Summary: Physical and mental health are both vastly important in the overall well-being of seniors. Many small to moderate lifestyle changes are extremely beneficial.
Here’s a fact: Getting older is hard. Here’s another fact: Seniors who boost their physical and mental health reap the benefits in both quality and quantity of life. Whether you are approaching your golden years and want to live them to the fullest or you want to help a senior loved one stay happy and healthy as they age, here are some of the best ways to achieve this goal, some of which include meditating to relieve stress and using technology to fuel workouts.
Don’t Forget About Diet and Exercise
The king of wellness tips is the king for a reason. Without proper diet and daily exercise, your body and mind will be ill-equipped to handle the stressors of aging. Your exercise should be high enough in intensity to raise your heart rate (for a proper aerobic workout) but smooth enough to reduce damage to your bones, muscles, and joints. Think low-impact exercises like swimming, yoga, pilates, walking, resistance band training, and elliptical machines.
Investing in a fitness tracker can not only keep seniors safe and healthy during their workouts, but it can also boost their motivation to keep exercising regularly. A smartwatch is a convenient choice since you can track your workouts and health stats while wearing it on your wrist. One good smartwatch is the Apple Watch Series 4, which includes an ECG and SOS feature for emergencies. If you’re interested in browsing other brands, the Fitbit Charge 3 tracks your steps and has a long battery life.
As far as diet goes, consult your physician to see if you need to tailor it for specific conditions. However, generally speaking, a balanced diet that is low in saturated fat, low in sugar, low in processed foods, high in fiber and calcium, high in protein, and full of fruits and vegetables will be best for your overall body and mind.
Boost That Vitamin D Production
Being outside in the sunlight and fresh air stimulates the production and your body’s absorption of vitamin D. Seniors need all kinds of vitamins to stay healthy, so why focus on vitamin D? For one, it’s a supplement that is more commonly lacking in seniors. It can also help with three essential things: bone health, immune function, and mood regulation. So, get outside for stronger bones, a decreased chance of illness, and improved mood!
Excess stress has a negative effect on both body and mind. As Harvard Health notes, stress causes our bodies to release hormones that do things like speed up our breathing, constrict our muscles, and prepare us for “fight-or-flight” mode. This is useful in life-or-death situations, but when it happens continually due to poor stress management, there can be long-term consequences. Chronic stress has been found to speed up the biological aging process.
You can take action daily to help manage stress. You can try to calm your body and mind through meditation, focused breathing exercises, and even something as simple as having a cup of tea on your porch at sunset. The point is, whatever makes you feel calmer should be given priority for at least a few minutes every day.
If you feel that stress has affected your health in any way, schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss your concerns. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you already have access to wellness programs and an annual wellness check-up, so make sure you’re taking advantage of these important benefits. Stress can cause serious harm to your body, so it’s important to nip this problem in the bud as soon as possible.
Keep Challenging Your Brain
According to Dartmouth’s Aging Resource Center, “studies have shown that a lifestyle that includes cognitive stimulation through active learning slows cognitive decline.” In other words, the more you keep using your brain, the sharper it will be. Learning new skills, writing, reading, doing puzzles, and playing games are all great ways to do this. Socializing on a routine basis is also a great way to stay sharp – so call up your friends!
None of these lifestyle directives are all that difficult, but they do take focus and persistence. Seniors – more than any other age group – will truly benefit from small to moderate lifestyle changes. Take control of your life and boost your body and mind.