As we age, the famous quote by Jack Kornfield becomes more poignant: “The trouble is, you think you have time.”
As the year’s pass, our bodies and our minds will begin to change. Maybe we will start to feel the tickle of the knee or hip pain, or start misplacing things and forget names, but just because you’re aging doesn’t mean you have to accept that your body and mind will fail you.
Here are ten things people do that help stay mentally and physically fit as they age:
1. They keep learning
Memory lapses can happen at any point in your life, but as we start to grow older, we may notice them more. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a reflection of dementia or a neurological condition. Instead, these lapses are most often a reflection of cognitive changes happening in the brain. The best thing you can do to stay mentally sharp as you age is to keep learning. Learning a new language, reading books on unfamiliar subjects, or learning a new hobby or skill will help improve your mental function as you age.
2. They do yoga
While the exercise of any kind is beneficial as you age, yoga has been shown to improve balance, flexibility, and mobility. What this means for you is that you will be less likely to fall as you age, and will also be able to recover better if you do fall. Yoga also helps improve sleep quality and cognitive function, which are important aspects of staying healthy and fit as you get older.
3. They learn to cope with change.
The key to healthy aging has as much to do with knowing what to hold onto, as knowing what to let go. There are tons of changes that start to happen as you reach 50, 60, 70, and older. Your children may have their own families, friends may begin to pass or grow ill, and you may notice aspects of your health declining. While it’s normal to mourn these and worry, it’s also important not to get stuck in a rut. Reinventing yourself is one fundamental way you can help yourself stay mentally and physically fit as you age. If you are willing to accept the changes, process them, and then start on a new path to feeling better, you have a better chance of succeeding with staying healthy well into old age.
4. They repeat what they want to remember
If you’ve just learned a new name or fact and you want to increase your chances of retaining it, repeat it. Repetition reinforces the memory or connection, which increases your chances of remembering the fact long-term. If you’re meeting people, repeat their name to them after they’ve said it and then quietly repeat it to yourself. If you’ve put something in a different spot than you usually would repeat to yourself where you’ve put it. Don’t hesitate to ask if you need something repeated as well.
5. They eat a balanced diet
As we age, we can fall into patterns with our food habits that mean that we don’t get the kind of varied, rich diet that we need. This is often because our sense of smell and taste change as you age, which means that things you once enjoyed may taste flat or different. This may make you less willing to diversify your diet or try new foods
6. They practice endurance exercises
Exercises like jogging, swimming, and biking improve your cardiovascular health and will also prevent your metabolism from slowing down. This will help avoid the kind of weight gain that is common with aging.
If you’re not used to cardiovascular exercise, start slow and build your way up until you’re ideally achieving 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a week.
7. They stay in their home
It’s documented that seniors who stay in their home have better physical and mental fitness overall. They can maintain their routines, stay in familiar surroundings with things they recognize and love, and feel a sense of purpose and agency in their lives. As we age, we sometimes need help to keep us in our homes. This is where in-home medical providers come into play. These trained medical professionals visit your home to assess your healthcare needs and monitor any chronic conditions you may have. View here to learn more about in-home medical professionals.
8. They regularly use all their senses
The more senses you use when learning or experiencing something, the more likely you are to remember the event clearly. Studies showed that people exposed to emotionally neutral images that were paired with a smell were much more likely to recall the image when exposed to the scent again later.
So when you are learning something new, challenge yourself to use all your senses. This is especially beneficial when you are traveling or eating unfamiliar foods, as you can play games with yourself, such as trying to guess ingredients or remember architecture or signs.
9. They control their blood pressure
High blood pressure and hypertension can creep up on us as we age. These conditions cause your heart to work harder than it would normally have to and are the leading causes of stroke or heart attacks, but this is not their only risk. People who suffer a stroke are also much more likely to develop vascular dementia due to the impaired blood flow to the brain. These conditions can be managed by losing weight, eating a healthy diet, reducing sodium and other simple steps that will keep you healthy longer.
10. They believe in themselves
Don’t ever let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that aging means giving up and getting sick, because it will increase the chances that you might! Your brain is incredibly powerful. If you expose yourself to negative stereotypes about aging that you start to believe, it can begin to contribute to failing memory. If you think you’re not in control of the way you age, you will be less likely to put in the work required to keep your memory sharp. So believe in yourself that you will age gracefully, with a healthy body and a sharp mind.