Understanding how to implement "healthy aging" strategies can be confusing, difficult and seemingly futile as recommendations and products are constantly changing. Here are some of the basic rules to follow that we think will give you the most bang for your buck!
1. Flex Those Muscles
Muscles release certain proteins called myokines when they contract. Myokines have a host of whole-body benefits, ranging from tissue regeneration/repair, to metabolism regulation, to anti-cancer benefits in other organs. The key word is contract! The more you strengthen and use your muscles, the more benefits you will experience. Performing strength-based exercises, such as using weights and resistance bands, will help you maintain your muscle mass, bone density, and decrease your risk of injury and disease.
2. Get Some Sunshine
Sun exposure (don’t forget the sunscreen!) provides your body with a natural dose of Vitamin D, which is critical for maintaining your bone density and boosting your immune system. Vitamin D supplements do exist, however it is generally recommended (and safer) to obtain it naturally. So, get outside and get that sunshine vitamin!
3. Protect Your Brain
Neurodegenerative diseases are all too prevalent in our aging population (think Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia). These conditions have genetic and environmental components— only one of which is under our control. Studies have demonstrated that people who have Type 2 Diabetes have an increased risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases due to disruptions to the brain’s blood supply over time. However, research has also found a link between regular physical exercise, a healthy diet, and staying intellectually active and a slower progression (or avoidance) of developing these diseases altogether.
4. Go to Your Happy Place
How often do you feel stressed? Humans experience more periods of chronic stress compared with other animals, which affects us over time. As we get older, major arteries can become thicker and less flexible, and this puts greater strain on the heart as it pumps blood to our organs more forcefully than before. Mindful practices such as yoga or meditation have been shown to reduce the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which in turn reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
5. Talk to Other Humans
As social animals, maintaining a strong sense of community and close personal relationships into old age are underestimated contributors to longevity. Maintaining contact with loved ones by phone calls, visits from family members or spending time with friends is an important step for seniors who want to live longer. After all without these connections we wouldn't have survived as a species this long - it's how our children learn vital skills about interacting with others during stressful periods too!
6. Master Your Metabolism
It is no secret that metabolism slows down as we age. However, as our bodies become less effective at using energy, our risk of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes also increases. It is possible to help preserve your metabolism: maintain muscle mass, consume healthy foods and make sure you get enough sleep.