With every birthday we usher in another year of wear and tear for our minds and bodies. But watching another tick by doesn’t mean you have to feel any older.
There are plenty of things older adults can do to turn back the clock and make another year older feel like another year younger. If you’re 60 or over, follow these 9 steps to help recapture the younger and healthier you – physically, mentally and emotionally.
9 Healthy Ways Older Adults Can Feel Younger and Happier
1. Strengthen your bones and joints
As you age, your bones lose mass and grow more brittle. Joints stiffen up and become inflamed. Things like osteoporosis and arthritis can rear their ugly heads, especially as you pass middle age.
Weight-bearing exercises such as walking or weight training are highly beneficial towards helping you maintain bone mass. You can also help strengthen and protect your joints by stretching, twisting and performing simple rotational exercises.
It’s also important that you get plenty of calcium and vitamin D to keep your bones and joints healthy.
Load up your diet with calcium from dairy products, orange juice, and leafy green vegetables.
Your body becomes less efficient at producing vitamin D as you age, so you may want to talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement.
2. Boost your brain function
They say that if you don’t use it, you lose it. Memory loss due to aging can begin as early as 45 years old, but there are a few things you can do to combat memory loss and keep your brain sharp.
Play “brain games” such as Sudoku, Scrabble and crossword puzzles. Learn something new like how to speak a foreign language or how to play a musical instrument.
Seek out social interaction for stimulating conversations, not only to help you feel happy and connected but also to help maintain – even improve – your cognitive function.
3. Activate your metabolism
Your metabolism — or the rate at which your body burns calories — slows as you age. Slowing metabolism is the simplest reason many adults gain weight after reaching middle age. But if you simply change the way you eat, you can provide your system with a much-needed boost.
Instead of eating three large meals, try eating 4-6 smaller meals per day. This will keep your metabolism active and burning at an optimal rate throughout the day.
You may think that skipping an occasional meal is a good idea because it means less calorie intake, but the effects are actually the opposite: Your body will slow its metabolism to compensate for the lack of nutrition.
And lastly, drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration causes your liver to focus on water retention instead of burning fat.
4. Pamper your skin
Among the most visible signs of aging change in the skin such as wrinkles, sagging and discoloration. But these changes can have more than simply visual effects.
Your skin helps regulate your body temperature, controls fluid and electrolyte balance, protects you from the environment and contains nerve receptors. And when the appearance of your skin breaks down, so can your skin’s ability to perform these vital processes.
Practice regular habits like drinking the recommended amount of water, using a humidifier, eating foods rich in antioxidants and protecting yourself from the sun.
And did you know that keeping your nails trimmed, wearing glasses and even sleeping on your back can actually help in the fight against wrinkles?
5. Pump up your energy
The heart slows with old age, so the flow of oxygen-rich blood that provides energy to your cells slows along with it. Couple that with aging muscles that tire more quickly from strenuous activity, and you have a recipe for declining energy levels.
It’s critical for older adults to perform an aerobic exercise to strengthen the heart’s muscles and keep energy pumping throughout the body. And you may not realize it, but sleep is equally as important as exercise to keeping up healthy energy levels.
A lack of sleep decreases the body’s production of glycogen, which is a carbohydrate that is stored away for energy use during physical activity. So make sure you get your exercise and your Z’s to keep your motor running in top shape.
6. Lighten up with a smile
A 2016 study conducted at North Carolina State University found that maintaining a positive outlook on aging helps seniors take on adversity and stress with renewed strength. A healthy attitude can create better responses to stressful situations that can otherwise lead to cardiovascular health risks.
Some keys to maintaining an upbeat attitude include staying socially connected, avoiding isolation, volunteering, mentoring, teaching and practicing mindfulness. It even helps to simply have a sense of humor about some of the unavoidable side effects of aging.
7. Toughen up your immune system
Your immune system is yet another thing that weakens with age, leaving you more prone to sickness and increasing how long it can take you to recover.
Some keys to maintaining a healthy immune system as you age include eating a diet rich in vitamins A, C, D, and E, exercising regularly and getting plenty of sleep.
But here’s a lesser known tip: Eat foods that contain probiotics, which are a type of healthy bacteria. The majority of your immune system is located in your digestive system, and a regular intake of probiotics can support a healthy digestive system that wards off other non-healthy bacteria.
Probiotics can be found in yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, and other fermented foods, as well as in Gouda, mozzarella, cheddar, and cottage cheese.
8. Sharpen your vision
There are six muscles attached to the eye that help your eyeball move. And these muscles also weaken with age, just like all the other muscles in your body.
When these supporting eye muscles deteriorate, your vision suffers because your eyeball is not able to move around as efficiently as needed.
Perform some simple eye exercises every day to strengthen your eye muscles and improve your visual acuity.
9. Smooth out your circulation
Your blood circulation is yet another thing that slows with age. Your aorta becomes thicker and less flexible over time, forcing the heart to work harder to pump out blood. And the baroreceptors in your blood vessels become less sensitive, which can make it harder for your body to maintain healthy blood pressure.
Poor circulation can lead to vertigo, cramps, swollen feet, and general aches and pains. It can also lead to more serious complications such as heart or artery disease.
One great way to keep your heart healthy is through motion. Get up and walk around every couple of hours, even if just for a lap around the house or on a trip to the mailbox. Eat fruits, nuts and dark chocolate (you’re welcome) and drink green tea to help improve blood circulation.
Tackle these nine areas this year, and you can reintroduce yourself to that younger, healthier and happier you.
Christian Worstell is a health and lifestyle writer from Raleigh, NC. Above all else, he is a husband, father and avid golfer. You can read more of his work at https://www.MedicareAdvantage.com.