There are lots of opinions and advice on how to get healthier from fad diets to intense workout routines. When it comes to adopting healthier behaviors, it’s better to start with smaller steps rather than trying to force a dramatic behavioral change. Whatever getting healthier means to you, you’ll find these simple suggestions useful for adding healthy choices to your daily routines.
Physical activity is important no matter what your age; just walking regularly can have benefits on your physical and mental health. Benefits of walking include:
1. Lower blood pressure:
Walking also lowers your cholesterol and risk for coronary artery disease. Try to aim for one to two miles a few times a week at moderate pace.
2. Improve or prevent arthritis:
Walking can help strengthen the muscles that support joints and help reduce joint stiffness. Some studies suggest it can be as effective as an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen for pain relief.
3. Decrease risk of depression:
We know that seniors can have bouts of depression, but walking can help stave off feeling down by producing serotonin, dopamine and other brain chemicals that lift our mood.
4. Manage type 2 diabetes:
Controlling blood sugar is especially important as we age and become resistant to insulin. Health experts say just 15-minute walks, especially after meals, are effective in lowering blood sugar and reducing the risk of diabetes.
As we age, the content of every meal is that much more important, as common ailments like joint damage make it harder for some older adults to stay active, while others may experience a lowered appetite. Slight adjustments to your diet should include:
1. Get enough fiber:
Dietary fiber does so much more than support healthy digestion. It can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It’s also great for lowering cholesterol and maintaining a healthy weight. To get more fiber in your diet, try adding more whole-grain cereals, barley, beans and nuts to your routine. Certain fruits and vegetables, like apples, berries, carrots and celery, are also great sources of fiber.
2. Get the right amount of fats:
We often associate dietary fat with weight gain, but fat is a nutrient just like protein and carbs, and our bodies need fat to stay energized, absorb vitamins and protect our hearts. Understand the difference between the good fats that lower cholesterol, like omega-3s, and bad fats that pack on the pounds, like saturated fats. Good sources of healthy fat include olives, pumpkin seeds and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.
3. Cut down on sugar and refined carbs:
When cutting out unhealthy fats, like bacon for breakfast, don’t just replace them with sugars or refined carbohydrates, like a pastry or a donut. Your body gets all the sugar it needs that naturally occurs in the healthy food you eat. Try replacing processed foods with unrefined whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, or non-starchy vegetables.
Small goals like taking a walk or making small tweaks to your diet can help you improve your health. You might just find that if you plan and don’t take on too much, you can make many small, healthy improvements. Good luck!
The Lodge at Grand Junction Senior Living is committed to supporting families in the Grand Valley to find a place for mom, dad, relative or friend. Please let us know if you have any questions and we’ll be glad to help you explore your options. Give us a call at 970-716-6162 to talk, schedule a visit, or learn more about the services, living options, or costs associated with our services.