January 08, 2018
As we age, our priorities in life change over time. And guess what? Our health and fitness priorities (and strategies) change as well. According to Tara Parker-Pope, the wellness editor at the New York Times, "you can slow the decline of aging with smart choices along the way." Here are a few of those choices.
Make a few small changes to your diet. You don't have to do anything dramatic to dramatically increase your health prospects. "Small changes in your eating habits can lower your risk for many of the diseases associated with aging," says Parker-Pope. Eating blueberries and other dark fruits and vegetables, avoiding processed meat, and aiming to lose 5 percent of your body weight, for starters, can reduce your odds for a host of diseases, including diabetes, colon cancer, and heart diseases.
Find the right exercise for you. "A body in motion will age better than one on the couch," says Parker-Pope. Ever heard of high-intensity intervals? According to Parker-Pope, "this type of workout seems to help people of any age and any fitness level become healthier." And if you gave up on lifting weights in the past because it was too hard and heavy, good news: lifting light weights (for a longer period of time) has the same health benefits. Even better — exercising doesn't just improve the inside of your body, it also improves the outside. Particularly, the health of your skin!
Exercise your mind, too. Don't worry — you don't have to take quizzes or do crossword puzzles (unless you want to). Parker-Pope recommends dancing, engaging in the arts via "music, dance, painting, quilting, singing, poetry writing and storytelling," and exploring yoga and meditation. "Aging well means taking care of both the body and the mind. Most of what we do to keep our bodies fit is also good for the brain."
Spend more time with loved ones and new friends. "Staying in touch with family and friends — and forming new relationships — can keep you healthier longer and may add years to your life," says Parker-Pope. With technologies like Facetime, Skype, and social media, staying in touch with friends and family has never been easier. And making new friends is easier, too, thanks to apps like MeetUp. Parker-Pope also makes an innovative suggestion for staying engaged with others: keep working after retiring. Obviously, that doesn't mean you have to work 40 hours a week, but getting involved with passion projects or volunteering can introduce you to dozens of new people.
Establish healthier routines. "Nothing can guarantee you a longer life, but there are a few simple practices that will improve your odds of aging well," says Parker-Pope. These include: staying out of direct sunlight and using sunscreen, taking prescribed medications on time, picking a car with the right features, and building up your sense of balance to avoid dangerous falls.