“Use it or lose it” – The Importance of Active Aging
What is Active Aging? Active aging is the thought, idea, and actions of working with our bodies, not against them as we age. It is the self-promotion of our optimal quality of life, in our later years. Life expectancy has reached all time highs…but how can we make the best of these additional decades that, compared to the history of humanity, are entirely foreign? Our ancestors did not live this long, and the idea of active aging was not an actual thing. With longer life expectancies, it is important to put self-care first (no matter what age you are!) and invest in your physical, and mental future.
The goal of active aging? That the extension of life, should parallel with quality of life. There are many different aspects of well-being that influence quality of life, and ways that we can take action to ensure our quality of life as we age, is satisfactory and we maintain our independence.
- This includes: Strength, balance, range of motion, fall prevention, and the maintenance/prevention of chronic illness.
- Actions to take: Regular exercise/physical activity (walking, running/jogging, biking, dancing, strength training, yoga, house chores, taking the stairs, continuing every day movement..aka: use it or lose it!). Healthy diet (clean, whole foods, brain and heart healthy foods). And, most importantly: Following any healthcare regime that has been discussed between you and your doctor!
- This includes: Preventing/managing dementia as well as mental health (depression, anxiety, loneliness), maintaining memory & staying “sharp”,
- Actions to take: Regular exercise/movement, meditation, social networking/engagement, reading, trivia/games, puzzles, music, as well as any personal spiritual practices that may bring an individual a sense of peace.
- This includes: Aiding in the prevention of mental illness and feelings of loneliness. Encouraging community, sense of belonging, sense of purpose, and improving overall brain health.
- Actions to take: join clubs, attend group activities such as group exercise classes, book clubs, spiritual groups, etc.
- Rewiring our ideas towards aging!
- Appreciate the process. Appreciate what you are capable of…aging is a gift.
- In regards to any lifestyle change towards active aging, change the idea of “I have to” to “I get to” ….can you imagine your life without movement? Without a sharp mind? Without support from others? Make this investment, and look forward to the rest of your life.
Each of these aspects of well-being can be a game changer in how we approach our aging, and improve our health, quality of life, and longevity.
Keep your eyes peeled for future blog posts that will take us a little bit deeper in to each area of our well-being!
“Active Aging: Benefits of an Active Lifestyle on Health and Well-Being in Later Life” – Dorothy Farrar Edwards; University of Wisconsin Madison