Live a Long Life: Eight of the Best Tips for Healthy Aging

 

Welcome to another great guest post by Kaki Zell. Thanks SO much, Kaki!

 

Whenever a person turns 100 or older, friends, family and even reporters ask them: “What’s your secret?” Centenarians and supercentenarians (those who have lived past their 110th birthday) often have unique takes on why they’ve lived so long — 117-year-old Emma Murano said the secret to longevity is “being single,” while the third-oldest verified person ever, Nabi Tajima, said the key to a long life is “eating delicious things.”

Based on their responses, there is no one secret to aging past 100 — but there are a few ways to encourage healthy aging at any decade that are backed by cold, hard data. Until we discover the Fountain of Youth, here are some of the things you can do to foster healthy aging.

 

 

  1. Eat Well and Exercise — The two fundamentals to a healthy life at any age are diet and exercise. What you eat and how much you move have major effects on how you age. Nutritionists recommend eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats in order to provide your body with the right amount of nutrients. This healthy diet will also help prevent weight gain, which could lead to heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
  2. Get the Right Amount of Sleep — Like diet and exercise, sleep is fundamental to good health. The National Sleep Foundation warns that people with sleep problems are at a much higher risk for significantly diminished health. Untreated sleep disorders — including insomnia, excessive sleepiness and sleep apnea — have also been linked to heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes, hypertension and other chronic or life-threatening diseases. Beyond getting enough sleep at night, studies also show that napping is good for you, so go ahead and relish that afternoon snooze.
  3. Boost Your Circulation — To live a long, healthy life, you need to get your blood moving. Poor circulation can prevent your body from staying healthy, healing well and functioning properly during everyday activities. In other words, it can hold you back from the things you want to do in your twilight years. Wearing compression gear as part of a compression therapy program is an easy way to improve your circulation so that blood can properly transport essential oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body. Putting on a pair of compression socks each morning can also help reduce foot and leg pain and swelling as an added bonus.
  4. Travel as Much as You Can — Looking for an excuse to finally book that luxury cruise? Here’s one: it can actually help you live longer. Research shows that those who do not vacation annually are at a 30 percent higher risk of developing heart disease. Other studies indicate that there’s a link between happiness and travel, so sunning on the beach or touring a famous landmark might benefit your mental and cognitive health, too. The primary reason taking a trip can support health and well-being is that it’s a surefire way to decrease stress, which is often the silent culprit behind many of our most pressing health issues.

  1. Take Up a New Hobby — There’s a wide variety of hobbies and activities that are linked to better health and happiness, from sports (for the obvious reasons) to writing, which improves cognitive performance and concentration. There are a few other activities you may be surprised to learn can prolong your life, including reading, gardening, playing chess, playing an instrument and cooking. Learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby is an excellent retirement activity and can connect you with likeminded people to foster social connections, so it’s an all-around win.
  2. Take Care of Your Teeth —Many people are surprised to learn that there’s a connection between the health of our teeth and the health of the rest of our body. The American Heart Association says that gum disease — the buildup of plaque that can cause tooth decay — shares risk factors with heart attack and stroke, and doctors often use oral health as an indicator of heart health. Good oral health also helps prevent bad breath, dry mouth, sores and cavities, which can cause stress and low self-esteem. So, the next time your dentist scolds you about not flossing enough, take it seriously!
  3. Stay Social — Study after study confirms the notion that good friendships help you live longer, so making your lunch and dinner dates a priority is certainly a good strategy to vitality. Loneliness is closely linked to lower mortality rates, with some studies suggesting that it could be as dangerous to your health as smoking. Similarly, those with stronger social relationships have a much higher (as much as 50 percent) likelihood of survival. The fact is that social connections are fundamental to a healthy lifestyle right alongside diet, exercise and getting enough sleep, so make sure you’re spending plenty of quality time with friends and family.
  4. It’s All About Prevention — An ounce of prevention is worth… well, you know the saying. One of the best things you can do to ensure that you live a long, healthy life is to practice prevention. With so many new medical advancements and insight, there is simply no excuse not to take the preventative route as often as you can. You can practice effective prevention through diet, exercise, regular health screenings, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and limiting your consumption of alcohol and processed foods. Make sure that you monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol regularly as part of your prevention plan.

Thanks again, Kaki!

Comments are always welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday–or whenever I next have something to say. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

Aging Gracefully: Fitness Tips for Seniors with Limited Mobility (guest post) – Conclusion

Thanks to Kaki for last week’s guest post and today’s conclusion to what she shared last week.

