Living a healthy lifestyle during your senior years can reward you with better energy, independence, and happiness. In fact, one study revealed that seniors with healthy habits live longer and face fewer years of disability than unhealthy seniors. It’s clear that investing your time into health promotion and disease prevention is extremely valuable.
Your first critical step toward healthy aging is making sure you have the right healthcare coverage for your needs. Although Medicare can be extremely beneficial, it doesn’t provide coverage for many essential services. Medicare Advantage plans cover things like dental and vision so you can stay on top of your health all across the board. Learn about Aetna Medicare Advantage plans and how they may benefit you on your quest for good health.
Maintain Your Mobility with a Variety of Exercises
Maintaining mobility is one of the most important things when it comes to quality of life. Mobility helps you get around on your own, take care of yourself, and participate in the activities you love. Regular exercise is crucial for supporting lasting mobility. Seniors should try to incorporate aerobic, strength, flexibility, and balance exercises into their routine, and there are even exercises that seniors can do indoors (online videos and Wii games are just a few examples) if they don’t feel comfortable getting outside. According to the Harvard Medical School, each of these three exercise types for seniors provides unique benefits.
Aerobic exercises are those that speed up your heart rate. Examples include brisk walking, swimming, and cycling. Aerobic exercises are great for your circulatory system and respiratory system. They can also reduce your risk of depression!
Next is strength training. Only 9 percent of older adults engage in strength training at least twice a week. This is unfortunate because strength training prevents muscle loss and increases bone density as we get older. Since lifting weights can seem intimidating if you’re new to strength training, start with resistance bands and bodyweight exercises.
Finally, flexibility and balance exercises, like yoga and tai chi, can help you stay active and reduce your risk of falls. Regular stretching should also relieve joint pain and muscle stiffness. Start each stretching session with a few dynamic stretches to wake up your muscles so you can get the most out of your routine.
Improve Your Cognitive Skills by Learning New Things
While you’re doing all this exercise to improve your physical health, don’t forget to train your brain. Learning new things appears to be extremely beneficial for preventing age-related cognitive decline. Challenge yourself with a hobby or skill you’d like to pick up. Some great examples include learning another language, playing an instrument (guitars, clarinets, etc.), or improving your chess game. You can even enroll in an interesting university class!
It’s important that whatever you try actually challenges you intellectually. This is the key to stimulating growth in your brain, much like challenging your muscles encourages them to grow. Learning new skills and taking classes is a better way to boost your cognitive abilities than brain-training games. There’s very little evidence behind brain-training apps and software. The highly specific skills practiced in these games rarely translate to any other areas of your life, so they probably won't help you find your keys or remember where you parked the car!
Stay Social to Support Your Mental Health
Seniors can also do a lot to support their mental health on an emotional level. According to AgingCare, loneliness can be extremely dangerous to seniors, increasing their rate of mental and physical decline. Loneliness has even been associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.
Seniors who remain social enjoy greater levels of happiness and a better quality of life than socially isolated people. So, join a local club or group, volunteer, or get a part-time job in a social environment. You can even try using social media to connect with others who share your interests. If you live alone, consider moving into a community environment where opportunities for social engagement are right outside your door.
Good health is never out of reach. Seniors can — and should — strive to enjoy their golden years in every way possible. This means making an effort to exercise every day and putting your brain to work as you learn new things. It may be challenging to get started, but you’ll end up developing some healthy habits that will stick with you for years. If you find that you are isolating or even feeling depressed, seeking therapy can help.