There is a lot you can do now to increase your chances of ageing well.
These seven tips are based on research studies that have tracked people over their lifespan and looked at the common things that healthy older people have been doing all their lives, as well as more recent research that has asked older people to change their behaviour later in life.
This research shows that if you adopt these tips in middle age or earlier, they will have the maximum benefit.
It is never too late to start.
Exercise, diet, even attitude, are as important as genetics when it comes to growing old gracefully.
Sure, growing older may affect nearly every part of your body, including your hair, skin, heart, muscles, and more, however, aging well will be simple and painless if these easy habits are adopted.
- Maintain a positive attitude.
You are what you think you are when it comes to aging. Seniors who think of age as a means to wisdom and overall satisfaction are more than 40 percent more likely to recover from a disability than those who see aging as synonymous with helplessness or uselessness, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Keep in mind that most of the problems associated with ageing don’t happen to everybody. Only 6 per cent of people over 65 years of age live in residential care. Most older people are healthy and independent until the end of life
- Watch what you eat…
Nutrition plays a major role in how your body ages.
A latest research shows that a low- glycaemic diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is healthiest.
One great example is the Mediterranean diet, rich in plant-based foods, whole grains, nuts, and red wine (in moderation!). It also involves eating fish twice each week and cutting back on salt.
Research shows that this type of diet may help you age better by warding off heart attacks, strokes, and premature death, according to Harvard Medical School.
An added bonus: foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, salmon, and flaxseed, help your skin manufacture the essential oils it needs to protect itself and can help skin look younger.
In contrast, sugary, carbohydrate-heavy, and fatty foods, like chips, soda, and white bread, can speed up the aging process.
Remember this when shopping or dining out: opt for whole grains and natural sweeteners.
3 …And how much you eat.
Overeating may lead to a shorter life span, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.
It’s best to stick to a balanced diet that consists of about 2.5 cups of vegetables, 1.5 to two cups of fruit, six ounces of grains, three cups of dairy, and five ounces of protein each day.
- Keep physically active
Staying physically active is the most important thing you can do to age well. It not only benefits your body, but recent research shows that it benefits your mind as well.
Aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day. The 30 minutes can be done in 10-15 minute blocks and can include formal exercises or physical activity such as gardening or walking. Include a variety of exercises that help improve your function and independence: strength/power training, balance, mobility and cardiorespiratory activities and flexibility.
The average woman can lose 23 percent of her muscle mass between ages of 30 and 70.
You lose muscle more rapidly as you age, but exercise, resistance workouts in particular, can increase mass and strength, even well into your 90s.
Staying fit may also reduce age-related memory loss, according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. Plus, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for approximately 60 to 70 percent of all dementia cases.
Also, increasing physical activity can decrease this statistic by 25 percent.
That’s because exercise strengthens the hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with learning.
- Keep mentally active
Recent research is beginning to show that mental activity can be protective against cognitive decline (such as, problems with memory, problem solving and orientation) in older age. Activities to try include learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby (e.g. painting, carpentry), doing a short course, reading, writing, doing crossword puzzles, learning to play a musical instrument or a foreign language and keeping in touch with your family and friends.
- Stay social.
Did you know that friends and relatives can help you live longer?
Those of us with strong social ties were shown to have a 50 percent higher chance of living longer than those with poor or insufficient relationships….
Socially connected people not only live longer but show increased resistance to a variety of diseases, including heart disease and cancer. You can maintain your social networks as you get older by pursuing hobbies that allow you to interact with others such as signing up for a cooking class and keeping up to date with technology that allows you to stay in contact with others such as social media and Skype.
- Get plenty of sleep.
You probably know that you should snooze for seven to nine hours each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. But did you know that not sleeping enough may mean a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes?
Plus, naps can improve memory and even help make up for missing nightly Zzs.
And it turns out that “beauty sleep” isn’t a myth. During sleep, your body releases a growth hormone that helps restore collagen and elastin, the essential building blocks of young, healthy skin. Recent studies have also shown a connection between insomnia and accelerated aging of the brain.
In other words, chronic lack of sleep adversely affects your brain’s function and speeds up the aging process.
Too many people treat sleep as a luxury instead of a need.
So make a conscious effort to sleep more… your health will surely, thank you.
Ageing is inevitable but there are ways to make it a happy, healthy process.
Be optimistic about the future
If you keep active, in body and mind, eat well, stay connected and enjoy life, you are bound to age well.