Why you should live a healthier lifestyle in your golden years
It’s more important than ever to ensure you’re staying on top of your health during later life. As we get older, we’re more at risk of becoming malnourished as our appetites tend to decrease and our bodies naturally absorb less nutrients. It’s also highly important to live a healthy lifestyle in order to fend off illnesses, and, ultimately, live longer.
The dietary needs of the elderly differ to those of younger people, and in order to retain good health, older people need to ensure they’re receiving a higher intake of certain nutrients. It’s incredibly important that this age group are eating a diet high in fibre, as this will aid with digestion and provide a boost of energy. Many elderly people struggle to eat as much food as they once did, so it’s important to ensure each meal is packed with vegetables and wholegrains, and ensuring that they are getting enough lean protein in their diet.
In addition to adding in healthy foods, it’s important to try and gradually remove foods that can be potentially harmful to health. The elderly should particularly look to erase refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, fats that are solid at room temperature and refined sugars. These foods can be enjoyed in moderation, but eating too much of these ingredients can lead to the onset of health conditions that are more common with old age.
As appetite can become one of the leading contributors of malnutrition, some older people find it beneficial to eat several smaller meals throughout the day rather than three large meals – so this might be a worthwhile area to explore. It’s also important that water intake is kept sufficient; this will improve overall energy levels and keep skin looking youthful.
Exercise has more of an impact on our overall health than many of us think. Staying active can help to prolong our life and prevent the onset of many illnesses common with old age – including dementia, chronic pain and lowered immune system. It also helps to improve sleep quality and the release of feel-good hormones. It’s best to approach gentle exercise – and always check with a doctor beforehand. Simply going for a 30-minute fast-paced walk each day can make a huge difference to long term health; and muscle strengthening exercises, in particular, help to boost the body’s metabolism.
Yoga is becoming an increasingly popular form of exercise. An incredibly diverse practise, yoga is safe for almost anyone to try, with moves and postures that range from beginner to advanced. It’s widely appreciated for its holistic nature, emphasising the connection between body and mind by improving physical strength and flexibility whilst also boosting mood and self-confidence. Yoga is also great for reducing feelings of anxiety and depression.
Although not as immediately obvious as healthy eating and exercise, engaging with other like-minded people on a regular basis is integral to human health. Loneliness is a major contributor to a range of mental and physical health conditions, and being able to share emotions and experiences with others instils feelings of belonging that we are biologically programmed to crave. Whether it’s joining a local community or ensuring contact with family and friends, having regular interactions is key to living a longer, happier life.