I want to live until I’m at least 100 years old. But I only want to live that long if I’m aging with vitality.
The United Nations predicts that by 2050, the number of older persons worldwide will double to about 1.5 billion.
With such a huge increase in the older adult population, we have an opportunity to use our wisdom and experience to live a more productive life. But to do so we need vitality. We need to maintain strong, healthy minds and bodies.
Use each birthday to celebrate aging
Getting old is like climbing a mountain; you get a little out of breath but the view is much better”.
When I turned 50 my whole outlook on life changed. I became less anxious about life and I seemed to have come to terms with knowing that one day I’ll die. Your birthday can be a time of healthy reflection and setting new goals for your life.
Also, fifty is when I made a concerted effort to exercise and learn more mindfulness exercises like yoga and meditation.
Getting older can take its toll on our bodies. But old age doesn’t mean we dry out, crumble, and turn to ashes.
A woman who gained a lot of weight during pregnancy will have to work extra hard to lose excess weight. Similarly, getting older means, you have to work extra hard to stay healthy and strong. This is especially true due to the symptoms of menopause.
To live with vitality take conscious effort.
As I get older, I notice that it’s effortless to gain weight and so much harder to lose it. It also doesn’t take long to see a drop in my butt cheeks if I fail to keep up with my squats.
However, getting older does not prevent us from looking and staying healthy and strong. Practicing good habits can keep you fit and full of vitality as long as you live.
You can age well and stay happy by adopting these simple strategies from experts.
Learn to manage stress
Stress can drain your energy. Relentless stressors can leave you frazzled and unproductive.
Is there one thing in your life that causes undue stress for you? If so, learn ways to manage this situation, so it doesn’t continue to overwhelm you.
If your lifestyle brings a constant stream of stressful situations, consider eliminating or reducing activities or people who contribute to increasing your stress level
Stress can affect you on a cellular level and age you.
Practice habits that can help you manage or reduce stress.
Examine how you react to the news, the world, and your own circumstances. Remove yourself from anything that causes you undue stress.
Keep your mind sharp and active
A popular recommendation for keeping the aging mind active is to do crossword puzzles like sudoku. But don’t get boxed in by the norms.
Reading, walking in nature, and starting a side hustle are ways you can keep your mind active and sharp. You can choose to do anything your heart desires.
Remember, Col. Sanders started Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) after sixty.
I don’t know what you may consider old. But these individuals started new careers after 40. Until you die or are too sick to move around, nothing is impossible. You are never too old.
While starting a business or side hustle may not interest you, you might find you have more time to enjoy a hobby. Or you may prefer to volunteer or start a MeetUp group. Studies show that staying connected improves our health and wellbeing.
Also, consider using your wisdom to mentor a younger person.
What you do is up to you. You just need to stay active both mentally and physically.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), physical activity is an essential part of aging well.
Exercise keeps your body healthy and strong. It helps your mind stay sharp. This NY Times article explains how exercise changes and rejuvenates your brain.
Exercise has many benefits, such as improved circulation, more flexibility, and better muscle tone. Researchers find that exercise can help reduce the risk of chronic health issues that prevent you from aging with vitality.
What you do for exercise is not that important. Simple things like walking provide many physical benefits.
Make life an adventure. Explore your world.
You can avoid boredom and depression by staying involved in the world around you. Be curious about the unknown. Get out of your comfort zone when possible.
Take a trip to another country. Learn about another culture. Even if you can’t travel abroad, you can learn a lot about the world around you by exploring your local communities.
I love to walk. I use walking not only as a form of physical exercise. But walking allows me to explore new communities. It allows me to go beyond the boundaries of my existing neighborhood.
For example, exploring Brooklyn’s neighborhoods allows me to observe Orthodox Jews moving around their community on a Saturday morning. It fascinates me and gives me a small peek into their culture.
Sometimes I will sit on a park bench and observe the people around me. A dog swimming out into the ocean to retrieve the stick his master threw. Or a child examining a strange rock on the beach. I once created a blog post from recordings of birds singing in Prospect Park.
Exploration doesn’t have to mean backpacking in the Adirondack. Although it could. You are only limited by your mindset, resources, and physical and mental ability.
Eat healthy foods
Making healthy eating a priority is important to age with vitality. Because eating healthy can help improve your energy levels, mood, and overall health. Additionally, healthy eating habits can help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Creating a healthy diet is a process that takes time and effort, but it is worth it to invest in your health. There are a few simple ways to make healthy eating a priority in your life.
First, try to make meals at home using fresh ingredients, purchased locally if possible. Cooking meals from scratch gives you more control over what goes into your food and can help you avoid processed foods. Meal planning and prep can also help you save time and money.
Second, make sure to include a variety of nutrient-rich foods in your diet. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. These foods will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly.
Lastly, pay attention to your portion sizes. Overeating can lead to weight gain and other health problems. When eating out, avoid supersized portions and take home leftovers. When cooking at home, use smaller plates to control portion sizes. By following these simple tips, you can gradually improve your health and set yourself up for aging with vitality.
Be socially engaged
As you get older, you may have less communication with friends and loved ones. You may no longer have day-to-day interactions with coworkers. Children and grandchildren may be far away or occupied with their own lives.
Isolation can have devastating effects on your health, especially in the age of social distancing. It can lead to depression and anxiety.
You will need to find ways to interact with others to prevent isolation.
Although social media can have the opposite effect of keeping you socially engaged, you can find communities that empower and stimulate you.
I enjoyed participating in a Zoom call with some of my social connections in the media recently. I also belong to women’s prayer groups from different churches. I think online meetings are the next best thing to meeting in person.
Stay involved in your community. Get together with family and social circle. Attend parties with friends (where possible), or visit others. Your social network will keep you engaged and can bring you much joy. I have long conversations with my sons and youngest sister on a regular basis even though we live in different countries.
I have a regular phone or video chat with friends in Bali and South Sudan. Distance does not have to be an impediment to engaging with loved ones.
Approach aging from a different perspective. Your ideas about aging can affect how you live your life
“Gray hair is a crown of glory: It is gained in a righteous life”
Although getting older brings changes, it also presents opportunities for growth, contribution, and learning.
Research says that older adults who have positive attitudes toward aging are less likely to have chronic health issues. Your mindset can affect how you think and can dictate your actions. This, in turn, can affect your body, so pay attention to your thoughts.
Aging can bring the loss of loved ones, retirement from full-time work, and other life changes. However, the way you view these transformations can have a significant impact on your life. Instead of viewing your new life as full of limitations, you can search for ways to overcome these thoughts and change your mindset.
Write a memoir. Someone may benefit from all the knowledge and experience you accumulated over your lifetime. Maybe you could start a blog.
“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.”
At the very least, I encourage you to start journaling daily if you don’t already do so. One of the many benefits of journaling is that the practice can boost memory and comprehension.
Aging is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be the end of living a vibrant life. In fact, it can be an opportunity for you to discover your gifts and live a life with purpose.
No, getting older does not have to mean the end of life as you know it. You can continue to enhance your life experiences if you stay connected, active, and purpose-driven.
Today is a good day to start to put into practice habits that will keep you healthy, engaged, and full of vitality.