September is Healthy Aging Month
Aging is a natural part of life. With it comes many challenges, both physically and mentally. Sometimes there are surprises and uncertainties, and occasionally there are changes in our bodies and minds we just don’t want to face. Yet, as we age, it becomes even more important to take control of our own health and focus on healthy aging.
Now is the time! September is Healthy Aging® Month, an annual observance aimed at focusing national attention on the positive aspects of growing older… a chance to encourage us to take personal responsibility for our health… physically, socially, mentally. So, what are the keys to healthy aging?
Keep moving. Regular exercise is key. Living an active lifestyle will keep you fit and help you maintain a healthy weight. You might even find that you sleep better. Regular exercise may also prevent or provide relief from common chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, depression and arthritis. When you choose to move, make sure it’s something you enjoy so it doesn’t end up feeling like a chore.
Eat nutritious foods. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can not only make you feel great, it can help fight certain diseases. Opt for fresh fruits and vegetables and clean proteins. Ditch the junk food and avoid sweet, salty, highly-processed foods. Try some of these delicious, healthy fall recipes from Tasting the Seasons cookbook.
Get enough Zzzzzzz. Did you know that humans can go longer without food than without sleep? That’s a frightening fact. Make sure you get the sleep your body needs – that’s usually seven to nine hours per night for older adults. Lack of sleep can also cause irritability, increased fall risk and memory issues.
Prevent and protect. Keep up with regular well visits with your doctor, dentist and optometrist. Make sure to take all medications as directed by your physician. And make sure you know which immunizations you need to stay protected. In addition to a seasonal flu vaccine, which all adults need every year, there are many other important vaccines for seniors.
Challenge your brain. Some cognitive decline, such as in memory and thinking skills, is a normal part of aging. Studies have shown that a lifestyle that includes cognitive stimulation through active learning slows this cognitive decline. Do something good and stimulating for your brain like assembling a puzzle, learning a foreign language or learning to play a musical instrument.
Stay social. Stay connected to friends and family by being social. Schedule a regular time to have lunch, go for a walk or meet for coffee. Join a book club, paint pottery or volunteer with your favorite organization. Stay social and keep it fun!
What tips do you have for healthy aging? Comment here or head over to our Facebook page to join the conversation.