The key to ageing well is developing healthy routines and habits and committing to them. Your body is the only one you’re given and it is the sole vehicle that carries you through life. You don’t get to take it for a test-run and then hand it back if you damage it. So, treat it well, fuel it with good nutrition and train it to perform at its best with regular exercise.
Here are my eight fundamental healthy habits for ageing well:
You are what you eat! The food you put into your body is what is used to build cells and produce energy for living. So ensure that your cells are being constructed from good quality nutrients and that the energy your cells are producing is made from clean, healthy fuel. As much as possible, stay away from foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugar and limit your intake of processed foods.
Your body is made up of almost 50% water meaning consuming enough of it is essential for day to day functioning. Many people do not drink enough water and instead choose to consume soft-drinks and highly caffeinated drinks. Such beverages actually dehydrate the body rather than hydrate it – the sugar and caffeine steal water from your body. I recommend drinking at least two litres of water every day in order to meet your body’s water requirements – more in the warmer weather and following exercise.
In a nutshell, don’t do it. Smoking or chewing tobacco increases your risk of developing many types of cancer, along with liver disease, digestive problems and elevations in blood pressure and hardening of arteries, increasing your risk of stroke, heart attack and blood clots. Smoking also robs your skin of valuable nutrients, making your skin sallow, saggy and wrinkled. It is never too late to quit smoking.
Alcohol should always be consumed in moderation. Your liver can only handle one standard drink per hour, any more than this and the alcohol goes straight to your heart and lungs. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, brain damage, heart attack, pancreatitis, stomach ulcers, infertility, sexual dysfunction, obesity and increased risk of developing certain cancers.
Stress and negative emotions can have a very detrimental effects on your mind and your body. Anxiety causes increased heart rate, muscle tension and headaches along with many other negative symptoms. Stress has also been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other disease.
Physical exercise should be a daily priority. Exercise does not have to be a chore and can be incorporated into fun activities such as playing with your dog, dancing while you clean the house, joining your grandchildren on the playground or listening to an audio book whilst walking.
Maintaining good posture allows your back to be in a naturally healthy position in which it can optimally carry out all its necessary functions. It also aids balance which is key to ageing well – many elderly people have falls resulting in injuries and loss of confidence which speeds up ageing.
8. Injury and Disease Management
If you sustain an injury or are diagnosed with a health condition, early intervention is vital. Gaining of an accurate diagnosis followed by the implementation of an injury or disease plan will allow you to manage the condition and, where possible, return to health as soon as you can.
The best predictor of your future health and wellbeing is the way you manage your health today. Start by making one small change at a time and before you know it, your biological age (the age of your cells) could be younger than your chronological age (your age in years).
What tips can you share for ageing well? Tell us in the comments below!