Staying Healthy After 60: How to Nourish Your Mind, Body, and Soul
When we think about staying healthy after 60, we usually think of exercise and diet. While these two things are very important, they aren’t everything.
Focusing on the mind, body, and soul will give you an all-around approach to health that can carry you after 60 and beyond.
→ If you’re 65+ and are enrolled in Medicare, there are plans that offer free gym memberships as a part of your health insurance. It's never been easier to get motivated and stay in shape! Learn more
What Can You Do To Keep Your Mind Healthy?
Being able to function and keep a clear, logical mind are necessary to remain independent. As with all parts of your body, your mental abilities generally begin to decline with age.
As this happens, some changes you may notice as being more difficult to do are:
- Remembering certain words or facts
- Staying focused for extended periods of time
- Remembering daily chores
There are many factors that affect your cognitive health such as inherited genes, your lifestyle, and your diet. While you can’t do much about what you’ve inherited, making changes to your lifestyle and diet can help slow down these changes and keep your mind sharp.
Related: A World Champion Powerlifter at 60 & Becoming a CEO at 60 | Inspiring Seniors, Part 6
For Your Mind: Physical Exercise
Aerobic and resistance training can help with maintaining a good cognitive ability. Exercise increases the blood flow in the body, including the brain, and proper blood flow helps keep the brain strong.
For Your Mind: Mental Exercise
Participating in things that keep your mind engaged not only keeps your mind sharp, but it can actually improve your memory and attention span.
Some things that can keep your brain active are:
- Reading newspapers, magazines, and books
- Working puzzles, word searches, and crosswords
- Playing board games and cards
- Talking with friends and relatives
- Writing – keep a journal, write letters, or write a book
- Take a class to learn something new
For Your Mind: Eat Right
Your mind needs the proper nutrition to perform to its fullest capacity. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can help protect against risks such as stroke and dementia.
A study published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience explains that what you eat can have the power to protect your brain from damage, promote repairs in your brain, and even counteract the effects of aging.
So-called “brain foods” include foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants like salmon, dark chocolate (you read that right!), berries, almonds, avocados, eggs, broccoli, and kale.
Related: Alzheimer’s Awareness Month: Understanding the Symptoms
For Your Mind: Manage Stress
Being able to manage stress is not as easy as you age. Your body simply isn’t as capable as it once was of dealing with stressors. Your heart and lungs don’t have the capacity they once did, rebounding from stressful situations is more difficult, and dealing with stress mentally is harder.
These are some things you can do to help handle stressful situations:
- Use relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and focused breathing
- Get involved in outside activities
- Take care of yourself, including eating right, getting enough rest, and exercising
Yoga has long been known to provide stress relief, inner peace, and improved emotional health. The Mayo Clinic explains that this total mind-body workout has been shown in numerous studies to reduce stress and anxiety.
In addition, meditation has been scientifically studied, and we now know that it really does reduce stress, bring about creativity, and increase efficiency to your body’s functions. Hari Sharma, author of Meditation: Process and effects, published in AYU Journal explains, “The process of meditation goes beyond the mind to the deepest level of the inner Self.”
For Your Mind: Social Activity
Find your place in society. Being present with others is a great way to feed your mind.
Participate in a weekly golf game with friends, join a bridge club, enjoy a morning cup of coffee and a leisurely walk with your neighbor, or maybe have a lunch date every Wednesday to break up the week.
Whatever you choose, socializing and enjoying company can be a huge boost to your brain.
For Your Mind: Learn To Cope With Change
No matter how old you are, change is inevitable.
As you age, it seems to be more prevalent. Changes – some minor, some major – can cause stress and discomfort. Learning to accept these changes and move on is the best thing you can do.
Here are a few tips for coping with change after 60:
- Focus on the things you are grateful for: Aging brings deaths and losses which emphasizes how precious life truly is. Learn to appreciate what is important and enjoy what you have.
- Don’t be afraid to acknowledge and express your feelings: Talk about how changes make you feel. Let someone know if you are frightened or nervous about moving to a new home, or living alone after losing your partner. Your feelings are valid and important, and your loved ones want to help.
- Learn to accept the things you cannot change: Some of the changes you encounter will be big and life-altering and some will be small. If there isn’t anything you can do about it, learn to just accept that and move on.
- Look for the silver lining: Change doesn’t have to be negative. Change is just different. Make it a challenge to find the good or positive in the change instead of looking for the bad or negative. You might be surprised at how much a small change in attitude can make a huge difference in the outcome of a situation.
Your mind is like everything else, use it or lose it! Keep it active so you will know what is going on around you well into your future.
What Can You Do To Keep Your Body Healthy?
Let’s face it, aging is hard on your body. It’s harder to get out of bed in the mornings, it’s more difficult to perform physical activities, and it might even be harder to get a good night's sleep.
Knowing what to do to keep your body in the best shape possible for your age can be invigorating.
Related: Aging Is Real: 10 Ways Your Body Changes After 60
For Your Body: Regular Exercise
Getting into a fitness routine is a wonderful way to stay motivated. Exercising has many benefits to you as you age.
By regularly exercising you can:
- Improve your strength and agility
- Increase your vitality
- Improve your sleep habits
- Improve your mental health
- Even diminish some chronic pain issues
Find some type of physical exercise that you enjoy, that fits your lifestyle, and get started.
Some good choices might include:
- Water aerobics
- Lightweight training
- Resistance training
When starting any new physical training routine, a visit with your physician about what your body can endure is always a good idea.
