Healthy habits are the key to maintaining a satisfying quality of life well into one’s senior years. Not only that, a healthy day-to-day routine enables you to boost energy and handle the inevitable physical changes of aging.
What are the most critical habits you should adopt for more energy and vitality? Read on for 10 tips that will benefit not just your life but your entire family:
1. Be Mentally Active
Keeping the mind sharp with mentally stimulating activities can help mild cognitive impairment by warding off memory loss — and boosting creativity and mental energy, which can be just as important as physical energy. Whether it’s games or learning something new like a language or a musical instrument, maintaining the brain is both healthy and rewarding.
2. Best Energy Generating Exercises
Brisk walks are among the top ways to jump start your metabolism. Deep abdominal breathing activates your core muscles as well as your entire system. Aerobic exercises such as dancing or jumping rope help to transport oxygen throughout the body.
3. Don’t Smoke
If you smoke, talk to a health provider about quitting — it can add years back to your life. Smoking is the top cause of preventable illness and mortality in this country. Quitting will reduce the risk of chronic disease, improve smell and taste, free up your breathing — and boost overall energy and health.
4. Eat High Protein Foods
If you notice you’re feeling groggy after eating a meal featuring bread and pasta, it’s because carbohydrates stimulate your body’s production of sleep producing serotonin. Instead, opt for a main course of lean proteins such as chicken, tuna or turkey on a bed of spinach or quinoa. Hard boiled eggs help to boost your protein levels and are also rich in B vitamins and vitamin D. Edamame has over seven grams of protein. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of healthy fats, fiber and protein, keeping you feeling full and energized longer.
5. Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep problems such as insomnia or frequent waking can be an issue as we age, leading to daytime sleepiness and loss of energy. Fostering good sleep habits can help ward off such problems. HelpGuide.org suggests going to bed when you feel tired; developing soothing bedtime rituals; making sure the bedroom is comfortable, dark and quiet; and avoiding too much bright light, computer or TV use for at least an hour before bed.
6. Get the Right Vitamins and Nutrients
To promote bone, joint and muscle health, and thereby retain energy, flexibility and strength, the Mayo Clinic urges seniors to get the right amount of calcium and vitamin D. Getting plenty of protein and other key nutrients such as vitamin A, B, C, E, niacin and folate is also important in avoiding deficiencies that can lead to fatigue and chronic illness.
7. Nourish Your Spirit with Meaningful Activities
After retirement, we might find ourselves with extra time on our hands: the perfect opportunity to find new adventures as well as enjoy existing hobbies and interests. “A key ingredient in the recipe for healthy aging over 50 is the continuing ability to find meaning and joy in life,” says HelpGuide.org. Activities like pursuing hobbies, taking classes, traveling or volunteering can do a lot to energize and motivate us, no matter what age we are.
8. Practice Healthy Stress Management
The mental and physical changes of older age — not to mention life’s unforeseen challenges — can lead to stress, which takes a toll on the body, heart and the soul. For all of us, taking steps to reduce stress and practice healthy coping strategies, such as acknowledging our emotions and seeking help when we need it, promotes energy and a positive perspective on life. Mindful meditation can be a healthy option for managing your stress. Mindfulness helps you stay in the moment and reduces anxiety.
9. Stay Hydrated
Drink herbal tea and water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Eating four cups of water-rich produce daily, such as cucumber, lettuce and watermelon can help you stay hydrated too. Getting plenty of fluids is important for everyone, but particularly for seniors, who are at increased risk of dehydration. “Dehydration is common in seniors due to decreased feelings of thirst, diseases and medication that increase your fluid needs, and decrease in overall food and beverage intake,” says Heather Schwartz, a Registered Dietitian working at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and other negative physical effects, so be sure your loved ones get the recommended amount of fluids — around two liters per day.
10. Stay Socially Connected
Staying connected with family and friends can help prevent depression, loneliness and stress, and can also keep you cheerful and vital. However, social contact can be more of a challenge as we age. Events as diverse as career changes, moves and retirement can diminish our access to people we care about. Make sure you reach out to family members and friends, keeping those bonds active. You might even want to meet new people through volunteering or other activities you enjoy.