Courtesy of Hazel Bridges
Most of us know we could be making healthier choices, and we have some understanding of how these could help us in old age. Now that you are a senior, you may start feeling like you missed your chance. This is not the case, however, and you are never too old to take control of your health habits and start working toward a better quality of life. Here are a few simple ways to do that.
According to the CDC, the benefits of exercise as a senior include improved stamina, bone health, muscle mass, and reduced risk of injury. There is some evidence that it also improves cognitive skills such as remembering words. By regularly working out, you increase your ability to live independently, keep up with grandchildren, and generally make the most of your golden years.
You don’t have to take up a whole new sport or get into anything particularly intense. You can adjust your activity to your level of fitness and to any injuries you have. Some seniors choose to join a class where they can meet new people and have an excuse to get out the house. Learn something new, like tai chi or water aerobics, or join a walking group to socialize with other seniors from the neighborhood.
If that doesn’t sound like your thing, there are also plenty of exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home. If you need equipment, a basic set of dumbbells and resistance bands can allow you to do a variety of strength workouts, which are incredibly beneficial in terms of muscle and bone strength. A yoga mat helps you stretch safely and comfortably, which can keep you flexible and improve circulation. Whatever you choose, consider investing in a fitness tracker like a Fitbit, which can help you monitor your progress. Check out iMore’s guide to Fitbits for seniors to choose the best one for you.
Eat Well — and Switch Things Up
It’s incredibly important to eat a healthy diet later in life. You may have heard that your metabolism slowing will have impacted your body’s ability to burn calories, but the truth is that this doesn’t make that big a difference. You should still focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, protein, and healthy fats while avoiding sugar and processed foods. Any other specific requirements will depend on your body. Talk to your doctor to see if you could use more of a specific nutrient in your diet, such as calcium or iron.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
According to the World Health Organization, 15 percent of adults over 60 suffer from some kind of mental health disorder. Many of the conversations around old age and mental health revolve around dementia because it tends to occur in older adults. This awareness is important; however, it is also worth remembering that other, more common forms of mental illness also affect seniors.
This includes depression and anxiety, which could be caused by a variety of factors associated with old age. Staying active, eating well, and socializing regularly are key to promoting good mental health, with the latter in particular being essential. Seniors who report feeling lonely and isolated have an increased risk of physical and mental decline and dying earlier. If you feel your social circle is not satisfying you, join a class or group that can help you meet people. It is never too late to make new friends.
As you get older, it can be easy to feel like your quality of life is set to inevitably decline. However, it is important to remember that many of the health issues associated with old age are preventable through a few key lifestyle changes. You can enjoy a fulfilling and exciting life in your golden years as long as you commit to taking control of your physical and mental well-being.