It’s not always easy to make healthy lifestyle changes, even if the new habits can improve our lives. It can be especially difficult in our golden years, as a lifetime’s worth of routines have set in. Still, it is never too late to make changes for a healthier life.
Here are five ways to establish healthy lifestyle changes as you enjoy this chapter of your life, based on an article published by AgeInPlace.com:
Stay Physically Active
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all adults should have some level of physical activity. That doesn’t mean that everyone has to go for a run after dinner. A brisk walk a few hours a week will suffice and help you work towards a more healthy lifestyle. Go for time, not for distance. As your strength improves, you’ll be walking farther and faster. Add more walking to your lifestyle by parking the car farther away from the entrance to the store or more frequently “taking the stairs” if you’re able.
Swimming is also a great way to get and stay fit, especially for those with joint problems, and a local gym or YMCA could possibly provide access to a pool. Many gyms today also have warm water pools, which can be especially helpful to those with arthritis. Another option is yoga. Yoga can increase muscle tone, strength and balance. Ask the local yoga studio about adaptive practices for older individuals, where props, such as chairs and blocks, support your body as you stretch. While you are checking out local gyms, find out if they offer a water yoga class.
When looking into ways to increase activity, find something you enjoy. People are better able to maintain a schedule when they’re not bored, have a variety of choices and have support. Consider finding an exercise buddy. Ask a friend or family member to throw on those athletic shoes and go with you.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Many people rely on canned foods and processed meats, such as lunch meat, when they have a hard time getting out to the store or find it challenging to cook recipes fit for a small number of people. Today there are many food home delivery options offering prepared meals or grocery delivery. Ask a family member to help you find easy access to fresh foods. Work with a friend to plan a healthy menu and think about eating with a buddy to get in the habit of making healthy choices together.
Smoking is a major risk factor of cardiovascular events and death even at an older age. Smoking cessation among older people is still beneficial in reducing the excess risk. But, it is hard to stop smoking. In fact, most people have many unsuccessful attempts before they successfully quit. The good news is that no one has to go cold turkey anymore. If you’ve tried and failed before or smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day, your health care provider can prescribe medication to help you quit. In addition, you can use over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy to help.
Get Enough Sleep
Changes to sleep patterns are a normal part of aging. Older people tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep than when they were younger. However, your sleep need doesn’t decline with age; it just changes its pattern. Some causes of failing to sleep well are easily solved. Strive to limit caffeine, alcohol, exercise and screen time near bedtime. But other causes of sleep troubles, like depression, sleep apnea or insomnia, require a visit to a health care provider.
Get Preventive Health Care
Finally, make sure you follow up with preventive care recommendations. You’ll still need colonoscopies and mammograms, as well as trips to the dentist and optician. You may need more frequent visits to your provider for blood pressure checks, diabetes and cholesterol tests and breast, prostate and osteoporosis exams. As important, make sure you are up to date on all of your vaccinations, including their annual flu vaccine. Ask a family member to attend appointments with you to help you keep track of and understand all the information presented to you.
Following these tips can help you continue creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself.