It’s not all about good genes. Growing older gracefully begins with our outlook, which in turn manifests itself in our decisions. If you’ve made some poor choices early in life, it’s never too late to make a fresh start. Here are 9 ways you can embrace life to the fullest as you enter your later years.
Say no to self-destruction. From premature wrinkles to increased risk of cancer and heart disease, the health tolls of smoking and excessive drinking can’t be overstated. There’s no better time to start breaking these habits than now.
Break a sweat. The saying “use it or lose it” is as true today as it ever was. Exercising three to four times per week helps maintain muscle mass, keep weight down, increase circulation, improve mood, and decrease risk of dementia.
Turn in. Studies show older adults need just as much sleep as everyone else. Sleeping 7 to 8 hours per night gives our bodies time to repair themselves, and it helps us feel refreshed and think with more clarity.
Build your relationships. Staying actively connected to friends and family is not only crucial for emotional health, but physical health too. Develop strong ties with the people you love – the golden years offer the perfect opportunity to remember what (and who!) counts the most.
Embrace novelty. Take a class, start a new hobby, listen to new music, read a novel. The brain loves to be challenged and it never loses its ability to grow. That’s why mentally stimulating activities can help keep you sharp.
Eat a rainbow. Since we need fewer calories as we get older, it becomes more important that we make the ones we consume count. Start by filling your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables, which are rich in essential nutrients. Supplement with heart-healthy fats, lean proteins like fish, fiber-rich whole grains, and legumes.
Make the most of health care. Find a doctor you trust and make the most of your visits by asking questions and speaking up about your health history. Make sure you’re getting an annual wellness exam, and supplement with additional screenings based on your specific risk factors.
Let it all go. Emotional baggage and stress take a toll on both body and soul. Use this next phase of life to make peace with others and yourself, to give up things you can’t control, and to embrace the life that’s right in front of you.