by Cindy Dobroskay
We just get better as we age, right?
Our wisdom and compassion may increase as we grow older, but, unfortunately, so do our health challenges. More than 90% of older adults have at least one chronic condition, and more than 75% have more than one. Plus, these figures are even higher for women than for men.
Natural changes like menopause and family medical history play a part, but a healthy lifestyle can help you stay as strong and independent as possible in the years ahead.
Here are some tips to help you maintain your health as you age.
Stay cool. Hot flashes can make you
uncomfortable and disrupt your sleep. Reduce them by limiting triggers like
alcohol and caffeine. Dress in layers and keep a fan next to your bed. Use a
cool cloth when needed to cool skin.
2. Manage stress. Stress can aggravate hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. De-stress daily with prayer, meditation, journaling, practicing gratitude, and positive thinking. Regular exercise also helps alleviate stress and boost our mood.
Lose weight. Your muscles shrink and
your metabolism slows down as you age. The distribution of your body fat
changes too, so more of those pounds wind up around your waist, increasing your
risk for heart conditions and diabetes. (Belly
fat is the most dangerous for our body). Fight back with healthier eating
habits and exercising more.
Eat soy. Many women find relief from
menopause symptoms with soy and supplements, even though studies give
conflicting results. See if tofu and soymilk work for you.
Talk with your doctor. If all else fails
and you are suffering more than you can bear, your doctor can tell you whether
you’re a good candidate for hormone replacement therapy or other treatments.
Share your concerns and questions.
Keep your heart healthy. You’re about 5
times more likely to have heart disease after you turn 40. Your heart is a
muscle, like all other muscles in the body. Aerobic exercise forces the heart
to pump a little harder, and so strengthens the heart muscle. Aerobic exercise,
along with a diet high in fiber and low in unhealthy fats, can help your heart stay strong. It’s never too late to improve the health of your heart.
Build your muscles. You can slow down muscle loss, and thicken your bones
with strength training. Lift weights or try
movements that use your own body weight for resistance, like planks and
pushups. You don’t need to push too hard, just hard enough to feel a challenge.
You don’t need to worry about ‘bulking up’.
Increase your balance. Avoid falls by
becoming steadier on your feet. Practice yoga or just stand on one foot while
you're talking on the phone. Make sure you alternate legs so you’re a
‘well-balanced’ person. =)
4. Ask a fitness professional for help. If you’ve already noticed you’re losing some strength and balance, or are feeling stiff and sore, especially in your back, targeted stretching and strength exercises can help. Would you like to move better and feel better, so you can have the strength and energy to enjoy the best years of your life? Contact me to find out how I can help you do just that!
Sleep well. You may find it harder to
fall asleep and stay asleep these days. Stick to a consistent schedule and
block out nighttime noises. Put away your device and spend time in a relaxing
activity for at least 30 – 60 minutes before you go to bed.
Watch your blood pressure. Your blood
pressure and heart rate rise as plaque deposits stiffen your arteries over the
years. A vegetarian or low fat diet has shown to reduce this risk. Losing
weight, exercising, and limiting salt and high fat foods may help you to avoid
Screen for cancer. Age increases your
risk for many forms of cancer. So do some foods, like red meat. Stay active,
eat more vegetables, and reduce your red meat intake. Talk with your doctor
about screening tests that spot cancers early when they're easier to treat and
Check your hearing. You may already be
noticing signs of age-related hearing loss. Shield your ears from loud and
persistent noises by lowering the volume on media devices and wearing earplugs
when necessary. “What’s that you said?”
Protect your vision. Ensure your
eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions are up to date if you're having trouble
reading the fine print. While no studies have shown a way to prevent cataracts,
regular eye exams and managing conditions like diabetes can help.
Remain engaged. Staying connected is essential for vibrant aging. Cultivate close relationships and learn something new each day. I’ve
enjoyed learning a new language on Duolingo, learning Sudoku, and doing online
puzzles (some of which are very challenging). What do you enjoy?
Staying informed and making healthy lifestyle choices can help you prevent and manage many of the conditions that come with aging. If you're a woman over 40, start now to maximize your chances of staying mentally sharp and physically fit in your golden years.