Nobody likes the aging process, and no truer words were uttered than “Old age is not for the faint of heart.” The truth is, if we are given the option to grow old, we need to embrace it and make the best of it, because it’s a privilege not everyone has.
In a previous blog there were “10 head-to-toe tips for active aging,” which mostly are common sense and relatively easy to implement in an Active Wellness regimen. This blog summarizes why we need to practice Active Wellness and active aging.
People associate aging with wrinkles and gray hair. That may be an accurate visual, but what happens internally to our bodies affects the aging process much more drastically. One of the most common changes during the aging process is that our cardiovascular system becomes less flexible and stiffens, causing the heart to work harder to pump blood through the vessels and arteries. These changes increase the risk of hypertension and other heart problems.1
To help lower the risk of cardiovascular problems, maintain a sustainable and reasonable weight by eating a healthy diet that’s high in vegetables and fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods, lean sources of protein and eliminate saturated fats, refined sugars and some salt. Exercise moderately and consistently and stay away from tobacco and its related products. Reduce stress through meditation, exercise, therapy and self-care products such as the handheld KenkoTouch® massager.
With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density, weakening them and making them more susceptible to fracture. We might even become a bit shorter. Muscles generally lose strength, endurance and flexibility — factors that can affect your coordination, stability and balance.2
To counteract these effects, do some form of weight-bearing exercise every day and make sure to consume adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D. If you don’t eat a diet rich in essential minerals, consider taking supplements such as Kenzen® Joint, Kenzen® BDZ and Kenzen® Calcium Complex. You’ll be happily pleased with results you may actually feel.
The brain undergoes changes as we age that may have minor effects on the memory or thinking skills. For example, healthy older adults might forget familiar names or words, or may find it more difficult to multitask.3
There are several activities that can help slow down aging of the brain. We can promote cognitive health by doing the same things that promote cardiovascular and digestive health; that is, exercise regularly, quit smoking or using any tobacco related products, eat a healthy diet and manage blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes—all together, these measures help decrease the risk of cognitive decline. In addition, we can do puzzles, play word games, Sudoku and learn new skills, such as an additional language or musical instrument.
With age, we might have difficulty focusing on objects that are close up. We might become more sensitive to glare and have trouble adapting to different levels of light. Aging also can affect the eye’s lens, causing clouded vision (cataracts). Hearing also might diminish. We might have difficulty hearing high frequencies or following a conversation in a crowded room.
To promote eye and ear health, we need to schedule regular checkups and follow our medical practitioners’ advice on glasses, hearing aids and other corrective devices. We can easily wear sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats outdoors and use earplugs when we know we’ll be around loud machinery or other loud noises.
There’s an old Chinese saying that translates loosely to: “Toothaches can’t kill you but they make you feel like dying.” When we age, the gums might pull back from our teeth and cause both to become more vulnerable to decay and infection.3 Brushing and flossing are easy ways to decrease the risk of gum and dental deterioration. Much as we may dislike it, we need to see our dentist regularly, especially when we age.
According to a study from Yale University, people who viewed aging positively lived 7.5 years longer than those who approached it with a negative attitude.4 To reiterate this, according to the Journal of American Medical Association, seniors who viewed aging positively (wisdom and overall satisfaction) are 40 percent more likely to recover from a disability than those who see it as synonymous to helplessness.5 The more you embrace getting older and appreciate its positive aspects the happier you are and the younger you look.