17 Sep Healthy Prevention: How Seniors Benefit from Mental and Physical Activity
Geriatric studies have associated isolation and loneliness with premature mortality in seniors as well as dementia, hospitalization and in-home accidents. If lack of engagement with the world and separation from loved ones lie at the root of the problem, then physical exercise and mental stimulation are the antidotes, and the keys to slowing cognitive decline and healthy aging among older adults. Regular exercise is important but it’s just part of a broader, well-rounded lifestyle.
It’s essential to keep your mind occupied and to challenge yourself with new mental activities, which help slow the onset of dementia and cognitive impairment. Try something new that’s always interested you such as learning a new language online or engage in simple, day-to-day activities including reading or doing crossword or Sudoku puzzles. Anything that gets the brain working and creates new neural pathways is beneficial.
If you live alone or have recently lost a spouse, it’s essential to reach out and connect with friends and acquaintances. Make a point of having coffee every week with a group of friends, join in an aerobics class, or start a book club that stimulates conversation and opportunities for new learning. There are many advantages to sharing experiences, worries and setbacks with people with whom you have much in common.
Some of the more vigorous forms of exercise may not be possible for older adults but there are still ways to keep your body healthy with regular physical activity (at least 30 minutes a day is generally recommended). Dog walking is an enjoyable yet low-impact activity that gets you out into the fresh air and gives your heart a good workout. If you don’t have a dog, ask a friend or neighbor if you can walk theirs or consider starting a dog-walking service. (There’s nothing wrong with making a little money while you’re at it.)
Getting seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night is key to maintaining physical and mental vitality. Failing to do so can result in impaired judgment, depression, irritability and a reduced ability to concentrate. Unfortunately, older adults often have trouble either getting to sleep or getting a full night’s rest. Try establishing a set bedtime routine by getting ready to sleep at the same time every night and waking up at the same time each morning, which will establish a natural rhythm to which your body will become accustomed. Maintain a completely dark and distraction-free sleep space by turning off all screens (TVs, computers, handheld devices, etc.), employ a fan or white noise device if sound prevents you from sleeping, and avoid caffeine and other stimulants as bedtime approaches.
Volunteerism is beneficial to people of all ages, but for seniors it can be transformative. Helping others in need fires one’s sense of purpose, boosts self-esteem, prevents depression and promotes physical activity. Try joining a charitable organization, or volunteer your time at a senior living facility.
Try thinking of physical and mental activity as a form of prevention of staving off the effects of mental decline, which often plague older adults who suffer from isolation and inactivity. Start small if it’s more comfortable. Go for a brief walk around the neighborhood or in a nearby park and see how it makes you feel. It could be all you need to make a positive and lasting change in your life.
For further information on how a preventive health approach can not only extend your life, but also ensure that you remain healthy during your golden years, contact the Randox Health team today on 0800 2545 130.