THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2018 BUT WAS UPDATED ON 6/21/2021
As we age, it becomes increasingly important to make healthy choices in our daily lives. From the foods we eat to the amount of physical activity we get, there are many ways to improve our physical and mental health. Even if you’re a senior, it’s never too late to start participating in health-conscious activities. Your self-care may not roll back the clock, but it can potentially add years to your life by helping prevent Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and other ailments.
Here are some tips for seniors on how to improve their mental and physical health:
Owning a Pet
Our family pets can play an important role in our mental and physical health as well. Scientists already know that pets can improve one’s overall happiness. Did you know that owning a pet has many physical health benefits as well? Believe it or not, pet ownership has been linked to:
- Decreased blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels
- Decreased loneliness
- Increased opportunities for exercise and socialization
To enjoy all the benefits of being a pet owner, plan to spend time with your pet each day. If you’re a dog owner, take your outside for regular treks to the dog park. The fresh air, sunshine and exercise will be healthy for you both.
To find the nearest dog park, check out a site like Rover.com, which offers city-by-city listings. Here’s a quick sampling: San Jose, Portland, Knoxville, Madison, Indianapolis, Albuquerque, Miami, Calgary, Saint Paul and Raleigh.
Additionally, the CDC cautions pet owners to take proper care of their pets. Because it is actually possible for humans to get sick from their pets, it’s important that you regularly take your pet to the veterinarian, bathe your pet as instructed, and practice good hygiene in your household. By keeping your pet healthy, you can keep yourself healthy, too.
Going for a Walk
Although some seniors do engage in vigorous workout sessions at the gym each week, this is not a realistic (or safe) goal for most people. A healthier place to start might be walking around your neighborhood or exercising under the supervision of a trained physical therapist.
A recent study found that “low-intensity exercise might offer both physical and cognitive health benefits to older adults aged 65 to 85 years.” Both genders experienced health benefits but women saw even more of a benefit than men.
Best of all, the same benefits were experienced from a variety of movement techniques, including chair-sitting exercise, Tai Chi, walking, and more.
As with any exercise, start slowly and always listen to your body. Remember: the goal is not to injure yourself, but to make yourself stronger and healthier.
Bonding with Grandchildren
Spending time with your grandchildren is not only enjoyable; it’s also good for you! A recent study published in a women’s health journal showed that postmenopausal women experienced cognitive benefits from simply being around their grandchildren.
According to the study, levels of regular social interaction were shown to be beneficial to the women’s mental health, possibly even delaying the onset of dementia and related conditions.
Trying Something New
In addition to the tips listed above, earning a new skill or participating in a new activity can be a great way to keep your mind sharp as you age. Growing older doesn’t mean you have to give up on enjoying your life, staying healthy, or challenging your mind.
You can keep your body and mind healthy and happy by taking part in your favorite activities or by simply being willing to try something new.