Top 5 Ways to Stay Healthy Past 60
If you want to stay as pain-free as possible as you age past 60 and enjoy a fun and independent life, then it’s good to keep it moving, literally. Physical activity can help keep your body young, on the inside and out. Keeping up with your physical health and staying active is a must, whatever your age. We all know this. Along with lowering your risk for things like heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and joint deterioration — regular movement and exercise can help with (and improve) your mental health in the long run. So, if you’re looking to stay healthy and fit, here are five tips to keep you moving and grooving well into your 60s, 70s, and beyond.
Resistance Band Training
Resistance bands are great way to battle muscle atrophy as your body ages. It is a low impact exercise and a fantastic option if you’re looking to safely strengthen joints and increase your range of motion while preventing injury. Bands are great because you can take them anywhere, they offer a WIDE variety of exercises and they don’t take up the space of a full exercise machine. You can use resistance bands just like weights, but they are kinder on your joints — meaning less risk of injury as you build strength. Of course, it is best to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but walking has a laundry list of benefits. A daily walk around the neighborhood can lower stress, reduce your risk of heart disease, improve your mental health, strengthen your bones/muscles, and gives you an excuse to get out of the house for an hour or so. Walking is one of the best ways to lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels and boost your ‘happy hormones’ like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. It’s important as we age to move the whole body. Start planning out a 30-minute walk every day and feel the benefits for yourself.
A Heart-Healthy Diet
You don’t have to drastically change your diet all at once, but it’s good to take an audit of your current eating. Look at what you’ve been overdoing it on and what you could incorporate more of. Try making one small change at a time. For example, instead of drinking fruit juice, replace it with a bowl of whole fruit. If you normally have two slices of white bread with breakfast, instead try one slice of whole grain bread. You don’t have to be too strict with your nutrition — it’s about eating a healthy and balanced diet, so your body get the nutrients it needs.
A few diet tips to get you started.
Fiber Is Your Friend
Adding fiber to your diet reduces constipation, helps with weight loss, and reduces the risk of diabetes, pre-diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer. It’s recommended men over age 50 should consume 30 grams of fiber per day; women over age 50 should consume around 21 grams per day. You can get your fiber intake from beans, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit.
Reduce Sugar Consumption
Refined sugars are chock-full of empty calories that offer no nutritional value. Try replacing sugary treats with whole foods that are naturally sweet, like fruits, sweet peppers, and yams.
Water, Water, Water
Increasing your water intake is great for flushing out toxins and staying hydrated. It also boosts energy levels.
Water aerobics and water exercises are a form of resistance training and are perfectly suited for seniors over 60 because they are low impact and have very little risk of injury. Movements in water are far less painful than on land. Water provides low weight bearing resistance that allows the synovial fluid to bring nutrients to the joint surfaces and minimizes the risk of injury. As opposed to “jarring” your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones on the concrete floor, keeping your limbs moving underwater are fantastic for easing the burden on the body. Swimming and water exercises work all the muscle groups without placing stress on the body, so it’s a great cardiovascular workout, while increasing lung capacity and breath control.
Cognitive Health & Keeping the Mind Sharp
Along with your physical health, keeping your mind sharp is extremely important. As time passes, naturally your neural pathways fade and your senses fade. For this reason, a regular mental workout is just as important as regular, physical exercise. It’s important to engage your mind daily with cognitive stimulation and positively impact your neuroplasticity.
The five categories you’ll want to focus on to improve your mental health:
- Attention – Strengthening visual & auditory attention.
- Perception – Improving visual, auditory, and tactile perception.
- Memory – Strengthening short- & long-term memory.
- Processing speed – Maximizing the capability to process information quickly.
- Reasoning – Protecting superior cognitive functions (numerical, logical, and abstract reasoning) that help you make daily life decisions.
Games like sudoku or chess can help you retain memories and improve your cognitive health. The brain loves a challenge, so doing things like learning a new language, playing an instrument, or playing games that test the mind like crossword puzzles are great activities to incorporate into your routine.
Here are a few more games/exercise for to keep your mind sharp:
- Trivia Games
- Cards & Boards Games
- Computer & Mobile Apps
- Crafts & Hobbies
Bonus Tip: Undergo Routine Health Screenings
Access to health care and undergoing routine visits/screenings can help you live a longer and healthier life! Doctors recommend a health/wellness visit every two years for seniors over the age of 40. Just a quick check-in to review your personal and family medical history and conduct a basic check-up, which may include: Height, weight, and blood pressure measurements, and vision/hearing tests.
Did You Know?
More than a third of adults 65 and older (37%) are concerned they will not be able to pay for needed healthcare services in the next year. This is according to a recent West Health-Gallup survey.
If you are a homeowner aged 62 or older, leveraging your housing wealth via a reverse mortgage loan could help you to pay for medical expenses and long-term care over a lengthy retirement period.
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