Many seniors worry that getting older means the beginning of physical ailments or disabilities, losing the ability to contribute meaningfully to society, or simply experiencing less joy and happiness. While aging can bring about changes to our bodies, minds, and souls, it’s not a foregone conclusion that our older years will be diminished ones. In fact, there are many simple things you can do every day to ward off disease, keep pain and disability at bay, and engage in the activities you want.
1. Eat Less Salt
Reducing the sodium in your diet can help reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, heart failure and kidney damage. Taking small measures of reduction can help. For example, prepackaged foods usually have more sodium than foods cooked from scratch, so avoid the temptation to add salt from the shaker onto store-bought foods. Instead, look for flavorful alternatives to salt. Spices and herbs such as garlic, onion, red pepper, basil and oregano can be added to almost any dish. Also look in your grocery store for salt-free spice blends such as Bell’s All-Natural Blend or Tony Chachere’s salt-free seasoning.
2. Add Protein
As we age, our caloric needs tend to decrease depending on how active we are. No matter how much you cook fresh or what kind of diet you choose to follow, the main suggestion is to add more protein into your diet to help bolster aging muscles. This doesn’t mean you need to eat an animal meat with every meal, simply make the most of the calories you do take in and opt for higher-protein choices vs. sugary cereals or crackers. Find one meal or snack a day where you can incorporate beans, lentils, cheeses or nuts to give a little protein boost. Make sure your protein and all foods is organic, locally grown or truly natural. Eat real foods.
3. Exercise 10 Minutes a Day
If you are already have a fitness plan that’s great! But many people find starting an exercise routine difficult, especially as bodies are aging. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. Instead, start by identifying activities your love. Walking your dog, playing tennis, golfing and swimming are all good options. Better yet, find out if your local senior center or YMCA has classes, such as water aerobics, that are tailored to older adults. Next, find a friend or a companion who can be your exercise buddy. Ideally this is someone who has a similar level of fitness to you and someone who you wouldn’t want to disappoint. Exercise partners help us with motivation, accountability and keep exercise fun and engaging.
For another form of accountability, invest in a high-quality senior fitness tracker like a Lively Wearable that also connects to your smartphone to serve as a life-alert system should you fall or need emergency services. These combination fitness trackers for seniors will also help you keep your exercise goals but give you and your loved ones peace of mind knowing live help is just a push button away.
4. Keep Up Your Strength
Healthy, strong muscles are a key requirement to maintaining a pain-free, injury-free body, optimal flexibility and solid bone mass. Many active seniors enjoy going to their local gym and using free weight and circuit machines to keep muscles strong, but if going to the gym is not your scene, you can do many easy strengthening exercise at home. You can purchase light weights or resistance bands in order to step up your routine. Talk to your doctor too about other strength exercises you can be incorporating specific to the activities you like to do.
5. Recover Smart After Exercise
Recovery is important for athletes of any age and ability. To expand and grow your muscles, exercise creates cellular changes in muscle structure as microdamage. After any exercise, it’s important to feed your body with the right micronutrients. Keep adequately hydrated during and after exercise. Use a hydration calculator every day to stay on top of your fluid intake. Reach for snacks that are either vegetable-, fruit- or protein-based instead of sugary or carbohydrate-loaded treats such as chips or crackers.