1. Never Retire
Perhaps the best way to aging well is to always keep working in some capacity. In an article on Want to age well - how about never retiring?, the author indicates that the average life expectancy in the U.S. has climbed over previous years to 80 years old with an average retirement age of 64. Health experts are citing productivity and keeping the mind and body engaged as keys to aging well.
2. Eat Leafy Green Vegetables
Broccoli, spinach and other leafy green vegetables have long been considered some of the world’s healthiest ‘superfoods,’ known to be packed with vitamins, antioxidants and nutrition. One idea is to start to consume leafy green vegetables in mass. Try having a plate of broccoli with your next lunch. Consuming leafy green vegetables can boost heart health, fight off cancers and other diseases and protect the body. Eat to live.
3. Quit Smoking
If you aren’t smoking now, great. If you are, do anything you can to quit. Quitting smoking may be one the hardest things to tackle on this list. Quitting smoking can improve heart health, boost lung efficiency, improve your skin, vision and hearing. Stop the damage to your lungs today and visit Smokefree.gov to learn more about common plans of attack, support and systems to stop smoking.
4. Get at Least six Hours of Sleep each Night
Try the 8-2-2-1 rule, a standard for a great night’s rest. It basically encourages the person to cut caffeine intake 8 hours before sleep, not eat or drink alcohol 2 hours before bed and to avoid taking your phone or iPad or device to bed. It’s a known practice that many swear by. The 8-2-2-1 rule ensures that you don’t have food and caffeine in your system as you get ready to go to bed and that you try to remove stressors by not bringing devices to bed. Having problems snoring? Then try one of these best pillows for snoring.
5. Learn a new Skill
Learning new skills can help sharpen the brain says a recent NPR article. Studies have shown improvements in memory and overall sharpness. Taking an open-minded approach well into the retirement years will allow us to open our minds to new and exciting activities. Photography, painting, writing, knitting and cooking are all great, engaging ways to take on a new skill and each one of these activities alone is enough to fulfill one all by themselves.
6. Resistance and Weight Training to Work out your Muscles
With aging comes a loss in muscle which may eventually hinder us from doing certain day to day activities. It’s particularly important as we age to do resistance training to strengthen our muscles, ligaments and bones. In this fascinating study done by the University of Mexico involving 26 volunteers with a mean age of 68 over the course of 26 years, “...Researchers identified 596 differentially expressed genes (meaning atypical to other genes being analyzed). Of these, after 26 weeks of resistance training the researchers identified 179 genes associated with age and exercise showing a reversal of their gene expression. This means quite literally that the resistance training was not only slowing, but also reversing the aging process at the gene level. The gene expressions of the resistance trained older subjects demonstrated characteristics similar to those of the younger group.”
7. Meditate Once a day for 10 Minutes
Headspace, the world’s most popular guided meditation app has long touted that you only need 10 minutes a day to meditate. Meditation has wonderful health benefits that include focused breathing and relaxation. But even more importantly, you are taught to control your mind and the thoughts you have. Headspace teaches you to accept your thoughts and to not judge them and instead to let them go. It’s a wonderful app and one I highly recommend.
8. Brush your Teeth Every Day
Go to bed with a healthy, clean mouth and wake up with one too. Our mouths collect and build bacteria and germs and it’s important that we continue to take care of our dental hygiene as we age. Skipping a brushing session before bed may increase your risk of cavities, bad breath and gum disease.
9. Drink lots of Water
Water makes up approximately 60% of the weight of our bodies. A great rule of thumb is to drink water until our urine is clear and copious. Water intake will vary depending on many factors especially climate and age. In warmer climates, be sure to drink more water to stay hydrated. Our food is approximately 20% water and experts say that overall men should consume approximately 13 cups of water a day and women should have approximately 9 cups a day. Read more tips on hydration and water intake here: How Much Water Should We Really Drink?
10. Wear Sunscreen
Our bodies need Vitamin D to absorb calcium, zinc and other minerals and to function properly. And the best source of Vitamin D is the sun. Wearing a safe sunscreen can protect the body against harmful UVA and UVB rays. Lately, critics are calling into question the safety of ingredients in suntan lotion so be sure to read the label first and to make sure that the lotion you or your loved ones are using is safe.
11. Listen to your Body
This is an often overlooked element of health. What is your body telling you? Perhaps your neck is tight and stiff from sitting a lot. Or maybe your lower back aches. Maybe your headaches are the result of stress. Often aches, pains and ailments are the result of other things. That neck pain may be the result of a forward tilting head due to bad posture. Your headache could be the result of stress. Listening to your body can help you identify the real culprit.
12. Eat Nuts
Walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans and pistachios are all healthy nuts rich in healthy vitamins and nutrients. These nuts contain essential heart-healthy unsaturated fats, fiber, Vitamin E and Omega-3. They are also great snacks and an easy way to fill up and quench those hunger episodes between meals.