Kaki is the Vice President and co-owner of Ames Walker.  After graduating from Virginia Tech she went on to work for Pepsi for several years before joining the family business.  When she is not working she enjoys running, hiking, traveling, Virginia Tech football & spending time with family & friends.

 

Aging Gracefully: Fitness Tips for Seniors with Limited Mobility

 

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise has many benefits, both mental and physical, for older adults. Here are just a few of the things that can happen as you start to exercise.

  • Exercise reduces the risk of:
    • falling and fracturing bones
    • dying from coronary heart disease
    • developing high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes
  • Exercise can help improve:
    • blood pressure in some people with hypertension
    • stamina and muscle strength
    • symptoms of anxiety and depression
    • physical signs of stress
    • joint swelling and pain associated with arthritis
    • thinking and memory skills, especially verbal

Tips for Exercising as a Senior

It can be hard to build a fitness habit at any age, but it’s far from impossible. Plus, it’s never too late to start. Follow these three tips to help kickstart your new fitness routine:

  • Start slow: If you’ve never exercised before, don’t try to do too much too soon, especially if your mobility is really limited or you’re contending with chronic conditions. Even just five minutes of movement a day can be a good place to start, and then build on that as you are able.
  • Do it daily: Trying to be active every day, even if it’s not an official workout, will help you build the habit faster. The sooner you build the routine, the less likely you will be to stop exercising. Many seniors like to exercise in the morning, before the day can get away from them, in order to stay on track with their daily goal.
  • Listen to your body: It’s normal to feel a little soreness and discomfort as you begin a new exercise routine. However, stabbing or joint pain isn’t normal, so if you start feeling that, stop exercising immediately to avoid exacerbating it. As always, you should consult your doctor before beginning any fitness routine, and check in with him or her if you feel any pain.

Exercising as a senior comes with certain considerations, but there are a wide range of activities you can try, no matter your level of mobility. Seniors of any age and fitness background can start with as little as five minutes of stretching a day and then build up from there, even if they are currently wheelchair-bound. Follow these tips and exercise ideas to start your fitness journey today.

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I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

Aging Gracefully: Fitness Tips for Seniors with Limited Mobility (guest post)

Thanks to Kaki for today’s guest post; part two will be posted next Sunday.

Kaki is the Vice President and co-owner of Ames Walker.  After graduating from Virginia Tech she went on to work for Pepsi for several years before joining the family business.  When she is not working she enjoys running, hiking, traveling, Virginia Tech football & spending time with family & friends.

 

Aging Gracefully: Fitness Tips for Seniors with Limited Mobility

Sitting for extended periods is a major contributing factor to a variety of health issues, even if an individual is young, fit and otherwise healthy. As you age, your mobility naturally becomes more limited, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on moving entirely — indeed, staying active can actually increase your mobility or maintain it for a longer period of time.

However, sometimes it can be difficult to come up with ideas to be active if you have limited mobility, especially if you’re bound to a wheelchair. We’ve outlined five activities seniors of various mobility levels can engage in to stay fit and age gracefully. We’ll then discuss the mental and physical benefits of exercise and offer tips for starting your fitness journey later in life.

Gentle Stretches

If you exercise regularly, stretching should be part of both your warm up and cool down routine — and if you don’t work out a lot yet, stretching is an easy way to start being active. Stretching eases stiff joints and tight muscles, making it easier to work up to a more involved activity. Common “problem” areas that will loosen up from stretching include the neck, chest, back, lower back, hips, quadriceps, hamstrings and ankles.

Try to stretch at least once daily to build the habit, but you can always do it more often if your muscles feel tight. However, if you feel pain during a static stretch, back off — that’s a sign you’ve pushed yourself too hard.

Restorative Yoga

Yoga might make you think of twisting yourself into a pretzel, but there are many types of yoga classes at a variety of intensity levels. Restorative yoga is a gentle version that focuses on overall wellness, relaxation and improving balance, coordination and flexibility.

It’s a great way to start recovering from an injury or addressing a chronic health issue such as arthritis. You’ll move through the poses at a slow, meditative pace, concentrating on your breathing throughout the exercise. You may use props such as blocks or blankets to help you hold the poses. Consider signing up for a few restorative yoga classes first before you try anything at home, so an instructor can walk you through the poses.

Core Strength Exercises

Your core is far more than just your abs. It engages in just about everything you do, from sitting to walking to picking up an object. Deliberately building your core with exercises can make it easier to get around — and may even help with back pain.

Exercises that seniors can use to target their core include planks, bridge lifts, leg lifts, seated side bends and the Superman. You should also try to engage your core in other scenarios, such as sitting up straight or walking around the neighborhood.

