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Being Your Personal Best

September 20th, 2018

13 Healthy Aging Ideas to Keep You In Tip Top Condition  

If you look at popular culture today, it’s easy to be down about the aging process. Everyone wants to look young, stay young, feel young. Aging is a fact of life – but there are many things you can do to take control of your health and feel your best, no matter your age! 

We hope this list provides inspiration and practical ideas that you can use to improve your physical, mental and social wellbeing – in your 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond! 

1. Think positively. It you catch yourself complaining or feeling irritable, make a switch in your mind to something uplifting. When you dwell on the negative, those thoughts tend to grow. The same is true with good thoughts. The right mindset can make or break your day.

2. Don’t act your age. Have you ever met someone who just seems young at heart? That attitude is a choice, not just a personality trait. Think back to a time in your life that you felt great – that could be 20, 35 or even 50 – and try to recreate those feelings of energy and confidence. 

3. Eat fresh. Fresh foods, that is. Our metabolism changes as we age, and that means choosing healthier foods is critical to keeping your weight in check. Fruits, veggies, leafy greens, nuts, oats and beans are all good sources of vitamins and minerals that nourish your body and keep you feeling strong. Eating beans and other high-fiber foods is also good for your digestive and heart health.

4. Reignite an old passion. Life gets busy with work and family obligations. But as you retire, you may find more time to dig back into that hobby that brought you joy – like sewing, woodworking, playing a musical instrument, dancing, playing cards, taking longer walks or spending time in nature.  

5. Drink more water. Dehydration, or excessive loss of water that disrupts the body’s normal function, can make you feel lousy. It can leave you feeling lethargic and put you at increased risk for confusion and mood changes, not to mention urinary tract infections and other kidney issues. Getting enough water keeps your metabolism working at its best and your digestive system functioning well. Your best bet is to choose water over sugary or flavored drinks, and drink even when you don’t feel thirsty.

6. Take a cat nap. Naps aren’t just for babies and little kids. In many cultures, napping is an important part of the daily routine. While laying down for a bit during the day can’t make up for poor or inadequate sleep at night, 20-30 minutes in the early afternoon can help improve your mood, alertness and performance – without interfering with nighttime sleep.

7. Cut back on sugar. Statistics show that the average American consumes 150 to 170 pounds of sugar every year! Eating excess sugar has been shown to increase the likelihood of chronic disease – like heart disease, diabetes, arthritics and even certain cancers. It’s not all about avoiding candy and cookies. Sugar pops up in many places you might not expect – like in sauces, ketchup, packaged meat, and even yogurt. Need ideas about reducing your sugar intake? Taking your morning coffee with no extras, choosing water over sodas, skipping condiments, and occasionally saying ‘no thanks’ to dessert are good places to start. 

8. Phone a friend. If you’re feeling lonely, do something about it right now! Reach out to someone – a family member, friend or even a neighbor that you don’t know well. You can take the next step of inviting them to brunch, lunch or dinner – either at home or at your favorite restaurant. Making that connection will instantly lift your mood and likely brighten someone else’s day too! 

9. Volunteer. Nothing will keep you feeling young and energized more than helping someone in need. There are as many charities and worthy organizations as there are interests. Hospitals, homeless shelters, animal rescues, and local schools always need willing people with can-do attitudes. 

10. Stop smoking. Smoking is linked to every major chronic condition. If you want to live a long and healthy life, it’s time to cut out cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes or any other type of smokeless tobacco product. Within 48 hours of quitting smoking, damaged nerve endings have started to regrow, and your sense of taste and smell will begin to return. The benefits keep growing over time, and in just one year, your excess risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and heart attack have dropped to less than HALF of a smoker! 

11. Stay balanced. Inflexibility is often the cause of many daily aches and pains, not to mention chronic back issues, muscle train and even falls. When we don’t use our muscles in activity, they begin to atrophy. Practicing yoga or tai chi has been proven to increase flexibility, improve agility and keep you steadier on your feet. If a yoga class isn’t your style, try stretching in front of the tv while watching your favorite TV show. Just a few minutes a day results in muscle gains and increased mobility. 

12. Grab a healthy snack. If you’re feeling a slump in the afternoon, a little pick-me-up might be in order. Instead of reaching for convenient packaged foods like chips or cookies, opt for nuts, dried fruit or trail mix.  Hummus and carrot sticks or apple and peanut butter are also great satisfying combinations that will fill you up without the unwanted sugar crash. 

13. Hit the hay. Although it’s sometimes harder to get the sleep you need as you age, sleeping the recommended 7 to 8 hours a night is still critical to feeling rested and refreshed. As elusive as sleep can sometimes be, it’s one of the most important healthy behaviors for protecting against mental health issues like depression and chronic disease. Going to bed the same time each night, turning off screens at least an hour before bed, or taking a hot bath or shower can help ease you into dreamland. And if sleep continues to be a challenge, it’s worth seeing a sleep specialist who can help you sleep soundly through the night. 

Growing older is a process and so is taking care of your health! Pick one or two of these simple ideas and incorporate them into your daily routine.  While you can’t turn back the clock, you can make healthy choices every day to keep you feeling great and at your personal best!  

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