Read more: Over 60? How to Use Smartphone Apps to Lose Weight and Track Fitness
For Your Body: Get Enough Rest
Your body needs more rest than it used to. As you age, you might notice that you have begun dealing with sleep problems such as insomnia, daytime sleepiness, or waking up through the night. Developing healthy sleeping habits can help you get the quality sleep you need each night.
Things you can do to ensure a good night's sleep:
- Keep your room dark, quiet, and cool
- Avoid artificial light from screens at least an hour before bed
- Increase your activity levels during the day
- Develop a soothing nighttime routine such as taking a warm bath, listening to soft music, or reading
- Go to bed at about the same time every night
Learning ways to wind down before bedtime will help prepare you for a pleasant night’s sleep, which is good for your overall health.
For Your Body: Eating Healthy
In order to stay active and healthy, you must feed your body. A well-balanced, nutritious diet is the best way to keep up your energy. Eating healthy foods not only increases your energy level, but it elevates your ability to fight off diseases that can plague seniors.
According to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, as a person ages, it is important to eat a variety of foods from all food groups to help obtain all the nutrients needed.
Most of us love a piece of pie or a big bowl of ice cream, and that’s okay every now and then, but in order to stay healthy and alert, your diet should consist mostly of the following:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Fiber-rich, whole grains
- Non and low-fat dairy products
- Lean meats and proteins
If you love to cook, invite friends over for a well-balanced, homemade meal, or if you prefer, go out to eat, but choose nutritious foods from the menu. Then, you can indulge in that wonderful dessert. It’s all about balance.
Related: Keto After 60: A Doctor’s Advice for Losing Weight With the Keto Diet
For Your Body: Engage In Preventive Activities
Keeping your body healthy doesn’t happen by chance. Every decision you make either builds up your health or causes it to decline.
Things you can do to keep your body healthy:
- Wash your hands frequently and keep hand sanitizer handy for when you can’t use soap and water
- Get vaccinated for things such as the flu and pneumonia
- Get regular screenings like mammograms, bone density scans, and colonoscopy scans
- Schedule regular check-ups with your physician
- Prevent falls by making sure you are stable before you take a step, install assistance bars where needed, use handrails on steps or inclines and ask for help when you feel the need
Related: Here’s a List of Free Preventive Screenings, Tests, and Shots From Medicare
What Can You Do To Keep Your Soul Healthy?
No one likes to feel edgy or uneasy, so keeping your soul healthy is just as important as keeping your mind and body healthy.
For Your Soul: Love Yourself
Learning to embrace who you are at this stage of life can take a little work. Acknowledging that you are still the same person, no matter what changes have taken place, will help you understand that you are still you. Love who you are! After all, you are pretty amazing!
For Your Soul: Stay Positive
With all the changes that are taking place within and around you, staying positive is a must. Looking at the bright side of every situation will open your eyes to things you might not have even noticed before.
For Your Soul: Keep Destructive and Negative People at a Distance
A healthy soul can be extinguished within a negative environment very quickly. Psychology Today tells us that our brains have a “negativity bias,” which means we all have a greater sensitivity to unpleasant news. This response is so automatic that it can be detected at our brain’s earliest information processing.
With this negativity bias being such a natural process, when you notice that the people around you are bringing you down, it is time to distance yourself. Negativity breeds negativity – don’t let yourself get caught in that trap.
For Your Soul: Work Hard and Stay Humble
Whatever you are doing, give it your all. Everyone feels good about a job well done. Whether you’re continuing to work after 65 or you’re doing some remodeling around the house, a job well done will keep you feeling productive.
Do your best with your daily activities and be appreciative of those around you. You might be surprised at how much joy the outcome can bring.
For Your Soul: Stay Strong
Not every day is going to be a good day. Be patient and stay strong in times of trouble. Pull on your strength and the strength of others to get you through.
For Your Soul: Learn to Forgive
No one is perfect, and sometimes people hurt others without even meaning to – or even knowing that they did.
Don’t be afraid to confront others with concerns, but do so with a kind heart, knowing that forgiveness is going to be the final outcome. Harboring ill feelings is hard on the body, so let things go and forgive freely.
For Your Soul: Volunteer
When you help others, you ultimately help yourself. Putting yourself out there for other people to depend on brings about a sense of worthiness and builds compassion.
Places to consider volunteering include:
- Local food banks
- Nearby schools
- Humane Societies or animal shelters
- Historical foundations
- Local parks and YMCAs
- Nursing homes
Giving your time to others is never a waste, and is it good for the soul.
For Your Soul: Find Joy and Meaning
Do things that make you happy and bring meaning to your life. This could be as simple as devouring the latest Nicholas Sparks novel, or taking your grandkids to the movie, to being as difficult as learning a foreign language, or teaching an adult education class. Whatever it is, just do it.
Keeping Your Mind, Body and Spirit in Unison
You are a complex person, and keeping yourself healthy will take work, but you’re worth every second. Staying active and eating right are important and tie into being healthy in every aspect of your life, but they aren’t all that matters.
Being a complete, healthy person takes being healthy in every area. Pay attention to your cognitive health and your soulful spirit as well.
You decide what it is that drives you, what it is that will take you to that next level, and jump on it. Nothing is better for the mind, body and soul than doing something for yourself or others that will bring you joy. Here’s to the healthy, happy, and productive rest of your life!
Did you know you can get access to free gym memberships once you turn 65? Keep your health in tip-top shape with the help of your Medicare Advantage plan. Find out which plans in your zip code come with free gym membership privileges.
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