Today’s “On the Menu” segment reviews my top 10 tips for healthier aging in honor of today, National Senior Health and Fitness Day.
- Get Moving. 30-60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity, most days of the week, is recommended to maintain your overall physical well-being. There are 3 types of exercise:
- Cardiovascular activities like walking, running, biking and swimming that keep your heart and lungs strong.
- Weight training at least twice per week to strengthen your upper body, core and legs. We can avoid the weakness that comes with age such as difficulty opening jars or heavy doors, by intentionally exercising key muscle groups.
- Flexibility and balance through yoga and Pilates keeps us agile and better apt to respond to walking hazards such as uneven pavements.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight. As you age, the body needs fewer calories to function. Eating adequate protein, and minimizing sugar and saturated fat can help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent disease such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
- Face Time, Not ‘Facebook’ Time. Social media is great for seeing pictures of friends and family. However, face-to-face contact is proven to improve your mood and decrease your stress. Take a community education class with a friend, go the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park or host a card night or book-reading club.
- Stay Hydrated. As we age, our kidneys start to become less efficient. Water helps keep you hydrated, prevents constipation, and fatigue. It’s especially important to drink 6-8 fluid ounce glasses of water each day. Drinking a glass with meals and a glass in between meals can help with meeting the recommended intake. Fresh fruits and vegetable have high water content and can be counted towards your daily hydration serving as well.
- Power up with Protein. Protein is a part of all living cells. As we age, it’s even more important to choose high quality protein sources with a lower fat content. Lean sources of protein include poultry without the skin, fish, eggs, beans and soy.
- Focus on Bone Health. As the body ages, bones lose minerals at a faster rate. This can lead to osteoporosis and brittle bones. Adequate calcium and Vitamin D intake is vital to slowing this process. Consume Vitamin D rich foods such as salmon, fortified cereals and milk, and Calcium rich foods such as low-fat cheese and yogurt.
- Be Fat Smart. Fat provides the body with energy. There isn’t a “bad” fat, but it’s important to choose fats that have healthier benefits for the body. Monounsaturated fats are considered to be “heart healthy” and may prevent heart disease, coronary artery disease, and reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s. They also reduce inflammation in the body. Olive oil, avocado, salmon, and nuts are examples of a few of the various food items these heart healthy fats are found in. Saturated fat is found in red meat, cheese, margarine, and shortening. These should be eaten in moderation because too high an intake could lead to negative health consequences.
- Spice Things Up. Certain spices may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, decrease inflammation, and contain high amounts of antioxidants necessary to lower risk of cancer and illness. Cinnamon and Turmeric are excellent antioxidant-packed pantry staples. Sprinkle cinnamon on toast with peanut butter or Greek yogurt, or swirl into oatmeal. Turmeric can be added to a morning egg white omelet, mixed into macaroni and cheese, or added to hummus for some extra zest.
- Enjoy your morning coffee. Studies have proven individuals who enjoy 3-4 cups of coffee each day have a lower risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If you are not a regular coffee consumer, no need to start. If you are, feel free to enjoy the health benefits ─ just be mindful of the fact that adding sugar and creamers could actually add unnecessary calories and fat to your diet.
- Fill up with Fiber. Fiber is found in fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Fiber helps to keep you full longer, prevents spikes in blood sugar, and keeps the digestion system functioning properly. Berries are especially rich in fiber and contain antioxidants that may prevent neurological damage that leads to dementia. Filling up with in-season produce will help with brain and overall physical health in addition to supporting our local farmers!
Aging is a part of life. Aging the healthy way is important to prevent diseases and illness. Try one of these tips, or try them all, and begin to feel the benefits of living a healthier life!