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4 Keys to Healthy Ageing

Elderly Couple

Friday 7th April marks World Health Day, a global health awareness day celebrated every year to promote the one thing many of us take for granted – our health.

You might be surprised to learn how a few simple decisions can add not only years to your life, but life to your years. These decisions are the keys to healthy ageing.


Exercise as Much as You Can

Elderly man walking

It’s no secret that exercise is good for us, we get told almost daily! But the truth is if you want to stay lively in your golden years, it’s time to start getting some exercise.

You don’t have to exhaust yourself in the gym four or five times a week, either. Experts say that a little exercise can work wonders.

A Harvard University study on mortality rates, found that people who regularly burn 2,000 or more calories a week added two years to their lives.

The same study concluded that jogging one hour a week at a slow to average pace, could increase the life expectancy of men by 6.2 years, and women by 5.6 years.

If getting enough exercise is difficult for you, check out these exercises you can do from the comfort of your chair!


Eat Like You’re on Holiday (Not Literally)

Eat WellMediterranean food

Your blood pressure and cholesterol are two of the biggest indicators of how well you will age. The best way to look after these numbers is of course, eating well.

If you are the sort of person who enjoys holidays to the Mediterranean to indulge in local cuisine, you’re in luck. Mediterranean food, despite being among the most enjoyable food available, is shown to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and promote heart health.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you need to hire a Mediterranean chef. The trick is to stop buying processed foods, and replace them with whole foods like these instead:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Lean meat
  • Nuts
  • Heart-healthy fats from olive oil, and fish
  • Potassium-rich foods such as bananas, sweet potatoes, oranges, and tomatoes

Potassium-rich foods help your kidneys flush sodium (responsible for rising blood pressure) out of your bloodstream.


Stay Social and Challenge Your Mind

Playing cards

All social activities offer some level of mental stimulation. Whether it’s learning a new language, gardening, or playing cards, activity is not only enjoyable, it also keeps our brain sharp and healthy.

But the advantages of social activities do not end there. A 2010 study on social relationships and mortality risks published in Plos Medicine, a scientific journal, concluded that the effect of insufficient social relationships on the risk of death, can be compared to that of smoking and obesity.

A separate study by the University of Rochester, found that older adults see a reduced risk of cardiovascular problems, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease when they are socially active.

The bottom line is: Eat, drink, and be merry (in moderation) with friends and family as often as you can.


Stop Smoking

stop smoking

Yes, those two words that you’re probably sick of hearing. But the reality is, if you are at all interested in living a long, healthy life, it’s time to stop smoking.

Smoking contributes to many life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis, many forms of cancer, and stroke, to name a few. It makes breathing during exercise much harder, and any physical activity less appealing.

If you’ve smoked for many years, it’s easy to think that the damage has already been done, but it’s never too late to stop. In fact, the benefits are almost immediate. To give you an idea, here is a timeline of what happens to your body when you quit.

 

  • After 20 minutes: Your blood pressure and pulse rate have returned to normal.
  • After 8 hours: Remaining nicotine in your bloodstream has reduced by more than 90%.
  • After 48 hours: Damaged nerve endings have started to regrow and your sense of smell and taste are beginning to return to normal.
  • Between 10 and 14 days: Blood circulation in your gums and teeth are now that of a non-smoker.
  • After the 1st month: Any smoking related sinus congestion, fatigue or shortness of breath has decreased. Your body’s overall energy has increased.
  • After 1 year: Your excess risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke has dropped to less than half that of a smoker.

At any age, stopping smoking greatly increases your chances of ageing healthily, and will even save you a pretty penny too.

 

Whether you incorporate one or all of these keys to healthy ageing, your chances of living a full and healthy life increase dramatically.

So until scientists can safely tweak human DNA to increase our lifespan, it’s down to us to make the right choices to promote a long and healthy life.

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