How Seniors Can Boost Their Quality of Life Through Food and Exercise
Humans are living longer than we ever have before. However, for most people, enjoying a high quality of life tends to be more important than living to the age of 100. Unfortunately, 80 percent of American seniors have at least one major health condition. It's no secret that functional limitations become more common as people get older. Seniors can support a future of good physical and mental health by following a regular exercise schedule and a nutrient-packed diet.
Take Advantage of Available Medical Services
Medical advice and healthcare resources play a key role in senior health. For example, preventive screenings, diagnostic tests, hearing aids, glasses, and prescription drugs can all vastly improve a senior's quality of life. Know how to get the most out of your Medicare coverage so you can take advantage of these critical services. Since basic Medicare doesn’t cover vision, dental, hearing, and prescriptions, you may need a Medicare Advantage plan for more comprehensive coverage. Check out websites such as MedicareAdvantage.com to determine which supplementary coverage plans are available in your state.
While healthcare can help us feel better if we get sick, prevention is the best way to combat disease or disability. Not surprisingly, regular exercise and following a healthy diet are two of the best ways you can accomplish this.
Exercise for Better Mind-Body Health
According to Time, too many older adults do not exercise on a regular basis. Studies have found that exercise both prevents disability and helps people recover more quickly from an injury. Engaging in regular physical activity can even reduce the amount of time you spend facing immobility and limited independence.
While exercise provides numerous long-term health benefits, it's also a great pick-me-up if you're battling fatigue or a low mood during the day. One study found that a single bout of exercise leads to improved cognitive performance and increased positive emotions for people of any age. For the best mood-enhancing and stress-busting benefits, opt for cardio exercises such as brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, and swimming. Even low-intensity exercise has been found to improve the brain’s processing speed over the long term. For example, a round of golf will get you out in fresh air, and you’ll have to walk the course. Just make sure to consult a buying guide before purchasing clubs.
Don’t Forget Strength Training
Recent research reported by ScienceDaily reveals the importance of strength exercises for seniors. Strength training is essential for maintaining and improving muscle mass so you can enjoy greater independence and access more of the activities you love. Seniors can practice strength training using bodyweight and resistance bands until they feel comfortable adding weights. If you’re just starting out, try some of these strength exercises for seniors.
A High-Protein Diet Supports Strong Muscles
A healthy diet plays an extremely important supporting role in any active lifestyle. If you’re making an effort to maintain your strength and mobility throughout your senior years, what you eat is just as important as which exercises you do.
The amino acids in protein are key in muscle building, so try to incorporate protein into every meal. High-quality protein from meat, fish, dairy products, and soy provide the best muscle support. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, try to mix your plant-based protein sources to get all the important amino acids your body needs to stay strong. Aim for 30 grams of protein per meal. In addition to this, try to consume more omega-3 fatty acids — these reduce inflammation, supporting our health from head to toe while helping our bodies use protein more efficiently.
While omega-3s can help improve mood disorders and stave off brain aging, sugar can be extremely detrimental to our mental health. High sugar consumption has been linked to depression, anxiety, and problems with learning and memory. So, try to reduce how much sugar you eat by seeking healthier alternatives.
Quality of life is extremely dependent on our independence and ability to do the things we love. The best way to avoid disability and ensure you maintain a high level of mobility during your senior years is to prioritize exercise and healthy eating. When you do this, several other physical and mental health benefits will follow. Don’t accept declining health as an inevitable part of aging, but instead make it a point to strive for vitality every single day.
About the Author
Jason Lewis has been passionately helping seniors and senior caregivers in living a happy and healthy senior life. He has put up StrongWell.org to share information regarding senior fitness.