Healthy Aging Month – The Positive Aspects of Growing Older
If 40 is the new 30, then 50 is the new 40, right? You may be “over 50”, but you don’t have to be “over” having fun and living your best, healthy life! Actually, it’s even more important to get started on healthier habits and ditch the bad ones. Your early to mid-50s are when biochemical changes start to occur, leading to the onset of cancer and other chronic illness. Now is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf, assess your lifestyle and make your health a priority!
September is Healthy Aging Month
September is Healthy Aging Month and celebrates the many positive aspects of growing older: Wisdom, self-discovery, and maturity. It’s never too late to reinvent yourself, take up a new activity, or pursue a new career. The key is to keep moving and find ways to incorporate exercise and healthier habits into your life.
Healthy aging in midlife and even into your senior years isn’t rocket science. The body is a self-healing, self-regulating system and performs best when it’s on a regular schedule. The foundation for healthy aging begins with routine habits around nutrition, exercise, and prevention.
Learn to Manage Stress
Manage stress through exercise and other activities like yoga and mindfulness or a creative outlet. Research shows that a life of stress is really hard on the body, especially chronic stress. Patients who have higher levels of baseline stress are more prone to diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity.
Get an Annual Physical
Get a yearly checkup and other preventative screenings including pap smears, colonoscopies, mammograms, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Preventative screenings save lives by catching cancer and chronic illnesses early.
Get Some Sleep
Embrace routine, especially when it comes to sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours of regular, uninterrupted sleep. Follow a regular schedule with going to bed, waking up and when you eat your meals. It also regulates hormones like insulin and cortisol, which helps prevent disease.
Focus on Better Nutrition
Eat a heart-healthy diet, more fruits and vegetables, and lean protein. Avoid or limit starchy, fried and processed foods and too much red meat. Reduce salt and sugar, increase healthy fats such as fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids, and skip anything with GMOs. (Ingredients you can’t pronounce!) It’s definitely the time to kick bad habits like excessive drinking and smoking, too.
Most Important – Maintain A Healthy Weight And Keep Moving
Make regular exercise a habit, or at least find ways to be more active. Several studies have found a profound link between a generally sedentary lifestyle, meaning hours upon hours of sitting, and increased incidence of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and total mortality.
For a lot of us, it can be too overwhelming to make multiple lifestyle changes at once. Focus on one area of your life that you can improve. Exercise may be one of the easiest and best of these options. Think about this trifecta of benefits – heart health, combat weight gain, and boost endorphins.
Here are nine practical tips to get moving and stay motivated for the long haul.
1. Schedule time to exercise and switch it up.
The key to long-term exercise is not only making it a priority but doing activities that are social and fun. Playing tennis or pickleball with a friend, walking the dog, biking a rail trail, swimming, gardening, dancing and playing team sports count toward the recommended 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week.
2. Recruit a friend or join a class.
You’re more likely to exercise when you have a partner or group counting on you, plus it’s the chance to make new friends and try something new.
3. Sign up for a competition.
Whether it’s a marathon or bike race, training for a competition ups the challenge and reward.
4. Try the 10-minute motivation rule.
Start with 10 minutes and see if you are motivated to keep going. Getting started is often half the battle.
5. Break it up into smaller chunks
Research shows that 10 minutes of exercise has benefits, so incorporate activity throughout the day. Use a break at work to walk laps or climb stairs, do a set of squats, planks, and pushups during TV commercials, or try a 10-minute exercise video.
6. Focus on how you feel.
Do you have increased energy, strength, mood or sleep? The scale isn’t the only measure of success.
7. Write it down.
Keep a journal of your daily activity and food/drinks. Be mindful of what you eat, and realistic about how many calories you burn. Snacks, sodas, and desserts have hidden calories or are often overlooked. It can reveal patterns of overindulging, emotional eating or chronic fatigue and depression.
8. Enjoy a rest day (or two).
Don’t beat yourself up if you slack off for a day or a week. While consistency is important, adequate hydration, sleep and recovery time matter too.
9. Celebrate small milestones.
The scale may have stalled, but maybe you’ve lost inches, regulated blood sugar, can run a mile, or noticed new muscles.
Healthy Aging Starts with a Mindset
It’s hard to change bad habits for healthier ones, much less sustain them. The key is to also switch your mindset: Look at it as a lifestyle change rather than a quick fix. Many changes cost nothing and require only common sense and some self-awareness. Smile more, stand when you can, sleep at least eight hours, take a daily walk, and pursue your passions!
There is no magic pill for health and longevity, and, unfortunately, we can’t turn back the hand of time. But when it comes to living a long, satisfying life, it’s simple – the things you do today affect your tomorrows.
Ivy Rehab Network’s physical therapists are here for you whenever you need us. If you are having a difficult time getting started with an exercise routine and living healthy because of pain or an injury, we can help! Find a clinic near you and get in touch with us today!