Healthy aging is not the oxymoron it once was. With better medical care and technology, Americans are living longer and leading healthier lives than they were just 20 years ago, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health. That’s good news, and an important reminder that today’s lifestyle has a direct effect on quality of life in later years – for better or worse.
For many diseases, changes in the body begin years before any symptoms appear. Recent research shows this is true for the brain too – changes can start up to two decades before any outward sign of Alzheimer’s or dementia. A truly healthy lifestyle maintains both brain and body.
Top Five Tips for Healthy Aging:
- Eat a Healthy Diet – Stick to high fiber, low fat foods rich in anti-oxidants to help combat diseases like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and cognitive impairment. Avoid refined, processed foods high in carbohydrates, bad fats and additives to reduce inflammation responsible for joint pain and tissue damage.
- Exercise Every Day – Weekly routines should include cardiovascular activities and strength training; for better brain health, do activities that work mind and body together – like dancing, where you have to remember moves and sequences.
- Increase Brain Gain – Build cognitive reserve by challenging yourself each day. An effective work-out includes learning something new or doing something that is a mental stretch.
- Be a Social Butterfly – Don’t isolate – regular social interaction helps us feel our best, and there are real benefits for physical, emotional and cognitive health.
- Maintain Your Purpose – No matter what your age, it’s important to set goals and engage in activities that are meaningful to you – it’s what gets us up in the morning and keeps us looking forward.