Simple strategies to stay healthy and sharp
No sense denying the fact that as you age, your body changes. But no way does that mean you’re bound for the rocking chair and Matlock reruns. Adopt these simple strategies today to take care of your body and mind. You can coast toward tomorrow feeling better than ever.
Break a sweat
Crank up your exercise level to take a few years off your brain. Engaging in high levels of activity on a regular basis may slow brain aging by ten years in older adults, according to a study by neurologists at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The key is doing activities of moderate to high intensity, like running, aerobics, and calisthenics—something that increases your heart rate, breathing, and sweating. It’s never too late to start moving more, but talk to your doctor before diving in to a new form of exercise.
Lend a helping hand
Sure, doing good for others is good for others. It may be even better for you. A research study in Europe showed that people who volunteer tend to be as healthy as someone five years younger. Folks who help out also may be less affected by stress and inflammation, both of which play a role in heart disease. Look for opportunities that allow you to use your knowledge, skills, and life experiences. If you’re seeking ways to meet other people, volunteering may provide that.
Know your new nutrient needs
Following a balanced diet can help you steer clear of certain health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. But did you know that your daily nutrition requirements change as you age? You may not need that multivitamin anymore—but you may need more vitamin D or calcium, for example. Ask your doctor if you would benefit from taking supplements.
Dine Mediterranean style
Think grilled chicken and veggie kebabs, or pan-seared tilapia on a bed of pasta and tomatoes. Studies show that the typical diet eaten by people in Greece, Italy, and other Mediterranean countries can lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, and may help keep your mind sharp, too. Enjoy lots of vegetables, fruit, beans, whole grains, and lean protein like fish and
chicken. Cook with a bit of olive oil for the healthy fats. Consider limiting red meat to once a week.
Drink before you’re thirsty
Drinking water boosts your energy levels, helps prevent muscle cramps, maintains regularity, and reduces the chances of kidney stones. It’s good for your skin, too. Some people’s sense of thirst wanes with age, though, so it’s smart to get in the habit of drinking more throughout the day. Have a glass of water when you wake up, during each meal, before and after exercise, any time you have alcohol, and when taking medication (unless directed otherwise). Not all your fluids have to come from drinking, though. Eat water-filled foods like melon, strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, celery, and cauliflower.
See the doc when you’re feeling fine
You may not be thinking about tests or shots when all seems well, but medical screenings help doctors find problems sooner—when they may be more treatable. Vaccines can help you avoid catching a serious illness, including ones like pneumonia that can be more harmful as you age. Ask your health care team if you are due for any screenings or catch-up doses of a vaccine.