Health and Fitness for seniors

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Great Exercise Options For Seniors With Joint Conditions

Health and fitness for seniors.

Without a doubt, one of the major deterrents to fitness training in seniors are joint issues. The condition causing these issues is largely arthritic in nature, and while responsible for a lot of immobility, it can actually be managed with exercise to improve joint pain and gain the many benefits that exercise brings.

With proper exercise choices, you can exercise painlessly, and without injury. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program to be sure that it is appropriate for your specific condition.

Armed with the promise of pain-free workouts, here are some of the best exercises for those with joint conditions listed in no particular order.

Chair Squat

Strong leg muscles are important at any age, but particularly for seniors who are at a higher risk for falls and fractures. This exercise is easy to perform, and very low stress on the knee joint. To perform, sit on a chair, and slowly raise up, sit and repeat. In necessary, you may use the arm rests as an aid.

Walking

If the pain is manageable, walking is a great option. Walking is great cardiovascular exercise, and strengthens the leg muscles as well, albeit not as much as resistance training. A light, low intensity walk is fine, even if you can only do 10 minutes at a time.

Swimming

For many arthritic seniors, swimming is one of the primary exercises they do. Why? Swimming is extremely low impact, and has a profound healing effect on the joints. For many getting into a pool and swimming some laps when they feel nagging joint aches improves the pain greatly and since swimming is also a full body workout, it is an excellent exercise option regardless of your affected joint.

Yoga

Yoga should be considered one of the true universal exercises, as almost anyone, of any age – or with any affliction could perform beginner levels of yoga. Yoga is low impact, strengthens muscles and joints, and is a great escape from the stresses of everyday life. Yoga should be performed by everyone, regardless of the specific fitness goals one might have, but it can be especially useful for those with joint conditions as it improves range of motion, flexibility and is very low impact.

Lift Weights

Having a joint condition could be a good excuse for not lifting weights, but it is definitely not smart. The fact is most seniors with joint conditions only have one affected joint. What this means is, if the knees are the issue, there is absolutely no reason why you should not perform free weight exercises for the arms, shoulders and back that do not involve the knees. Dumbbell curls are one such example.

Dancing

Yes, dancing could be high intensity; but it can also be very low impact. Depending on the type of dance, movement speed and joint involvement differ.

Do This— Try Zumba classes twice weekly. Zumba is easy on the joints, and will prove quite the aerobic workout.

Bike Riding

Using either an outdoor or a stationary cycle, this exercise is excellent for persons with joint conditions affecting the legs. Keep the resistance low, and try for at least 10 minutes per session. Cycling helps develop the quads and hamstrings, two muscle groups important in preventing falls.

Pilates

Pilates exerts virtually zero stress on the joints, and is a great way to build core strength. Core strength is integral in maintaining an upright posture. Pilates helps to “train” your body to move in the most natural paths as they were meant to do, since years of poor form and posture condition the body in the wrong ways.

Standing Hip/ Leg Extension

This is another great exercise for people with joint conditions that affect the lower half of the body. This exercise builds the hamstrings, glutes, making it easier to walk, stand up, and is integral in preventing falls.

Do This— stand upright and hold on to a chair in front of you. In one smooth, slow motion raise the leg straight behind you, and return slowly to the start. Do 10 reps per set for 3 sets.

3 Exercise Tips for Older Adults with Limited Mobility

Exercise is important regardless of your mobility status. Because the body releases endorphins – the “feel good” hormone – during exercising, people are in a better mood after completing a workout. As a matter-of-fact, studies have shown that an endorphin “high” is just as effective as a prescribed mild anti-depressant. Regardless if you are injured, disabled, have certain illnesses or a weight problem that affects your mobility, there are exercises everyone can do. In particular, persons with limited mobility should concentrate on three types of exercising:

Cardiovascular

Cardio exercises raise the heart and respiratory rates, and build endurance. If your mobility issue is with your arms, you may still be able to walk, run, dance and do water aerobics in a shallow swimming pool. If confined to a wheelchair, you can use your arms to move your chair.

