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Make Healthy Changes Now for a Happier, Healthier Old Age

posted Nov 11, 2011, 10:02 PM by Mike Chen   [ updated Mar 21, 2012, 9:08 PM ]
Over the past century, technological advancements have made it possible to chat virtually, send packages across the country literally overnight, and beam photos of new grandchildren to anxious grandparents many ZIP codes removed.

Despite the many inventions and innovations that save us time in modern society, nobody has quite figured out how to stop the clock, which means that no matter how young we feel, the natural act of aging marches on.

September is International Self-Awareness Month, a good time to take stock of where you are in life. It’s also a good time to assess where you stand in terms of your health, because the good news about aging is that taking preventive health measures can help you slow down the clock and keep you feeling your best as you age!

Here are some areas to focus on this month and beyond to make sure you keep your body feeling as young as you do:

  • Exercise:  The old adage “use it or lose it” is particularly true when it comes to your body. The less you use it, the more likely you are to lose mobility, function, flexibility, and strength. If you don’t currently have a fitness routine, consider adding:
    • Endurance exercises such as jogging or walking to keep your heart healthy.
    • Strength exercises, which can build muscle and ensure continued independence down the road. Strength and weight-bearing exercises are very important for both men and women, but have an especially protective effect on preventing osteoporosis as we age.
    • Balance exercises can help you counteract falls as you age. They don’t have to be hard, either. Try balancing on one foot and build up the time that you can maintain the pose, or practice jumping from one foot to the other to build your balance.
    • Flexibility exercises, such as deep stretching, which helps keep you limber and can also help you avoid injuries and falls later in life.
  • Challenge your mind. Working out your brain may help stimulate connections between nerve cells and even help you generate new cells. Fortunately, there are many enjoyable ways to keep your mind limber. Read a book, complete Sudoku or crossword puzzles, or take up a craft such as painting, drawing, knitting, or woodworking.
  • Age-proof your diet. Eating a diet filled with nutrient-dense foods over sugary or fatty fare is your best bet when it comes to reaching old age in good health. That means loading up on fruits; vegetables; whole grains; healthy fats from sources such as olive oil, nuts, and avocados; and choosing lean protein sources such as chicken or fish. As we age, our bodies naturally demand fewer calories to function, so it becomes even more important to fill your daily caloric demands with healthy, good-for-you food.

Start incorporating these healthy-aging strategies now, no matter what your current age. You’ll thank your younger self in your golden years!

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