Have you ever heard someone say, “Age is just a number”? Maybe you thought, “Yeah, right. Age is much more than a number, because I can feel it in my joints and my energy levels!” It’s true that as you age, your body begins to slow down. You may have a harder time climbing the stairs or walking as far as you used to. But it’s also true that you can take some simple steps to feel younger at heart - and in body.
You may have heard stories about older people who have accomplished amazing things like running a marathon, starting a business, or participating in a sport they love well into their 60s, 70s, or 80s. What these people have in common is that they continued to stay active and participate in life, even when it felt more difficult.
The good news is: so can you.
Health Starts With the Right Mindset
Staying young at heart involves a mindset that understands how to incorporate healthy activities into your daily lifestyle. That starts with understanding the two types of health you should consider: physical and mental.
- Physical health - Physical health begins with talking to your doctor. Before you begin any new activity, especially if it involves types of movement or exercise you haven’t done before, ask your doctor whether it is safe for you. He or she can also give you tips on how to build up your strength and stamina slowly so you won’t get injured.
According to The Centers for Disease Control, exercise can help seniors maintain their independence, reduce the risk of falling, reduce the risk of common illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, and maintain healthy bones and muscles. The best news is that it doesn’t take hours of exercise to get those kinds of benefits. You can give yourself the gift of improved physical health by adding just 30 minutes of gentle exercise on most days.
- Mental health - Mental health is just as important as physical health in staying young at heart. If you are struggling with a severe issue such as depression, talk to your doctor right away about whether you need medication or other kinds of medical help. Most people, however, can improve their mental health by taking small steps to increase social interaction, keep their brains active, and get involved in the community.
Activities to Help You Stay Young at Heart
With both of those aspects of health in mind, what are some things you can do to stay looking and feeling more energetic and youthful? Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Take a Walk - It may seem simple, but taking a walk is one of the easiest ways to get your daily exercise in. It’s also fun, especially if you can go with a friend! If you haven’t been exercising at all, start with just ten minutes and gradually build up.
- Try Gardening - Gardening is a favorite activity among seniors, and it’s a great way to stay active. Plus, if you grow vegetables or fruit, you can boost your nutrition at the same time.
- Join an Exercise Class - Exercise classes offer double benefits: you improve your fitness and physical health while also making social connections. Gentle exercises like yoga, water aerobics, or light strength training will help you improve muscle tone and build flexibility. That’s especially important for seniors who may be experiencing balance issues. Strong muscles and bones make you less likely to fall, and can give you the energy you’ve been missing.
- Play Brain Games - Simple activities like crossword puzzles, word games, and board games will help you stay sharp mentally. You can do these the old fashioned way, or you can try them out on a device like a phone or ipad. You may be surprised how fun it can be to do a jigsaw puzzle or play chess with a friend online.
- Try a New (or Old) Hobby - Hobbies are great ways to learn new skills or polish up skills that you used to enjoy but haven’t practiced in a while. For example, woodworking, furniture restoration, sewing, baking, growing indoor plants, or playing cards can all be fun, challenging activities you can do alone or with friends.
- Find a Social Outlet - You don’t have to go out with friends every night of the week, but finding a social outlet once or twice a month (or more if you feel up to it) will help you stay connected with the community. For example, volunteer at a local charity, get involved in your retirement community, attend a local concert with a friend, join a book club, or attend religious services with your family.
Sometimes getting started with a new activity or getting back into something you used to enjoy can feel intimidating. That’s why it’s best to start slow. Try one new thing each month and give your body and brain time to get used to moving in a different way or engaging in a new experience. If you need help, ask a friend or family member to go with you. At Cherished Companions, our caregivers are always willing and ready to participate with you in the activities you love, whether that means playing a game of cards or getting out of the house for a social activity.
Above all, be willing to laugh and have a good time. That may mean laughing at yourself when things don’t go as planned!
For further questions, to request resources, or to inquire about getting or becoming a caregiver, contact Cherished Companions today on our website or call (440) 484-5390!