Tips for Healthy Aging

by William M. Healy, MD

Volunteering is great for healthy aging!

Volunteering is great for healthy aging!

Sneaky old Father Time is at it again. Your back and knees feel stiff, unexpected fatigue feels overwhelming, and just where are those car keys anyway? While many of us are feeling the effects of growing older, we can certainly do more to fight back by learning and applying techniques for healthy aging. Since September is Healthy Aging Month there is no better time to start.

Regular exercise is one of the best weapons to slow those hands of time. Both aerobic exercise, such as walking, and resistance-type exercise, such as weightlifting are great. How much weight? Two, five and ten-pound dumbbells are all you need to get started. Reach out to call some friends to walk with. Remember to stretch your muscles before exercise and start gradually. Keeping active with exercise helps improve muscular strength, joint function, and balance, while reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Proper nutrition is another powerful tool for healthy aging. Sugary foods can actually cause fatigue, and there is growing evidence that sugar is inflammatory. Sugary foods are all too common in the American diet. The average can of soda contains eight to nine teaspoons of sugar. The Mediterranean Diet an excellent choice for healthy living. Research reveals that the Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease and cancer, as well as a lower risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Key components of a Mediterranean diet are abundant anti-inflammatory plant-based foods such as fruit, vegetables, wholes grains, legumes and nuts. The diet replaces unhealthy fats, such as butter, with olive oil. The diet recommends eating fish at least twice a week limiting red meat to a couple times per month. The Mediterranean Diet replaces salt with herbs and spices for seasoning. Eating with friends and family is also an important part of the diet, and for those that consume alcohol, toast away with 5 ounces of wine.

Memory loss is another area of concern. Aerobic exercise has been shown to improve brain blood flow and has been associated with a lower risk of dementia. Keep your brain stimulated with crossword, word-search puzzles and games, and reading. Learning to play a musical instrument or a new language is also beneficial. Maintaining adequate sleep is a tremendous help, and for those of you who still smoke…quit!

We all enjoy the sun, but excessive sunlight can photo-age your skin. Wearing a hat and applying sunscreen when appropriate will help keep your skin from burning. Skin changes due to sunburn can take as long as 20 to 30 years to occur, making it important to avoid sun damage at any age.

Stay well connected with family and friends, and remember that mental health is important, too! Healing troubled relationships, and being open to new ones will help improve your vitality. Identify stressors in your life and try to minimize them. Choose to volunteer and share the talents that you have developed with others. Interaction with others will keep you young.

About the Author:

William M. Healy, M.D. is a physician who specializes in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, treating people of all ages. He is located at 1829 Maple Road, Suite 202, Williamsville, NY, 14221. To make an appointment with Dr. Healy call 716.204.5933. Visit his website at