Just because you are getting older, it does not mean you have to look it—or feel it. With a little effort, you can slow the telltale signs of aging.
Research and senior citizens who exercise and eat a good, balanced diet are proving this.
Research at the Buck Institute for Age Research in Novato, Calif., reaffirms the health benefits of exercise and found that it can even reverse the aging process.
The study discovered that a healthy group of seniors (average age 70), after exercising twice a week for six months, made impressive gains in strength, closing in on a healthy group of young people (average age 21). But the more remarkable finding was that gene samples from leg muscles of the older subjects had reversed back to resemble those of the younger counterparts.
In other words, scientists are finding that inactivity is to blame for many of the changes that take place when we get older. Time may not gain on us as fast, if we keep moving.
And that does not just go for physical health. Exercise and physical activity such as yard work also helps keep the mind in shape, lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and improving memory and cognitive function by improving circulation.
As exercise lifts your spirits and helps you feel better and more energetic, it can give you a healthful outer glow.
Eating Better for Seniors
Combined with exercise, healthful eating also can slow aging. Start simply by adding a fruit or vegetable to every meal. Add a banana to whole grain cereal. Fix yourself a salad with dinner (easy on the dressing). Make a big pot of vegetable soup and freeze some for future meals.
Other ways to improve your diet: choose leaner cuts of meats, snack on nuts instead of potato chips, cut out or reduce consumption of sugary drinks and alcohol, stop taking seconds and eat smaller portions. Visit the Centers for Disease Control website for more practical nutritional advice (http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/index.html).
By making simple changes in our lives—getting more active and improving our eating habits—we can make a difference for the better and for the long run.
Take the First Step: Exercising for Seniors
While scientists are finding it is never too late to start exercising and reaping its benefits, see your physician before your first exercise session.
Knowing your current state of health, your doctor can advise what type of exercise would be most appropriate for you. And as your health improves, he or she may give thumbs up to turning it up a notch.
Here are a few suggestions for senior exercising:
- Choose exercise you enjoy. You will definitely be more likely to stay faithful to it. However, vary your routine to prevent boredom.
- An in-home care provider can help facilitate physical activity for a senior, providing transportation to an exercise program or serving as a walking companion.
- Find indoor activities you enjoy when it is too cold or too hot to go out. For instance, take a dancing class, walk at a mall, take a class at a senior center or YMCA.
- Find ways to add more steps to your day. For instance, park farther away from store entrances or take your pet for a walk.