If you have access to a swimming pool with a chair lift, you can get in the pool and work your arms using the resistance of the water. Basically do exercises within the physical limitations of your body that will raise your heart rate.

Strength Training

With strength training, you want to build muscle, tone up and improve your balance. If you can’t walk, focus on building upper body strength; if your upper body is disabled, work your lower body. By using resistance bands, free weights or weight machines, focus on strengthening your strongest areas physically, but not overlooking working your weakest area too within the limits of your mobility.

Flexibility

Flexibility exercises work to improve joint range-of-motion, reduce pain and stiffness, and improve balance. One of the best forms of flexibility exercising is yoga. Find a class that specializes in working with limited mobility persons as they will tailor a program to you.  Because yoga is a whole body exercise program, even if you can’t do all of the poses (called asanas), you will be able to do some of them and still benefit greatly from the breathing and meditation part of a yoga program.

Of course, before starting any exercise program, talk with your doctor or physical therapist about:

  • how long and often you should work out
  • what type of exercises you should do
  • what exercises you should avoid
  • if you need to adjust your medication schedule when exercising

Just because you have limited mobility doesn’t mean you can’t still exercise; it just means you have to work within the limits of your ability.

Exercise Tips for Preventing Muscle, Bone and Joint Problems as You Age

As we age, we start to lose muscle due to hormonal changes, along with a lack of protein and exercise. Because muscle helps stabilize bones, muscle loss can also start to cause joint problems especially in the hips and knees. And if you have certain medical conditions such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease, it can accelerate the loss of muscle. It is important to do what you can to preserve muscle as diminished muscle mass can cause bad posture, breathing problems, lack of balance resulting in falls, and even mental conditions such as depression. While many people consider losing muscle mass as just collateral damage of the aging process, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Hormone Replacement Therapy(HRT)

For example if the cause of muscle loss is due to low testosterone, hormonal replacement therapy can bring the level back up where it should be. A simple test at the doctor’s office can confirm if your level is low or not.

Eat More Protein

Because a lack of protein is a cause of muscle loss in older adults, ensure you are eating good lean sources of it each day, including chicken breasts, fish, egg whites and turkey. Strive to eat at least seven grams of protein per twenty pounds of body weight daily. Stay away from heavy sauces, fried foods and many of the bakery products as they are loaded with saturated fat, sugar and sodium – all of which are not good for you.

Exercise More

 And the last one, exercise, is more important now that it was when you were younger, yet many seniors don’t exercise at all. Not only will it make your arthritic joints feel better by keeping them moving, it is important to preserve (and even build) muscle. A mix of cardio and strength training is the best. Cardio can be as simple as going for a brisk walk every day. That will loosen up most of your large muscle groups. Then once the muscles are warmed up do some light strength training, such as weight lifting, to increase muscular strength. Start and end your workouts with some light stretching.

As you can see by keeping the proper testosterone level, eating adequate protein and exercising regularly, you can stall (or at least slow down) the aging process and resulting loss of muscle. By maintaining adequate muscle, you can also stave off bone and joint problems.

5 Strength Training Tips for Seniors

Strength training for seniors does some basic things: it preserves bone density and muscle strength, and improves balance and flexibility, all which help to maintain daily living independence. Regardless of your level of fitness, age or gender, strength training benefits everyone.

Bone Density

 Osteoporosis in older adults is a major cause of frailty and can affect quality of life, especially after a fall resulting in a broken bone. For reasons not yet fully understood, but supported by several study results, strength training not only increases muscle strength and mass, but also strengthens bones and increases bone density.

Muscle Strength

 Weight or resistance training not only prevents further muscle mass depletion, but it actually improves the strength of the muscles by toning them up; it can even build back some muscle mass lost over the years through aging. Tone muscles make you look younger and feel better about yourself.

Balance

 With falling as a major source of injury and broken bones among seniors, it is important to do what you can to maintain or improve balance. Strength training helps build and tone the abdominal core and back muscles, thus giving your spine more support. By keeping your posture more upright, your weight more centered over your spine and you are less likely to lose your balance and fall. Supplement strength training with exercises that transfer weight back and forth, such as walking or using an elliptical trainer.