Chair Exercises

Even if you’re wheelchair-bound, you can still work on improving your activity levels. Numerous strength-training exercises — using a resistance band, small weights or even your own body weight — can be done while seated. Many flexibility exercises can be modified for a seated individual, including stretches, yoga and Tai Chi. Even certain forms of cardiovascular activity, such as aerobics, can be adapted for those in a chair.

Supportive Therapies

Of course, you need to make sure you’re taking care of your body during and after your exercise, especially as you age. Compression socks with graduated compression improve circulation and provide extra padding for your foot as you stay active. Therapeutic shoes with Velcro closures give your feet the proper support they need, plus they’re easy to take on and off. Elevating your legs using a leg rest after being on your feet awhile can take the pressure off your veins and discourage the blood from pooling there.

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 I’ll be back again next Sunday with Part Two of this interesting and informative guest post.

If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

I Hate Exercising…But Walking Is Okay

walking

Before our local American Family Fitness place moved from its temporary location across from Victoria’s Secret, my wife and I used to walk by, look through the windows, and marvel at the things people will do to get/stay fit and get/stay trim. Who enjoys pain, anyhow?

Now that the AFF has moved into its permanent location, there are no windows for us to look through, but we can see a parking lot that is FULL of cars that we assume brought willing sufferers to do whatever.

Sorry, folks. That’s not us. We hate exercising as such, but we appreciate the need to do something to help keep us healthy. Walking seems to fill the bill.

I started walking maybe twenty years ago when a female coworker must have noticed that I was a little bit too, uh, oversized. (Not that she said so, of course.) But she invited me to start walking at lunchtime with her, and I really enjoyed it. Walking partners changed periodically over the years, but I remained a faithful walker until a group at work started doing a lunchtime exercise class to Leslie Sansone’s “Walk Away the Pounds.”

Okay. Still walking. So to speak. But I gave it a try and decided I liked it. Being the only guy in the class didn’t make me feel strange, thank goodness. I’d once been the only one in an aerobics class I took with my ex-.

By the time I was downsized from that company, I had several of Leslie Sansone’s DVDs, although I don’t know that I was as faithful about using them as I’d been when I was part of a group.

Long story short, I finally ended up walking again. Real walking. Our home is located on a circle that’s just about exactly half a mile around. So four laps make two miles. Perfect.

Of course, weather gets in the way at times. But the mall that’s just a mile up the road is about a mile around on the inside, so two laps does it there.

Until my doctor diagnosed me with diabetes, I wasn’t very faithful about walking three times a week. But his diagnosis scared me into a routine I’ve followed faithfully for more than two years now.

My wife walks with me four times a week, and I do an extra day by myself.

If you want to protest that walking doesn’t exercise every part of the body that would benefit from it, I won’t argue. I’ll just remind you that I hate exercise and am pleased to be doing this much to remain healthy.

Do you exercise? How much? How often? And WHY?  Please leave a comment.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”check it out here–to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,
Roger

The Daily Challenge

dc-1   dc-2  dc-3  dc-4.  shadow
(click on thumbnails above to see full size)

A few years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to “The Daily Challenge.” I joined and receive a health-related challenge via email every day. There are thousands of other participants. Today’s Challenge was to describe how to use a whole grain product for breakfast. Often, the challenges relate to things I already do, as with this one. The challenges may include some type of exercise or something specific to look up information about (e.g., where to find a local electronics recycling place or what the symptoms of diabetes are).

Clicking “Done” in the message takes me to their website to describe how I did the challenge and indicate that my comment may be shared with everyone. Then I may be asked anywhere from one to three of the following questions (there are more, but these are the ones I remember):

  • Did you experience the following feeling during A LOT OF THE DAY yesterday: Sadness?
  • Did you experience the following feeling during A LOT OF THE DAY yesterday: Happiness?
  • In the last seven days, on how many days did you exercise for 30 or more minutes?
  • Did you experience the following feeling during A LOT OF THE DAY yesterday: Physical pain?

From that point, the Challenge gives me a grade for my wellness in specific areas (e.g., physical health, emotional well-being) and asks whether the Challenge was fun, whether it helped my well-being, etc.

Hmm. A harmless exercise…and sometimes quite good.

As a Christian who depends on God’s help day in and day out, at least I don’t have any reason to view life itself as a Daily Challenge. Life for me isn’t the shadowy existence represented by the far right photo above.

No matter what happens on any given day. It’s all in God’s hands. He may allow certain things to happen I’d rather avoid. But I have faith that He’s using everything for His—and my—ultimate good.

God is a loving Father. How could He not want the best for me—even when circumstances are less than ideal? The ultimate reward is yet to come.

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Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”check it out here--to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,
Roger