September is Healthy Aging Month!!
A lot of my patients say to me “Don’t ever get old”………
However, everyone gets old and I believe it is something not only we should celebrate but also something we should plan for (no matter what our age is). With 9 years working with patients in the healthcare industry, I have seen tips on how to do it right (and seen some things that don’t work so well).
Below are my Top 5 Tips for Healthy Aging
1. Exercise! There is so much evidence for introducing a combination of flexibility, strength training and cardiovascular endurance as we age. Our routine, as working adults and students, does not lend itself to improved flexibility - it is quite often the opposite: stiffness, decreased flexility and pain. Developing a proper stretching routine (even just 5 minutes) can help reverse the effects of our daily routine and set us up for healthy aging! ALSO strength training, especially body weight exercises, are extremely important for keeping our bones strong and preventing bone disorders, such as osteoporosis as we age. Additionally, exercise can help decrease stress, improve sleep, improve mood, decrease body weight and improve cardiovascular health - are you convinced yet?!?
2. Proper nutrition! Although this is important at all stages in our life, it becomes particularly important as we get older, especially in the area of PROTEIN. Sarcopenia (def’n: breakdown of our muscles) occurs as we get older (it can start to begin at the age of 30!!??!!). To counter this effect we need at least 0.8g of protein for every kg of body weight - every day!
For example: 140lbs person = 63.6kg x 0.8 = 51g of protein PER DAY (and this doesn’t include the increased amount a moderately active individual would need)
3. Support Your Brain. This includes continuing to learn new things! Take up hobbies, increase your reading, attend community lecture series (many at McMaster University) or do the crossword! Also stay social! There is a lot of evidence to support the positive things that happen to our brain chemically when we interact with people (especially ones we like) everyday. Join reading groups, walking groups or just spend more time with family and friends. Finally, dare I say it…..meditate! There is LOADS of evidence to support the positive effects of mindfulness, with even just 5 MINUTES A DAY. Read the book '10% Happier' if you want to hear how meditation changed the life of one of the biggest skeptics in the entertainment industry. Or try downloading an app like Calm or Headspace.
4. Sleep! As we sleep, we give our body a chance to repair and recover from the day, which is especially important as we age! Sleep deprivation can lead to trouble concentrating, depressed mood, weakened immune system, high blood pressure, weight gain, low sex drive and poor balance - WHAT?! Studies also say these effects can be seen in people who sleep as little as 5 hours a night consistently. Adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. SLEEP SMART! Eliminate caffeine in the afternoon and turn off electronics & screens 2 hours prior to going to bed. Sweet dreams!
5. Take Care of Your Injuries!! Especially your feet! For anyone who has had a foot or ankle injury, they know how debilitating it can be! You have difficulty being active, your balance is off and you have trouble just participating in daily activities! Now is the time to invest in supportive footwear (sandals included) and take the time give your feet the attention they need. Stretch the bottom of the feet and calfs regularly. Trace the lower case alphabet with your ankle (toes are the pencil) in the mornings and get in the habit of rolling your feet with a golf ball morning and evening. This will allow you to stay active as you age! Your future self will thank you!