Flexibility

 Increasing the range-of-motion of a joint also help with balance. To improve flexibility, focus strength training efforts on exercises that work a joint through its full range. Yoga is an excellent exercise program for doing this.

The Value of Stretching

 Dynamic stretching before strength training helps warm up and loosen joint muscles. Because muscle fibers tend to shorten during a workout, static stretching after exercising works to cool down and return the muscle fibers back to their normal length thus helping reduce the risk of injury and soreness. While dynamic stretching works the muscle back and forth through its range of motion, static stretching extends a muscle out to its maximum range and holds it in that position for a short amount of time. Exercises that help build bone density, muscle strength and improve balance and flexibility not only include those that use just body weight, but also ones that use light free weights, resistance bands or weight machines.

As with any other exercise program, be sure to consult your healthcare practitioner before starting an exercise program. They can recommend a program according to your abilities. A properly designed program should help you, not hurt you.

 

8 Reasons Why You Are Never Too Old To Join A Fitness Class

Maybe it has been years since you’ve had social fitness encounters; maybe you never have! Maybe you just don’t know where to begin with all the choices offered in exercise today. Maybe you lack the motivation to keep going when you workout alone, or get bored simply using a treadmill or exercise bike.

Whichever it may be, one thing is proven true time and time again – you exercise harder, and are more consistent in a class setting.

As a senior, chances are your social calendar is not fully booked. If that’s the case, it definitely is in your best interest to join up with one of these classes and here are all the reasons why you should.

You Are Placed In A Class Of Similar Individuals

If you may have let the weight accumulate over the years, or have no experience at all working out in a group environment, this is exactly one of the major pros if it; you are arranged with individuals of similar skill levels. There is no need to feel left behind in the class, when you will all be learning for the first time.

Do This: Find a buddy. A workout buddy can help motivate you, and keeps you accountable to your fitness goals.

It Works Wonders For You Mentally And Physically

Getting to work out never felt so good! Fitness classes, besides being intense workout sessions, also help to improve your mood and keep you feeling good. It’s no surprise, seniors are one of the most prone groups of the population to depression, since they frequently have limited interactions, and few opportunities for “reward”. A successful workout session leaves you feeling accomplished, with a sense of worth.

You Need Guidance

Let’s face it- we are not all born leaders. In fact, most individuals perform best with some amount of direction, making a fitness class perfect. You may have tried working out independently at home, but you just don’t stay true to your goals. Maybe you only give 50%, maybe you rest too long; whatever it is, when you have someone in front of you telling you how to work out, it drives you.

Doing What You Enjoy

Do you like dancing by yourself? Me Neither! A group dance fitness class gives you the opportunity to do what you love, in the presence of like-minded individuals. Hey, if your spouse is up for it, the merrier! A fitness class does not need to feel like a chore, hence the wide variety to choose from. You can try Zumba, aerobics, or even yoga. Whatever it is, choose one you love.

Your Health Deserves It

Everyone knows it’s important to work out. But how many people are actually dedicated to it? Maybe 10%. Why? Because they do not fully appreciate the importance of it to their health. Most people wait until they experience a health scare before they take fitness seriously. Joining a fitness class, besides giving you an excellent avenue for stress relief and energy expression, is secretly saving your life. Don’t you think you deserve it?

It’s Cheap!

Ok, maybe you’re retired, and cash isn’t in a positive flow environment, but finances are no reason not to join a fitness class! Many fitness classes cost just $10-$25 per month, the equivalent of buying two cups of coffee maybe. Moreover, what’s that pocket change going to mean to you if you can’t use it to safeguard your health?

It’s Time Efficient

Do you wander aimlessly around when in a gym, or home wondering what to do next? Then a fitness class is just what you need! Packed into a loaded 30-90 minute session, a class ensures you do what needs to be done, without much room for wasted time. If your time is budgeted, a class is the way to go. A solo trip to the gym results in lots of wasted time, and if you believe the mantra “time is money,” you don’t waste that!

