Happy Fourth of July! We are back this week with tips on health and wellness. One thing we’ve heard from you is that you really appreciate articles where the to-do’s and tips are clearly actionable. Unfortunately there are many articles out there that are too general and leave readers confused. So we’ve gathered some of the best tips that we’ve seen and have heard from the experts into a list of actionable tips you can start doing today!
We know you are already exercise-minded individuals. You are probably already taking daily walks to make sure you are using your muscles. But what you may not know is that the intensity of your walks matter a lot. NextAvenue notes that “fast-walking or jogging cut … risk factors for heart disease and stroke by as much as 50%” and that “casual daily walking alone seemed to have little impact” (Top Health and Fitness Tips).
So how intense is intense? You want to feel like you are breathing a little harder and that your heart rate is slightly more elevated than normal. Dr. Michael Mantell from Total Gym Direct recommends keeping your heart rate at 50%-75% of your Maximum Heart Rate – which is calculated as 220 minus your age. He also recommends at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity per week. (The Top 10 Steps to Sizzle in Your 70’s).
So today, when you go out for your daily walk – try to walk a little faster. Reduce the length of your walk if you need to, but push yourself a little on the speed.
Drink 9 Glasses of Water
Most of us drink water only when we feel parched. Unfortunately, by the time we feel the thirst, we are already dehydrated. This is especially an issue for seniors because seniors tend to feel less thirsty as they get older but are affected more negatively by dehydration. Dehydration can cause confusion, blood pressure changes, headaches, muscle cramps, and more.
Heather Schwartz from A Place for Mom says that “If you are 65 or older, your mission is to get in: 2 Liters per day, or 9 glasses (1 glass = 8 oz) of fluid” (Stay Hydrated, Eat Protein: Nutrition Tips for Seniors). Note that all liquids count towards this such as milk or soup. We don’t recommend drinking soda because of the high sugar contents.
So here is how you can achieve this today (and every other day):
- Drink a glass of liquid with each meal (3 cups)
- Drink a glass of water between each meal (2 cups)
- Drink two glasses of water when you take your medicines & vitamins (2 cups)
- Drink a glass of water before you go to sleep (1 cup)
- Have soup, tea, or water-filled vegetables and fruits like watermelon (1 cup)
Eliminate Refined Carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates can be found in many common processed foods like white bread, soda, etc. Helayne Waldman, a nutrition educator, notes on JoanLuden.com that these foods “quickly convert to sugar once they hit the bloodstream” – this can be “a stage-setting precursor for diabetes and other metabolic disorders” (Nutritional Needs Change As Body Ages).
Here’s how you can start changing your diet slowly:
Month 1: Replace soda and other sugary drinks (such as hot chocolate, apple juice, orange juice, etc.). Reserve these for special occasions and instead opt for water, milk, or herbal tea for your daily liquids.
Month 2: Replace chips, cookies, donuts, and other processed snacks. Try unsalted nuts, hummus, or whole fruits instead.
Month 3: Reduce white bread, spaghetti, rice, and noodles. Instead try brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, or barley.
If you are able to accomplish these three changes, you’ll have eliminated the majority of bad food that Americans are used to eating.
Keep Your Mind Sharp with Your Pen or iPad
Our friends at SYNERGY HomeCare state that “continuous learning opportunities is proving itself to be one of the mainstays of healthy aging and quality of life” (Maintaining Your Mental Agility). Staying mentally astute is one of the best ways to maintain your health and wellness. Seniors who are more mentally sharp are happier and are more confident to take on other activities.
Here are some activities you can start doing today:
- Crossword puzzles
- Reading a novel or listening to an audiobook
- Playing mental agility games on your iPad like Elevate
- Writing a journal
- Playing board games or card games
More fun mental exercises can be found at SharpBrains.com
Dr. Carr, the clinical director for Geriatrics and Nutritional Science at Washington University noted on the Lutheran Senior Services Blog that “Interacting with other people in social situations is crucial. It’s also important to keep your hobbies going – board games, puzzles, cards, playing a musical instrument, staying active in volunteer work.” (Living Healthy to 100). Many of the activities we mentioned above can have a dual purpose of sharpening your mind while also helping you develop friendships. Finally, having someone that can hold you accountable can be crucial for some of the tasks – like exercising regularly.
So go find a bridge partner, workout buddy, or join a book club. Whatever it is – friends are the key to long term health.
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