In this article, you’ll learn some encouraging health facts for seniors who are interested in maintaining a high-quality lifestyle as they age. While we all know people who give up on their health as they grow older, there is clear evidence that every senior is capable of improving their quality of life by eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and practicing strategies that foster an optimistic outlook on life.
Harvard Health Publishing quotes Dr. Edward Phillips, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School who claims that “even people 100 years old or older can build muscle strength.” Dr. Johnathan Bean, a professor and peer of Dr. Phillips’ shares a story about a wheelchair-bound, 101-year old man who wanted to build up his strength so he could wheel himself down the hall on his own to access and read the paper. After committing to a weight training program, this man surpassed his initial goal, graduating to a walker so he could travel the distance to read his beloved newspaper.
WebMD cites studies that reinforce the importance of lifestyle factors over genetics for longevity. Researchers believe that how long a person lives is determined 25% by genetics and 75% by lifestyle choices.
Health Facts For Aging Seniors
The Body’s Amazing Ability to Heal
While it may be too soon to view COVID-19 as anything but a human tragedy, it is important to acknowledge the remarkable healing ability of people in their 70s, 80s, and even 90s to recover from this life-threatening medical diagnosis. Surprisingly, there are multiple documented cases of people over 100 who recovered.
Times Now reports on a 110-year-old woman named Siddamma who recovered from COVID-19 in record time, getting better in just five days. Another tribute to the remarkable power of healing was reported in the city of Semnan. A 103-year-old Iranian woman recovered fully from the deadly virus after spending one week in the hospital.
These types of stories prove that we are never too old to recover and improve our health. AARP references the thousands of biological reactions in the human body that happen 24/7 to combat infections and injuries. For example, white blood cells collect in injured areas to fight off infection. Monocytes are cells that act as scavengers to eliminate dead tissue as a way to control inflammation. Additionally, broken bones are healed by osteoblasts that forge bones back together.
Granted, the body mends itself without any help from us in most cases. That does not mean we can’t do things to facilitate the process. Healthy lifestyle habits build a strong immune system that ultimately speeds the healing process.
Better Nutrition Equals Better Health at Any Age
By making an effort to eat nutrient-dense food, baby boomers can dramatically improve their energy level and zest for life. Healthline recommends nutrient-rich foods for optimal health. By steering clear of processed foods, sugar, and trans fats, seniors position themselves for a longer, healthier life. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is key to achieving health goals.
Eating enough fiber and lean protein foods such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains rounds out a healthy diet plan. Many nutritionists suggest skipping the aisles on the inside of the grocery stores in favor of sticking to the fresh produce and meat sections that are typically located on the outside edges of popular grocery chains.
While eating an occasional treat makes sense, limiting desserts and alcohol ensures that your doctor will be smiling the next time you have your blood drawn. Since blood work paints a picture of your overall health, it is easy to see the positive impact of making healthy dietary changes. It is no secret that eating more raw, whole food and less processed food is likely to improve cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglyceride readings.
A discussion on dieting would not be complete without mentioning the importance of hydration. Baby boomers might notice that they feel less thirsty than they did in their youth. Unfortunately, this shift often leads to dehydration. That’s why it is important to conscientiously drink enough water, counting the glasses if necessary. By drinking eight average-sized glasses of water a day, the average boomer with typical activity levels can stave off dehydration.
Regular Exercise Improves Health
WebMD reports that the probability of living to 90 years of age is decreased by 44% for seniors who live a sedentary lifestyle. Harvard Health Publishing recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week.
Exercising regularly has proven to improve both mental and physical health in all people, with significant benefits for seniors. Harvard Health Publishing claims that regular strength training and aerobic activity are the two main types of exercise necessary to build health. The goals of any exercise regiment should be focused on getting stronger and improving endurance.
While it is far too easy to make excuses about why we don’t exercise as we get older, the truth of the matter is that many seniors decide they are too old to ride a bike or go for a hike. Whether it is due to a lack of confidence or a preconceived perception about aging and activity levels, this type of thinking is detrimental and unfounded in most cases unless a physician has specifically warned against it.
It makes sense to check in with your physician before embarking on any new exercise program. Setting realistic expectations is key for both staying safe and enjoying yourself. Modest improvements over time represent goals that make sense for seniors.
Baby boomers interested in living a quality lifestyle into their 70s, 80s, and 90s must resist the urge to throw in the towel and hide in the stereotype of what previous generations labeled “old age”. By being proactive and eating a healthy, whole food diet while exercising regularly, seniors can enjoy a life with fewer limits and more opportunities.