Live Well…Age Well
Living well includes a myriad of different factors. A healthy lifestyle is generally thought to include nutrition and exercise. But our outlook on life, stress levels and sleeping patterns are also part of what keeps us healthy. The following tips are important points to include in your activities of daily living.
Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is vital to our well-being; it affects both our mental and physical health. Sleep affects almost every part of our body including growth and stress hormones, immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health. It helps us think more clearly, have quicker reflexes and focus better. It also influences our mood and our body weight.
On average, adults need 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep or 4 to 5 sleep cycles – periods of deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. As people get older, they may not get enough sleep because of illness, medications or sleep disorders. Check with your doctor if you find that you are not getting enough restful sleep.
For more information: http://phelpshospital.org/clinical-services/sleep- disorders/
Meditating for 20 minutes each day can help you effectively manage stress, lower your blood pressure, improve your immune system, and help you concentrate better. Practicing tai chi has also been shown to reduce stress. Tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements performed in a slow, focused manner, accompanied by deep breathing. It is also good for improving strength and balance.
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Manage Stress and Improve Your Mood. Regular, moderate physical activity can help manage stress, improve your mood and may help reduce feelings of depression. Studies also suggest that exercise can improve or maintain some aspects of cognitive function, such as your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity, and ignore irrelevant information.
Avoid Tobacco Use. Quitting smoking is difficult to accomplish because tobacco contains nicotine, which is addictive. Some smokers can quit “cold turkey,” but for most, quitting smoking requires a serious life-long commitment and an average of six quitting attempts before success. Quitting smoking efforts may include behavior modification, counseling, use of nicotine chewing gum (Nicorette Gum), nicotine skin patches (Transderm Nicotine), or oral medications such as bupropion (Zyban).
Eating Well As You Get Older
Eating well is vital for everyone at all ages. Whatever your age, your daily food choices can make an important difference in your health and in how you look and feel.
Eating a well-planned, balanced mix of foods every day has many health benefits. For instance, eating well may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, some kinds of cancer, and anemia. If you already have one or more of these chronic diseases, eating well and being physically active may help you better manage them. Healthy eating may also help you reduce high blood pressure, lower high cholesterol, and manage diabetes.
Follow these USDA guidelines:
Everything you eat and drink over time matters. The right mix can help you be healthier now and in the future. Start with small changes to make healthier choices you can enjoy. Find your healthy eating style and maintain it for a lifetime.
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Look for the most colorful produce – dark red, deep green (spinach, kale or Swiss chard), bright yellow, and orange means they are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. Blueberries, red raspberries, and dark cherries are ideal fruits.
Make half your grains whole grains. A recent study found the fiber in whole grains is better protection against cardiovascular disease, infections, and respiratory ailments than fiber from any other source.
- Move to low-fat and fat-free milk or yogurt.
- Vary your protein routine.
- Drink and eat less sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars.
Consuming the right number of calories for your level of physical activity helps you control your weight, too. Extra weight is a concern for older adults because it can increase the risk for diseases such as type II diabetes and heart disease and can increase joint problems. Eating more calories than your body needs for your activity level will lead to extra pounds.
If you become less physically active as you age, you will probably need fewer calories to stay at the same weight. Choosing mostly nutrient-dense foods – foods which have a lot of nutrients but relatively few calories – can give you the nutrients you need while keeping down calorie intake.
Your food choices also affect your digestion. For instance, not getting enough fiber or fluids may cause constipation. Eating more whole-grain foods with fiber, fruits and vegetables or drinking more water may help with constipation.
Eating well isn’t just a “diet” or “program” that’s here today and gone tomorrow. It is part of a healthy lifestyle that you can adopt now and stay with in the years to come.
If you have a specific medical condition, be sure to check with your doctor or registered dietitian about foods you should include or avoid.
Whatever your age, you can start making positive lifestyle changes today. Eating well can help you stay healthy and independent — and look and feel good — in the years to come.
Be As Active As Possible
Being physically active on a regular basis is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. Studies have shown that physical activity and regular exercise have proven to decrease the risk of heart disease, and can also decrease your risk of stroke, colon cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. Being physically active can ease depression, relieve stress and anxiety, enhance self-esteem, and improve your whole outlook on life. It can also help you stay strong and fit enough to keep doing the things you like to do as you get older and help you maintain your independence as you age. Whatever your age, health limitations, or fitness levels, the key to a successful fitness regime is finding an activity that you love.
If you are 65 years of age or older, generally fit, and have no limiting health conditions, you can follow these guidelines: 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (brisk walking) or 1 ¼ hours of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise (running or jogging) and two or more sessions of muscle-strengthening exercises per week.
- Aerobic activity is any activity that gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster, as long as you’re doing it at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 10 minutes at a time.
- Moderate-intensity aerobic activity makes you breathe harder and your heart beat faster but you’ll still be able to talk.
- Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity makes your heart rate increase quite a bit. You’ll be breathing hard enough so that you won’t be able to say more than a few words without stopping to catch your breath.
Since everyone’s fitness level is different, only do physical activities that are right for you. What may be moderate-intensity aerobic activity (walking) to some may not be the same for others. It all depends on what you feel comfortable doing.
To gain health benefits, muscle-strengthening activities need to be done to the point where it’s hard for you to do another repetition without help. 8-12 repetitions count as 1 set; do at least 1 set for each of the major muscle groups – legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms. Recommended activities include:
- Lifting weights
- Working with resistance bands
- Exercises that use your body weight for resistance (push-ups, sit-ups)
- Heavy gardening (digging, shoveling)
NOTE: You can spread your activity out during the week. If needed, break it up into no less than 10-minute increments during the day.
Before beginning any exercise program, check with your physician.