It Motivates!

Most group fitness classes have motivating high-energy instructors that pump you up, keep you going to the end, and keep you coming back, this may very well be the very best reason to get your workout in a class setting.

10 Great Exercise Ideas For Seniors

You’ve taken the great leap- started a fitness program.

That’s wonderful!

Now comes the daunting part- what should I do/ don’t do?

Without a doubt, the number of workouts flooding the fitness realm is astounding, with all of them claiming to deliver the best results, and be suitable for people of any age. Coupled with weird exercises, and fancy techniques, you may be left wondering if all that work is required for getting fit.

Fact is, most of the proponents of these crazy workouts are nothing more than snake oil salesmen that will likely charge an exorbitant fee to train you, leaving you broken financially and physically.

Luckily, excellent exercises can easily be selected by yourself, even with very basic knowledge of working out. If you don’t think you can, then you’re in luck- because we’ve got 10 great ideas for you right here.

Walking

We know; you’ve heard it millions of times before, but walking is exercise in its simplest and finest form. Think about it- how much do you honestly walk per week, or on a daily basis. Chances are not much. If tracking may be difficult for you, we recommend a pedometer, which counts the number of steps taken per day. You can calculate distance easily by performing a few basic conversions at the end of each day.

Walking will strengthen the muscles of the lower body, as well as keep blood moving along nicely and the heart pumping efficiently. Breathing also becomes easier, and you feel better overall.

Start slow, and increase speed/ time spend walking little by little.

Swimming

When is the last time you did a few laps in a pool, or went to the beach to do something other than sunbathe? Likely been a while- and it’s time for you to restart. Swimming can be considered the ultimate low impact total body exercise, since the muscles of the entire body need to work to propel you. Swimming, and many other water activities in general are very joint friendly, and even possess a restorative ability for many.

Cycling

Another excellent low impact alternative, biking will likely be a little more intense on your body. We recommend starting with walking, then after a few weeks, add in occasional cycling. The mix up is wonderful for keeping boredom at bay, and keep the body guessing too (it’s very smart and adaptive).

Pilates

Pilates is an exercise discipline that centers on strong core musculature. And it is not misguided one bit- in fact, a strong core is the perfect bridge between upper and lower body muscles, and can also help prevent age related maladies- such as the stooping posture, and urinary incontinence. Way better than the lame old crunch.

Hiking

Hiking doesn’t need to involve brutal terrain and weather, but can be done in the simple woods of your village. The ground will supply small inclines and troughs, to mix up the intensity and make for an awesome moderate intensity activity.

Weight Training

We haven’t spoken much about weight lifting, because many seniors consider it taboo. However, weight lifting involves many major aspects of physical training, including aerobic and anaerobic respiration.

Weight training will boost a sluggish metabolism (diabetics, high cholesterol patients), raise bone density, improve mood and your posture. Heart health is right up there on the list of awesome benefits too.

Rowing

Rowing in open country, or at a simple recreation center or gym can be the perfect complement to a regimen with lots of lower body emphasis. Rowing now only builds strong back muscles, but rely a lot on the core too. Rowing once or twice weekly will yield massive results for your body, and fitness.

Yoga

Did you know that yoga can either emphasize relaxation and stress relief or full-body workouts? Yes, depending on your capabilities, and fitness goals, you can use it as a simple chill down as the weekend approaches, or make it your weapon of choice for a full body workout. Whatever you choose, it’s effective.

Step Aerobics

Joining a step aerobics class may seem a little taxing for a beginner, but they’re so much fun you probably won’t notice discomfort!

Keep the sessions short to begin with, and extend as your conditioning does too.

Fun?

Yes, exercise doesn’t have to seem like exercise at all!

Do you like dancing? Then go dancing.

Skiing, or even golfing! are all good exercises in their own right.

Keep doing what you enjoy, moving and sweating like crazy and your heart will thank you!

