A Healthier Tomorrow – Grow Bolder, Not Older
Imagine a Healthier Tomorrow
By Alison H. Page
Life is one grand adventure. Lean into it! As we get older, our attitude towards life and the choices we make will determine how we feel. The second half of life can bring some of the most rewarding decades. We may be more confident than our younger self. We gain wisdom and patience. Sure, our hair sprouts more grays and our faces sport more lines. But we can grow older with a strong and healthy body and mind. Here is how:
Most important – Stay engaged: You may choose to retire, but do not choose to stop. Loneliness is harmful to your health. If you feel lonely, you are more likely to get dementia or depression. Researchers found that lonely people have higher levels of stress hormones that cause inflammation, or swelling, linked to arthritis and diabetes. Another study found more antibodies to certain herpes viruses in lonely people, a sign of stress in their immune system. So, stay or make friends. Continue to work for pay or for free. Stay connected.
Embrace an optimistic attitude: The attitude with which we approach each day makes all the difference in life. We can choose to face each day as a chore or as an opportunity.
Life tests us in many ways; loved ones die, layoffs happen, and health problems can mount. But positive thinking can be a powerful ally. When you choose to be optimistic and grateful, your mind and body respond in kind. People with a rosier outlook live longer and have fewer heart attacks and depression than more negative people. You can learn to be optimistic. It just takes time and practice. Things you can do include: smile – it can help lower stress; reframe – spin your thoughts to the good things instead of dwelling on the bad; do good things for others; surround yourself with people who boost your spirits; and accept things you cannot change.
Eat well: Load up on veggies. Add fiber to your diet, kidney beans to your soup or apple slices to your salad. Fiber fills you up and for longer. Eat fewer fatty meats, butter, sugar, salt, and packaged foods. Many studies have found that this diet can help you live longer and protects against heart disease. Swap out your white bread for whole grain. It cuts your cholesterol levels and lowers your chance of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer.
Consider Supplements: It is often better to get your nutrients from food, not a pill. And you usually do not need special supplements aimed at seniors. After age 50, your body does need more of some vitamins and minerals from foods or supplements than before. They include: Calcium (to keep bones strong); Vitamin D (Most people get it from sunlight, but some seniors may not get out enough.); Vitamin B12 (Older people have trouble absorbing it from foods, so you may need fortified cereals or a supplement.); Vitamin B6 (It keeps your red blood cells strong to carry oxygen throughout your body.) Talk to your doctor about supplements you take or might consider taking.
Move: Aim for 30 minutes every day. Regular exercise delivers huge health benefits. It helps keep brain cells healthy by delivering more blood and oxygen. In fact, research suggests aerobic exercise may delay or improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
It also helps control your weight, boost your mood, keep bones and muscles strong, helps you sleep better, and makes you less likely to get heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Eliminate tobacco – Tobacco kills. It harms almost every organ in your body. Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other products with nicotine cause heart disease, cancer, lung and gum disease, and many other health problems. But it is never too late to quit. Your body begins to heal within 20 minutes of your last cigarette. Your chance of a heart attack goes down right away. In a year, your odds of heart disease drop by half. You will also live longer.
Sleep – Wake and sleep on schedule every day. That can help keep your body clock in sync, so you get the sleep you need. If you have trouble falling to sleep and staying asleep, try these things: keep your bedroom dark; turn off your TV, cell phone, and laptop; avoid caffeine or alcohol in the evening; do not nap longer than 20 minutes during the day; ask your doctor if any of your meds might be keeping you awake.
Enjoy the adventure ahead. Grow bolder, not older. See www.growingbolder.com for more ideas!
Thank you to WebMD for some content.