Aging can negatively affect the physical and mental well-being of even the fittest adults. If you have elderly first relatives, you must have seen first-hand how debilitating old age can be.
However, the other side of the coin also exists; some elderly adults can maintain very good physical health and remain emotionally stable despite their age. So what is the secret to their fitness?
A healthy old age isn’t a far-fetched goal if you know what strategies to adopt. It is a combination of different lifestyle choices that can collectively ensure good health. Only with good health can you remain independent and self-sufficient in your later years.
As you age, your body undergoes a series of changes, and to stay fit, you need to adjust your lifestyle accordingly. As your immune system weakens, you become vulnerable to things as small as the common cold or flu.
Making healthy choices regarding diet and activities will help boost your immune system and improve your overall well-being.
So what can be done? The following are some tips to help you stay healthy even as you age:
1. Make frequent visits to the doctor a routine
Regular check-up is the only way to detect a problem before it escalates to uncontrollable levels. It cannot be denied that with age, you become more susceptible to illnesses; when you make regular health checks a routine, you can catch many such problems in time.
Sometimes your life circumstances make you more vulnerable to certain diseases. For instance, If you have just retired from a job that could have potentially exposed you to asbestos, you are at risk of developing a rare cancer.
Watch out for breathing problems, general fatigue, and fluid retention in your stomach or chest. If you are a frequent visitor to the doctor, this will help identify this problem, and many others, before they worsen.
Also, don’t take any indication of pain lightly; book an appointment with your doctor whenever you notice anything unusual in your body. Stay in contact with your healthcare provider so that you can give them a call in any emergency.
2. Maintain a healthy weight
As you age, it is easy to lose interest in maintaining a good physical appearance and body shape; however, don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining healthy body weight. It serves a more important role than just ensuring an attractive appearance.
Obesity puts you at serious risk for many health problems, ranging from diabetes and blood pressure complications to strokes and heart disease.
You become more vulnerable to being overweight as you age because of a significant drop in activity levels; this might be because you just retired from work or your physical health doesn’t allow you to stay as active as possible.
Either way, you have to be more cautious about the number of calories you consume.
To measure healthy weight, there are two ways; the first is by calculating your BMI (Body Mass Index). Body Mass Index is the ratio of your weight in kilograms to your height in meters. The recommended BMI for older adults is between 25 and 27.
Secondly, pair this index with a measure of your waist size. Sometimes adults with a normal BMI are still obese, so BMI alone is insufficient. For women, a waist size greater than 35 inches, and for men, a waist size greater than 40 inches is unhealthy.
3.Monitor your diet
While your body’s need for calories declines with age, the need for sufficient nutrients persists and sometimes even increases. A nutrient-dense diet is necessary; vitamin D, B6, B12, and folate are important for healthy aging.
Consult your healthcare provider about the nutrients you need considering your health status; they might recommend some supplements.
The ideal diet plan would include fruits, vegetables, seafood, poultry, lean meats, eggs, beans, peas, nuts, and dairy products, including fat-free/low-fat milk and milk products.
Whole grains, including oatmeal, brown rice, and whole-grain bread, should also be consumed. Also, cut down on the intake of sugar-sweetened drinks and solid fats like margarine, butter, lard, and salt.
Portion-size control and eating schedules are also equally important; when you visit the restaurant, remember that often the servings are more than one portion, so it is best to save some for later.
When eating with family and friends, consider sharing meals. Take time to consume your meals and savor their flavor. Eating too quickly often results in eating more than necessary.
Lastly, eating while watching TV or using your mobile phone will likely increase your food intake, so watch out for that. Research shows that watching a boring TV program promotes excessive food intake.
4.Stay physically active
While physical activity is important for optimal health at all ages, it becomes all the more important as you age. Regular physical exercise can prevent or delay many health complications arising naturally or from a sedentary lifestyle.
It boosts your immune system and prepares your body to fight inflammation and deal with infections. It also improves your flexibility and balance, reducing the chances of fall-related injuries.
Yes, indeed, your physical health might not allow you to engage in an intense workout. Worry not; moderate-intensity activity, like brisk walking for 150 minutes weekly, is sufficient. You can replace it with 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise a week.
Fortunately, physical activity doesn’t have to be demanding; interesting hobbies like swimming, walking, or biking are great ways to include some exercise in your routine.
5.Practice a good sleep routine
A healthy sleep schedule is as important for you as it was for your kids when they were young. In fact, many adults report insomnia, and long-term sleep deprivation can have a major toll on your health.
If you have difficulty falling asleep, consult your doctor; sometimes, this can be a signal for some medical conditions like restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea.
Sleep is your body’s natural time to repair, so don’t deprive your body of this precious time. Sufficient sleep also reduces stress levels and boosts your immune system.
In fact, it also improves memory and concentration, which otherwise tend to decline with age. Your goal should be at least 7.5-9 hours of sleep every night.
Old age can be a major life changer, and many elderly adults experience a significant decline in well-being; coping with this change can be a huge challenge for the person and their family.
However, if you carefully take the steps necessary to ensure a healthy lifestyle, many of these debilitating changes can be avoided.
Make sure to visit the doctor regularly, maintain healthy body weight, eat healthily, stay active, and practice good sleep hygiene. You can make your old age go smoothly with the right lifestyle choices.