Making the most of your life by promoting a healthy lifestyle as you age
George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “You don’t stop laughing when you grow old; you grow old when you stop laughing”. The ‘grumpy old person’ cliché couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there is even scientific evidence to suggest that your psychological wellbeing starts to improve from the age of 50. You have a head start already! So, what else can we do to maximise happiness as we age?
Focus on your health and wellbeing
Regular check-ups with your GP can contribute to your peace of mind, knowing that any major health issues are in check and can be resolved early before they escalate. Quitting smoking (if you smoke) is recommended as it is kind to your heart and mind and can be very beneficial to improving your overall health as your get older. Take care with your alcohol consumption. We are not saying quit drinking by any means but enjoy in moderation. Enjoying a sneaky glass of wine every now and then can actually have a good impact on your health, including boosting your body’s antioxidants, lower stress and anxiety and positively benefit your gut health. But of course, moderation is key. The biggest recommendation is that you take time for yourself, do things that positively benefit your wellbeing and look after all aspects of your health, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Take a walk
A brisk half hour walk every day can be enormously beneficial to your happiness and your health. It gets you out and about for starters! The brisker the better. Aerobic exercise of any form helps keep brain cells healthy by delivering more oxygen and blood to them. You can build and maintain your muscles with this regular kind of activity. It’s likely to help you sleep better and generally boost your overall mood. As far as health benefits go, you’ll also be reducing your risk of heart disease, hypertension, dangerous cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes. You can even walk to and from our next secret to happiness!
Go for a coffee
Maintaining our social networks is vital to our happiness as we age. The extra free time afforded by an ‘empty nest’ makes it easier to stay in touch with friends. Here’s the trick though, meeting friends for coffee can help reduce the risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Be sure to drink it as close to black as possible to get the full effect of its antioxidants, polyphenols and phenylindane. There’s even recent research to suggest that caffeine can play a role in protecting against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Read more books
It’s not exercising and it’s not particularly sociable but a great way to keep your mind in shape is to read. Funnily enough, just like walking even 30 minutes a day can be tremendously beneficial, reading is also highly recommended as the ideal wind down activity to help ensure a great night’s sleep. There’s even been a scientific study undertaken that links increased reading with increased longevity!
Learn a new skill
A rewarding and beneficial dedication to trying something new can definitely help keep you happy. Old brains are just as adept at learning as young ones so get your neurons and synapses fired up in any number of ways. A new hobby, community sport, a musical instrument, experimenting in the kitchen as you attempt to master a new cuisine; these efforts can really help give you a sense of achievement as well as keeping your mind sharp. There are also the benefits of socialisation by joining clubs dedicated to games or past times, expanding your friendship circle, and having an encouraging environment for you to thrive in.
Have a positive attitude
This is really important! We all know that the world isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Life will test us no matter what our age. Positive thinking can help you be more resilient in facing life’s challenges and have positive physical and mental outcomes too. Stress can be a major contributing factor in heart attacks and depression. Some studies have shown that thinking positively about getting older can increase your lifespan by up to seven and a half years. A positive attitude can also have a positive effect on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Try meditation or Tai Chi
Just 15 minutes a day focused on calmness and breathing can boost your happiness levels. Your brain will love the break and regular meditation will improve your concentration levels and help you manage stress. If you’re the type of person who has trouble staying still you might like to try the ancient Chinese martial art, Tai Chi, sometimes described as ‘meditation in motion’, With its focus on gentle, low impact movement and deep breathing, you can expect benefits such as improved balance, reduction of stress levels, better flexibility and in some cases can even help reduce arthritic pain.
Get a pet
Just the companionship of ‘man’s best friend’ can have a tremendously soothing effect on your demeanour. Pet owners generally have lower cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure than those who don’t own a pet. Stroking your pet actually reduces the hormone that causes stress. Exercising your pet (for example walking your dog) can mean you’re increasing your exercise levels too, bringing extra benefits for you without really trying!
It’s your choice, your health and happiness await as you get older!
Ultimately the level of happiness you carry on your journey into aging will be about your choices and just how happy you want to be. The tips listed above can help but you must want to be happy. So, embrace your life and what it holds, there is still much to learn, much to experience, much to savour, much to smile about. Embrace it!
As you get older, you may need additional support to help you maintain your health, happiness, and independence. If this is the case, get in touch with ConnectAbility Australia. As specialists in providing support to ageing Australians, they can get you in touch with social support, help at home, medical practitioners, just about anything to help you live a fulfilling lifestyle. Reach out to the team in Newcastle on (02) 4962 1000 or (02) 4349 3700 on the Central Coast. Don’t let your age stop you from living your best life!