Staying Fit As You Get Older

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Posted by Farl Greene

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For many of us, getting older is something we don’t like to think about.  We think it means achy joints, high cholesterol, and other declines in physical, mental, and social well-being.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Even if you’re still relatively young, following these tips may help you feel better for longer.

Physical Health

As you get older, you may find you get stiff or sore from activities that you used to do without difficulty.  Being physically healthy does not mean you have to run marathons.  If you exercise on a regular basis but find your knees or back can’t take jogging anymore, consider switching to low-impact exercises like Pilates or water aerobics.  These routines can help you stay fit without causing you pain.

If you haven’t kept up with exercising and would like to get back into the swing of things, even something as easy as walking to the end of the block or doing some gardening in your yard can make a difference.  The more you are able to move, the better it will be for your cardiovascular and joint health in the long run.

Besides exercise, eating right is important to keep your bones and muscles strong.  Getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and fiber in your diet through fruits and vegetables is essential in keeping your body healthy.  If you aren’t getting enough of these nutrients through your diet, talk to your doctor about whether you should be taking nutritional supplements.

Mental Health

After retirement, many people lose their sense of purpose.  Becoming depressed can happen all too easily if you don’t feel you are a valued member of society.  Give yourself a reason to get out of bed each morning – through volunteering, attending church or other meetings, or spending time with friends.

Games and puzzles are also important to maintaining brain function, including memory and focus.  Crosswords, Sudoku, word games, or logic puzzles – use whatever game appeals to you.  Many people also take up creative hobbies like painting or writing to get their creative juices flowing.

Social Health

Social health is determined by how you interact with others and with society as a whole.  Isolation can have serious effects on your physical and mental health, so it is essential you get out and about as much as you can.

You can stay socially healthy by joining groups that appeal to your interests.  These groups could be physical in nature, like walking or jogging groups, or something mentally stimulating, like a book club or bridge club.  These groups can offer up new ideas and perspectives, which helps keep your mind fresh.

Staying connected with family is another way to maintain social fitness.  Something as simple as meeting for lunch or dinner once a week can help maintain those relationships.  If your family isn’t close by, keep in touch with them via social media like Facebook or video chat.

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