Tips for successful aging

Nik Mattson, PT

July is a month for celebrating independence, not just on the fourth but each and every day.

Staying independent and active is natural when we are young and often something we take for granted. But it can often be a challenge later on in life as natural aging catches up with us.

There are things we can do as we grow older to help us stay as independent and healthy as possible. Following are “Ten Ways to Age Successfully” by Dr. Roger Landry, MD, MPH:

• Use it or lose it

If you want to have the ability to do something as you get older, you must do it now. Challenge yourself physically, mentally and socially to be at your best.

• Keep moving

Physical activity is the closest thing to a fountain of youth. Staying active — even just 30 minutes a day — can prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis and dementia. The best results come from a commitment to strength training, endurance, flexibility and balance.

• Challenge your mind

Most mental ability lost with age is due to lack of use. By continuing to learn throughout life, we can grow new connections in our brains. To stay mentally alert, do things such as take courses, converse with friends, play word games or learn new languages.

• Stay connected

Having a network of friends and being part of a community is the thing most associated with happiness. People who are socially connected have much lower risks for all diseases.

• Lower your risks

By identifying health risks and working with your doctor to eliminate threats, you can function at very high levels for decades. Don’t skip on regular physicals, and be proactive about your health.

• Eat for the long haul

Avoid skipping meals, as research shows lack of nutrition may result in dementia later in life. Also, Mom was right — eat your fruits and vegetables, and stay hydrated.

• Never act your age

Age is an attitude — not a number. Following your heart and acting how you feel will keep you dynamic, creative and living life to the fullest.

• Wherever you are, be there

Don’t let your chattering mind take you from this moment, which is the pure joy of life. Find pursuits such as music, art, writing or enjoying nature, which will keep your mind from negative thoughts.

• Have children in your life

Children bring wonder, renewal and a sense of optimism to our lives, just as we bring wisdom, order and stability to theirs.

• Laugh

In studies on centenarians, the most commonly displayed traits by these individuals are humor and optimism. Laughter stimulates the immune system.

Social interaction, engaging activities or hobbies, a proper diet, fitness and wellness programs and a positive attitude all play an important role in helping both the mind and body stay well.

Celebrate independence from negative thoughts, a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition and social isolation, and this will help improve your chances of staying active, healthy and happy as you age.

Nik Mattson is a physical therapist providing services to Benedictine Home Health, Benedictine St. Catherines and Benedictine Siena Court.

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