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Author Jason Lewis.
Taking charge of your health when you get older can feel like an uphill battle, but it doesn’t have to be.
Your body may be changing, but you are ultimately still in control of your lifestyle choices, and these are the biggest influences on your health throughout your senior years.
Of course, changing your lifestyle isn’t easy either. But slowly incorporating small, practical habits into your routine can be a very effective way to start making better choices without feeling overwhelmed or discouraged. Here are a few things to try out.
Eating Fermented Foods
There is an increasing amount of evidence pointing to the importance of gut health for our overall mental and physical well-being, even down to things like our moods. Bringing fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and sourdough bread into your diet can help boost your gut health and, in the process, your health as a whole.
Walking, Swimming, or Cycling
Seniors should follow the same physical activity guidelines as younger adults, which is to say at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. This is essential for both physical and mental health and is much more achievable than most would imagine. Walking, swimming, and cycling all count as aerobic activity while being gentler on the joints than running.
Creative hobbies are wonderful tools for mental health and acuity. According to CBS News, they could help keep your brain sharp for longer, reducing the risk of dementia and improving memory. You can keep working at a lifelong hobby, pick up something you haven’t done in years, or even try your hand at something entirely new.
As we grow older, we may naturally start losing muscle, weakening our bones and impairing things like our balance and mobility. The best way to fight this is to take up strength training. Forget about those big scary machines at the gym (although you can learn to use these safely if you wish): invest in some basic home equipment like light dumbbells and start up from there.
Yoga can often seem intimidating for seniors, especially those who fear they may injure themselves. However, there are many forms of yoga. One particularly gentle and safe one is chair yoga, which is a great option for people with mobility problems. You can gain all the benefits of yoga while sitting comfortably and safely in a chair — what is there not to love?
Spending Time In Nature
There are few things as therapeutic as nature. Recent scientific studies have shown what humans have instinctively known for millennia: spending time in nature is good for the mind and body. Specific research on the impact of green and “blue” (featuring running water) spaces on well-being showed that even small amounts of contact with nature can make a big difference.
Try to see experience nature every day, whether it be at a nearby park or in your own garden. Even better, seek out social activities you can do outdoors, such as a senior hiking club or yoga in the park, so you can combine the pleasure of nature with the pleasure of socialization.
Remember to take it slow and incorporate these habits into your routine at a pace that feels comfortable. All of these activities might seem simple, but the potential they have to improve your quality of life is extraordinary. Once you start combining them, you get the building blocks for a long, healthy, and happy old age.