People tend to think of aging as something only relative to older people. Ageing starts at birth. So ask yourself this……..what sort of life do you want to have in your retirement?
Well known poet Jonathan Swift once said, “Everybody wants to live forever, but nobody wants to grow old.”
While many find this quite amusing, from my experience, this quote does seem to apply to most people.
Just look at the enormity of the multi-billion dollar anti-aging industry.
We all want the best of life and we want it forever; we want to retain the vigor and exuberance of youth but without the aches, pains and wrinkles of old age.
My long held view is that it’s not enough just to live longer.
We all need to have the goal of approaching an age of somewhere around the century mark living a full and active life and not residing in some long-term care facility with very little quality of life.
There are plenty of euphemisms thrown around like ‘Age is just mind over matter’, ‘If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter’ or ‘Age is just a number.’
While this is all well and good, there is one truth no one can deny… and that’s the fact that aging is inevitable, and no matter how strong your mindset is, your body is going to start showing the signs of aging as things like sarcopenia symptoms start to take hold…….that is, unless you do something to halt the aging process……..which everyone can do with just a little bit of effort.
Here are 5 habits you should adopt to stay fit, healthy and Disease Free as you age.
Age is inevitable. Physical decline is optional.
So, here is what I do……..
Active Ageing…..it is the best Anti-Aging solution for all age groups.
With just 30 to 45 minutes of your day spent adding in some new lifestyle and fitness habits, you’ll age gracefully, be strong and supple and disease free well into your senior years.
1. Change Your Diet and Your Lifestyle as You Age
After the age of forty, many people notice that they develop chronic aches and pains.
They may develop digestive issues and have problems like acid reflux, constipation, etc. Almost always this is a result of diet.
Here’s the kicker – you may be eating the same foods but now your body is adversely affected by them.
When you’re young, your body is more resilient. Even if you guzzle down five sodas or soft drinks a day, you’ll be just fine. Your body can handle it.
As you get older, your body gets more responsive. The same sodas may cause your body to develop inflammation or the acidic nature of the drinks will cause indigestion. That’s why you see so many adults popping antacid tablets to battle their acid reflux. The foods you’re eating are not agreeing with your digestive system.
This is not a new health issue that has just popped up out of the blue.
It is a more responsive body reacting to your poor diet choices. Your eating habits are starting to catch up with you. You need to be aware of what is happening to you body and start making changes. It’s what I call “listening to your body for better health“.
You’ll also need less food as you age because your body’s metabolic rate is dropping.
Even with regular exercise, your system is not firing away furiously on all cylinders like it used to. You need to reduce your portion sizes and eat accordingly which is hard because it has become a habit over the years.
Choose foods that agree with your body.
The key word is awareness.
Have a food journal and monitor how your body feels after eating a particular food. If it feels great, keep the food. If you notice that you have lethargy, bloating, digestive issues, etc. the food that’s causing it then needs to be removed from your diet.
Unfortunately, as you age, the list of foods that your body can handle will start to shrink. Alcohol will have a much more drastic impact on you. Greasy foods may make you queasy and so on. Get to recognize the food culprits and remove them for good.
Listen to how your body feels and tailor your diet according to how it reacts. The cure to most budding health issues is a proper diet.
Be mindful when eating. Consume more fiber and you may wish to supplement your diet with vitamins and other products that keep you healthy.
2. Active Ageing: Focus on Your Fitness
It is a well-known fact that one of the strongest predictors of longevity is fitness.
While the principles of muscle building and physical conditioning do not change despite your age, your focus needs to change. In your twenties and thirties, you may have challenged yourself to squat the most weight or bench press your maximum.
There’s nothing wrong with that BUT as you get older, structural integrity in your body becomes more important than the size of your muscles……..but you still need to maintain muscle strength and growth.
You’ll need to focus more on stretching exercises to stay flexible. Take up yoga or stretching classes so your body is not rigid and prone to injury.
Pilates classes are great for toning and strengthening your core and I highly recommend you give them a try…….regardless of your age.
