Did you know that the average person in the United States has a life expectancy of almost 80 years? People living longer and longer lives, but that doesn’t mean they maintain a high quality of life into their later years.
Getting and staying healthy is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You’ll look and feel amazing, but it does take effort! So, to help you maintain optimal health at any age, we’ve put together a guide to active senior living.
Listed below is everything you need to know to get your health on the right track and stay active throughout your entire life.
Let’s get started!
Maintain a Healthy Diet
The first step in any health journey, but especially for an active senior lifestyle, is to take an honest look at your diet. If you eat a typical Western diet, odds are you aren’t making the healthiest choices for your body. And that’s okay! Because it’s never too late to start taking steps in the right direction.
Your diet should be as nutrient-dense as possible, meaning the bulk of your diet should be made up of whole foods with a limit on junk and treats. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats and carbohydrates.
There are a few nutrients to give special attention: calcium, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, fiber, and potassium. These are important at every stage of life, but particularly so for seniors.
Calcium and vitamin D can be found in quality milk and yogurt. Look to fish, eggs, poultry, and meat for vitamin B-12. And for fiber and potassium, eat leafy greens, bananas, and avocados.
If you’re concerned about your vitamin and mineral intake, you can always take dietary supplements in addition to consuming a healthy diet. Just keep in mind that your body processes nutrients much more effectively when they’re obtained from food.
Make Time for Exercise
The first pillar of health is diet, the second is exercise. They must be done together in order to obtain and maintain optimal health and stay active. Exercise can be a little intimidating if you’re new to it, but once you see how amazing you feel after a good workout, you’ll never look back!
Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. If you can’t hit 150 minutes at first, don’t worry – you’ll get there.
Take any limitations or conditions you have into account when planning your exercise regimen. And remember that exercise can actually relieve chronic pain due to arthritis and other diseases!
If you suffer from joint pain, keep your exercise low-impact. This means bicycling, either on a stationary or traditional bike, water aerobics, walking, even gardening!
The best thing you can do when choosing your activities is to stick with those you enjoy. Don’t feel like you have to follow any trends or the habits of people you know. If you pick an exercise that you look forward to doing every day, you’re much more likely to keep up with it.
If you live in an active senior living community, give your neighbors a call or check out the events that are happening in your neighborhood! You never know, the perfect activity might be right around the corner, hiding in plain sight.
If diet and exercise are the two pillars of health, quality sleep is the base on which the two pillars stand. Because you can’t chase other facets of your health if you’re mentally and physically exhausted.
Sleep is absolutely vital to a healthy life at any age, and the Sleep Foundation has recommendations for each! Those aged 50-64 should aim for somewhere between 7 and 9 hours of high-quality sleep per night. If you’re 65 or older, you only need 7 to 8 hours.
Tips for Improving Sleep
A healthy diet and plenty of exercise will do wonders for your sleep, but if you still find yourself struggling to fall or stay asleep, there are some steps you can take to get better sleep.
First, take inventory of your night routine. What does a typical night look like for you? What are you doing in the hour or two before you plan to sleep?
To get the best possible sleep, you need to start winding down at least an hour before bed, preferably two. Put all electronic devices away, as the blue light emitted from their screens interferes with your circadian rhythm. Instead, put your time toward relaxing activities such as a pampering session or reading a book.
It’s also a good idea to limit your caffeine consumption to the morning hours. Caffeine stays in your system for longer than you might think and can throw off your sleep schedule even if you drink it in the early afternoon.
Don’t Neglect Your Mental Health
Now that we’ve talked about keeping your body healthy, we need to talk about your mind. Good mental health is just as important as physical health and should be treated as such!
It’s true that a positive attitude can completely change your life for the better, but it can be hard to obtain if you don’t know how to get there. The good news is, every facet of your health is related. Once you start prioritizing a healthy diet, exercise, and sleep, you’ll notice that your mental health begins to improve.
But if you want to take it to the next level and feel better than ever, there are a few steps you can take!
How to Improve Mental Health
Create a gratitude journal and make it a point to write in it either right after you wake up or just before bed. Taking a few minutes a day to think about and acknowledge the positive things in your life can make all the difference in how you feel day-to-day.
You should also pick up yoga, meditation, or another mindful activity. Anything that makes you feel calm and centered is a good place to start.
Last but not least, never be afraid to talk about your feelings. If you’re not having the best day, talk about it! Call a friend, a family member, or a professional and let your feelings out.
It can be tempting to keep things bottled up, but reaching out to other people is so important for good mental health. Don’t allow yourself to accept loneliness as an inevitability. Join a club, look for support groups in your area, or make friends with your neighbors.
Even the most introverted person needs human contact now and then to stay healthy!
Keep Your Mind Sharp
Positivity and mindfulness are important to an active senior lifestyle, however, you also need to make an effort to keep your mind sharp. Cognitive decline is common among seniors, but not inevitable!
Take time for a brain-boosting activity every day. This can be doing a jigsaw puzzle, learning a new recipe, or working on a crossword.
That said, you’ll receive even greater benefits if you use this time to build a new skill. Honing skills such as learning a new language or how to play an instrument are particularly powerful mind sharpening activities.
Not only will a new skill keep you sharp and prevent mental decline but it can also add meaning and joy to your life!
Make Regular Visits to Your Doctor
The key to the vast majority of diseases is to catch them in the early stages or before they become a problem. Stay focused on prevention and you might never need a cure! In order to prevent health conditions to the best of your ability, you’ll need to make regular visits to your doctor.
Healthcare can be expensive, but Medicare Wire makes it easy to find a Medigap plan that will meet your needs. Medigap also offers programs such as Silver Sneaker that help seniors stay active and achieve their exercise goals.
Don’t forget to visit your dentist twice a year as well! Poor oral health can lead to or exacerbate a myriad of serious health issues, from cardiovascular disease to dementia to diabetes. Stop mouth infections and cavities before they start by seeing your dentist!
Use This Guide to Active Senior Living to Increase Your Quality of Life
Maintaining health is crucial to not only adding years to your life but making those extra years worthwhile. By using this guide to active senior living, you’ll be living a happy, healthy life well into your later years.
As you can see, it isn’t complicated, but it does take hard work and keeping health your number one priority. But the rewards are well worth the effort!
For more tips on living your best life at any age, take a look at our blog!