Longer life and greater healthspan are things humans have been searching for perhaps as long as we’ve existed. Thankfully, all that searching has yielded some incredible results. While we may not have a magic pill that makes us immortal (yet), we do have more tools at our disposal than ever before that can help us stay mentally, physically, and emotionally fit as we age.
By understanding our bodies and crafting a plan that incorporates mindfulness, a healthy diet, well-rounded physical fitness routines, and plenty of rest, we can maintain our health and happiness for years to come.
Get to Know Your Body
In order for complex systems, such as the human body, to function at peak efficiency, each individual component needs to be operating at full capacity. Think of the organs and systems within your body like a professional sports team. If one player is injured, the rest of the team will need to work harder to cover for that injured player. The longer this goes on, the more likely other players are to become injured due to the added stress of having to play outside of their comfort zone. The health of the team as a whole relies heavily on each individual player staying fit. This is true for each of the organs and systems within our bodies as well.
Thanks to some incredible advances in science and technology, we now have the ability to understand each component of our body (or player if we’re thinking of the sports analogy) on a very deep level. Accessories that monitor sleep cycles can give us clues on how to achieve a better night’s sleep. Genetic testing gives valuable insight into conditions that we may be predisposed to and medications or supplements that may be a good fit for our body. With micronutrient testing, clinicians can get a deeper understanding of the specific unique needs of our bodies to optimize function on a cellular level. The more information you have, the better you can prepare, so take advantage of these tools and get to know how your body works.
Create a Personalized Health Plan
Once you’re armed with an in-depth knowledge of your body and all of its unique characteristics, you can create a plan based on that information. Much like sports teams work off of a playbook or corporations devise business strategies, it will help you to have a plan you can build off of. It’s okay to go off-book sometimes, but this will give you a firm foundation.
Five areas to consider are diet, physical fitness, rest, and mindfulness. When each of the elements work together at peak efficiency, you’ll see the best results.
A balanced diet has long been thought of as a cornerstone of health and longevity. But narrowing down exactly what the perfect diet consists of can be a bit tricky. This is because how much a person needs to eat is based on several factors such as age and activity level.
What’s more, you can add certain specific foods to combat the onset of diseases you may be prone to based on your family history or genetic factors. For example, the MIND diet has shown promise in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and a Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Intermittent fasting or restricting caloric intake has been shown to delay vascular aging. Avoiding sugar may help preserve your cognitive function and reduce your risk of depression.
Whatever your specific goals and concerns may be, a good place to start is by talking to your doctor or nutritionist. They can make recommendations based on your current eating habits, health goals, and family background.
After our 20’s, the rate at which our bodies are able to get oxygen to our muscles while exercising decreases, and we begin to experience a gradual physical decline. The good news is, regular activity has been shown to slow down this process.
The benefits of establishing a regular physical fitness routine are numerous. Just 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week can help you sleep better, improve your mood and prevent the onset of health conditions including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, certain types of cancer, and more. You can spread these exercise sessions out into roughly 20-minute sessions each day or 50-minute sessions just 3 days a week to fit your schedule.
Regular exercise doesn’t necessarily mean doing the same thing. In fact, people who change up their physical fitness routine have a higher likelihood of exercising consistently, in part because they are less prone to get bored from doing the same thing over and over. So, try something new that you find exciting!
It may also benefit you to find a workout buddy. Attending a new dance class or trying out a new sport with your bestie can result in lots of laughs and a truly memorable experience, but even if your closest friends aren’t geographically nearby, sharing your fitness results can inspire you to work harder. One study found that runners who shared their results via social networks tapped into their competitive nature and wound up logging more miles.
It’s a good idea to consult your doctor before starting a new fitness routine. Make sure to tell your doctor about any past injuries and point of weakness, so you can develop a fitness routine that works for you and doesn’t risk injury. If you haven’t worked out in a while, you’ll probably want to start by taking some long walks and maybe mixing in some strengthening pilates classes before tackling a run. Perhaps instead of hosting a weekend brunch, you could invite some friends to join you for a hike and explore nature while getting your heart rate up.
Sleep is essential for our overall health and longevity. For adults, getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night can reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, depression, diabetes, obesity, and more. Getting a good night’s sleep allows muscle tissue to rebuild, strengthens the immune system, and improves mental acuity.
As we get older, it can become more difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Stress, busy work schedules, and family obligations can have a negative impact on our sleep. In addition, many people over the age of 60 experience lighter, more interrupted sleep patterns due to certain medications, frequent trips to the bathroom, or pain from lying in the same position for too long.
Here are a few things you can do to give yourself the best possible chance of a good night’s sleep:
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bed.
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule (go to bed around the same time every night) to avoid disrupting your circadian rhythm.
- Create a peaceful sleeping environment.
- Increase your exposure to bright light or sunlight during the day and avoid blue lights in the evening.
If you think you may have a sleep disorder or would like some help achieving a better night’s rest, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. There are many treatments, therapies, and supplements available that have been shown to improve patients’ quality of sleep.
In addition to getting a good night’s sleep, there are things you can do while you’re awake to improve your mental agility and mood. A review of 35 studies found that people who are happy can live up to 18% longer than people who are generally unhappy.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines mindfulness as, “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis”. Essentially, mindfulness is living in the moment, and any mental exercises that help you to achieve this heightened state of awareness can be beneficial.
For example, learning a new skill such as digital photography, knitting, or playing an instrument can help preserve your memory. Participating in intellectual activities such as daily reading has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia. Meditation has shown positive results in helping to lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, and combat insomnia.
Regularly engaging and challenging your mind can have an immense impact on your overall health. If you suffer from depression, PTSD, insomnia, ADHD or neurological issues resulting from a concussion, non-invasive neurofeedback (or Electroencephalogram (EEG) Biofeedback) therapy may be a great way to kickstart a new mindfulness routine.
If you’d like to learn about genetic testing, micronutrient testing, or a range of innovative treatments that can help you on the road to getting the most from your diet, physical fitness routine, sleep, and mindfulness practices, schedule a consultation at Aspire Regenerative. Our clinicians can create a personalized plan and make treatment recommendations to help you achieve your health and wellness goals at any age.