It’s true that everyone grows older, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do a few things to slow down that aging process a little. Are you aging well? The World Health Organization (WHO) defines actively aging well as
The process of increasing and improving opportunities for health, participation, and security in order to enhance a person’s quality of life.
You can take charge and start to improve your aging process by focusing on your physical, mental, and emotional health.
According to a study in Clinical Interventions in Aging, your grip strength is actually related to multiple health and happiness markers. By improving your grip strength you can also improve your
- Upper Limb Function
- Overall Strength
- Fine Motor Skill
- Cognitive Ability
- Emotional State
It seems that good grip strength also allows you to age well and remain active and independent. To strengthen your grip strength, you can try this exercise:
- Squeeze a tennis ball in the palm of your hand 5 to 10 times
- Repeat the exercise using just your thumb and index finger.
- Repeat again, this time using your thumb and every other finger.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight or underweight puts you at risk for all sorts of chronic diseases, health conditions, and even potentials falls and fractures (after fracturing my knee 3 months ago, I’m starting to look at my own grip). Doctors determine weight based on your Body Mass Index (BMI). Your BMI is a calculation of your body fat based on your height and weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), your weight status is determined by your BMI. The levels of weight status are:
BMI Weight Status
- Below 18.5 – Underweight
- 18.5—24.9 – Normal
- 25.0—29.9 – Overweight
- 30.0 and Above – Obese
Researchers have determined that having a BMI of 25 or more puts you at risk for chronic disease and poor health. To maintain a healthy weight, the CDC recommends that you include these in your diet….
- Whole Grains
- Lean Protein Sources
- Low Fat
- Low Sodium
- Little Added Sugars
Lean protein sources include fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, and soy products. Low-fat foods should be low in saturated and trans fat and cholesterol. Talk with your doctor about how many calories you need every day and plan your diet within that allowance. There are also a myriad of height/weight charts online that you can access (as well as lots of apps).
Your activity level can help maintain good muscle mass, strength, and bone density. According to a study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, older adults (age 52 and older) tend to do fewer daily activities, leading to poorer health outcomes. The CDC recommends older adults engage in:
- 150 Minutes a Week of Moderate Intensity Aerobic Activity
- 2 Days of Strength Training a Week
- Activity as Tolerated
If you have health problems, don’t forget to talk with your doctor about what activities are safe for you. You want to be as active as possible and increase your activity level as you grow stronger. Staying active helps you age well by improving your:
Exercise Your Brain
According to a study in Scientific Reports, cognitive training improves brain function. The more you use your brain, the better your overall health and quality of life. Studies in the journals Nature and PLoS Medical show that good cognitive function may reduce the risk for dementia. Try exercising your brain with these activities:
- Jigsaw Puzzles
- Learn a New Language
- Art Classes or Crafts
- Nature Walks
As people age, the opportunities for social contact can decrease. A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that one in four adults age 65 and older are socially isolated. The report also found that social isolation increases the risk for:
- Hearth Disease
- Premature Death
You can improve your aging process by getting out and socializing with people. There are lots of ways to do this like
- Joining a Book Club or Other Hobby Group
- Writing Letters to Family and Friends
- Email or Social Media
Improving your aging process can help you be more independent, increase your cognitive ability, and build social connections. There are many simple ways to improve your aging process and quality of life.
What are YOU doing to turn back the clock?