Senior Health Tips: Easy Ways to Improve Your Wellness Next Year
Being healthier is a common New Year’s resolution for people of all ages, but it can be especially important as you enjoy your retirement. The better your well-being, the better you’ll feel and the more time you’ll have to enjoy your hobbies or to spend with your family. And improving your well-being doesn’t have to be hard – even small changes can have a big impact. We’ve put together five senior health tips that are easy to work into your everyday life to build a healthier lifestyle.
5 Simple Senior Health Tips
1. Move More
There are dozens of reasons to continue exercising as we age. In addition to the well-known benefits for heart health, exercise:
- Improves digestion
- Strengthens bones
- Lowers blood sugar
- Improves sleep
- Benefits the brain
As mature adults, we may need to find new ways to enjoy exercise. Low-impact aerobics, chair exercises and water workouts can help you stay fit without stressing your joints. Yoga and tai chi can improve flexibility and balance, which can also help prevent falls.
Finding a type of exercise that appeals to you is important. If you enjoy it, you’re more likely to continue doing it throughout the year, instead of just when you first make a resolution to be healthier. For many, group exercise classes are the answer. You won’t be as likely to skip exercise if you are a part of a group, and you’ll also look forward to seeing and being with a group of people that understand you. Many supportive living communities offer fitness and wellness programs that include group exercise activities, making it even easier for you to participate.
2. Improve Your Diet
You don’t need to make major dietary changes to improve your health. Small adjustments can have a big impact. Better eating habits can boost heart function, lower blood sugar, improve gut health, enhance sleep and reduce your cancer risk, just to name a few benefits.
The easiest way to improve your diet is by adding more fruits and vegetables. Almost all produce is low in calories, high in fiber and dense in nutrients. If you substitute fruits and vegetables for other less-healthy choices, you can enhance your diet without counting calories.
Another issue is that for many of us, eating is a social activity. Finding low-calorie, low-salt and low-fat options in restaurants can be difficult. To offset meals out with friends and family, make sure to eat healthier at home. Supportive living communities often build this type of healthy eating plan into their dining options, ensuring your meals are not only enjoyable, but also nutritious and healthy.
3. Stay Hydrated
Water is necessary for almost every bodily function. Unfortunately, as we age we may become less aware of thirst. Developing good hydration habits can help us stay healthy even in the absence of the usual cue of thirst. Here are some tips to try:
- Incorporate hydration into your workout program. Don’t go for a walk or to an exercise class without water, and take water breaks often.
- Add variety to your drinks. Use herbal teas, low-calorie flavorings or citrus slices to increase your enjoyment of fluids. Limit dehydrating drinks like black tea and coffee.
- Keep water nearby. When you go for a drive, sit down at the computer or get ready for bed, have water with you. Just having the water nearby will increase your likelihood of drinking it.
- Try both hot and cold liquids. In colder weather, a hot beverage or cup of broth can be enticing. In warmer weather, an insulated cup can keep a beverage cool and refreshing.
- Eat fruits and vegetables. Cucumbers, tomatoes, grapes, melons, lettuce and oranges are all over 90 percent water and can add significantly to your intake of liquid.
4. Be Social
Humans are social animals. For optimal health and happiness, we need friends, as being lonely can hurt our health and shorten our lives. That’s true at any age, especially adults who don’t live near family. Fortunately, friendships are a great substitute. Being with friends has benefits that aren’t matched even by being with family members.
To increase your enjoyment of life and build new friendships, find a community that provides opportunities to meet others with common interests. Playing cards and board games, engaging in sports, practicing hobbies, being part of a spiritual community and doing volunteer work are all proven ways to engage with others and stay healthy in both body and mind.
5. Keep Reading
Research shows that reading has benefits that are hard to duplicate through other activities, making it a great way for adults to improve their well-being.
- Reading improves brain function. Studies have found that reading more difficult texts fires up your neurons, resulting in a lasting brain benefit.
- Reading relieves stress. Reading can help you unwind and can be especially beneficial at the end of the day.
- Reading increases empathy. Enjoying a narrative often requires that you put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Researchers have found that watching a movie or TV show doesn’t activate empathy in the same way that reading does.
Make reading a habit and take steps to increase how enjoyable it is for you. If you have trouble with text size, for instance, visit your eye doctor for reading aids. You can also consider reading for shorter periods of time or finding reading material with larger print – eReaders typically let you change text to whatever size you prefer. If your eyes tire quickly, switch to briefer works, such as short stories, novelettes, essays and poems. Sharing books with others is another great way to increase your reading enjoyment. You can join a book club or simply read a book that a friend is reading.
Make Health into a Yearlong Habit
Improving your well-being has ripple effects on your life. It will help you feel better, live longer and be able to enjoy your favorite activities and hobbies more fully. In many cases, implementing these senior health tips is also easier if you live in a supportive environment. Tudor Heights is a Baltimore community that is committed to helping residents reach their personal wellness goals. We offer wellness programs, activities and support services like assisted living and memory care that establish a positive lifestyle. For more information on our community, contact us online.