September is Healthy Aging Month, so we’ve created a Healthy Aging Series to help older members of our community stay fit, healthy, and happy. It’s never too early or too late to start taking control of your mental and physical health. To kick off this series, here are some of the most important things you can do right now to give your health a boost, no matter your age.
1. Stay Active
Living an active lifestyle is one of the best things you can do for your overall mental and physical health. According to the World Health Organization, older adults should get around 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. That breaks down to just 30 minutes per day for five days.
If you’re not someone who enjoys spending time in the gym or walking on a treadmill, find an exercise that’s more exciting, like biking, swimming, hiking on a nature trail, or joining a yoga class. If you enjoy the activity, it’ll be easier for you to stick with it.
2. Maintain Your Brain
By keeping your mind sharp, it is possible to reduce the risk of developing and possibly even prevent progressive cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Work on crossword puzzles, learn something new, or take a class to help keep your brain active.
Other lifestyle factors like eating a nutritious diet, getting enough sleep, and staying physically active can also have a huge impact on your brain health.
3. Nurture Relationships
Studies have shown that social isolation and loneliness are risk factors for reduced physical and mental health. Keep in touch with close friends and relatives, be active in the community, volunteer at a library or charity, or pick up a new hobby to avoid isolation and loneliness and improve your quality of life as you age.
4. Reduce Stress
Chronic stress comes along with a whole slew of health problems and complications. In fact, stress oftentimes worsens existing illnesses or contributes to the development of new health concerns. To improve your mental and physical health, as well as your quality of life, take steps to reduce stress, such as:
- Talking to a friend or family member when going through a stressful situation
- Eating healthy foods and getting enough sleep, even when feeling stressed
- Practicing deep breathing techniques
- Listening to soothing music
- Learning to accept the things in life that you cannot control
5. Practice Prevention
Taking control of your health has a lot to with prevention before more complicated health problems arise. Start with getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough exercise. It’s also important to remember to wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of disease, to which older adults can be more susceptible. Get a flu vaccine, schedule regular health checkups with your doctor, and take steps to prevent falls at home.
Spend your golden years doing the hobbies and activities you love — and in great health! Making a few simple lifestyle changes can have a substantial impact on your overall health and wellbeing at any age.
For more healthy aging tips and information about free events and community resources, be sure to follow the Allegheny-Kiski Health Foundation on Facebook.