These days, many people spend long periods of time in a kyphotic position which is basically sitting hunched over.
This happens when you spend hours and hours continually bent over a computer screen or driving. Regular breaks, like every 45 to 60 minutes, are the key here.
Why not try these 5 Easy Exercises to do While Sitting at Work (or at Home).
The hunched position places stress on the viscera and not only restricts blood circulation but also causes shallow breathing.
Stretch it all out and breathe deeply. Yoga will align your body and fix any muscular imbalances that rear their ugly heads as your body ages.
Besides flexibility training, engage in strength training at least twice a week to prevent muscle atrophy. This is especially important for women over 55.
Always aim to get stronger by the process of progression but make sure you maintain good form without any jerky or sharp movements. It’s much easier to get injured when you’re older.
Put your vanity aside and make your training functional and challenging. Aim for muscle stimulation and not muscle annihilation.
Do two to three sessions of cardio a week.
It could be anything as simple as walking or tough like interval training. It all depends on your level of fitness. What you want though is to increase your heart rate so that your lungs and heart get a good workout.
The cardio will also activate your lymphatic system and help to detox your body and boost your immunity.
Here’s something interesting I read recently: “Researchers from Penn State College of Medicine, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Centre and Columbia University tracked the activity of more than 30,000 over-65’s from 1997 through till death, and found that while all physical activity positively impacted longevity, strength training had the greatest effect.”
To me, this goes a long way to proving the long term benefits of Active Ageing.
3. Stay Hydrated
This is EXTREMELY important.
The body needs more lubrication as it ages and water is essential to keep your internal system healthy.
It’ll flush out toxins and keep your joints lubricated.
Spinal disc problems and joint pains usually occur when the body is in a constant state of dehydration.
Your spinal discs are hydrophilic in nature and require water to stay healthy. Without water, they’ll shrink and decay. This is why you see many seniors getting shorter as they age.
While their spinal structure is intact, the thickness of their spinal discs is shrinking and causing them to lose inches in height. It is crucial that you drink enough water daily to stay healthy.
4. Get Enough Sleep
Burning the candle at both ends will take its toll on you if you keep doing it as you get older. There is a limit to what the body can handle and with age……that limit drops.
You may notice that you need more sleep to feel better and your bedtime starts getting earlier.
Gone are the days when partying at the club was something you looked forward to every weekend. Now you’re happy to go to bed at 9 pm and sleep a good eight hours. Be assured, this is normal and beneficial to your body.
Your body needs more rest……..and most likely, more than it is getting now.
Give it what it needs and you’ll feel far healthier and more refreshed.
The hectic pace of the world is never going to end and only going to increase. Trying to keep up with it is madness and you’ll just end up worn out and in an early grave.
Take things slower and rest well.
5. Learn to Accept Your Limitations
This is a big issue for so many people……and an important one.
You do not need to push yourself beyond your limits just to keep up with those younger than you.
You have NOTHING to prove.
When the young guys at the gym are lifting massive weights, you don’t need to try and outdo them to feel good about yourself.
The same applies in your career.
The younger employees who are go-getters may be putting in tons of hours to climb the ladder. If you try to keep up, you’ll get stressed out and lose your peace.
Do what you can. Do the best you can… and know that it is more than enough.
You will tend to find, all the battles you are fighting are in your own mind.
Do not regret growing older because it’s a privilege denied to many.
Aim to live a peaceful and stress-free life.
What’s eating you is just as important as what you eat. Learn to let go of what you can’t change and don’t bother changing what’s unnecessary.
Getting worked up on social media over other people’s political or religious views and debating them is only going to aggravate you… and it’s all pointless.
You can’t help getting older but you don’t have to get old.
Here are 50 tips for healthy aging you might also like to have a look at.
Follow the tips in this article and you’ll stay healthy, fit and happy for a long time to come.
In the end…….if you want to keep moving, you just have to keep moving.
Cheers – John – your Active Ageing Mentor and Coach.
P.S. Help a friend to age better and live longer – like and share. Thanks.
Free Resources (PDF):
Mayo Clinic – Live Longer, Live Better