Mark A. Mahoney
Healthy Aging Month began in 1992 with the goal of encouraging people to focus on their health and take precautions to help them face the challenges of aging.
The origins are due to a television special that inspired people to make lifestyle and dietary changes to prevent heart problems. September was chosen as Healthy Aging Month to further raise awareness of physical and mental health, especially for people over 45.
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As we age, we become aware that our physical and mental health, as well as dietary and social needs, change over time. However, that doesn’t mean you’ve lost control.
You can take charge of your well-being by taking steps to age with a healthy body and mind. Check out the following as we transition into Healthy Aging Month.
5 steps to healthier aging
1. Get started
- It is important to consult your doctor before exercising. Start slowly, know your limitations and modify activities if necessary.
- Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.
- Starting physical activity can be as easy as walking for 10 to 15 minutes three to four days a week and increasing as you go.
- Maintaining regular physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Make your physical activity FUN and something you enjoy doing!
2. Maintain a healthy diet
- Eat appropriately sized portions.
- Eating too much can lead to obesity and increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
- Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and make them half of your plate.
- Avoid excessively processed foods, especially ultra-processed foods.
- Stay hydrated: Adults should drink 10 to 16 cups of water a day, depending on gender, living environment and activity level.
3. Stay social
- Try something new by attending online or in-person classes (using appropriate safeguards) that interest you.
- Use Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp, text messaging, email, or other appropriate technology to keep in touch with friends and family.
- Stay in touch with family and friends through face-to-face meetings using appropriate public health practices.
4. Balance your body and mind
- Maintain a positive attitude.
- Keep your mind active by reading, doing puzzles, or other mentally stimulating activities.
- Keep your body active through mindfulness, stretching, yoga, and similar activities.
5. Be proactive
- Get regular check-ups, physicals and medical tests when needed, as many diseases can be prevented if caught early.
- Don’t forget appointments with the dentist, ophthalmologist/optometrist and dermatologist.
- Take vitamins, supplements and medications as recommended and/or prescribed by a qualified health professional.
As a person ages, physical and mental health, as well as dietary and social needs, change over time. A person can take charge of their well-being by taking steps to age with a healthy body and mind and not lose control of their well-being.
As we transition into Healthy Aging Month, we challenge ourselves to take these steps to a more optimal quality of life through a healthier lifestyle.
Thanks to the Michigan Department of Health District 10 and National Today for much of the content.
Check out the following 10 steps provided by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) to promote healthy aging and good brain health during September and throughout the year at alzfdn.org/september-healthy-aging-month-2022/
Mark A. Mahoney, Ph.D. He has been a registered dietitian/nutritionist for over 35 years and completed graduate studies in nutrition and public health at Columbia University. He can be contacted at [email protected]
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