Good health isn’t just about excellent cholesterol numbers and a normal blood pressure. We often tend to think solely of our bodies when talking about being healthy. But we are more than just tissue and bones, so striving for good health as we age should be about taking care of our bodies and our minds.
September is Healthy Aging month, so it’s the ideal time to focus some attention on your overall well-being and maybe make some healthy changes.
The benefits of moving your body and staying as fit as possible are worth striving for. In addition to potentially adding years to your life, getting fit can:1
- reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- reduce your risk of coronary artery disease
- increase your bone density
- reduce your risk of osteoporosis
- improve your cardiovascular health
- increase your strength and power
- improve your posture and flexibility
- reduce your risk of falling
- help you manage your arthritis
The NHS advises that regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health as you age, but some physical activity is better than none at all — so do what you can with whatever your abilities and conditions will allow. Just remember to always check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise programme, particularly if you have underlying health conditions.
Being aware of what you put into your body is key to healthy aging too. Generally speaking, if you don’t have any dietary restrictions, you should aim to ensure that your plate at each meal is half fruits and vegetables, a quarter whole grain foods and a quarter protein. It’s also important to limit foods and beverages that are high in added sugars, saturated fat and sodium. The NHS Eatwell Guide, the Canada Food Guide, and the Dietary Guide for Americans offer helpful guidelines, resources and healthy recipe ideas.
Studies have shown that older people who have more frequent social activity have lower levels of disability in several areas.2 That means they may be able to live independently longer than those who are less social. Not only that, staying connected may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and some cancers — and can even boost your immune system.3
There are so many great ways to stay connected to those around you, including reaching out to help others. Foresters members can visit MyForesters.com to find out about volunteer opportunities right in their own communities.
Manage your mental health
Journaling, mindfulness practices, meditation, and being creative are all wonderful ways to help manage everyday stress and calm your mind so you can enjoy a restful nighty of sleep. Of course, if you find yourself struggling to accomplish normal daily tasks because you just don’t have the mental energy or you’re simply too anxious, it’s important to reach out to your doctor because help is available.
Not only does learning new things help reduce stress and anxiety,4 it’s also a simple way to keep our brains sharp and potentially even delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.5
Knowing the profound impact that continuous learning can have on people’s health and well-being, Foresters offers our members the Lifelong Learning member benefit.
Lifelong Learning is an easy-to-use library of online courses that Foresters members can access anywhere, anytime. With a huge selection of complimentary courses that cover a wide range of topics, members can choose courses and set their own schedule. Explore an interest, work toward a personal or professional goal or just have some fun learning something new. Members can log into MyForesters.com to give Lifelong Learning a try.
Whatever changes you choose to make this month, know that every small, simple step is worth the effort if it helps you feel better inside and out.