Disclaimer: This is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them.
Staying well and healthy through the older years is the best way to ensure the highest quality of life and enjoyment of all that you love to do. Good health is a proactive effort, and those seniors who are vibrant, energetic and enjoy each and every day of their lives take good care of themselves with mindful attention to their health and wellness.
Use these tips to do the same, and you will enjoy better health!
1. Daily exercise, which focuses on building balance, is crucial for seniors to improve stability in older years and prevent falls. Here is one crucial statistic to consider, for every five falls, one elderly person experiences broken bones, or head injury.
2. Know your limits, if you have never exercised in your life, or exercised very little you will likely need to start slow and get a personal trainer to create a routine that matches your level of fitness.
3. Complete at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. Aerobic activity improves circulation and keeps the heart healthy. You can also choose higher intensity levels and exercise for a shorter amount of time 175 minutes at the vigorous level or mix your intensity levels with equal time spent on each.
4. Do some form of strength training exercise twice a week, which focuses on the major muscle groups: chest, arms, legs, abdomen, back, shoulders, and hips. Strength training builds muscle and supports bone mass maintenance.
5. Building strong muscles, bone density, and a sense of balance allows you to maintain high functional fitness levels. Seniors who maintain functional or greater levels of fitness tend to live longer and with little to no assistance needed to accomplish their daily activities.
6. Pursue a variety of activities to meet your weekly exercise requirements, walking, biking, gardening, dancing, playing Frisbee, yard work or any other activity, which allows you to elevate your heart rate, does the trick. Choose activities you enjoy and say yes to new activities.
7. Don’t forget to stretch. Flexibility supports healthy movement and balance. Take a few minutes to stretch dynamically (with movement) each day. A simple example is reaching down to touch your toes then rolling up with soft knees to reach overhead extending the fingertips to the sky.
8. Try yoga to build strength and flexibility while relaxing your mind. Yoga provides low impact weight bearing exercise, which also helps seniors maintain bone density.
9. Tai chi is also an effective form of exercise for the mind and the body regardless of fitness level. The movements are slow and may be adapted for those with limited mobility.
10. Make time to exercise your face and your eyes. Stretch the jaw and the forehead, pucker the lips, relax them, and puff out the cheeks. It relieves facial tension and may provide a slight natural lift to the face.
11. Exercise your eyes to relieve eyestrain. Take your eyes in all directions and make circles with them as if tracking the hands of a clock–both clockwise and counterclockwise. Practice focusing your eyes on something far away and then zoom in bringing your focus progressively closer to you.
12. Take off your shoes and exercise your feet to relieve cramping, plantar fasciitis and prevent bunions. Practice flexing and extending the feet as well as standing and lifting all ten toes from the floor and see if you can lift your toes from the floor one at a time and replace them or try to lift only the big toe.
13. Practice deep breathing for a few minutes each day. It activates the parasympathetic system, the relaxation response. The practice eases stress and improves circulation.
14. Maintain a positive outlook. Seniors with a positive perception of aging live longer and recover more quickly from debilitating injury or illness.
15. Exercise your mind. Neuroplasticity, the building and maintenance if neurological connections in the brain, must be actively encouraged to maintain cognitive function and the very important memory function. Learn new skills, make something (thinking drawing, painting, or crafts), solve puzzles, play games, or take a different route to a regular destination to keep the brain functioning at optimum capacity.
16. Make time to laugh. The effects of laughter and exercise are very similar. They both decrease stress hormones, increase blood flow and support relaxation and immune function.
17. Self-care becomes even more important as we age. Making time to do things you enjoy, eat well and take care of your physical well-being goes a long way toward preventing physical and mental illness.
18. Get a massage. Massage aids with relaxation, circulation and releases endorphins, which improve your sense of well-being. Massage also aids muscle recovery following exercise.
19. Try foam rolling after exercise. This type of self-massage boosts circulation relieves muscle soreness and keeps the connective tissues supple so you move more freely. Consult with a personal trainer or physical therapist to learn more about this treatment.
20. Change your environment to suit your changing needs. Make modifications to your home; add ramps, auto sensors on light switches, outdoor lighting timers, etc., to your home to make living independently easier as you age.
21. Maintain healthy relationships and include sexual intimacy when appropriate if it’s part of your desired lifestyle. Staying connected to other people helps to prevent the depression, anxiety, and sense of isolation experienced by many seniors.
22. Keep your sense of purpose alive by interacting with others in a way, which allows you to contribute to a common goal. Many seniors use the skills they acquired in the workforce while volunteering for service organizations or take up a hobby, which they find fulfilling.
23. Travel to local venues and abroad to continue to grow and maintain a sense of adventure, something to anticipate and give your daily activities direction.
24. Make music a part of your life. Music has a beneficial effect on the mind and the body, aiding relaxation and enhancing cognitive function.
