As we age, it can be more difficult to find the time or motivation to maintain healthy habits. In fact, more than 1 in 4 US adults over 50 years old aren’t engaging in regular physical activity. It can be easy to leave your exercise routine by the wayside in order to keep up with work, kids, and other activities that are happening in your life. In honor of Healthy Aging Month, we’re sharing some of our favorite ways for you to stay healthy and move better as you age.
Take a Walk
Walking is a low-impact, accessible activity that requires no more than a pair of good sneakers. This is great for adults with arthritis as it put less stress on the joints and cardiovascular system than running. Walking also decreases your risk of heart disease, improves your balance and mood, and increases your stamina and immunity. The American Heart Association recommends 10,000 steps a day, but if that isn’t accessible for you, try setting a goal for 6,000 or 7,000 steps and gradually work towards 10,000. If you need the motivation to stick to a walking routine, try finding a walking partner. Not only will you enjoy the time with your friend or family member, but you’ll both be working towards your step goal!
You can ease yourself into the habit of walking more often by taking the stairs, parking further away in a parking lot, playing mini-golf, and making multiple trips to bring in the groceries.
Challenge Your Balance
You can minimize your risk of falling by consistently challenging your balance! Strengthening your core and lower body can help to improve your balance, which leads to improvements in memory and spatial cognition, a decrease in your risk of falls, and an increase in your reaction time. To begin, practice standing on one leg for 10 seconds, three days a week. If you don’t feel steady, remember to always work on balance exercises near a wall or sturdy surface that you can lean on. You can also try attending a yoga or tai-chi class to help improve your balance and increase your confidence.
Stick to a Healthy Diet
A balanced diet gives your body the nutrients it needs to stay energized and healthy. Eat 2-3 cups of vegetables and 1-2 cups of different color fruit each day, but the more you eat of these, the better! Sometimes you can make small changes that make a big difference, like choosing healthy proteins, oils, and whole grains. Sweets like ice cream, cookies, and brownies should be enjoyed in moderation.
Staying hydrated is just as important as eating the right foods, as water helps deliver nutrients to cells, maintains your body temperature, and lubricates your joints. Since everyone’s body is different, we recommend a goal of half your body weight in ounces of water. This means that if you’re 150 pounds, your goal would be to drink 75 ounces of water a day. But remember to listen to your body to determine what works for you! You can also eat water-filled foods like watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, and broccoli to help increase your water intake.
Sleep 7-9 Hours a Night
When you have a poor night’s sleep, you know how it can bring out the aches and pains while keeping your mind in a fog. Sleeping allows your body to heal and recover faster, which can help if you’re experiencing pain in your body, difficulties with memory, and a decrease in your mental health. It’s recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep depending on what your body needs. In order to attain that, setting a routine can be helpful for your body to get enough sleep. Developing your sleep routine of stretching before bed, reading, or writing in a journal can help you fall asleep faster. It’s best to avoid electronics with blue light about a half hour before bed and to refrain from alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and big meals right before bedtime.
Find Activities You Love
Your mental health can impact your physical health, so it’s important to take time out of your day to do something that you enjoy. Whether that be a physical activity that requires you to exercise or a hobby that helps you to relax and keep a healthy perspective on your life, find an activity that you look forward to doing consistently. You may already know what you like or you can look for different activities that pique your interest.
Schedule an Appointment With a Physical Therapist
You don’t have to suffer from the aches and pains that come from getting older. A physical therapist can help you with arthritis, upper and lower back pain, balance issues, chronic pain, and more. Schedule an evaluation with a physical therapist in Rhode Island and Massachusetts to help you get back to the activities you love.