Aging is a natural process of life that starts the day you are born. It includes the physical, behavioral, and biological changes that occur as the years roll by. Characterized by external features like graying of the hair and wrinkled skin, aging is considered unpleasant by many. But when you deal with it with a positive outlook, aging can become a better experience.
Aging is inevitable but what is important is to age well. What does aging well mean? Aging that involves a healthy lifestyle, enriched by strong relationships, healthy foods, and the ability to stay physically active is key to having a positive experience with aging.
The Link Between Good Food and Aging
Choosing a healthy diet is a key ingredient for aging well. That does not mean that you should start thinking about a healthy diet only when you are older and begin having health issues. Start early and reap the benefits of a balanced diet all through your life.
It is essential to maintain a healthy weight while getting all the necessary nutrients in every meal. So make sure your plate comprises all the important food groups, including lean protein from lean meats, eggs, and legumes; fresh fruits and vegetables; whole grains like oats and brown rice; and low-fat dairy or dairy-free alternatives. Seniors, aged 60 and older, are recommended to incorporate:
- 5 servings of vegetables daily
- 4 servings of fruit daily
- 6 servings of whole grains daily
- 3 servings of fats and oil daily
- 3 servings of dairy daily
- 8–9 servings of poultry, meat, seafood per week
- 5 servings of nuts, legumes, and seeds per week
Stay hydrated and follow a healthy diet that nourishes the body and feeds the soul.
Exercise and Aging
Exercising should be an integral part of everybody’s life, especially adults who tend to lead more sedentary lifestyles than children who are naturally active.
Any amount of physical activity can promote the burning of calories and even a simple activity as strolling on the beach becomes beneficial in your older years. For those who are able, there are many fun forms of exercise that can become part of your daily routines. Choose from the following four categories and do what suits your body and lifestyle the best:
- Cardio activities like brisk walking, dancing, and swimming support breathing and heart rate
- Strength training with weights or a resistance band for stronger muscles
- Balance exercises like simple yoga poses or pilates to maintain good balance, to help prevent falls
- Flexibility exercises incorporating stretching, yoga, and pilates to keep the muscles active
Apart from physical activities, it is also important to keep the brain engaged for optimal cognitive health. Being intellectually engaged, such as by reading books, learning new skills, and volunteering for organizations that mean a lot to you can help the brain stay alert as the body ages.
Friends and Aging
Studies have shown that a person’s social life can be as important for longevity as his or her physical and mental health. Just like the saying ‘you are what you eat,’ it is true that you are who you choose to spend time with. When surrounded by friends and family who share similar outlooks on life, aging can become a fun process.
Friendships that have stood the test of time are the best type but it definitely does not hurt to find new friends in your later years too. A study recommends listing out names of people you would reach out to in the middle of the night in case of an emergency and people who would rush out at midnight to help you. If you have at least a couple of names for each, you should be happy about your group of friends.
Susan Pinker, a psychologist, states that Sardinia, Italy, has “more than six times as many centenarians as the mainland and ten times as many as North America.” The reason is not a special diet or the wonderful weather, it is the importance they give to maintaining “close personal relationships and face-to-face interactions.”
As we all inch along this process of aging, it is in our hands to make life enjoyable. After spending a big share of life working, raising a family, and saving for the future, it is finally time to sit back and relax. Pick the right foods, exercise regularly, and spend quality time with friends and family who enjoy your company and enrich your life.
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Pinker, S. (n.d.). The secret to living longer may be your social life. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_pinker_the_secret_to_living_longer_may_be_your_social_life