They say ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ Besides the obvious correlation that eating fruit is healthy, what this cliché is really saying is that prevention is the key to health. It doesn’t take a scientific study to tell us that being active, eating our fruits and veggies, avoiding junk food, staying far from cigarettes and shunning excessive drug or alcohol consumption is regarded as having a healthy lifestyle. However, scientists are zeroing in on the healthy habits that are correlated to longer, more disease–free lives.
While your genes may still contribute to your health down the road, there are some healthy lifestyle habits you can adopt today to be more proactive about how your living now.
Regularly moving around and getting your heart rate up have been shown to be the only real fountain of youth in our lives. Besides having us increase our boosts in energy, exercising has also been shown to boost brain activity, prevent memory issues, and maintain joint function, mobility and quality of life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity each week. This can be simple as walking for 30 minutes five days a week.
Sleep Like a Baby
Although it can be argued that less sleep equals more time to spend during the day, scientists state that the healthiest individuals need at least six hours of the healing REM phase to maintain bodily function. Sleep is integral for the way the body heals itself and regulates and heals cells.
As we age we are more vulnerable to depression because much of our time can be spent alone. Depression can lead to premature death and can be avoided by maintaining or developing regular social contact with family members or friends. A good suggestion for the elderly would be to join a group exercise class this way they get the physical benefits of regular exercise combined with the mental benefits of social interaction. Group exercise classes can be specifically designed for seniors and are guided by a personal trainer who can also provide a friendly support structure.
Stay Occupied Past Retirement
It is not uncommon to see someone who is newly retired quickly deteriorate as the need to use their brain and body abruptly ends. Studies have shown that people who stop working and do not replace activity with additional physical movement have a higher incidence of obesity and chronic disease. In areas of Italy where people are particularly known for their long lifespans, retirees are known to spend their golden years working on their farms, staying physically active, and constantly remaining on their feet. If your retirement community doesn’t offer you the same luxuries, consider volunteering at a museum or for a local non-profit that will keep your mind and body active.