13. Eat Fruits
You already know you are supposed to be eat fruit. The wide range of fruit choices provides spectacular benefits for your health, fighting against a multitude of diseases, cancers and heart protection. Harvard says it best in an article ‘Vegetables and Fruits’, “A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar which can help keep appetite in check. Eat a variety of types and colors of produce in order to give your body the mix of nutrients it needs. Try dark leafy greens; brightly colored red, yellow and orange vegetables and fruits; and cooked tomatoes.”
14. Cut Back on Processed Sugars
Nutritionists and health experts are pointing the finger at processed and refined sugars as a key cause of disease worldwide. Processed sugars, found in white breads, desserts and many other processed and commonly consumed foods are known to cause inflammation around the heart. Doctors are sighting inflammation is a key component of heart disease and health risk.
15. Cut Back on Salt
Our bodies need some salt to function but the average American’s salt consumption is excessive. Many restaurants, prioritizing taste over health, are loading up their food with salt. Over 75% of the salt consumed today is from processed foods (see above). Cutting back on processed foods and refined sugars will also cut back on salt intake.
16. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is rich in antioxidants and in particular catechins, which may prevent cell damage. In a Web-MD article, Health Benefits of Green Tea, “Green tea has been shown to improve blood flow and lower cholesterol. A 2013 review of many studies found green tea helped prevent a range of heart-related issues, from high blood pressure to congestive heart failure. What’s good for the heart is usually good for the brain; your brain needs healthy blood vessels, too. In one Swiss study, MRIs revealed that people who drank green tea had greater activity in the working-memory area of their brains. Green tea has also been shown to help block the formation of plaques that are linked to Alzheimer's disease.” That is one incredibly healthy tea!
17. Drink Coffee
Coffee has amazing health benefits including the ability to lower inflammation. It’s a rich source of antioxidants and may lower the risk of prostate cancer in men. Coffee has also been known to lower the risk of Type II Diabetes and Parkinson’s in studies. Coffee is rich in magnesium and chromium.
18. Eat Healthy Fats
Avocados are one of the healthiest foods you can consume and are rich in nutrients. Avocados are rich in fat which may scare people away initially but the fat that is in Avocados is good fat, not the saturated fats that clog our arteries. Good fats, in moderation, actually do the opposite and work to lower your cholesterol. Guacamole anyone?
19. Laugh Every Day
Laughing feels really good and it’s a great way to release negative energy and pent-up stress. And there is also actual science behind laughing that says that laughing effectively puts to rest stress hormones and replaces them with hormones that make you feel good. Laughter increases oxygen which increases blood flow which also has cardiovascular benefits.
20. Read Every day
Many of the great minds of our time swear by a good book, citing it as a key to their success. Reading is a great way to unwind and relax but it’s also a great way to keep the mind and brain engaged. Reading can take us to new places and on new journeys but it can also teach us new skills and habits. It’s a wonderful tool that should be utilised by everyone at every age.
21. Create Daily Habits
Ah, the importance of creating habits. Some of us realize the many benefits of creating habits early on. Habits increase our productivity but even more importantly, they allow us to do things with regularity such as exercise and reading. By doing the same thing at the same time each day, we start to create a rhythm which makes it easier for us to complete tasks. Scheduling important things, such as exercise and reading, into the calendar can be a great way to hold ourselves accountable on a daily basis.
22. Take time to Relax
Taking time to relax can mean something different to everyone. To some of us it's a nice, quiet beach and the sound of the ocean. To others it's a good book, a quiet room and a comfy couch and to others, it's simply disconnecting from our cell phones and gadgets. However it is that you like to relax, find your niche and enjoy yourself.
23. Get Outdoors
The great outdoors can be a wonderful retreat and escape for many. This may mean a nice hike in a nearby area or gardening in your backyard. The benefits from fresh air and exercise are widely known. Your body needs fresh air to function properly and to have a healthy, fighting immune system. It’s also a wonderful way to relax and get some much needed Vitamin D. Smell those roses and fresh plants and get outside today.
24. Floss Your Teeth Daily
Your Dentist probably tells you this already so I don’t need to repeat it but brushing and flossing your teeth everyday leads to a healthier mouth, cleaner gums and teeth, and overall better dental hygiene. Floss once a day to rid the mouth of bacteria built up from the prior 24 hours. This also prevents cavities and other gum diseases. As Mouth Healthy points out, “The American Dental Association recommends cleaning between your teeth once a day. Cleaning between your teeth may help prevent cavities and gum disease. Cleaning between your teeth helps remove a sticky film called plaque. Plaque contains bacteria that feeds on leftover food or sugar in your mouth. When that happens, it releases an acid that can eat away at the outer shell of your teeth and cause cavities.”
25. Skip the Dessert
Any new habit can take up to three months to form. Many doctors say ‘Everything is ok in moderation’ but is that really true? Is one dessert a night ok for 365 days of the year? Everytime you eat dessert you are feeding yourself processed and refined sugars which causes inflammation. And next time you do have dessert, try to find a dessert that does not rely heavily on processed sugars.
26. Be Like Obama and Eat 7 Almonds a Day
Obama famously told the press, “After dark, President Obama spends hours alone, time he says is essential to think, write and have a snack – exactly 7 almonds,” reports the Guardian. It was later discovered that Obama was joking but almonds’ health benefits are no joke. Loaded with nutrients, Almonds are widely touted as a brain food with healthy fats, Vitamin E, protein and other heart healthy nutrients.
