In the last article I mentioned that optimism, socialization and purpose were just a few of the characteristics proven to improve quality of life. So what are the additional elements that contribute to positive aging?
Of course, eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight is another factor in successful aging. Following a heart healthy diet which includes lean meat (limit red), poultry, fish, nuts, whole grains, and low-fat dairy is preferred. Vegetables and fruits should take up half your plate at mealtimes, and lots of water should be consumed. Sodium, sugar and alcohol should all be limited. More recommendations can be found online at www.choosemyplate.gov
Staying physically active is extremely important and has been found to be not only good for you physically but also mentally. Studies have actually shown that regular aerobic activity contributed to faster reaction times, better concentration and an increased ability to focus and ignore distractions. Experts recommend 30 minutes of moderate exercise (like walking) three days a week minimum – but prefer most days of the week. The good news is that this exercise does not have to be done all at once, but can be broken up over the day. Also, activities do not have to be traditional exercise. Physical activities like gardening, yard work, and cleaning house, can all be counted as forms of exercise.
Another characteristic of people who are great aging role models is that they challenge themselves intellectually. Every day, you should challenge your brain with new, interesting and increasingly difficult tasks. Doing this helps it stay healthy and helps maintain memory and cognitive function. So, take up a new hobby, learn a new skill or language, play games with friends, engage in a tricky word puzzle – these are all good ways to challenge your brain and break a "mental" sweat!
Hopefully these recommendations can be easily incorporated into your lives so that you may also age well. Frank Lloyd Wright said "The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes." I would like for him to be right!