily, and staying away from electronic gadgets.
MANAGE STRESS LEVELS
Chronic stress can have a negative impact on health, it can cause high blood pressure, increased insulin resistance, heart disease, anxiety, weakened immune system, headache, and poor mental health status.
• Stress can accelerate the aging process by leading to increased production of reactive oxygen species, shortening telomeres, which are protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that help maintain cell health and longevity.
• Stress is a natural part of life, however, there are things you can do to reduce stress and live a peaceful life.
• You can aid in stress management and encourage good healthy aging by adopting these techniques. Engage in relaxation exercises like yoga, deep breathing, and meditation, take part in activities that you enjoy, maintain physical fitness by exercising regularly, obtain adequate rest, maintain social ties and connect with others, consume healthy meals that provide you with essential minerals and vitamins, employ aromatherapy, enhance sleep quality.
GET REGULAR HEALTH CHECKUP DONE
Routine health checkups are crucial for healthy aging. People of the working age group are at a high risk of lifestyle diseases. Preventive health care reduces risk of underlying health conditions and reduces the risk of surgery or even healthcare costs. Many illnesses like osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease may not exhibit obvious signs in their early stages.
• Regular checkups with your healthcare provider and early detection of illness allows for quick management. Medical professionals can offer advice on modifying one’s lifestyle, and prescribe suitable medications.
• Regular blood pressure checkup reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, regular hearing screening will reduce age-related hearing loss, and regular eye checkup will help detect age-related vision changes, cataracts, or other eye conditions. Regular blood sugar levels screening will assess your blood glucose level and determine if you have diabetes or if you are in a prediabetic stage.
• If you get a regular health checkup of sugar and cholesterol, you will know how likely you are to get diabetes, cholesterol in the future.
• Getting a frequent health checkup provides you with a good understanding of how to adopt healthier eating habits by letting you know what to eat and what to avoid. Assessment of functionality of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and digestive system will monitor your condition, will keep you informed about your condition, and take good care of your health.