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Important facts to promote healthy aging / lifestyle

Posted May 07 2009 9:22pm

Recent scientific knowledge and ongoing learning about how the body works and what makes it function smoothly means that there are a number of ways you can be a part in the aging process and give yourself better odds for success.
I. Attitude – The first way you can improve the aging process is to take charge of your attitude. Your sense of hope, humor and confidence will determine the tone of your experience. You might be reading this thinking that having a good attitude is easier said than done. That would be true, but it is also true that your attitude is one thing you have full control over.

II. Nutrition – The importance of a balanced and healthy diet to healthy aging cannot be overstated. Eating well can make you feel and look better, help your body run more smoothly, ward off colds and sickness, and contribute to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels (which in turn help protect you against heart disease and stroke). On the most basic level, your eating habits should reflect a desire to give your body the fuel it needs to run efficiently. Fruit, vegetables, protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats should make up your meals. Shedding any extra weight is especially important as you get older, a result which should be achieved with a sensible, balanced diet and regular exercise. Changes to your diet should reflect the changing needs of your body as an older person. Your doctor should be able to help you identify how your nutritional needs are different and how you can account for them.

III. Exercise – Regular exercise is another cornerstone of healthy living as you age. As your body slows down, you might be tempted to skip the exercise because it is harder to do and you feel challenged physically. This is the wrong thing to do. The most important thing to remember about exercise as you get older is that it does not need to be strenuous; it just needs to be consistent. Regular physical activity will help your body function more effectively in many ways. It helps with weight loss and maintenance, combats anxiety and depression, keeps bones, muscles and joints working properly, relieves symptoms of arthritis and reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some types of cancer. As you age, you might need to change the types of exercise you do, but anything that gets you moving is good. Walking, housework, gardening and even babysitting the grandchildren can count as exercise. Finding a way to build regular physical activity into your daily routine will yield great results. More information about the benefits of eating well and exercise can be found in
IV. Healthy Habits – Smoking and drinking are two big habits that can affect your health and the way you feel. Smoking, in particular, is one habit to quit if you haven't already because it greatly increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. Alcohol can be fine in moderation, but it also can contribute to sleep problems and suppress your appetite, preventing you from eating well. As you age, it is important to think about your lifestyle and identify habits which are helpful and harmful. Making a conscious effort to change the harmful habits will make your aging process more enjoyable.
V. Sleep – Achieving quality sleep becomes more difficult for many people as they get older. On average, people aged 50 to 85 sleep about 6 hours per day. Over 50% of men and women over age 65 complain of at least one chronic sleep problem. Many people accept sleep difficulties as a fact of aging. It is true that as we get older, our sleep patterns change, but it is equally true that good restorative sleep is essential to our physical health and emotional well-being. Possible causes of poor nighttime sleep for older people abound. Sleeping poorly might be the cause of big changes in life, health issues, medication, stress or anxiety. Getting a good night's rest becomes more difficult and can require you to be more conscious of your sleep environment and your sleep routine.
VI. Mental Activity – Stimulating your mental faculties can significantly improve the aging process. Trying to keep active mentally can help you improve your memory and combat boredom. Simple and fun things like games and puzzles, reading or taking a new route to the store are easy ways to keep your mind active and engaged.
The process of healthy aging starts with being informed and staying active.
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