Think it’s too late to start living a healthy lifestyle? Or not worth it? You can benefit from healthy habits at any age. And, most importantly, you’ll reap the rewards of feeling better quickly.
For example, even if you’ve smoked for years your body starts showing benefits within 20 minutes of quitting. You will reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, and cancer. Circulation and lung function will improve and you’ll have more energy and stamina. Even if you're a smoker who’s suffered a heart attack, quitting can reduce the chances of another attack by as much as half. Contrary to popular belief, older smokers don’t necessarily have a harder time quitting either. They’re often motivated and report numerous benefits after quitting.
Similarly, even minor lifestyle changes can lead not just to a longer life but a higher quality of life. Sure, genetics and other factors you can’t control play a role. But, if you take a look at how others are aging you will quickly find that healthy lifestyle plays the biggest role.
Here are our tips, resources and some motivation to kick off a healthy lifestyle at any age.
Adding more movement to your days will keep you more mobile throughout life and even reduce aches and pains. Research from the “blue zones” shows people engaging in consistent levels of activity every day. It is incorporated into life, not just an occasional exercise routine. The good news is this means you don’t have to join some expensive fitness class or take up extreme sports. Start by parking further away on errands, doing some gardening or outdoor activities. Or, make a commitment to enjoy an evening walk with your partner before you sit down to watch TV.
Want inspiration? Check out “Fit Over 50: Breaking the Mold and Myths”. If you think it’s too late to get fit, just look at Ernestine Shepard. She’s the world’s oldest female bodybuilder and she only got started at age 56.
We have an array of fun and different fitness ideas in this Aging Wisely blog post.
WHAT are You Putting Into Your Body?
As we get older, many of us start to notice that we can’t eat like we used to without seeing the results. Well, just imagine what eating poorly is doing to the inside of your body. Unfortunately, by the time we see those results in lab tests we’ve already done a lot of damage. However, improving one’s diet at any age can slow and even reverse that damage.
There’s solid scientific evidence for this. For example, this study published in The Lancet shows: “Comprehensive lifestyle changes may be able to bring about regression of even severe coronary atherosclerosis after only 1 year, without use of lipid-lowering drugs.” And, to further prove this works for older people, one study of intensive lifestyle modification programs resulted in lower hospitalization rates and reduced healthcare costs for Medicare participants.
The other reason healthy diet becomes even more important as you get older is that your body’s needs change.
For easy ways to improve your diet (and feel SO much better):
Tips for Senior Nutrition (on a budget too)
Three Easy Ways to Get Better Nutrition (resources and ideas for delicious, healthy food even for those who don’t cook)
Obviously, smoking, alcohol and drugs go hand-in-hand with this. Fortunately, many people who adopt a couple healthy habits start to desire change in other areas. Take a look at what’s going into your body. We recommend a medication review (our care managers can help get your records organized and get this set up).
Your Brain Needs Exercise Too
Literally...your brain needs exercise, meaning physical activity helps keep your brain healthy. But also, your brain needs to be challenged and used for varied tasks. Unfortunately, we settle into routines that give our brain too little to do. This can be especially problematic as people retire.
We got you covered on this one! Check out our “Best Brain-Boosting Hobby” post for advice and ideas.
Healthy Lifestyle Maintenance: Managing Healthcare, Reducing Risks
The two other areas most vital to maintaining a healthy, vibrant life as you age are:
1. Managing your healthcare (specifically preventative care)
Make sure you know your health risks and history. Getting the right care (and properly coordinated care) can make all the difference. Just ask anyone who’s survived a health crisis...they’ve likely educated themselves, sought different opinions and found the experts. Getting regular screenings is also essential to catching problems early when treatment is more effective.
2. Reducing unnecessary risks (especially in your home)
Falls are the #1 cause of death and injury to older people. So much can be done to prevent falls. Your home can be a safe haven or a danger zone. Don’t wait until your mobility is poor or you’ve had a fall. Grab a copy of our room-by-room safety checklist to get started.
Along with this goes taking some steps to be prepared as you age. We’ve made it easy, with the comprehensive aging wisely checklist.
CLICK TO DOWNLOAD your free aging wisely checklist today and get started toward a happy, healthy lifestyle.