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A Roadmap to Healthy Aging

Dr. Mark Jansen

As time flies by and our bodies begin to ache more often, we may start to notice signs of aging. Everybody ages differently. Some people may have genetic medical conditions from birth while others develop ailments later in life. Either way, an aging body and brain require more maintenance than when you were younger. Here are ways to maintain your health even as the years roll on.

Exercise, Eat, Sleep Your Way to Health

Regular exercise or physical activity must be on your Healthy Aging to-do list. Whether it’s hiking, yoga or swimming, there are many ways to stay physically active while incorporating healthy habits into your routine.

Eat healthy to properly fuel your mind and body. If your mind is sharp, it translates to an overall better feeling. Fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains on your plate can get your mind humming and help ward off certain illnesses.

The more we learn about sleep, the more we understand how sleeping well is crucial to maintaining good health. Getting the proper amount of sleep is key for staying well as you age. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for adults aged 18-65 and 7-8 hours for those aged 65 and older.

Break Bad Habits

Quit smoking. Though it may not seem to make sense, no age is too old to see improvement in your overall health when you quit smoking. Quitting can reduce the risk for many adverse health effects and improve quality of life.

Every organ in the body, including the brain, is affected by excessive drinking. This is especially so for older adults. Avoid or limit alcohol to help your body get on the right track.

Doctor, Doctor

See the doctor regularly. Routine, regular exams can catch diseases in their early stages and help to manage harmful chronic conditions. Older adults should have their primary care physician check cholesterol levels and blood pressure and screen for cervical, colon, breast, and prostate cancers.

Social Studies

We can’t make it through the world all by our lonesome. However, recent studies show that significant portions of the population ages 45 and over consider themselves lonely and that many people 65 and older are socially isolated. Forming friendships and spending time with loved ones keeps us active, makes us feel supported, and provides companionship. As people age, conditions such as hearing loss, vision loss, trouble getting around, and the loss of loved ones increase the likelihood of social isolation. Being cut off from a social circle translates to a greater risk for heart disease and cognitive decline, among other concerning issues. Take steps – big or small – to become a social creature. This might require you to get out of your social comfort zone a bit. But the rewards to your health will be worth it.

Constant stress can affect memory and lead to serious illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. Finding ways to cut down on stress – whether that stress comes from a positive or negative place means being healthier and happier.

Happy Aging for The Mind and Body

While we can’t stop the aging process (yet), we can try to adopt healthy habits. Perhaps the best habit is to try to be as mindful as we can be each day and enjoy the time we have. At Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, we have a whole-person approach to healthcare which understands how physical and mental health are connected. That’s why it’s important for Arkansans of all ages to not only keep their body active but also to take steps to reduce stress for healthy aging.

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