27. Wash Your Hands
It was once said that Hillary Clinton would carefully wash her hands every time after she shook someone’s hand. True or not, there are lessons to be learned here, namely to wash your hands before you eat and anytime you arrive back in your home to avoid spreading germs. It’s also a good idea, just like Hillary, to regularly wash your hands after you shake hands with someone else.
28. Get Regular Screenings at the Doctor
If you are over 65, you should be visiting the doctor once every year. It’s important to have your vaccinations up to date and if you are a woman over 50, you’ll need regular mammograms. You will also need bone density scans and pap smears every 5 years until you are 70. Men too need bone density scans and it's also important to do a prostate cancer screen.
29. Keep Positive Energy
Positive energy may just be the answer to many better relationships, less stress and the attainment of goals. Selfhelpfix.com breaks it down into, “Two energy frequencies which are high vibration and low vibration otherwise known as good and bad and all our emotional states can be found somewhere in the frequency range in between these two extremes. The highest forms of vibration which you should aim for are appreciation, relaxation, joy and love these are the energies where all your powers can be accessed. At the lower end of the vibrational frequency scale are the dreaded negative emotions such as fear, anger and sadness.”
30. Remove the Sugar Drinks
That Coca Cola that you love so much with your lunch? Get rid of it. Ignore the adorable polar bear commercials and opt for water and natural drinks. In an article titled ‘Diet sodas may be tied to stroke, Dementia risk,’ on CNN, the writer discusses two studies on 2,888 adults over 45 and 14,84 over 60 and found the two groups were likely to be diagnosed with a stroke and dementia, respectively.
31. Put Away the Cell Phone and Don’t Bring it to Bed
Cell phones before bed are the one of the golden pillars of the famous 8-2-2-1 rule, a set of guidelines that suggests removing caffeine, food and cellphones from the sleep equation. Cell phones in bed add stress to the eyes in mind, making it impossible for you to disconnect from the modern world. Also, if you share the bed with someone, he/she will thank you.
32. Forgive, Forget and Move On
Harboring resentment and stress is a sure way to make yourself sick. Forgive and let go of the stresses in your life. Meditating, addressed in #7, is a wonderful way to give the mind some much-needed rest. Forgiveness is also a great way to bring closure to previous events in one’s life.
33. Keep Smiling
Smiling is known to improve the mood and reduce stress. “For starters, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress (3). Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, excited. The feel good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well (4). This not only relaxes your body, but it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure,” Psychology Today notes in its article, “There’s Magic In Your Smile.” Smiling is also wildly contagious and can positively impact the moods of those around you.
34. Work on your Posture
Posture problems can create many unwanted aches and pains in the lower back, upper back, neck and traps. Check out our recent article, “https://www.lonjev.com/blogs/news/4-common-posture-problems-and-the-best-way-to-fix-them” to learn more about some great ways to fix common posture problems. Start by spending 10 minutes a day and stretching the problem areas and starting to focus on what is really bothering you the most.
35. Take a Daily Vitamin
Some health experts are recently split on taking a daily multivitamin. In an article on Web-MD, health experts argue, “studies found that popping a daily multivitamin didn't ward off heart problems or memory loss, and wasn't tied to a longer life span.” However, "Research shows that the two main reasons people take multivitamins are for overall health and wellness and to fill in nutrient gaps," MacKay said. "Science still demonstrates that multivitamins work for those purposes, and that alone provides reason for people to take a multivitamin."
36. Discover a Passion
Reading, photography, knitting, painting, drawing are all wonderful hobbies to take up and anyone can do them at any point in their life. Keeping the mind, body and spirit engaged are key to happiness and fulfillment. Photography, for example, could be a wonderful hobby. It doesn’t have to be competitive and you don’t have to do it for money. Just have fun with it, take lots of pictures and start to channel that inner creativity.
37. Go for a Walk
Getting outside for a walk is a great combination of getting the endorphins flowing, boosting the immune system, getting exercise and getting much needed fresh air. A walk is a great way to break up the day and to relax, destress and to enjoy being outside.
38. Cook at Home Instead of Dining Out
Restaurants slather on the salt and butter and chefs tend to care mostly about the taste of the food and not the health of the meal. It’s difficult to control your health when you eat out. Instead, shop locally and cook at home. This way you know exactly what is going into your meal and you can control the amount of salt in your food.
39. Buy Organic
Organic is supposed to be grown fruits and vegetables without additives and pesticides and chemicals. It should, in theory, be cleaner and fresher and healthier. But it’s also up to us as consumers to question what is in our food. You can always pick up the phone and call the factory, manufacturer or farm to ask more about how they prepare, grow and package their food.
40. Read the Food Labels
Lastly, read those food labels. We must scrutinize what is in our food. A good rule of thumb is that if you cannot pronounce the chemical, you probably don’t know what it is and you should think twice before you eat it. Ask questions. Demand answers. It’s our right, as consumers to know what we are eating.