If you’re a regular reader of this website, you’ve probably been inspired by the energetic take on growing older without growing old: viewing age as just a number and recognizing that we’re only as old as we let ourselves feel. Even though our looks may fade, embodying healthy aging habits will help us stay active, vibrant and alert.
Employ these 4 healthy aging practices
If you make them part of your life, they will help you remain robust, strong, and sharp for years to come:
1. Just move
Whether it’s a daily walk around the block, a half-hour on the treadmill at the gym or 30 laps in the pool, any and all types of steady movement can be beneficial in several ways:
- It boosts cardiovascular strength and endurance
- It infuses cells with oxygen and purges the cells of toxins
- It strengthens muscles and joints, helping to prevent injuries and chronic pain
- It helps maintain balance and coordination, which can prevent falls
- It provides a great opportunity for healthy, fun social activity
There is one caveat to this simple and powerful habit. Unless you’re already very active in sports or fitness, make sure to pace yourself and focus on steady movement as opposed to strenuous activity or exercises that require a lot of starting and stopping, like interval training or some team sports. Strenuous and sporadic activity can cause dramatic changes in blood pressure and blood sugar levels, both of which can be dangerous to the uninitiated.
2. Exercise your brain
As we get older, intentionally keeping our mind active becomes just as important as exercising our body. Unfortunately, many options available in most homes today tend to be highly passive, like watching TV, for example. Studies have suggested that people who habitually engage in passive activities that require little mental engagement are more prone to brain-related ailments including Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of progressive dementia.
To keep your mind active, make a habit of challenging it with one or more of the following:
- Sudoku or similar math-based puzzles
- Crossword puzzles, Scrabble, or other language-based puzzles
- Mental training apps, many of which are available for free
- Reading and writing
- Pursuing creative hobbies
Whether you do these activities on your own or with a spouse or friends, they will be highly beneficial. And, as an added bonus, they can be a lot of fun too.
3. Eat well
A nutritious and balanced diet isn’t a groundbreaking idea. We all know we should be eating well to stay healthy as we age. But, it becomes even more important as nutritional recommendations change.
Here are the basics to build your eating habits around:
- Fruits and vegetables – the less processed, the better
- Lean protein, especially fish and poultry
- Whole grains and other complex carbohydrates
- Follow suggested alcohol consumption recommendations, and consider developing a taste for red wine if you haven’t already
- Work with your doctor to determine what sort of nutrients you may need to take via supplements if you’re not able to get enough from your diet
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day
Overall it’s important to focus on balance, moderation, hydration, and nutrition first and foremost.
4. Prioritize your oral health
Simple self-care habits like brushing and flossing your teeth are probably already ingrained in your daily routine.
As we get older, the combination of natural changes in our body, chronic health conditions, and the effect of prescription medications can lead to increased chances of serious oral health problems like gum disease, tooth decay, or infections. For example, “dry mouth” – a reduction in saliva production – is a common side effect of many prescription medications, and it can leave your teeth vulnerable to bacteria that otherwise would not be a threat.
Caring for your oral health is simple:
- Brush with a soft-bristle toothbrush at least twice a day for at least two minutes each time
- Floss between your teeth at least once each day
- Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash after meals and before bed
- Visit your dentist every six months for an examination and professional cleaning
While all of those healthy aging habits are important, visiting the dentist regularly can be challenging for those with limited or fixed budgets. Medicare doesn’t cover dental care, and private dental insurance coverage can be prohibitively expensive in some cases.
If the cost of dental care is holding you back from scheduling an appointment, there are affordable dental care options that make both general and advanced dental services accessible, even on a limited budget.
With these four healthy aging habits incorporated into your daily routine, you’re in an excellent position to focus on living life to the fullest and enjoying every day with family, friends, and loved ones.