25. Schedule annual dental, vision, hearing and other evaluations to maintain your baseline health.
26. Grow your capacity for gratitude. Appreciating the people and positive circumstances in your life builds your resilience, your ability to handle the changes and potential losses (financial challenges, health, the deaths of friends and family) which often accompany aging.
27. Get enough sleep. Some seniors find it difficult to sleep through the night. Find a sleep schedule, which works, for you and stick to it.
28. Get light blocking curtains or wear a sleep mask to enhance your ability to sleep. Also, remove all light emitting electronics for your sleeping area. The body reads light as a signal to awake or remain awake.
29. Stay hydrated. Even if you experience a decrease in thirst as you age, your body still requires appropriate amounts of water to function properly.
30. Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables to ensure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet. Fiber aids digestion and elimination, which can slow as you age.
31. Maintain a healthy weight for your body. Being overweight or underweight present different health challenges, which make healthy aging difficult; obesity may lead to heart disease while being underweight can mean you’re missing nutrients key to good health.
32. Eat a variety of foods to ensure you’re getting all of the nutrients your body requires. Your daily nutrient requirements vary depending on your level of activity and current health status, so variety is key to keeping the body healthy and in balance.
33. Eat organic foods including prepared and shelf stable foods whenever possible. This will decrease your exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides, which can negatively affect your health.
34. Take an effective vitamin and mineral supplement to fill in on the days when you may not make the best dietary choices. Consult with your physician to select a supplement appropriate for you and your current health status.
35. Add superfoods, nutrient dense foods, to your diet. Superfoods provide antioxidants, polyphenols, and other nutritional elements in higher than average values. Green tea, blueberries, acai berries, broccoli, black beans, oats, and quinoa are examples of superfoods, which may prevent chronic disease and support healthy weight maintenance.
36. Eat vitamin D fortified foods or take a daily supplement. Vitamin D assists with keeping bones strong in combination with calcium. Dairy products, milk, yogurt or cheese, and many dairy alternatives, non-dairy milks (almond, soy, or lactose free) supply calcium and are fortified with vitamin D.
37. Some people over 50 years of age may not be able to absorb vitamin B12 effectively. Eat foods fortified with the nutrient and supplements as recommended by your doctor.
38. Try meditating for 20 minutes twice a day. It eases stress, builds cognitive function, and increases a person’s sense of well-being.
39. Use aromatherapy to enhance your personal environment and as part of your self-care regimen. For example, the scent of lavender is calming and aids sleep
40. Practice mindfulness to ease stress and support mental focus. Make it a habit to give your full attention to each of your daily activities. Instead of letting your mind wander or going through mental checklists, give your full attention to brushing your teeth, washing the dishes or each of your steps as you take an evening walk.
41. If you find meditation very difficult to begin, try coloring. It induces some of the same beneficial mental focus and relaxation benefits as meditation. It’s also simple and inexpensive fun, which you can do alone or share with other people in your life.
42. Have yourself evaluated for allergies and food sensitivities. While you may not have shown symptoms previously, allergies can develop overtime or the symptoms become less manageable as you age.
43. Get your annual flu shot and keep your other vaccinations, chicken pox, and tetanus for example, up to date. People with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to the flu virus. It’s important to get the flu vaccination annually, because the strains causing illness vary year to year.
44. Declutter. Many older people find it freeing to sell or give away things they’ve accumulated but no longer use. It may also make your home more manageable with less in it to maintain.
45. If you do not have immediate or extended family nearby, build relationships with other seniors in your community. Many local community centers offer fun and interesting, senior focused programming. A social network increases your sense of well-being and provides a safety net for emergencies.
46. Go green in your home. Use natural cleaning supplies or make them yourself to decrease your exposure to household chemicals which have been linked to asthma, other types of respiratory distress, poisoning and cancer.
47. If you’re sexually active, use condoms and get tested for sexually transmitted infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control, people age 50 and older accounted for 21% of HIV diagnoses in the United States.
48. Decide whether or not it’s time to give up driving. Visual acuity declines for many people as they age. You can utilize public transportation or ride sharing programs to maintain your independence and travel safely.
49. Spend time with nature by taking a walk or spending time at the park to improve energy levels and increase your sense of well-being. If you can’t get outside or the weather doesn’t allow, a scenic view is equally effective. You can also visualize your favorite natural setting or listen to recordings of natural sounds, birds chirping, flowing water, etc., for a similar effect.
50. Eat more home cooked meals. You can better control the amounts of sugar and salt your food when you prepare it. To cut down on preparation time, buy pre-chopped or frozen fruits and vegetables. You can also cook in bulk and freeze leftovers for another day.
51. Take care of your skin. It is your body’s first line of defense. As we age, the skin retains less moisture and becomes more vulnerable to drying and abrasions, which heal more slowly. This can be especially concerning for diabetics who heal slowly and are more vulnerable to infection.