How healthy are you really? It’s a hard question to ask without setting ourselves up for a bit of disappointment — most of us know we could be doing better. Even in retirement, we often live busy lifestyles that demand we eat on the go, sacrifice sleep, and stay productive during injury or illness. Or, maybe you’re facing the consequences of earlier years in that lifestyle instead of being able to relax and enjoy your golden years.
If you — like so many Americans over 60 — want to prioritize healthy habits, it’s important to start simple and small. Living a healthier lifestyle won’t happen overnight, and if you try to force it, you could be setting yourself up to fail. If you want sustainable, simple healthy living tips just for seniors, then this article might be able to help you make changes starting today.
Clean the air in your home.
It’s true that you are what you eat, but it’s also true that you are what you breathe. Many seniors are surprised to learn that the air inside their home is often dirtier than the air outside. Fortunately, once you enact just a few simple habits, cleaner air can be an easy way to feel healthier overall. Start by making sure you clean and change your HVAC system’s air filters every 2-3 months. This will help eliminate allergens such as pollen, dust, smoke, dander and mold. Get your air crisp and clean with a MERV 13 filter, which traps a whopping 98 percent of airborne particles. This can be a game changer for seniors dealing with asthma, COPD or another pulmonary illness.
Walk whenever you can.
You’ll find more and more studies being released where doctors praise walking as a powerful way for seniors to improve their health. Walking boosts cardiovascular health, balances mood, stabilizes blood pressure, strengthens joints, improves bone density and can be the key to managing weight. Taking daily walks in your neighborhood is a simple way to get moving — you just need comfortable shoes and some decent weather! Walking can be incorporated in other areas of your life, too. For instance, park at the back of parking lots rather than right in front of the store. Always use stairs when it is safe to do so. Worried you won’t be able to keep it up? Adopt a dog who will encourage you to get out every day. Seeing how happy and excited a walk makes Fido will make you look forward to your strolls together, too.
Meditate to ease your mind.
Seniors have a lot to celebrate, but there can also be a lot of concern. Growing older comes with many emotional ups and downs, and seniors have worries that few other populations feel or understand. Prioritizing your mental health means taking an honest look at how you manage stress to see if you could be doing a better job of it. Meditation is one of the most effective ways to improve both your mood and your brain function. Taking 10-20 minutes a day for silence and stillness can make an almost immediate impact on depression, high blood pressure, anxiety and memory. Start by sitting comfortable and just listening to your breath. If you want a more structured experience, look at guided meditations on YouTube, or download a free app on your phone to guide your practice, such as Calm, Insight Time or Headspace.
Senior health is important to individuals, families and even entire communities. There are a lot of things that we simply accept as a natural part of aging that in reality aren’t. Being proactive about your health will empower you to sustain a strong overall sense of health and well-being.
Jason Lewis is a personal trainer. He specialized in caring for the elderly after his mom needed special attention. He enjoys sharing his fitness knowledge on his website and as well as provide information that would help his fellow senior caregivers.