Healthy aging is about promoting and maintaining the functional capacity that allows well-being in old age.The famous poet, Jonathan Swift, once said, “Everybody wants to live forever, but nobody wants to grow old.” While amusing, the quote applies to most people. We want the best of life forever and to retain the vigor and exuberance of youth without the aches and wrinkles of old age.
There are maxims like ‘Age is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter’ or ‘Age is just a number.’ While all this is well and good, there is one truth that no one can deny and that’s the fact that aging is inevitable and no matter how strong your mindset is, your body is going to start showing the signs of aging when the time comes.
In this article, we’ll look at several habits that you should adopt so that you stay fit and healthy as you age. Age is inevitable. The decline is optional. With just some extra care and new habits, you’ll age gracefully and be limber and fit well into your senior years.
Healthy Aging Tips
* Your Diet MUST Change
After the age of forty, many adults notice that they develop chronic aches and pains. They may develop digestive issues and have problems like acid reflux, constipation, etc. Almost always this is a result of their diet.
Here’s the kicker – you may be eating the same foods but now your body is adversely affected by them. When you’re young, your body is more resilient. Even if you guzzle down five sodas a day, you’ll be just fine. Your body can handle it.
As you get older, your body gets more responsive. The same sodas may cause your body to develop inflammation or the acidic nature of the drinks will cause indigestion. That’s why you see so many adults popping antacid tablets to battle their acid reflux. The foods they’re eating is not agreeing with them.
It’s not a new health issue that has popped up. It’s just a more responsive body reacting to the poor diet choices now. Your eating habits are starting to catch up with you. You must be aware and start making changes.
You’ll also need less food as you get older because your body’s metabolic rate is dropping. Even with regular exercise, your system is not firing away furiously on all cylinders like it used to. You need to reduce your portion sizes and eat accordingly.
Choose foods that your body agrees with. The key word is awareness. Have a food journal and monitor how your body feels after eating a particular food. If it feels great, keep the food. If you notice that you have lethargy, bloating, digestive issues, etc. the food that’s causing it needs to be removed from your diet.
Unfortunately, as you age, the list of foods that your body can handle will start to shrink. Alcohol will have a much more drastic impact on you. Greasy foods may make you queasy and so on. Listen to how your body feels and tailor your diet according to how it reacts. The cure to most growing health issues is a proper diet.
Be mindful when eating. Consume more fiber and you may wish to supplement your diet with vitamins and other products that keep you healthy.
* Stay Hydrated
This is extremely important. The body needs more lubrication as it ages and water is essential to keep your internal system healthy. It’ll flush out toxins and keep your joints lubricated.
Spinal disc problems and joint pains usually occur when the body is in a constant state of dehydration. Your spinal discs are hydrophilic in nature and require water to stay healthy. Without water, they’ll shrink and decay. This is why you’ll see many seniors getting shorter as they age.
While their spinal structure is intact, the thickness of their spinal discs is shrinking and causing them to lose inches in height. It is crucial that you drink enough water daily to stay healthy.
* Focus on Fitness
While the principles of muscle building and physical conditioning do not change despite your age, your focus needs to change. In your twenties and thirties, you may have challenged yourself to squat the most weight or bench press your maximum.
There’s nothing wrong with that BUT as you get older, structural integrity in your body becomes more important than the size of your muscles.
You’ll need to focus more on stretching exercises to stay limber. Take up yoga or stretching classes so that your body is not rigid and prone to injury. Pilates classes will be great for toning and strengthening your core.
Many people in their forties and above spend tons of time in a kyphotic position which is basically them being hunched over. This happens when they spent hours bent over a computer or from driving. Their hunched position places stress on the viscera and not only restricts blood circulation but also causes shallow breathing.
Stretch it all out and breathe deeply. Yoga will align your body and fix any muscular imbalances that rear their ugly heads as your body ages.
Besides flexibility training, do engage in resistance training twice a week to prevent muscle atrophy. Always try to get stronger but maintain good form without jerky movements. It’s much easier to get injured when you’re older. Put your vanity aside and make your training functional and challenging. Aim for muscle stimulation and not muscle annihilation.
Do two or three sessions of cardio a week. It could be anything as simple as walking or tough like interval training. It all depends on your level of fitness. What you want though is to increase your heart rate so that your lungs and heart get a workout. The cardio will also activate your lymphatic system and help to detox your body and boost your immunity.
* Get Sufficient Rest
Burning the candle at both ends will take its toll on you if you keep doing it as you get older. There is a limit to what the body can handle and with age, that limit drops. You may notice that you need more sleep to feel better and your bedtime starts getting earlier.
Gone are the days when partying at the club was something you looked forward to every weekend. Now you’re happy to go to bed at 9 pm and sleep a good eight hours. Rest assured that this is normal and beneficial to your body.
It needs more rest now. Give it what it needs and you’ll be healthier and more refreshed. The hectic pace of the world is never going to end and only going to increase. Trying to keep up with it is madness and you’ll just end up worn out and in an early grave. Take things slower and rest well.
* Accept Your Limitations
This is a big one but it’s an important one. You do not need to push yourself beyond your limits just to keep up with those younger than you. You have NOTHING to prove. When the young guys at the gym are lifting massive weights, you don’t need to try and outdo them to feel good about yourself.
The same applies to your career. The younger employees who are go-getters may be putting in tons of hours to climb the ladder. If you try to keep up, you’ll get stressed out and lose your peace.
Do what you can. Do the best you can… and know that it is more than enough. All your battles that you need to fight are in your own mind. Do not regret growing older because it’s a privilege denied to many.
Aim to live a peaceful and stress-free life. What’s eating you is just as important as what you eat. Learn to let go of what you can’t change and don’t bother changing what’s unnecessary. Getting worked up on social media over other people’s political views and debating them is only going to aggravate you… and it’s all pointless.
You can’t help getting older but you don’t have to get old. Follow the tips in this article and you’ll stay healthy, fit and happy for a long time to come.