People are living longer today; and life expectancy is anticipated to continually increase due to the numerous advances in medicine and science. However, it’s not a given that you’ll automatically live longer. But instead of focusing on all of the negative aspects associated with aging, you should focus on the things you can do to feel younger and to live life to the fullest. If you’re 50-plus years old, it’s never too late to make changes to improve your physical, mental and social well being.
September is Healthy Aging Month. Here are 9 things you can do to live a long, healthy life:
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Eat a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein like fish and chicken. Pick low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Avoid trans fats and saturated fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugar. A balanced diet and a healthier body weight can lower your risk of certain diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease and osteoporosis.
- Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Choose an activity you enjoy like walking, swimming or dancing. Do strength and balance exercises 2 days a week. By staying active, you can keep your bones and muscles strong, reducing your risk of falls. Plus, you can lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
- Stay mentally active. Read. Do crossword and other types of puzzles. Take up a new hobby or rediscover one you used to do. Go back to school to increase your skill set and earning power.
- Stop smoking. When you quit smoking, you lower your risk of heart disease.
- Limit your alcohol consumption. For men aged 65 and younger, consume no more than 2 drinks a day. For men aged 65 and older, or women of any age, consume no more than 1 drink a day. Heavy drinking increases your risk of liver cirrhosis and certain cancers.
- Get regular checkups. Schedule important screening tests. Have your vision and hearing tested. See your dentist bi-annually.
- Reduce stress. Get rid of or reduce the stressors in your life. Practice deep breathing when stress increases. Meditate, pray, and/or write in a journal each day.
- Stay connected with family and friends. Strengthen your love relationships. Mend troubled relationships with family members. Get to know your neighbors. Join social groups. Volunteer for community organizations.
- Maintain a positive attitude. Don’t take things personally. Laugh – find the humor in life. You’ll live a longer, happier life.
Start aging gracefully today by focusing on one thing you can change – and do it.
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