Summary of key points
Aging in a healthy way is entirely possible if you adopt the right holistic approach. You need to ensure that you look after your body and mind and focus on staying active. Getting older doesn’t have to mean ill health. There are plenty of ways you can boost your well-being and longevity.
How Do You Stay Healthy As You Age?
Since the beginning of time, aging has been a hot topic. Whether it’s the physical signs of aging that concern you, like sore bones and muscles, or perhaps those extra wrinkles on your sagging skin, it’s one of the things we cannot avoid in life.
For most of us, healthy aging means living a longer life with minimal health issues. It means making the best health-focused decision for yourself in every situation, always considering the long term. If you promise to do your best in this regard, then you’ve already done most of the hard work.
However, it’s important to understand that aging is holistic. We cannot focus on one isolated aspect of our lives and expect to tap into the fountain of youth. Healthy aging is a holistic journey, not a destination. If you’re ready to embark on that journey or are already taking the first steps, we’ve got everything you need to make sure that you keep blowing your birthday candles out while feeling your best—year after year!
Create A Healthy Environment
The environment in which we spend our time has a notable impact on our health, as it determines societal norms. These norms may play a part in healthcare, medication, exercise, skincare, and information. Your environment also plays a role in the air you breathe and the toxins you expose yourself to. Polluted air, a lack of fresh air, and food that’s low in nutrients and high in chemicals and preservatives all contribute to the toxins in your environment.
These toxins are not only tangible, they can be emotional too. Negativity, stress, anxiety, and fear will put your body into an up-regulated state. This means constantly producing stress hormones like cortisol, which can spell disaster for your endocrine system. It also means that you’re more likely to reach a state of burnout, which requires a very long and conscious recovery time. This will all have a negative impact on aging as a lot of energy is needed for our bodies to produce these stress hormones and constantly live in a “fight or flight” state.
So, if you feel that your environment is not doing you any favors, change it! Set boundaries in relationships, speak up when you’re unhappy, learn how to destress, and ensure that your work environment is a healthy, happy one.
Move Your Body
If we neglect our bodies and choose a sedentary life, are we not our own worst enemy? Do you remember reading that you need to walk a minimum of “10 000 steps per day” for a healthy heart and body? New research published by the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology suggests that in actual fact, at minimum, all we need to walk is 4000 steps (3967 steps precisely) per day to decrease our overall mortality.
However, since this is a minimum requirement, it’s beneficial to do more. The key to moving enough is finding something physical that you enjoy doing. There are so many options, and many of them don’t cost a cent either. You can walk or run, do yoga or pilates, swim or dance. As we age, some forms of exercise are easier than others, so you can choose lower impact workouts or do whatever you prefer. The secret is to just get moving and then keep moving.
Other benefits of exercising regularly include but are not limited to maintaining a healthy weight, healthy muscle mass, good bone density for your age, good cardiac health, healthy blood pressure, lots of serotonin and dopamine, and stress relief.
Get Plenty Of Restful Sleep
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s recommended that people between the ages of 18 and 60 get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. 61–64 years need 7-9 hours, and 65 years and older need 7-8 hours a night. Not getting enough sleep can make your cells age faster, and this not only affects your physical well-being but your skin and hair too. The more tired you are, the older you’ll look and feel because that’s exactly what’s happening in your body.
But getting enough sleep to give your body time to rest and recover isn’t the only essential in healthy aging. You also need to ensure that the sleep you get is restful. The quality of your sleep is important as it determines whether you will enter the necessary sleep phases throughout the night to achieve proper rest and restoration.
If your sleep is broken and you wake up feeling tired, then it’s likely your sleep was of poor quality. If this is a common occurrence, then you may need to seek medical help to treat a sleep disorder.
Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
Remember what I said at the beginning? “Healthy aging means making the best health-focused decision for yourself in every situation, always considering the long term”. Well, that means reducing what you drink too.
According to the World Health Organization, alcohol is the leading risk factor for disability and premature mortality and is responsible for 5.1% of the global burden of disease. There is conflicting information available about the effects of drinking in moderation. Even one drink a day may have negative effects.
But, since healthy aging is a holistic journey, happiness and relaxation play a part in your aging. If alcohol (in small doses) can help you achieve this, then having a glass of wine every now and again isn’t all bad. After all, grapes do contain a lot of goodness (more on that next!).
Get The Right Nutrients In Your Diet
As the French physician Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said in 1826, “tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are”.
One downside of living in a world designed for convenience is all the junk food we constantly have access to. Nowadays, it’s cheaper to buy processed food than healthy foods like fruit, vegetables, high quality meat and good oils. But when you consider that a single grape contains manganese, potassium, vitamins B, C, and K, it’s easy to see why fresh food is just better for you.
That said, there is a steady decline in the quality of topsoil used to grow natural foods, which is why it’s also a great idea to take vitamin and mineral supplements. Studies show that more than 50% of the US takes supplements to boost their immunity, and the global dietary supplement market is on the rise. More and more people are supplementing their diet to ensure they stay healthy, and many supplements promote longevity and reduce the effects of aging too.
I’m not going to tell you which diet to follow. Instead, you can use your own logic when choosing your food. What are the ingredients? Are there preservatives? Was this made or grown? Processed food usually contains large amounts of sugar, salt, and fat. Is this giving my body nutrients or satisfying a craving? Whatever diet you choose to follow, remember that moderation is key.
Make Time For Mental Health
Last, but by no means least is your mental health. It has a direct impact on the decisions you make throughout the day. If your mental health is good, you’ll opt for positive and healthy experiences. If not, then you‘re more likely to make decisions that could have a negative effect.
Thankfully, these days there’s a lot more focus on mental health and the stigma around the subject is no longer as prevalent. But it can be hard to stay positive when the world feels like a scary place. Stop focusing on all the bad news, avoid doom-scrolling on your phone for hours, and make mindfulness, meditation, journaling, therapy and socializing a priority.
Don’t underestimate life’s simple pleasures like watching the sunset or taking a forest walk. We tend to forget about the small things in life. But, often it’s the small things that help us to see the world and our own lives in a more wholesome and positive light.
Healthy aging isn’t just about doing one thing right. It’s about taking a holistic approach to life. You need to give your body and mind what it needs to thrive.
Key to staying healthy is to create an environment in which you can live life to the fullest. From reducing exposure to toxins and toxic people to ensuring your work environment is a happy one, you are in control of creating an environment that doesn’t affect your longevity.
You also need to stay active and ensure that you don’t adopt a sedentary lifestyle. The more you move, the better you’ll feel and the fewer age-related ailments and illnesses you’ll suffer from. On the flip side of keeping moving is getting enough restful sleep. Sleep restores your body and extends your lifespan, and it is a great healer.
Next up is being aware of what you put into your body and the effect it has. Reducing your alcohol consumption, eating healthy, nutrient-rich food, and taking vitamins and supplements keep your body in optimal condition and can contribute to your mental health too. In fact, your mental health is as important as your physical health, so you need to look after that too. When you take this holistic approach to aging, you’ll enjoy every passing year to its full.