According to some of the latest research, 60 is not only the new 50, but it’s also the new middle age marker. Life expectancies for men and women are now reaching well into the 80s in most developed countries.
However, many older adults find it difficult to break bad habits accumulated over a lifetime, such as poor diet and lack of exercise—yet, it’s never too late to start healthy habits. Here are 9 health-boosting lifestyle changes that you can put into action immediately.
Eat Fruits and Vegetables Every Day
Although you can’t stop the aging process, you can slow it down. The best way to keep your body feeling and looking its best is with the right diet. Unfortunately, many older people don’t eat enough of the right foods to obtain all the nutrients needed to maintain a healthy body.
As you age, your digestion slows down, and the body becomes less efficient at absorbing nutrients from food. A diet high in fruits and vegetables has been linked with increased longevity, reduced risk of chronic diseases, and maintaining a healthy body weight. This is due to the high concentration of nutrients and fiber in fruits and vegetables.
eating a piece of fruit with your next meal, or making a fruit and vegetable smoothie to have with your breakfast in the morning.
Increase Your Protein Intake
Protein is one of the essential building blocks responsible for maintaining muscle mass, balancing hormones, boosting immunity and repairing the body. So, ensuring you have an adequate daily intake of protein is important to helping your body to function effectively as you age.
The recommended daily intake of protein for adults over 50 is approximately 65 grams for men, and 45 grams for women. This number varies according to your weight and activity level. Adding a small amount of protein to every meal is an easy and effective way to incorporate enough protein into your diet immediately.
Meat can be hard to chew and digest for some older people, but it is not the only source of protein available. Some excellent sources of protein include legumes, including tofu and tempeh products; nuts and seeds; and eggs and dairy.
Eat More Often
Through proper nutrition is important for maintaining a healthy body, equally important is when you eat.
The body’s metabolism is controlled by a complex series of hormones, and our nutrition and activity level affect these hormones. Studies have shown that eating smaller meals, more often throughout the day helps these hormones to remain steady. When your hormones are well balanced your body functions optimally, and you will feel more energized.
Try eating one small meal every three hours. Depending on your activity level and caloric needs, each meal should be between 200 and 400 calories. Include the right balance of macronutrients and eat meals high in fiber to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Here’s inspiration for some healthful, easy recipes.
Drink More Water
Changes in your body as you age can cause you to feel less thirsty than you used to. This effect can be compounded by certain medications and lower activity levels. However, not getting enough water can lead to serious health complications due to dehydration.
The recommended daily intake of water is around eight glasses. However, this amount is variable according to your weight, gender, and activity, among other factors. Unfortunately, studies show that as we age, we drink less water. Luckily, there are many simple ways to ensure you get enough water throughout the day.
Regular exercise is important at any age, but it becomes especially significant as we age. Increased activity is linked with improved mobility, reduced risk of diseases such as cancer and diabetes, and even improved cognitive function.
However, sometimes it can be difficult to start and maintain a regular exercise routine. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day to see the best results. Try exercising with a friend or join an exercise class to keep yourself motivated.
A great low impact exercise option for seniors is yoga. Yoga improves cardiovascular fitness, balance, flexibility, and mobility, which can help to reduce the risk of trips and falls later in life. Here’s pilates exercises you can do anywhere—even in your own home.
Another important part of your exercise routine should be strength training. Muscle mass naturally decreases as you age, but strength training can reduce muscle loss and improve bone density significantly. This reduces the risk of injury due to falls and can help to improve mobility.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to hit the gym every day. There is a range of easy body weight exercises you can perform from the comfort and safety of your home. Alternatively, you can join a local seniors’ workout class in your area.
While physical fitness and nutrition are important to keep your body healthy, it is also essential you make some lifestyle changes to improve your mental health.
Older adults can often find themselves becoming more isolated as they age. This can lead to a range of mental health problems, from depression to dementia. Keeping up your social interaction is a wonderful way to stay connected.
Make it a priority to connect with your family and friends at least once a day. Call them on the phone, Facetime them, or invite them out for coffee and a chat. Another great way to stay social is to join a club for seniors. There are many types of clubs to suit all interests.
Learn Something New
A fantastic way to keep your mind sharp as you age is to learn something new. Learning a new skill or even performing familiar tasks in a new way is linked to improved cognitive function in aging adults.
You don’t need to wait until tomorrow to put this lifestyle change into action. Try brushing your teeth with the opposite hand, or, if you are a little more tech-savvy, download a language learning app like Duolingo and teach yourself a few phrases in another language.
Everyone knows how bad smoking is for your health. So, if you haven’t already quit smoking, now is the time to start. It’s never too late to make a change for the better. Consult with your health practitioner about some practical ways to help stop smoking for good.
Quitting is a difficult process, so it is important you make use of whatever quit smoking resources are available.
And whether you’re trying to quit smoking or start a new exercise routine or diet, don’t be discouraged if you aren’t successful on your first attempt. Just get back on course and try again; every healthy lifestyle change—no matter how small—can make a difference in your well being.
Craig Hammontree serves as the CEO for HealthMax 360. Craig oversees all operations and business activities to ensure they produce the desired results and are consistent with the overall strategy and mission. Before joining HealthMax 360, Craig led multiple teams to success in large fortune 500 companies. His family and spending time at the lake is how he spends his off time. If he can combine the two that is his oasis.