6 Ways Stability/Balance Exercises Promote Health And Wellness As We Age.

As you age, you may have noticed many less-than flattering changes to your balance and stability. You may notice a stutter in your steps and you stumble over even surfaces.

Is it normal? Should it be accepted?

Actually, it is quite normal; but that does not mean it has to be accepted. It comes about as a result of gradual muscle loss accumulating, poor body posture, some medications, and a weak core.

Luckily, by performing simple stability exercises, you can remedy, or even better yet, prevent this from ever occurring!

Keep in mind that it is never too late to get stronger; more fit and improve your stability skills. In fact, it is crucial since the majority of injuries to seniors result from falls due to weakness in balance and stability.

Balance Exercises Promote Health In Many Ways

You Significantly Reduce Your Chance For Falls And Subsequent Injury

Without a doubt, the main reason so many seniors fall and end up injured, is because of their failure to address exercise when it was still practical. Coming up with every silly excuse under the sun, a little exercise performed just three times weekly could prevent such an eventuality. Stronger muscles and stabilizers have been shown to result in a much less chance of falls.

Control Chronic Conditions

Chronic conditions affect more than 25% of seniors throughout the world, with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis being the most frequent occurring. While stability/ balance exercises do not immediately ring a bell when it comes to controlling these conditions, the fact they build muscle mass and are an efficient cardiovascular workout, can play a key role in controlling these diseases. Most adults take stability exercises, and working out as a whole, for granted.

Maintain An Ideal Weight

The caloric expenditure and muscle growth potential of simple exercises, such as a chair squat or standing knee curl do help one to reach daily quotas of calorie burning. The effect is synergistic; by exercising, you are able to move more freely, for a longer period of time. Compared to an individual with poor mobility, they probably move much more, instead of being seated or resigned to bed for long periods of time.

Improves Mood

Exercise of any type improves mood and well-being, but what makes balance training superior is its ability to instill independence in the individual. They no longer have to feel dependent on others or always living in fear of the day of the inevitable fall. Freedom to move around without fear can do a lot psychologically for the individual, and leaves them in a much better mood. In addition, the release of feel good hormones/ neuro-transmitters during exercise (such as serotonin, dopamine) all contribute to wellbeing.

Maintain Brain Function

Brain function does not have to decrease as fast as it can if it is constantly stimulated. By performing balance exercises, the brain needs to form new connections, both within itself and to muscles. Coupled with improved blood flow, it is excellent for your health.

Keeps You Pain Free And Flexible

The ability to move around with pain is necessary to fully enjoy life; especially true if you’re over 50. Balance training not only strengthens the muscles, but the joints as well. Be sure to exercise within your limits and know when to stop.

Conclusion

Though at first glance the relationship between balance training and overall well-being may not be clear, the fact is that it does translate to one’s entire life. By just performing simple exercise, at least 3 times weekly you will be able to enjoy life to the fullest.

Use these tips, and you will enjoy better health!

Daily exercise, which focuses on building balance, is crucial for seniors to improve stability in older years and prevent falls. Here is one crucial statistic to consider, for every five falls, one elderly person experiences broken bones, or head injury.

Know your limits, if you have never exercised in your life, or exercised very little you will likely need to start slow and get a personal trainer to create a routine that matches your level of fitness.

Complete at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. Aerobic activity improves circulation and keeps the heart healthy. You can also choose higher intensity levels and exercise for a shorter amount of time 175 minutes at the vigorous level or mix your intensity levels with equal time spent on each.

Do some form of strength training exercise twice a week, which focuses on the major muscle groups: chest, arms, legs, abdomen, back, shoulders, and hips. Strength training builds muscle and supports bone mass maintenance.

Building strong muscles, bone density, and a sense of balance allows you to maintain high functional fitness levels. Seniors who maintain functional or greater levels of fitness tend to live longer and with little to no assistance needed to accomplish their daily activities.

Pursue a variety of activities to meet your weekly exercise requirements, walking, biking, gardening, dancing, playing Frisbee, yard work or any other activity, which allows you to elevate your heart rate, does the trick. Choose activities you enjoy and say yes to new activities.

