Aging gracefully. We all want to make sure that we are living our best lives for as long as we can. Remembering that it is not all about our appearance.
Aging gracefully also means approaching each day in the best physical and mental condition possible. It all begins with taking responsibility for our health. With the right practices and day-to-day choices, you can stay healthy and fit as you get older. With that in mind, we have gathered some tips to help you achieve that.
1. MIND YOUR SKIN
As we age, our skin can appear thin and pale. Age spots come with sun exposure. Our skin loses elasticity, becomes drier, and can even be affected by prescribed medications.
With all these things at play, it is important that we take care of our skin. Use sunscreen when you’re out during the day. It can decrease your risk of skin cancer and help ward off age spots. It is important to apply a broad spectrum SPF15 or 30 each day a half an hour before leaving the house and reapply every two hours while you are in the sun. You should also opt for sun-safe clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses with UV protection.
While it is recommended that everyone perform self-examinations for skin cancer each month, for those at higher risk for skin cancer it is extremely important. These include people with compromised immunity, those who have had skin cancer in the past, and those with a family history of the disease.
To perform a self-check, stand in front of a full-length mirror and use a handheld mirror for hard-to-see places. Get to know the marks, moles, and freckles on your body so that you will notice any changes over time. If you find an area of concern, let your doctor know. Everyone should also have a skin cancer screening with their doctor each year.
Keep your skin hydrated by drinking water. Skin with great elasticity has fewer wrinkles. Keeping yourself hydrated helps to prevent the signs of aging on the skin.
While the amount of water each person needs will vary, drinking half of your body weight in ounces each day should suffice. And remember, sports drinks, decaffeinated coffee and teas, jello, soups, and popsicles count towards your daily water count.
Regular exercises provide numerous benefits. Including decreasing heart diseases and improving mental health. As soon as you finish your first session you’ll benefit from better sleep, sharper thinking, and reduced anxiety and depression.
Getting at least 150 minutes each week of moderate aerobic activity can lower your blood pressure as well as your risk for heart disease and stroke. Regular physical activity can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you are already a type 2 diabetic, keeping active can help control blood glucose levels.
You will also help to strengthen your joints and muscles and prevent falls. This is best accomplished by multicomponent physical activity. This combines aerobic, muscle strengthening, and balance training.
You don’t have to commit to hours a day in the gym to stay fit. Try to devote 30 minutes five times a week to moderate exercise. Moderate exercise would result in your breathing being a little heavier than normal. Start small, with five-minute sessions, and work your way up. If you have medical issues that are stopping you from being active, talk with your doctor about your workout options.
And you don’t have to go to the gym. Walk and get your steps in as you clean the house and work on your lawn. Washing the car also is a great way to get a little exercise in. Park a little farther out and walk, use stairs instead of elevators, and play with your kids in the yard.
3. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Getting the right amount of sleep is important for your physical and mental health. There are several benefits you get from getting a full eight hours of sleep each night. When you get ample sleep, you boost your immune system. Also, the cortisol released when you are running on less sleep makes your heart work harder, leading to high blood pressure and heart attacks. You also get up on the right side of the bed in a great mood when you feel rested. This better mood leads to increased productivity and improved memory throughout your day.
Sleep is tied to mental and emotional health. Poor sleeping habits contribute to worsening mental health issues. Each stage of sleep plays a role in brain health, with each part ramping up and down. REM sleep, for example, facilitates the processing of emotional information in the brain. Sleep issues are both the cause and consequence of mental health issues.
But there are some things you can do to improve your quality of sleep. To get the right amount of sleep you should:
- Set a precise wake-up time and bedtime and stick to it.
- Wind down leading up to bedtime with relaxation techniques.
- Avoid having alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine.
- Reduce blue light exposure by using blue light filters and putting all electronic devices away at least an hour before bed.
- Ensure that you have plenty of bright light exposure throughout the day.
- Try not to take long naps during the day.
4. PROTECT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
To reduce stress, you must first acknowledge it. Knowing that the stress exists helps you to identify the source and manage your reactions. Be mindful of what is going on around you, just be present. Think about how you are feeling, in your body and breathing. Once you’ve figured out your stressors, it’s time to decide how to manage them.
- Avoid the Stressor – Start your morning commute earlier to avoid rush hour traffic.
- Resolve Issues – Resolve conflicts through forgiveness or talking them through.
- Preparation – Make sure you are fully prepared for meetings, so you’re ready to focus on the meeting and perform well.
- Take it Easy on Yourself – Set realistic goals and stop trying to be perfect.
- Take a New View – View situations as challenges instead of stressors.
- Embrace Acceptance – Accept what you cannot control and stop worrying about things, you cannot change.
- Take Small Bites – Transform large jobs into small tasks to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
- Exercise to relieve anxiety and stress. The movements help to relax your muscles and relieve tensions.
- Meditation allows you to be more present at the moment and manage your thoughts.
- Yoga not only boosts your mood but also elevates levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain, decreasing anxiety.
5. QUIT SMOKING AND DRINKING
Tobacco and alcohol can cause a multitude of problems including lung cancer and liver failure. Smoking causes diseases and disabilities, affecting every organ in the human body. Smoking-related illnesses include cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and COPD.
Too much alcohol can lead to car accidents, drownings, violence, and alcohol poisoning. In the long term, alcohol can cause high blood pressure, liver disease, cancer, mental health problems, and more.
It’s best to consume alcohol in moderation. This amounts to two drinks or less per day for men and one drink or less per day for women. If you feel that you should cut back on your alcohol intake, try these tips:
- Come up with a list of reasons why to quit.
- Set a limit for your drinking and keep a diary.
- Don’t have alcohol in the house.
- Set alcohol-free days.
- Seek support from friends, family, and even your physician.
Quitting smoking can be hard and won’t always work the first time. But it is important to keep trying. To quit smoking:
- Identify your reason for quitting. Lowering your risk for disease, being here longer for family, or reducing the amount of secondhand smoke you are passing on to them. Whatever your reason, place reminders around you to remind you.
- Speak to your doctor for help like classes, apps, counseling, nicotine replacement therapy, smoking cessation medications, or hypnosis.
- Find support from your friends and family to get their encouragement. Throw them all out and your ashtrays, lighters, and clean up all the smokey areas of your home and car.
- Find a reward that will help you see the finish line and celebrate your success.
6. FINALLY, VISIT YOUR OB/GYN REGULARLY.
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Remember that every person is different, and it is important that you consult with your doctor for a personalized regimen customized for you. The physicians at Southwest OBGYN can help you do that.