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September is Healthy Aging Month

By: Lola Frailey Friday September 9, 2022 comments Tags: healthy living, healthy lifestyle

While genetics play a role, we can all still take steps to encourage better health as we age. Here are six habits to help us age gracefully and healthily.

1 Stay Active

Keeping active can help you prevent, delay, and manage chronic diseases, improve balance and stamina and improve brain health. There are countless ways to stay active.

  • Exercise can be as simple as walking for 20 to 30 minutes per day, three to four times a week.
  • Muscle stretching and strengthening activities like light weights, yoga or even carrying groceries a few times a week.
  • For those needing to be more active, tennis, swimming or joining a gym to use the exercise equipment are great ways to stay active.
  • Gardening and yard work are also great forms of aerobic exercise that help work your muscles helping with strength, stamina and flexibility. 

Best practice before starting a new exercise routine or activity is to start slow, know your limitations and modify activities as needed. 

2 Create Healthy Eating & Drinking habits

Healthy eating is a key part of staying healthy. Increasing scientific research now specifically links poor diet and nutrition to an increase of chronic disease such as obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.

  • Fill your plate with nutrient dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and healthy fats.
  • Monitor your salt and sugar consumption.
  • Avoid artificial ingredients and excessive processed foods. Learn more about the 4 categories of processed foods
  • Stay hydrated with lots of water. Most adults should drink between 10 -16 cups of water per day. 

One way to create healthier eating habits is to get to know the nutritional facts label on our foods. Click here for tips on reading food and drink labels

3 Stay Social

Staying social is vital to keeping the mind sharp. Join a local or online class, volunteer with an organization, play games, participate in a book club or walking group - or start one! Make an effort to see friends and family and also don’t be afraid to make new friends. Use technology like Zoom and FaceTime to keep in touch with friends and family that live afar.

According to the National Institute on Aging, participating in hobbies and keeping social interests may lower your risk for developing health problems such as dementia. 

4 Keep your Mind Active

Maintain your brain and exercise your memory. Your brain is similar to a muscle - you need to use it or you lose it. Research also shows that people who do more mentally stimulating activities have better critical thinking skills later in life.

As we age there are many things we can do to keep our brain in shape. 

  • Read the newspaper and books
  • Play games like chess, sudoku, solitaire and even computer and video games
  • Work on jigsaw puzzles or do crossword puzzles
  • Learn a new hobby such as sewing, gardening, playing guitar or painting
  • Learn a new language
  • Practice mind and body balance through yoga or tai chi. 

 As with learning anything new it can be a challenge and sometimes difficult so remember to keep a positive attitude!

5 Don’t skip your yearly physicals

Be proactive with regular checkups, physicals and medical tests as needed. Many chronic diseases can be caught early and steps taken to reduce certain risk factors before they become larger concerns. Research your family tree and use your family’s medical history to help you make lifestyle changes to live a long and healthy life. 

6 Surround yourself with Positive Energy

The people you surround yourself with can have a huge impact on your life. Choose to surround yourself with happy and positive people of all ages. They will add value to your life and elevate your mood. Happiness and positivity is contagious. 

What tips or habits do you practice to age gracefully and healthfully?

Lola Frailey

About the Author: Lola Frailey