Don’t forget to stretch. Flexibility supports healthy movement and balance. Take a few minutes to stretch dynamically (with movement) each day. A simple example is reaching down to touch your toes then rolling up with soft knees to reach overhead extending the fingertips to the sky.

Try yoga to build strength and flexibility while relaxing your mind. Yoga provides low impact weight bearing exercise, which also helps seniors maintain bone density.

Tai chi is also an effective form of exercise for the mind and the body regardless of fitness level. The movements are slow and may be adapted for those with limited mobility.

Make time to exercise your face and your eyes. Stretch the jaw and the forehead, pucker the lips, relax them, and puff out the cheeks. It relieves facial tension and may provide a slight natural lift to the face.

Exercise your eyes to relieve eyestrain. Take your eyes in all directions and make circles with them as if tracking the hands of a clock–both clockwise and counterclockwise. Practice focusing your eyes on something far away and then zoom in bringing your focus progressively closer to you.

Take off your shoes and exercise your feet to relieve cramping, plantar fasciitis and prevent bunions. Practice flexing and extending the feet as well as standing and lifting all ten toes from the floor and see if you can lift your toes from the floor one at a time and replace them or try to lift only the big toe.

Practice deep breathing for a few minutes each day. It activates the parasympathetic system, the relaxation response. The practice eases stress and improves circulation.

Maintain a positive outlook. Seniors with a positive perception of aging live longer and recover more quickly from debilitating injury or illness.

Exercise your mind. Neuroplasticity, the building and maintenance if neurological connections in the brain, must be actively encouraged to maintain cognitive function and the very important memory function. Learn new skills, make something (thinking drawing, painting, or crafts), solve puzzles, play games, or take a different route to a regular destination to keep the brain functioning at optimum capacity.

Make time to laugh. The effects of laughter and exercise are very similar. They both decrease stress hormones, increase blood flow and support relaxation and immune function.

Self-care becomes even more important as we age. Making time to do things you enjoy, eat well and take care of your physical well-being goes a long way toward preventing physical and mental illness.

Get a massage. Massage aids with relaxation, circulation and releases endorphins, which improve your sense of well-being. Massage also aids muscle recovery following exercise.

Try foam rolling after exercise. This type of self-massage boosts circulation relieves muscle soreness and keeps the connective tissues supple so you move more freely. Consult with a personal trainer or physical therapist to learn more about this treatment.

Change your environment to suit your changing needs. Make modifications to your home; add ramps, auto sensors on light switches, outdoor lighting timers, etc., to your home to make living independently easier as you age.

Maintain healthy relationships and include sexual intimacy when appropriate if it’s part of your desired lifestyle. Staying connected to other people helps to prevent the depression, anxiety, and sense of isolation experienced by many seniors.

Keep your sense of purpose alive by interacting with others in a way, which allows you to contribute to a common goal. Many seniors use the skills they acquired in the workforce while volunteering for service organizations or take up a hobby, which they find fulfilling.

Travel to local venues and abroad to continue to grow and maintain a sense of adventure, something to anticipate and give your daily activities direction.

Make music a part of your life. Music has a beneficial effect on the mind and the body, aiding relaxation and enhancing cognitive function.

Schedule annual dental, vision, hearing and other evaluations to maintain your baseline health.

Grow your capacity for gratitude. Appreciating the people and positive circumstances in your life builds your resilience, your ability to handle the changes and potential losses (financial challenges, health, the deaths of friends and family) which often accompany aging.

Get enough sleep. Some seniors find it difficult to sleep through the night. Find a sleep schedule, which works, for you and stick to it.

Get light blocking curtains or wear a sleep mask to enhance your ability to sleep. Also, remove all light emitting electronics for your sleeping area. The body reads light as a signal to awake or remain awake.

Stay hydrated. Even if you experience a decrease in thirst as you age, your body still requires appropriate amounts of water to function properly.

Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables to ensure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet. Fiber aids digestion and elimination, which can slow as you age.

