The Easiest Ways to Improve Your Health and Fitness
Health has never been more important. As humans, we are living longer lives than we ever have in our history; but as a result we suffer from health issues in our old age that generations of people who regularly died before they were 40 never had time to experience.
Thankfully, there is growing awareness of the best ways to stay fit and healthy, establishing good habits that will help protect us as we age. From relaxing to exercising, preventative medicine to socialization, here are six ways to make sure you are living a healthy, well-rounded life well into the future.
Stay physically active
This tip is probably the least surprising. We know by now that staying active is important at every stage of life, from childhood through old age. As we age, it becomes even more important that we stay active: yet we become more likely to stop activity the older we get. Less than half of adults over 75 stay active, and fewer than 34% of those under 65 keep moving on a regular basis.
As we age, our sense of balance, our agility, our muscle mass, and our strength decrease. Our bones become less dense and we do not have the endurance we once enjoyed. Exercise is a way to put the brakes on all this, and the earlier in life we establish active habits, the more we resist this deterioration.
What to do
Something as simple as a regular bicycle rental and ride around town, beach, or park can help lower blood pressure, improve your balance, and make you more flexible. It will increase your mobility and help you keep off unwanted extra weight while holding on to the muscle you need.
One of the great secrets of active, healthy, happy older adults is their regular socialization. Studies have revealed that older people who enjoy spend time with others live longer than their more solitary counterparts. Having strong, regular social relationships correlates with all the biomarkers for good health.
As children, we may make friends almost naturally. As young adults, our friends are easy to find: they are the people going through the same things we are as we move through school. But as adults, it is easy to let life get in the way of making new friends. By the time we reach old age, we may feel isolated and unsure how to interact with others.
What to do
It is important to avoid social isolation and keep up with friends and family through every stage of life. No matter where you are, you can establish a robust network and keep up with it. Join a club, play a sport, or get involved with a local charity. You could join a dance school in Oakbrook Terrace, IL and combine socialization with activity, as well as learn something new.
Learning something new is another key to keep mentally agile and happy through every period of life. Studies have shown that when we continually apply ourselves to learn, we exercise our brains in much the same way we can exercise our muscles or strengthen our cardiovascular system. This helps to keep our brains flexible and fast even as we get older.
Not only will our brains be healthier, but continued learning is also good for your career and may open up new opportunities as you gain both new skills and experience. It’s also an important way to hold on to the sense of wonder and joy that we all experience as children, but which typically fades as we age.
What to do
There are as many ways to keep learning as there are people and personalities. You should choose what interests you. Perhaps you want to get a master’s degree online; or simply take some classes in subjects that interest you. Try learning a new language, training in a new skill, or becoming adept at a physical activity. All will help you both mentally and physically.
Keep up with finances
When we are young, we tend to spend. Life stretches out ahead of us and seems endless. We are not as worried about tomorrow as we will be a few short decades later, and it is easy to get into bad spending habits that can be ruinous later in life.
As with many things on this list, replacing poor habits with good ones is always a possibility: and the earlier we start, the better off we will be as we get older. By being smart about how we spend, save, and invest, we will have more for the future and enjoy better security when we need it most.
What to do
You need to choose a budgeting plan that works for you; but in general it’s important to take stock of where and what you’re spending and make sure it aligns with your life goals. Saving is another crucial piece of the puzzle, as is sensible investment. If you do not already have a financial advisor, now is the time to get one.
Make time to relax
Life moves full speed as we age. We go from the intense focus of university into careers and family life, and it can seem as if there are too many responsibilities to ever allow us a moment to relax. When we do stop working, it is often just to crash in front of the television or play mindless games on a phone or tablet.
What we really need to do is meaningful and intentional relaxing. Many of us find this nearly impossible to do, and often it is because our minds just seem to keep going. We are constantly under stress and cannot find a way to switch off. The secret is in understanding that relaxation must be intentionally practiced, just like exercise.
What to do
In the short term, keeping a journal helps. Use it to write down your stresses rather than meditate on them. You will be amazed at how much easier it is to put something aside when you have written it all down. It is also crucial to take specific, scheduled “nothing” breaks. Get some nice outdoor furnishings, grab your favorite book and a cup of tea, and deliberately do nothing for a while.
Keep on top of your health
Many of us think of medicine as reactive. When we have been injured or are ill, we see a doctor. If we feel fine, we do not. But since estimates show that nearly 40% of the deaths that take place every year in America could have been prevented, the truth is there is a lot more we could be doing to take proactive charge of our health.
By intentionally thinking about how we live, keeping on top of insurance with a health information exchange, and regularly getting wellness checks, we can keep track of our health and wellness in the same way as we keep track of finances. Doing so also allows us to stay in touch with how we feel so we are alerted to possible issues before they become a serious problem.
How to do it
It starts with regular wellness checkups, a great diet, and letting go of unhealthy habits like excessive alcohol use, smoking, and too much sugar and refined grains. Take an honest look at your diet over the course of a month. Write down what you eat, how often you exercise, and when you engage in healthy activities.
Once you have established your baseline, you can start actively working towards better health and a more enjoyable, well-rounded future.