It’s been said, “70 is the new 50!” And it may very well be true.
Aging gracefully and maintaining youthful vigor is no longer only for the rich and famous, but can be successfully achieved by all of us. Thanks to healthier habits, advances in medicine, and general diet and lifestyle awareness, people are not only living longer – they’re enjoying every minute of it!
Plenty of products on the market promise to be a fountain of youth, yet these can be expensive, unproven, and even detrimental in some cases. The true magic formula for staying young and vibrant is absolutely FREE, and available to everybody!
While a large part of graceful aging consists of knowing exactly which things to avoid, there are plenty of proactive and practical keys to healthy aging that anyone can commit to. Let’s examine some fundamental aspects of the art of growing older in style.
1 The Power of Positive Thinking
Nothing brings on the negative physical aspects of aging like toxic thinking and negativity.
A WebMD article shares the story of Kirt Spradlin, a cancer survivor and diehard optimist who cheerfully acknowledges his age as being “79 and a half”. After retirement, Kirt decided that he wanted to pick up mountain climbing as a hobby. While his peers were enjoying a quiet existence they had earned for themselves after spending their lives working, Kirt was conquering the likes of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Whitney. Donna, 80, Kirt’s wife, recently joined him on a backpacking adventure through the wilderness – just the two of them alone.
While many people around the same age as the Spradlins often battle with depression and loneliness, Kirt and Donna credit their enthusiasm for life’s adventures, and a positive attitude as the key to aging with grace.
The publication Psychology Today published a report entitled, Positive Attitudes About Aging May Be a “Fountain of Youth” in which they talk about recent studies that point to a strong correlation between how negative emotions contribute to physical frailty. This decline in cognitive ability is a leading factor that can eventually lead to dementia. Choosing positivity and refusing to focus on the negative improves all around health, battles frailty, and in turn, keeps minds sharp and focused.
2 Plugging In
One of the secrets to living to be 100, according to Dr. Andrew Weil, is to embrace culture and technology.
Dr. Weil references a survey of centenarians who were asked to report on how they live their daily lives. Along with things like a healthy diet, regular activity, and religious faith; many respondents stated that they enjoy activities such as watching reality TV shows, listening to music on an iPod, browsing the internet, and even playing video games.
While no empirical scientific link exists between these activities and living longer, the evidence suggests that such activities stimulate the brain in various ways, warding off mental complacency. In addition, the youthful qualities of modern culture and technology appear to have the side effect of encouraging subconscious youthfulness in seniors.
Communication and social interaction through the internet is also a great way for older folks to keep in touch with friends and family; all while fighting off the inherent loneliness that is so often present as we age.
3 Embrace Your Age
We all seem to have a natural tendency to approach aging with a sense of trepidation. This is to be expected to an extent, as aging forces us to face our own mortality and limitations. However, waging an all out battle to fight the hands of time is eventually a fruitless endeavor.
As with all things, balance is key. Trying to stay as energetic and youthful as possible, while accepting the inevitability of aging is a healthy compromise.
The beauty and lifestyle magazine Real Simple discusses tasteful and elegant ways to avoid going overboard in an attempt to completely conceal the effects of aging. They offer valuable tips such as – instead of trying to dye out all of the gray in one’s hair, get highlights that add depth and dimension.
Other ideas for women include using a soft shade of red lipstick to gracefully counter naturally thinning lips, and to wear hair long and/or with playful bangs instead of opting for the traditional shorter cut.
4 Get a Hobby!
One of the best things about post-retirement is free time! What do you enjoy doing?
Hobbies such as gardening are excellent activities that promote aging gracefully.
Planting flowers or vegetables, nurturing them, and looking forward to heading out into the garden each day to observe the results of your care and attention offer an important sense of responsibility and duty.
This type of work keeps bones strong and healthy, improves muscle coordination, and even produces Vitamin D as you spend even just a little time in the sun! Obviously, too much sun can tend to magnify the physical effects of aging, so using a medium SPF sunblock and limiting time spent outdoors in the sunlight is important. Again, balance is key.
Other hobbies could include building model trains, knitting, painting, or scrapbooking. Anything you have a passion for is excellent, and contributes to healthy and graceful aging! These hobbies do not have to be done alone either. Having a friend or family member that shares a similar interest join you adds an even more enjoyable dimension to your activities.
The important thing is to do what you love.
5 The Importance of Exercise
If nothing else, the ultimate secret key to healthy and graceful aging is regular exercise.
Nothing signals the body to submit to the detrimental effects of aging more than physical inactivity. A successful routine doesn’t require much, and it isn’t necessary to workout all the way to complete exhaustion.
The National Institute on Aging (NIH) provides a very insightful guide on low impact exercises for seniors that promote strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance. Such activities include simple things such as sweeping the floor or raking leaves. The important thing is to build up endurance in order to try and achieve at least 30 minutes a day of physical performance. This allows the heart to increase its beats per minute, bringing oxygen rich blood throughout the body.
If done correctly, exercise can be fun, safe, and enjoyable. It doesn’t have to be tedious work. In order to help keep it safe, pay attention to several things:
- Avoid locking your joints. Keep joints flexible and freely moving. Locked joints can cause pain and put unnecessary strain on muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
- Always warm up first, and cool down afterward. This allows the body to slowly shift in and out of workout mode. Cool downs and after workout stretches are especially important, as this avoids cramps and muscles freezing up.
- Remember to breathe! Sometimes, when we are stretching or exerting ourselves, we tend to hold our breath unconsciously. Breathing is very important during exercise, because it allows the lungs to continue to provide fresh oxygen to the blood, which in turn benefits the bones and muscles being utilized.
- Never “bounce” into stretches. Use slow, steady movements, and do not try to push the limits. Light stretches can be very beneficial to the body and prevent muscle cramps and pain.
The website Health.com gives us 15 ways exercise makes us look and feel younger, including how it creates more energy, improves mood, relieves stress, enhances memory, and promotes healthy blood flow.
All of these things and more radically fight the aging process in profound ways.
The Power to Age Gracefully is Completely Your Choice to Make!
We can’t stop getting older. But we can decide how we age. With a few lifestyle adjustments, some changes in attitude, and regular routines, we can dramatically change how our bodies approach the aging process.
For some people, physical mobility limitations may impact their ability to do some of the activities in this guide. That’s OK! Centerspan Medical specializes in providing access and mobility solutions for those that need help. Whether it’s safely getting up the stairs, or needing a safe and reliable method of getting a mobility device such as a wheelchair or scooter up to or down from a higher level, we have the answer. It’s what we do every day. Call us anytime at 1-844-SAFE-STAIR (844-723-3782) if you or a loved one are in need of mobility or accessibility assistance.
Have any other ideas that support healthy aging? Leave us a comment below and tell us about it! We’d love to hear from you.