Healthy aging is about taking care of your mind, body, mood, and your relationships as you get older.
Life expectancy has grown steadily in the United States over the past half century. In 1968, the average life expectancy at birth was around 70 years. In 2018, the average life expectancy for Americans was about 78 years. People are living longer, so we must consider what our health looks like as we get older.
The sooner you start making healthy choices, the greater the health benefits. A lifetime of healthy living translates to better health as you age. However, it’s never too late to start making life choices to improve your health and your quality of life.Staying physically active, keeping your mind active, eating a nutritious diet, and staying connected with your community build a strong foundation for healthy aging. Click To Tweet
What is healthy aging?
The World Health Organization defines healthy aging as, “the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age.”
Our minds and our bodies change as we get older. As we age, our risk for many diseases and health issues increases. Healthy aging is about being proactive with all aspects of your health — prevention is better than a cure.
While there are many illnesses and diseases that are not preventable, prioritizing healthy aging can lower your risk for health problems, and it can significantly improve your quality of life.
Healthy aging means making decisions that promote physical, emotional, mental, and social wellness, and maintaining a positive outlook throughout life.
Establish a foundation for good health
The decisions that you make today affect your health and well-being in the future. However, you can’t just cross items off your healthy aging checklist. Healthy aging is a lifestyle; it’s something that you must do every day.
Start making sustainable habits that you can build upon. The decisions that you make on a daily basis contribute to your overall wellness.
Move more and sit less.
Adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. That’s just the minimum recommendation, though. The more you move, the greater the health benefits. Set a daily goal for at least 30 minutes of activity.
Eat a healthy diet.
Nutrition is important at every stage of life. Learn to read nutrition labels, and choose a balanced, nutritious diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein. Avoid empty calories and highly processed foods.
Mental health is as important as physical health.
Exercise your mind as well as your body. Read, solve puzzles, practice memory exercises, engage in conversation, and find other ways to stimulate your brain. Make time to do things that make you happy.
Connect with your community.
Loneliness and social isolation are common problems for older adults. Make a point to engage in social activities. Look for ways to be active in your community, spend time around others, and find time to talk to friends and family.
Consider your perspective.
Your attitude and the way that you view the world can make a difference in your life. Maintain a positive perspective, and choose joy. Imagine yourself as an energetic and vibrant person, and live that way.
Schedule regular visits with your doctor.
Healthy aging isn’t all about preventing health problems as you get older. You can also practice healthy aging by managing health conditions. Staying in close communication with your doctor is the best way to stay ahead of health problems.
If you’re in good health, make sure that you stay that way. Schedule annual wellness exams with your primary care physician. There’s no time like the present to start prioritizing your health.