September is Healthy Ageing Month in the United States.
While Healthy Ageing magazine dedicates Healthy Ageing Month to the over 45s, as a global population we're increasingly staying active for longer. Meanwhile the cost of health cover can start to escalate as we age, so it pays to ensure we become more health-conscious as we get older.
In addition to Healthy Ageing magazine’s take on the topic, which looks to inspire over 45s to reinvigorate their lives, the World Health Organization (WHO) looks at healthy ageing from a socio-economic perspective.
To complement these useful resources, we're going to look at some of the lifestyle and mindset changes you can adopt to ensure you stay healthy as you get older.
We all know that eating a healthy diet is good advice, but what you won't often read is why you might find it tough to maintain a healthy diet as you age.
Telling yourself to simply ‘eat healthier’ isn’t always effective. So what does eating healthier mean as you get older?
You can find managing your weight a challenge at any age, but it is often tougher as we get older. As you age, it’s also important to be aware that you’re as much at risk of falling underweight through not eating as you are at becoming overweight by not eating the right foods.
Being underweight can leave you more susceptible to infection and weaken your immune system. In contrast, being overweight can increase your risk of developing heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. In fact age itself is a primary risk factor in all three of these conditions, so it’s important to try to reduce your risk by maintaining a healthy weight.
Why does weight management become more difficult as we age?
As we age we may find ourselves heading towards an unhealthy weight without even realising it. It’s therefore important to stay on top of your weight by keeping track and if you have any concerns, talk to your family doctor for advice. It’s better to monitor and take action before the situation gets out of control.
One of the easiest ways to maintain your diet and manage your weight as you get older is to make simple food swaps that you’ll barely notice.
The UK National Health Service has some helpful ideas here. You can come up with your own food swap ideas as you experiment with different ingredients too.
Staying active is usually associated with losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, but the full benefits of being physically active are far more wide-ranging.
By staying active, you can help to:
The great thing about staying active is that you don't need to be running the equivalent of a marathon each week to reap the overall health benefits. A brisk walk for 30 minutes, five days a week, is enough to keep you healthy. Although if you're eating well and feeling energetic, why not do even more?
Getting older can be a fantastic opportunity to try a new active hobby too. Why not join your local tennis club, learn to play golf, or rediscover a lost passion such as gardening? If you have any injuries or experience pain while exercising as you get older, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor to address the problem and ensure you can continue to stay active.
Eating a varied, nutrient-rich diet and staying active both play a role in maintaining brain health. However it’s also vital that you actively stimulate your brain as you age, particularly if you are retired and no longer working.
How can you do this?
Drinking plenty of water is vital for brain health too, as well as helping to regulate your weight and appetite.
Staying healthy as you get older doesn't have to be tough. It’s best to start good habits sooner rather than later, as it can be more difficult to change your behaviour later in life. However, if you have the desire to make a positive change, there are plenty of great tools to help motivate you and keep you on track.
Committing to staying healthy as you get older will benefit you, your family, and your bank balance! All you need to do is make a few simple changes to your eating and exercise habits to suit your changing body as you age.