Good habits are important at any age, but as we get older, being mindful of our health becomes even more essential to our everyday lives. Staying active, maintaining a healthy diet, listening to your body – and knowing when something feels off – can really make a difference as we age and our bodies change. Maintaining great habits can boost the immune system, improve your mood, and keep your bones and muscles healthy and strong for years to come. Here are five healthy habits to keep in mind.
Maintain a healthy diet
Eating healthy is one of the best things you can do as you age. Maintaining a healthy weight and a balanced, rich diet can lower your risk of developing chronic health conditions; including heart disease and diabetes. Because your metabolism slows as you age, it’s important to be mindful of portion sizes and make sure you are getting a good balance of the five main food groups:
- Lean protein
Talking to your doctor can help you get a better understanding of your individual dietary needs. This can be especially important if you have a health condition like diabetes or high blood pressure that can be better managed through healthy eating.
Staying active – even if it’s just very light exercise, such as walking, can make a world of difference when it comes to your health. Aim for just 30 minutes every day. If that’s too much, break it up into shorter strolls. Regular exercise not only helps your mood, but it also keeps brain cells healthy by delivering more blood and oxygen. It also helps control your weight, keeps bones and muscles strong, helps with sleep, and puts you at less risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
If you’ve suffered a fall or an injury recently and feel a bit wary of even light exercise, talk with your doctor about trying a walking boot or a knee brace. Wearing physical supports can help keep your joints stable and protected even post-injury.
Get plenty of rest
Not only can sleep reduce your stress level, but sleep is how your body repairs itself. For this reason, getting an adequate amount of sleep can result in a stronger immune system, making it easier for your body to fight off viruses. Sleep is also important as you get older because it can improve memory and concentration. Aim for at least seven and a half to nine hours of sleep per night.
Schedule annual physicals
Scheduling a yearly checkup with your physician can also keep you healthy. And be sure to always speak with your doctor if you have concerns about your health.
Conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can go undetected. Regular physical examinations will enable your doctor to diagnose any problems early. Getting early treatment may prevent long-term complications. Additionally, if you have any cold or flu symptoms, see your doctor immediately. The flu virus can lead to complications in adults over the age of 65. The immune system weakens with age, making it harder to fight off the virus.
An often overlooked healthy habit is staying connected and socializing. When it’s safe to do so, spending time with friends and family members can boost quality of life, including both physical and mental health. Maintaining these social connections, even virtually or over the phone, can help reduce stress and the risk of anxiety or depression; it may also help cognitive health as we get older.
There are plenty of ways to maintain a healthy, happy lifestyle as you get older. Maintaining good habits, eating right, and listening to your body can all make a world of difference when it comes to staying healthy!