No matter what your age is, maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle are very important. Even though time can’t be stopped, there are many beneficial lifestyle choices that can be made to provide maximum health. A healthy diet and daily exercise can make a world of difference in preventing health issues that may present themselves throughout time. The older you are, the weaker your bones, immune system, and cognitive functions are. Issues like the common cold, bronchitis, diabetes and respiratory illness can lead to further complications if you are not in proper health. All too often, seniors are hospitalized for issues that could have been prevented. Unsure of what steps to take to maximize a healthy lifestyle? Reading this blog is a great first step. Studies show that 30 percent of seniors reported no physical activity aside from their daily chores. Another study shows that 40 percent of seniors ages 65 and older are hospitalized each year for poor health choices. Regardless, you can significantly improve your health with a few simple lifestyle changes. Nowadays people take their health seriously and are making simple lifestyle changes and for better mental and physical health. Let’s review some changes you can make.
You know that saying “You are what you eat”? Well, it’s true! Everything that you put into your body affects your overall health and how you feel. Giving your body the right nutrients and maintaining a healthy weight are the single biggest changes you can make, and they are within your control. You will have more energy which will help you stay active. As we age, our metabolism slows which means fewer calories are burned, and more nutrients are needed. When deciding which foods to eat, you want to make sure you choose a variety of fresh nutrient-dense foods to boost your energy and metabolism. A typical healthy meal should include lean proteins, fruits and veggies, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Your plate should look bright and colorful! Always keep in mind to choose foods that are high in fiber and low in sodium. Even with a well-balanced diet, you should include vitamins and or supplements into your daily routine since commercially produced or farmed foods cannot give you all of the nutrients you need. This is particularly true for seniors who may have some additional vitamin deficiencies due to digestive issues and or prescription medicines which can hinder absorption. As always, check with your physician before taking any supplements to ensure they do not interact with any medications you may be taking.
Here’s a list of some of the top foods in each category:
- Lean meats (skinless chicken, pork loin, lean cuts of beef)
- Fish (tuna, cod, salmon, arctic char)
- Low fat dairy (yogurt, skim milk, cottage cheese)
- Tofu (plant-based option)
- Wheat germs
- Brown rice
Fruits and Vegetables:
- Blueberries (loaded with antioxidants)
- Tomatoes (gut and prostate health)
- Pomegranate (lowers cholesterol & combats heart disease)
- Sweet Potatoes (packed with antioxidants)
- Apples (great for skin)
- Broccoli (high in fiber & vitamins A, C, B9 & K)
- Asparagus (immune system and eye health)
To promote a healthy body and mind, regular exercise is a must. Experts say older adults should take part in moderate exercise and strength training at least three times each week. Aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening are the best forms of exercise to prevent health issues. Exercising with light weights or going for an evening walk after dinner is a great option to stay active. The CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends two types of physical activity each week to improve health. Deciding which workouts to do depends on you and the goal you are trying to achieve. Always consider how much your body can handle – lifting too heavy can result in injury.
Best exercises to try
Swimming: Many seniors have access to a pool, whether it be in a community or home. Swimming is a great way to work out every part of your body. The water also makes it easier to lift weights while creating just the right amount of resistance.
Yoga: Yoga is a form of exercise for the mind, body, and soul. It promotes core stability, aerobic fitness, and full-body mobility. Since yoga is also a form of meditation, you will be able to breathe and connect with yourself while working up a light sweat. If you decide to take on yoga, always be sure to consider physical limitations before you start.
Resistance Band Workouts: These are a great way to gain or maintain muscle strength without having to lift anything heavy. If you are someone that struggles to lift objects, then resistance band workouts are perfect for you.
Cycling: Cycling is a low impact workout that exercises both your cardiovascular system and your lower body. If you struggle with osteoporosis or joint issues, cycling is a great option to train your legs without running. Studies have found that cycling can improve cardiovascular health, metabolic health, and cognitive performance in adults older than 70.
Pilates: Pilates is a very popular low-impact form of exercise that focuses on breathing, alignment, concentration, and core strength. Pilates helps keep you mentally sharp, so if you struggle with cognitive function, this would be a notable exercise to try.
Your physical and mental health are very important, especially as you age. A healthy lifestyle is the key to staying active and independent. Simple changes to your current lifestyle can make a world of difference in preventing common health issues for you as an older adult. Having a healthy lifestyle will also save you money on doctor’s visits as well. Start with simple changes such as choosing to eat an apple instead of chips. Once you start doing the little things and seeing the difference in how you feel, you will be motivated to keep going. According to health experts, being physically active 2–3 times, a week is recommended. This includes aerobic activity, walking, cycling, yoga, or swimming.