Maintain a healthy weight for your body. Being overweight or underweight present different health challenges, which make healthy aging difficult; obesity may lead to heart disease while being underweight can mean you’re missing nutrients key to good health.

Eat a variety of foods to ensure you’re getting all of the nutrients your body requires. Your daily nutrient requirements vary depending on your level of activity and current health status, so variety is key to keeping the body healthy and in balance.

Eat organic foods including prepared and shelf stable foods whenever possible. This will decrease your exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides, which can negatively affect your health.

Take an effective vitamin and mineral supplement to fill in on the days when you may not make the best dietary choices. Consult with your physician to select a supplement appropriate for you and your current health status.

Add superfoods, nutrient dense foods, to your diet. Superfoods provide antioxidants, polyphenols, and other nutritional elements in higher than average values. Green tea, blueberries, acai berries, broccoli, black beans, oats, and quinoa are examples of superfoods, which may prevent chronic disease and support healthy weight maintenance.

Eat vitamin D fortified foods or take a daily supplement. Vitamin D assists with keeping bones strong in combination with calcium. Dairy products, milk, yogurt or cheese, and many dairy alternatives, non-dairy milks (almond, soy, or lactose free) supply calcium and are fortified with vitamin D.

Some people over 50 years of age may not be able to absorb vitamin B12 effectively. Eat foods fortified with the nutrient and supplements as recommended by your doctor.

Try meditating for 20 minutes twice a day. It eases stress, builds cognitive function, and increases a person’s sense of well-being.

Use aromatherapy to enhance your personal environment and as part of your self-care regimen. For example, the scent of lavender is calming and aids sleep

Practice mindfulness to ease stress and support mental focus. Make it a habit to give your full attention to each of your daily activities. Instead of letting your mind wander or going through mental checklists, give your full attention to brushing your teeth, washing the dishes or each of your steps as you take an evening walk.

If you find meditation very difficult to begin, try coloring. It induces some of the same beneficial mental focus and relaxation benefits as meditation. It’s also simple and inexpensive fun, which you can do alone or share with other people in your life.

Have yourself evaluated for allergies and food sensitivities. While you may not have shown symptoms previously, allergies can develop overtime or the symptoms become less manageable as you age.

Get your annual flu shot and keep your other vaccinations, chicken pox, and tetanus for example, up to date. People with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to the flu virus. It’s important to get the flu vaccination annually, because the strains causing illness vary year to year.

Declutter. Many older people find it freeing to sell or give away things they’ve accumulated but no longer use. It may also make your home more manageable with less in it to maintain.

If you do not have immediate or extended family nearby, build relationships with other seniors in your community. Many local community centers offer fun and interesting, senior focused programming. A social network increases your sense of well-being and provides a safety net for emergencies.

Go green in your home. Use natural cleaning supplies or make them yourself to decrease your exposure to household chemicals which have been linked to asthma, other types of respiratory distress, poisoning and cancer.

If you’re sexually active, use condoms and get tested for sexually transmitted infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control, people age 50 and older accounted for 21% of HIV diagnoses in the United States.

Decide whether or not it’s time to give up driving. Visual acuity declines for many people as they age. You can utilize public transportation or ride sharing programs to maintain your independence and travel safely.

Spend time with nature by taking a walk or spending time at the park to improve energy levels and increase your sense of well-being. If you can’t get outside or the weather doesn’t allow, a scenic view is equally effective. You can also visualize your favorite natural setting or listen to recordings of natural sounds, birds chirping, flowing water, etc., for a similar effect.

Eat more home cooked meals. You can better control the amounts of sugar and salt your food when you prepare it. To cut down on preparation time, buy pre-chopped or frozen fruits and vegetables. You can also cook in bulk and freeze leftovers for another day.

Take care of your skin. It is your body’s first line of defence. As we age, the skin retains less moisture and becomes more vulnerable to drying and abrasions, which heal more slowly. This can be especially concerning for diabetics who heal slowly and are more vulnerable to infection.

 


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