September is designated as Healthy Aging Month by Healthy Aging®, which is a national health initiative developed to help individuals think more positively about growing older. Fifteen years ago, they began the celebration of Healthy Aging Month, which promotes taking charge of one’s health past age 50. This includes on varying levels, from physically, socially, mentally or financially.
Because physical well-being so readily lends itself to the tendency and ability to create overall well-being, it seems a worthy focus to celebrate this month, and to kick of a Fall campaign that takes step towards improving and maintain health.
REGULAR EXERCISE – There are so many reasons to incorporate some form of physical activity into our lives, particularly as we age. Because so many people currently over 50 may not have grown up in a ‘fitness culture’, it is important to develop it on one’s own, no matter what age. The latest thinking stresses integrating your fitness into everyday activities. Research has shown that even short bouts, say 10 minutes at a time, of some physical activity can add up to equal one longer workout. Even if you already exercise, try to add more movement. That’s another important and recent finding—include ambient movement in your life, and not just the gym. On a regular basis, get up, walk, stretch, and especially for older people, practice balancing exercises as well, a readily learned skill.
Try This On For Size:
Park the car and get to your destination by foot. Take the stairs—an excellent form of physical fitness. Walk indoors in the mall in inclement weather (many allow walkers pre-opening). Engage friends or family or pets—walk, hike, bike ride, play golf etc., as this will enhance an important social life, but has also been shown to increase participation and enthusiasm. Keep a date with your calendar, a regular diary, or inspirational messages wherever you will readily see them—anything that enforces your habits.
DIET – You’ve likely heard all about the keys to healthy eating; but now, you can take it to a new level. Real, whole, local, fresh—these are the latest key words for dietary choices. Consider experimenting with some of the increasingly popular ‘super foods’—beets, kale, sweet potatoes, mangoes—and combine them with other foods you may not have tried, such as various types of beans, whole wheat pastas, or grains like quinoa. But whether you try something new or stick to the basics, you can make food healthy by keeping a balanced diet, eating with others to promote well-being (and make those others healthy eaters, as studies have shown what those around you eat have a direct impact on your diet as well).
Healthy Aging includes ‘feeding’ your brain. According to an article in Psychology Today, watching what you eat can help build your brain. Foods high in omega-3, such as salmon, are truly “brain food.” Even better, flavonoids, found in certain foods ranging from fruits and vegetables to red wine and dark chocolate, can also have a beneficial influence on cognition. In a longitudinal study conducted in France over a 10-year period, high levels of flavonoid intake were associated with significantly lower memory declines.
High levels of mental activity may even prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Keeping mentally as well as socially engaged is vital. But it’s not only your mental muscle that you need to exercise. Physical exercise also seems to serve a protective function against the type of cognitive changes that may precede the development of Alzheimer’s disease, particularly if it is performed at least at a moderate level of intensity.
Healthy Aging has a lot more fun tips to celebrate the month—from going back to school, to volunteering, to dancing and painting! You can read about it on their official press release.