Getting Better With Age: How To Optimize Your Health
When you’re a spring chicken, and you’ve got your whole life ahead of you, your health may not be the number one priority. As you get older, however, you come to realize that looking after yourself is critical. If you make the right choices and you take good care of your body and mind, you stand every chance of reaping the rewards well into your retirement years. If you’re looking to get better with age like a fine wine, here are some tips to optimize your health.
Prioritizing mental health
When we talk about being healthy, we tend to focus on whether we can still run for a bus, touch our toes or fit in the same jeans we’ve worn for a decade. The definition of health relates to physical, mental and social well being. To be healthy, you don’t just have to have a level of fitness and the ability to fight off illnesses and infections. Your mental health matters too.
Many people find it difficult to adjust to new routines and schedules when they retire. The prospect of taking a well-earned break is often more appealing and alluring than the reality. It’s very common to feel like you have too much time and to become isolated and withdrawn. Protecting and shielding your mental health is crucial as you get older. Make plans for your retirement, and devote time to hobbies and activities that you enjoy. Reconnect with friends and family members you may not have seen as much as you would have liked to over the years due to work commitments, and don’t be afraid to try new things. If you’ve got time on your hands, and you want to get out and about more, look into activities that are available in your local area and consider joining community groups. Perhaps you could join a choir, you’d like to become a member of the local golf club, or you fancy learning to dance. Whatever your interests, there are bound to be opportunities out there. Use the Internet to find out more.
When it comes to mental health, it’s also crucial to recognize that talking can be beneficial. Many people keep things to themselves and it’s particularly common for older generations to adopt a stiff upper lip attitude. It’s good to be strong, but there’s nothing wrong with sharing concerns or worries or telling a partner or a close friend that you’re feeling low or that you’re upset. If you do find it difficult to manage your emotions, and you don’t feel comfortable opening up, you might find that creative activities help you express yourself. Painting, drawing, and writing, for example, can help you get things off your chest without making you feel like you’re in a therapy session.
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Maintaining an active lifestyle
You might think that as you get older, it becomes increasingly difficult to live an active lifestyle. While this may be true in some cases, many people exercise on a regular basis well into their 70s, 80s, and even their 90s. You might find that the kinds of activities you undertake change as you age, but there are myriad active pursuits that are suited to older people. You don’t have to be in your 20s to join a gym or be in your 30s to enjoy salsa classes or Pilates. Give different activities a go, and look for sessions and classes that are tailored to your level of fitness. Some sports centers also offer sessions that are designed for older people.
Exercising has a range of benefits for people of all ages, and it can help to protect the body and mind and prevent potentially life-threatening diseases. When you lead an active lifestyle, you’ll find that you feel more energetic, and you can also take advantage of social opportunities. Regular exercise increases strength, suppleness, and fitness, but it can also make you feel more confident, enable you to meet new people and provide opportunities to develop new skills. Exercise is also a natural stress-buster, and it can make you feel amazing.
If you don’t like the thought of walking into a gym on your own, or you’ve never really exercised before, there’s nothing to be worried about. There are all kinds of activities you can try, and you don’t have to spend all your time on a treadmill to get fit. Take friends to a dance or an aerobics class, or go to a beginner’s session and be open to meeting new friends. Start walking or jogging with a neighbor, or think about joining local groups or teams in the community. You might find that there are lots of activities for people your age that you didn’t know about. Use the Internet, contact local community centers and sports facilities and ask friends, neighbors and former colleagues if they know of any groups or clubs that might be of interest.
When it comes to exercise, it’s hugely beneficial to realize that every little helps. If you struggle with pain, or you don’t have the mobility or flexibility to take part in classes or to engage in a full-blown workout, even the simplest things, like walking around the block, can work wonders for your physical and mental health. Being out in the fresh air is also proven to benefit wellbeing and make you feel happier and less stressed and anxious.
If you have injuries or health problems that limit your ability to exercise, and you want to try and be more active, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or physical therapist for advice. They will be able to recommend activities that are suitable. If you have back pain, for example, you may find that swimming helps.
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Beating the habits of a lifetime
You might think that there’s no point in trying to give up bad habits if you’re in your 60s, 70s, or 80s, but the sooner you try, the better. If you’re a smoker, for example, you’ll start to enjoy the benefits as soon as you quit. It may not be possible to reverse the damage completely, but your health will improve. Giving up smoking, especially if you’ve been a smoker for a long time, is challenging, but it can be done. Today, many people who want to quit smoking start vaping instead. Vaping doesn’t expose you to the same chemicals as cigarettes, and it can help you to wean yourself off nicotine. You can buy e-cigarettes, pods and affordable 120 ml bottles of vape juice online. Another option you may want to look into is swapping cigarettes for nicotine patches, gum, or spray. This can help to curb cravings without exposing you to harmful substances. You might also find it easier to give up if people around you quit and if you set yourself a time limit, for example, giving up for a month. If you can do this, there’s every chance that you can quit for good.
Smoking is not the only lifestyle choice that can impact your health. Drinking too much alcohol can also have negative implications. Many people drink too much without even realizing that they’re doing it, and this is often the case with older people. If you’re used to having a few glasses of wine with your evening meal, for example, you could be exceeding the recommended weekly intake every week. Keep track of how much you drink, and if you are drinking too much, try and reduce your intake.
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Enhancing brain power
It’s well-documented that aging affects memory. As you get older, you might become more forgetful. It’s common to experience memory problems, but there are ways of enhancing brain power and boosting your memory. One of the most important things to do is keep your brain ticking over. When you retire, and you go from working to having more time to yourself, you might find that you don’t use your brain as much. Fill your time with activities that engage the brain and challenge you. Solve puzzles, play games that involve strategizing, for example, chess, read books, and take part in quizzes and memory tests. Take time to chill out and relax, but make sure your brain is active too.
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Making changes to your diet
Your diet is vital for good health. The foods you eat should provide your body with valuable nutrients. If your diet lacks nutritional content, you may find that you’re more susceptible to illness, your energy levels are low, or you’re prone to symptoms linked to vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Try and ensure that your diet is varied and balanced, keep an eye on your sugar, salt, and saturated fat intake, and make sure you incorporate foods that have nutritional value. Swap refined and processed foods and takeouts for wholegrain, complex carbohydrates, fresh ingredients and home-cooked meals, and aim for 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day. If you’re not a brilliant chef, look for simple, healthy recipes you can rustle up in a matter of minutes.
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As you get older, you come to realize that your health is something that should never be taken for granted. While the risk of developing health problems can increase as you get older, there are multiple ways you can protect your health and wellbeing and ensure you get better with age.