Who doesn’t want to age well, to live a long and healthy life?
We live in the “information age,” and most of what you need to know can be accessed rather easily. That’s the good news. The flip-side of the coin though is that this also means we also get a ton of contradictory messages, some that don’t make even make sense (so those are easy to discount) but also some that sound ‘sound’ but could easily be wrong or misleading. Eat this; don’t eat that. Use supplements; avoid them. Alcohol is good for longevity; alcohol is bad for you. Chocolate is good for health; chocolate is bad. So how do you really know how to age well?
The way to cut through all the how to age well hoo-ha is to study the people already who seem to have the secrets to longevity and to mimic what they do. Do centenarians eat chocolate? What do they eat? What kinds of exercise do they do?
How do you feel about yourself as your chronological clock ticks? Good? Helpless? Weak? Experienced? Useless? A key ingredient to a long and satisfying life is your mindset. 598 participants were recruited from a health plan in greater New Haven, Connecticut, interviewed monthly for up to 129 months, and completed home-based assessments every 18 months from March 1998 through December 2008. The results from this study conducted in 2012 were that that elderlies who maintained a positive age stereotype were more likely to recover from age-related disabilities than those who thought themselves weak and helpless.
Want to age well? Don’t live in isolation. Keeping positive friends and maintaining a warm, healthy relationship with your relatives can go a long way to helping you age well. As a number of different studies have concluded, social interaction is invaluable to the longevity of seniors. It helps keep you emotionally stable and physically healthy.
A recent study which examined over 300,000 participants found that individuals with stronger social ties were 50% more likely to outlive those with poor social relationships.
Your social ties – if positive – are one of the best possible ways to age well.
How often do you exercise? How much do you move in a day? To keep healthy, you cannot sit in a chair all day watching TV - you need to stay active. You do not have to get into complicated exercise routine, you don’t have to weightlift, do high intensity interval trainings, CrossFit, etc. But you do want to keep your spine and body supple, you do want to maintain muscle and you do want to keep a level of fitness. By engaging in an exercise as simple as walking, or gardening, you can improve your health in ways that no drug ever could. Dr. Mike Evans who examined how to age well chose exercise and fitness as being the one variable that seemed to have the most far-reaching results.
Staying fit improves your mental health, reduces the risk of diabetes, arthritis, and much more. Importantly, it can be made fun too.
Proper nutrition is vital to a healthy aging process. But of course, the devil is all in the details of what the word ‘proper’ means. But looking at the diets of centenarians and interviewing them, one thing they appear to have in common is a diet that is minimally processed. Also remember that anyone who is 100 today grew up eating what was found locally and also antibiotic-free meat from pasture fed animals (unlike the meat that comes from feedlots).
Also, remember your body is unique - it will respond differently to different foods. Learn to listen to your body. Are there some foods it doesn’t feel well on? Avoid those. Are there some foods that make you feel lethargic? This is your body’s wisdom speaking to you. Slow down long enough to tune in to hear and respond to it without becoming paranoid or obsessive.
What is life without fun? Making time for fun activities that keep you engaged is not only a good way to keep busy, it is also a great way to promote your health and longevity. Living life in the fast lane only accumulates stress over the years. Chronic and ongoing stress can have grave physical and emotional impacts on your body if unchecked. Try reducing things that stress you. Find reasons to laugh and then laugh often and easily. Do things that make you smile and relax. Let go of grudges - they’re like toxic acid to our health. Laughter is a stress buffer as well as a way of relieving stress. When you can laugh about what once stressed you out, know that you’ve found a recipe to age well.
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