September is Healthy Aging month, which is a great time to focus on the positive aspects of growing older and to make sure you are doing all you can to lead a healthy lifestyle. There are many things you can do to stay healthy and active as you age, such as eating a balanced diet, keeping your mind and body active, and practicing safe habits. Dr. Bill Tsikitis, an Internal Medicine Physician at NEBH, recommends the following tips to help get you on track.
- To keep your bones strong, make sure you are maintaining an adequate calcium and vitamin D intake. It is best to get this from foods, such as low fat dairy including milk and yogurt, as well as salmon, leafy greens, broccoli, beans, nuts and tofu.
- For a heart healthy diet, eat foods that are low in saturated fats and cholesterol, and focus on increased intake of fruits and vegetables. Protein sources should include white meat poultry without skin, fish, legumes, nut butters, soy products, and whole grains.
- Exercise regularly. Perform light exercise such as walking as often as possible, ideally for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week. Alternatively, perform moderate exercise such as running or bicycling for at least 30 minutes 3 days a week. Light weights are a great exercise, and for a non-weight bearing option, try swimming.
- To help avoid falls, which are the leading cause of injury to seniors in the United States, make sure to always wear proper footwear. Wear supportive shoes that fit correctly and have nonskid soles. Avoid high heels and floppy slippers without backs. Exercises such at tai chi, yoga, and Pilates can aid balance and be very effective in providing stability.
- Make sure to see your doctor for regular check-ups, preventive screening tests and immunizations.
- Mental health is as important as physical health. Keep your mind active by challenging your brain with board games or crossword puzzles, or by taking a new class. Don’t forget to stay in touch with friends and family. Learn stress reduction strategies such as simple breathing exercises, meditation and mindfulness routines.