By Jennifer McGregor
Staying healthy is important no matter your age. Proper nutrition is but one building block you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eating the right foods loaded with vitamins and minerals to keep your body going is something you have been taught since grade school. However, getting adequate exercise is the other block and goes hand in hand with diet to keep you healthy.
Not only do exercising and eating a nutritious diet with fruits, vegetables, and lean protein improve mood and reduce stress, but they actually work to keep your body working properly.
As you age, changes occur within the body that slow down your metabolism, cause muscle and bone loss, and can affect your mood and overall well-being. This is why keeping up with your health as you age is so important. With proper diet and exercise, you can combat these changes and stay on top of your game.
Boosting Your Diet
Because seniors have different nutritional needs, it’s important to fill your diet with whole grains, a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. You want to ensure you’re getting enough vitamins, minerals and fiber so that your body can function optimally. Some of the easiest ways to ensure a healthy diet include meal planning, stocking your fridge and pantry with essential items, and scouting out new recipes.
You can ramp up your fruit and vegetable intake by joining a CSA or attending a weekly farmers market to grab in-season produce. To add more fiber, look to grains like quinoa, barley and millet. And don’t be afraid to purchase frozen vegetables or fruits. These are flash-frozen so they maintain their freshness and can easily bulk up meals in the colder months.
In addition to focusing on nutrition, it’s equally important to focus on hydration, preferably with water. If plain water isn’t always palatable, you can add sliced lemon or cucumber to give it extra flavor and make it more refreshing, or you can look to sparkling water if you need some bubbles.
Use the Buddy System for Fitness
Statistics show that those who have exercise buddies see a higher success rate when it comes to staying on target with their fitness goals. Finding like-minded people to keep you on track or just having someone keep you accountable will help you stay motivated.
Friends and family members are but one group of people you can look to for support and motivation. However, you can find other people at a gym or fitness center who are looking to buddy up.
Places to Stay Fit
If you happen to have a Medicare Advantage Plan through a provider like Humana, you likely have access to fitness and wellness programs as part of your coverage. One such fitness program is Silver Sneakers, which offers access to thousands of facilities nationwide. The Silver Sneakers program is tailored specifically for seniors and promotes social interaction with your peers. Another great option is Renew Active, which is only available through select Medicare Advantage plans. Renew Active is a plan that is designed to help you with not only your physical exercise needs but also help with brain exercises.
With open enrollment starting, now is the perfect time to review your healthcare coverage to see if you’re eligible for these awesome perks. If you only have Original Medicare, consider looking to an alternative Advantage plan to add these fitness options, in addition to extra coverage for dental, vision and hearing services, plus expanded prescription coverage.
Choosing the Right Fit
Aging isn’t something that you can stop, but you can prolong your life by finding a routine that keeps not only your body active but your mind as well. Finding a balance is the key to helping you live a happier and healthier life. Even if you never step foot in a gym, there are other programs out there and classes that you can take to stay active. Even a simple walk for 30-minutes a day can improve your health. Find what works for you and know that you don’t have to do this alone.
While it’s perfectly okay to be a fitness junkie, that’s not a requirement for older adults who want a healthy lifestyle. Simple choices that improve your diet and physical activity can go a long way toward feeling great, maintaining your health and enjoying everything this time in your life has to offer.
About the Author:
Jennifer McGregor co-created Public Health Library (http://publichealthlibrary.org/) to write about health and wellness topics and to create a forum for sharing reputable health and medical information.