Healthy Aging and Quality of Life
The first years of our life, when we are young, and life seems to stretch endlessly before us, we donít give much thought to the later years of our life.
By Donovan Baldwin
All that seems so far away, it's not quite real...and, in our minds, what we do then doesn't seem to have much to do with those days so far in our future.
As time passes, however, we begin to realize that it is passing faster than we imagined, and, what we did a few years ago DOES affect the day we are living. In today's fast paced world, with all it's rapid changes, we sometimes get reminded of the passage of time than we would have in gentler times.
With that rapid pace comes stress, and stress not only affects us as it happens, but, it grows and settles within our very being, becoming a cancerous growth which finds its way into almost every aspect of our being.
As this time passes, we become aware that what we have chosen to do in our younger days may actually put us at risk for rapid, unhealthy aging, and may even contribute to problems which begin to appear as we grow older. While stress may not actually be a "lifestyle choice", such as smoking, alcohol abuse, or unhealthy eating habits, one expert on stress has said that it is probably the single greatest risk factor for unhealthy aging and age related illnesses, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and, perhaps, even Alzheimer's Disease.
It is obvious that in older years we need to take extra care of both our bodies and our minds. What is becoming more obvious to researchers, that, not only should we care for ourselves at any age, so as to be healthy and happy then, but that what we choose to do when we are younger affects our quality of life as we age and contribute to healthy aging.
What it comes down to, is that the best time to begin working on your quality of life, is now. Don't wait until your body is already on a downward slope and healthy aging is next to impossible. What you do now will affect your life ten, twenty, or even thirty years from now.
Now is the time, whatever time of YOUR life it is, when you should begin doing all that is necessary to have a good quality of life and a healthy aging experience.
Proper nutrition is a good place to start, as poor nutrition contributes to many problems associated with aging.
One step anyone can take to improve their nutrition is to take a daily multivitamin. There are many good quality products on the market, and, you really don't need to try to take a broad range of individual vitamins unless you have a specific deficiency, usually only measureable by certain medical tests.
There's a lot of argument about whether or not anyone NEEDS to take a daily multivitamin. I recommend you read this article: "Should I Take a Daily Multivitamin?", as it explains why, despite the arguments of nutritionists, it is a good idea to take one. This is especially true as you age, as your body becomes less able to extract, and use, the nutrients in the food you eat, and your diet tends, for a lot of differnt reasons, to become a bit spotty, but, that's another issue.
Of course, a daily multivitamin should not be used to replace good, satisfying, nutritious food. This is important because food contains many other nutrients than just vitamins and minerals. With "real" food, you get protein, to build and repair the body, carbohydrates for energy, and fiber, for healthy digestion, just to name a few of the other nutrients you need for healthy life, much less healthy aging..
Another important factor for good quality of life and healthy aging is exercise.
Now, when I use the word "exercise", yes, I am thinking about a specific exercise program.
But, that's me!
I like to lift weights, walk on a treadmill, and do yoga and isometric exercises.
However, maybe you like to rida bicycle around the neighborhood, swim at the YMCA, or garden....or each of those done on different days.
Playing with the grandkids can be a huge amount of exercise, although you might not do it every day.
One of the reasons to try to add some structured, regular exercise program to your life, is that daily activities, while good for you both physically and mentally, often "concentrate" their effects in specific areas and miss others. A balanced senior fitness program can, like the daily multivitamin, both "fill in the blanks" left by your other activities while providing you the energy, strength, and fitness necessary to remain active in the areas you truly enjoy.
Now, if that isn't contributing to the quality of life, I don't know what is!
As you age, not only does your body change, but, so does your brain.
While exercise and nutrition have a powerful impact on the mental side of healthy aging, the maximum quality of life can depend not only on the physical things you can do, but how your mind works as well. Exercising your brain by testing, challenging, and simply using it can be an excellent way to keep it young and agile.
Learning new things, such as learning a new language or taking courses at the local college can help keep the brain young as well. Also, keeping your connections to family and friends open can be of benefit as well.
As I hinted earlier, stress can interfere greatly with healthy aging, and with the quality of life. As it happens, all these things, exercise, nutrition, and mental activity can all help reduce stress.
However, taking specific steps aimed at reducing stress can be even more effective.
Certain activities, such as meditation and yoga, can be great stress busters, in addition to providing other physical and mental health benefits. They also help us get some of the rest and relaxation we also need for healthy aging.
A good night's sleep goes a long way too.
Regular exercise, good nutrition, mental activity, friends and family, and relaxation are good for us at any age, but, they are of special value in helping us achieve healthy aging and a good quality of life.
Remember, the sooner you start making these changes, the sooner the benefits will take effect, and the longer they will last into your later years.
Healthy Aging and Quality of Life
Page Updated 12:31 PM Wednesday 5/25/2016