The goal for most of us will be to age gracefully. Aging well and aging gracefully have different meanings to different people. Your genetics, past beliefs, current realities, and even your expectations for the future will all have an impact on how you age. Even luck is likely to have a greater impact than you might anticipate.
Aging well encompasses all aspects of our being: physical; mental; emotional; and spiritual. It also includes the community around us. It’s also about the little things. The smile between friends or the clasp of a hand and tears shed in embrace as you comfort a friend or a loved one. The small choices we make day in and day out provide the sustenance for our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
All aspects of our being interplay with the others. As a physical therapist, I have frequently seen this to be true. Our physical state can have a positive or negative impact on our emotions or our mental or emotional state, and the opposite is just as true.
It’s the little things done consistently over time that truly can make a difference in how one ages. It’s important to develop daily routines and habits to support this consistency over time.
5 tips to help you stay consistent with the little things to insure that you age well:
(1) Journal. Journaling is known to help process feelings and emotions as well as to help you remember those important or even routine moments in life. It can also help you gain gratitude for all that you have. More than that, it’s an excellent way to keep tabs on how active you are and if you are meeting daily exercise and activity goals. Activity and exercises are different, but equally important. Both need to be part of a daily and weekly routine.
(2) Be active daily. Activity is loosely defined as staying active (such as walking, performing home chores or even light gardening). Find little ways to increase your activity levels daily such as parking further from your destination. Take the stairs if possible or play with your grandchildren or children in the neighborhood.
(3) Exercise most days of the week. Exercise is typically a shorter duration where the intensity is higher either through muscle exertion such as strength training or having an elevated heart rate for at least 20 minutes while performing a cardiovascular based activity. It’s important to focus on activities that you like and can be consistent with, but also be sure to include exercise at least one time a week that will address strengthening, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and balance. Often these areas can be combined with one exercise, but all four areas should be addressed as part of a thorough program.
(4) Watch your sugar intake. Excessive sugar intake combined with poor activity and exercise levels is the perfect recipe for microvascular diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Eat whole unprocessed foods and avoid sugars and artificial sweeteners. Longevity experts all agree that this is a critical component to aging well.
(5) Be consistent. Healthy aging is about being consistent with the little things over time. We will all get off track from time to time. Being consistent with the little things over time will truly lead to big things and to a life well lived.
Successful aging is possible for everyone. Only you get to set the standards, guidelines, and definitions as to what aging well means for you. Consistency over time with the little things will insure that you reach your goals and live a life abundantly.
Written by: Ben Shatto
Editor’s Note: This article was written by Ben Shatto, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS. Ben is a physical therapist and Administrator for Signature Healthcare – home of House Calls, Home Health, Palliative and Hospice Care as well as the founder and editor of the website www.thePhysicalTherapyAdvisor.com. His website is dedicated to help proactive adults of all ages to understand how to safely self-treat and manage common musculoskeletal, neurological, and mobility related conditions in a timely manner so they can reach their optimal health.
On behalf of Smart Strategies for Successful Living, our sincerest appreciation goes to Ben Shatto for his contribution to our community website and commitment to the success of older adults.