The bad news is you may have been abusing your body for the first 50 years of your life. The good news is that if you turn over a new leaf, you can make dramatic changes for a healthier life in the next half of your life. The following are sound and sensible strategies. The more of these that you follow, the better your life and health will be for it.
Exercise is so important as we age. It is not only aerobic, but also muscle strengthening exercises that are vital to protect against significant muscle mass loss as we age. Whether you walk, jog, cycle, swim or play tennis, the important thing is to be regular and consistent. Exercise is so beneficial that research has found a 40% increase in survival rates for cancer patients.
You are never too old to exercise; just keep moving.
Eat high quality food
Foods that are high quality are those that are rich in unsaturated fats such as olives, canola, sunflower, soy, and corn, along with nuts, seeds, and fish. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in anti-oxidants. Minimize the refined sugars and processed foods that you consume. Don’t eat foods with “low fat” additives. You need fat for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Some fat is good for you. Limit your alcohol consumption.
Most of the population today does not smoke and that is a good thing, however, many others are using drugs such as marijuana. It is toxic and unhealthy for your brain. Eating a lot of junk food can cause a build up of toxins which can overwhelm the body, so minimize these.
Spinal & Dental Hygiene
The spine is intricately involved with the central nervous system. If the spine is out of line or degenerating, it causes interference to the nervous system along with a loss of flexibility. It is important to seek out the services of a good chiropractor for regular maintenance.
Dental hygiene is important for the health of your gums and teeth, but research in recent years has found a link between gum infections and an increased risk of heart disease. Brush and floss your teeth daily and make sure to have regular dental check ups.
Have a regular sex life
Sex releases the “feel good” hormones; it’s good for the heart and gives us the benefits of intimacy. Having a regular sex life even in the senior years is very important. As long as there is not a physiological problem, sex can be enjoyed at any age.
Have a strong life purpose
There have been a number of studies showing that people who have a strong life purpose tend to be healthier. They also recover more quickly if they become ill and live longer. If you don’t have a purpose or a challenge, find one.
For most people, this means 6-8 hours a night. Your body needs this for recovery time. We also need sleep for our mind. If we don’t get enough, it will affect our memory, concentration and overall mental performance. This is very important as we age.
Drink plenty of water
We are approximately 70% water, so we need sufficient water intake (6-8 glasses daily) to keep ourselves hydrated. The exact amount will be determined by the weather and the degree of exercise in which we engage. It benefits all of our organs, muscles and skin. Our kidneys need water to flush out toxins from the body.
A certain degree of stress is okay, but many are overstressed to the point that it is impacting their health and wellbeing. You can reduce stress using techniques such as hypnosis, meditation, yoga and most forms of exercise.
Use Your Mind
“Use it or lose it.” It is critical that we use our mind as we age. We have a tendency to slow down especially if we have retired. Neuroplasticity (the process of forming new nerve connections) takes place even as we age, so do something new. Use brain exercises, learn an instrument, take up crosswords, start a new business; there are many ways to stimulate your thought processes.
While these are all sound and useful hints about health, make sure to contact your health care professional if you have any concerns.
Editor’s Note: Dr Adele Thomas, semi-retired medical doctor and Dr Ely Lazar, retired chiropractor, are on a new mission as the Passionate Retirees. They are dedicated to inspiring the over 50s to live fulfilling and adventurous lives, so that “the twilight years will be the highlight years”. Their book, “Travel Secrets For Seniors” was released in early 2014. With more than 80 years combined of professional experience, their articles, books and workshops cover a range of topics from travel, health, relationships, sexuality and finances for seniors.