Nowadays Americans are living longer than ever. And not only that, but many of us are healthier than ever, in part because of an increasing awareness about the importance of diet and lifestyle when it comes to overall health and wellness. In honor of National Senior Health and Fitness Day, here are six important tips for healthy aging:
- Load up on fiber
A high-fiber diet supports digestive health and may help relieve occasional constipation.* In addition, eating more fiber has been shown to support a healthy heart, weight and body.* Aim for at least 35 grams of fiber daily from fruit, non-starchy veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and natural fiber supplements.
- Stay Active
Results of a Harvard study show the more active we are after age 65, the better our chances of maintaining a healthy heart and avoiding a sudden heart attack. Researchers found that seniors who walked more and were more active displayed better heart rate variability—a sign of a healthy heart and nervous system.
- Get Plenty of Sleep
It’s not necessarily that we need more sleep as we get older—but because our sleep patterns and frequency have a tendency to change with age, it is important to get enough sleep. Experts recommend getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night to support physical and emotional well-being.
- Manage Your Weight
Maintaining a healthy body weight begins with healthier food choices, specifically a diet that consists mainly of low-sugar fruit, non-starchy veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and protein sources such as chicken and seafood. Regular exercise is also important for healthy weight maintenance, and even small increases in physical activity can be beneficial.
- Cultivate Your Social Life
A number of studies connect socialization to a better quality of life for seniors. Staying social with friends, family members and those in their community has been shown to improve both mental and physical health for older adults, as well as improve overall mood.
- Last but not Least: Prevention is Key
Being proactive about your health is an essential part of healthy aging. Be sure to schedule routine visits with your healthcare practitioner for regular screenings, and stay on top of key health indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.