In honor of National Senior Health and Fitness Day (May 27, 2015) we have compiled the 5 tools that every senior should have to ensure they live a long and healthy life.
A healthy lifestyle is necessary and fortunately just a few tools are all you need to ensure a great lifestyle.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, by the year 2030, the number of individuals in the United States 65 years and over will reach 70 million, and people 85 years and older will be the fastest growing segment of the population.
Whether you want to start taking care of yourself to make sure you enjoy your life to the fullest as you age, or maybe you are thinking of a loved one and want to make sure they are taking the best care of themselves they can – read on for the 5 tips every senior should have for healthy aging.
Healthy Aging Tool 1: Exercise
Light exercise keeps you at a healthy weight and reduces your risk of coming down with common age-related conditions. Certain exercises can be more difficult as you age and you certainly don’t need to push yourself to an extreme. Moderation is the key to health. Too much exercise (over exertion) creates free radicals that damage your cells, so don’t overdo it!
An exercise routine does not need to be over exhausting either. Studies have shown that 30 minutes of light resistance training 3 times a week is all you need to maintain healthy muscle mass and endurance. However, you should have “movement” every day — so try to keep active with walking, stretching, etc. Read our blog post on over-exercising to learn more about what is too much.
*Beginning in the fourth decade of life, adults lose 3%-5% of muscle mass per decade, and the decline increases to 1%-2% per year after age 50. The good news is muscle mass can increase at any age with proper care. When testing your weight and muscle levels, make sure to use your body fat % levels as the common BMI tools can be very misleading.
Hormones also play a role in productive exercise as you age. Testosterone is our muscle hormone and most men and women already have low levels by age 40 (if not by age 30). Because both men and women naturally lose testosterone as they age both sexes are likely to lose muscle mass and gain belly fat over the age of 50 (many before that age). A bioidentical hormone replacement program assists in replenishing the lost testosterone – resulting in more productive workouts with better strength and endurance performance.
Healthy Aging Tool 2: Nutrition
As we age, our bodies can begin to breakdown and proper nutrition becomes an essential tool to prevent earlier decay. The needs of your body after 50 are much different than the needs of a young body. Your metabolism slows down, the muscles deteriorate, and the digestive system begins to change. Our healthy flora (bacteria) is less efficient as we age. Eating a healthy balanced diet is the easiest way to prevent common issues that can arise from those changes. Read more about healthy bacteria in our gut.
Everyone should take a “quality” probiotic that survives the stomach acid on its way to the lower intestines. Most do not — so do not rely on your over-the-counter probiotic or even health food store probiotic. Besides ensuring the health of your immune system, quality probiotics will allow the digestive system to obtain the nutrients from the food you eat.
Make sure you eat plenty of vegetables and protein while staying away from sugar, processed foods and wheat. The nutrients from the vegetables will keep you healthy with anti-oxidants and fiber, while the protein helps build and maintain muscle mass. Sugar, processed foods and wheat cause the body to store fat and feed bad bacteria in your gut, resulting in additional health problems.
Healthy Aging Tool 3: Sleep
As the body ages, sleep patterns weaken. While you may feel like you need less sleep as a senior, too little is detrimental to your health (as it is at any age). Rest is important to help the body’s ability to recover, repair, and stay healthy. Make a routine of going to sleep and getting up around the same time every day to help the body regulate and keep you engaging in the important REM part of sleep.
Seven to nine hours of restful sleep is essential to stall the aging process and ensure good health. If you do not “wake up refreshed” then the quality of your sleep is not good even of the hours seem sufficient. Your immune system is repaired when we sleep.
The prevalence of insomnia is higher among older adults. According to NSF’s 2003 Sleep in America poll, 44% of older persons experience one or more of the nighttime symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights per week or more.
Your thyroid is the hormone typically associated with sleep cycles and getting a simple blood test will indicate whether or not you could be affected. Many people take melatonin supplements to assist them in getting a restful night’s sleep as well. Natural herb combinations as in Kavinace help many people achieve restful sleep through the night.
Healthy Aging Tool 4: Community
Stay socially active. For mental and emotional health it is good to stay active with your friends, family, and community.
Relationships don’t stop because you get older. However it does present some new challenges for you and your partner. As women go through menopause, the loss of hormones can result in more painful intercourse. The loss of hormones in men can result in erectile dysfunction (ED). Bioidentical hormones can help restore sexual desire and create a healthy sex life for both sexes. Talk to your provider about your options.
Aging is often accompanied by a loss of social support systems due to the death of spouses, siblings, and friends. This loss of a community along can result in depression. *Late-life depression affects about 6 million Americans age 65 and older. Depression often impacts older people differently than younger people because it often occurs with other medical illnesses and lasts longer. Do you think you have depression? Read here. It is important to reach out to your community and support group to stay connected with people.
Healthy Aging Tool 5: Preventative Care
Preventative Care is probably the most important of all the tools. Part of your efforts to keep yourself healthy must include annual checkups to ensure your body is running like a well-oiled machine. Annual check-ups, blood pressure tests, thermograms, sometimes mammograms, and bone density screenings will all assist you in making sure you’re healthy. Don’t forget your colonoscopy.
Develop a relationship with your personal care provider. They should know your body, your lifestyle, and your needs. Together you can work together to ensure you are getting the care you need and the preventative maintenance to help fight against the common illnesses of aging.
Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, prostate or ovarian cancer are all major risks that increase with age. Talking with your provider about your history, your blood levels, and any symptoms you might be currently experiencing. Bioidentical hormone therapy has been shown to offer protection against many of the diseases of aging including the No. 1 killer of both men and women — heart disease. Menopausal women and senior men have low levels of their key anti-aging hormones and all should be tested.
If you want to enjoy your health and prevent most chronic diseases, bioidentical hormones, healthy eating, regular exercise, sociability and stress control are essential.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – Benjamin Franklin
Reference: Boothby LA, et al. “Bioidentical hormone therapy: a review.” Menopause. May/June 2004. Vol 11; Issue 3; pages 356-367.