“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln
The Western world tends to discard people once they reach a certain age and that age seems to be getting younger and younger. Our collective youth-obsessed society can be difficult and frustrating to combat. However, what most aging people know is that our older years are often our most joyous. These years are often free from the mundane, trivial noise that used to occupy our minds and hearts and rife with healthy priorities and perspective.
Research shows that to age well, we must change our negative perceptions about aging. Here are some tips to improve our mindset and our well-being that are applicable for all ages!
Resist negative stereotypes and maintain a positive attitude about aging – copious data show that many older adults report a better quality of life than younger adults. You are what you think you are when it comes to aging.
Seniors who think of age as a means to wisdom and overall satisfaction are more than 40 percent more likely to recover from a disability than those who see aging as synonymous with helplessness or uselessness, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Nutrition plays a major role in how our bodies age.
Research from Harvard University shows that a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish and legumes, nuts, and seeds helps ward off heart attacks, strokes, and premature death.
Watching how MUCH you eat is also important. Overeating may lead to a shorter life span, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
ENGAGE IN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Staying physically active is the most important thing you can do to age well. Research shows it not only improves physical functioning, but it improves mental health as well.
Aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day with a combination of cardio, strength/weight resistance, and balance/mobility/flexibility.
Staying fit may also reduce age-related memory loss, according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. That’s because exercise strengthens the hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with learning.
STAY MENTALLY ACTIVE
Recent research is beginning to show that mental activity can be protective against cognitive decline (such as, problems with memory, problem solving and orientation) in older age.
People of all ages with strong social ties are have been shown to have a fifty percent higher chance of living longer than those with poor social support and connection.
Socially connected people not only live longer but show increased resistance to a variety of diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Most people know that you should sleep for seven to nine hours each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. However, many people aren’t aware that not sleeping enough may mean a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Chronic lack of sleep adversely affects your brain’s function and speeds up the aging process. During sleep, your body releases a growth hormone that helps restore collagen and elastin, the essential building blocks of young, healthy skin. Recent studies have also shown a connection between insomnia and accelerated aging of the brain.