Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Healthy Aging
This is the time we make New Year’s resolutions about actions for the coming year. Those who have read this column over the years know that we believe that a well educated reader and a reader willing to take responsibility for his actions is likely to be healthier.
Following is a list of top 10 health-related resolutions to help achieve healthy aging:
1. Exercise regularly (at least three times a week and preferably once a day). For most people, walking is the simplest and safest form of exercise. One study reports that walking 30 minutes a day adds 1.3 years to a person’s life. More strenuous types of exercise done in moderation and with proper pre- and post-exercise stretching is recommended. In order to increase your fitness level, exercise should increase your heart rate. Exercises involving balance and lightweight lifting can help prevent falls. In stationery exercises for arms, abdomen and legs, three sets of eight to12 repetitions at least once a week are recommended.
2. A balanced diet is vital to good health. Some things are good to eat and some things are bad. On the “good” list is fiber from fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and whole grains. Elimination of “bad” things is difficult, but a diet that limits fat is a must. Salt also should be limited, even for people who aren’t hypertensive. Refined sugar consumption should be limited for people with and without diabetes.
3. Drink approximately eight glasses of water per day (not carbonated drinks). The water you drink doesn’t have to be bottled; tap water is just as good or better and is required for all bodily functions. The amount you drink should be determined by activity, humidity and age. To make sure that you are well hydrated, check the color of your urine. If it is dark gold, drink more. If it is like water, cut back.
4. Kick or reduce bad habits. This column could be completely on this topic because there are many bad habits! However, let’s just focus on the main ones: smoking; not drinking in moderation (red wine in moderation can be beneficial); excessive use of caffeine drinks or other stimulants; and improper use of prescription, non-prescription, and illegal drugs.
5. Take vitamin supplements designed for older Americans and supplement the daily multi-vitamin with additional calcium. Consult with your physician on how much you need to prevent possible bone fractures.
6. Reduce stress, even though it may be easier to say than to do. Stress is defined generally as “things out of your control” that cause discomfort or threaten one’s sense of security. Whether it is the bad economy or a family situation, it is important to find healthy ways of dealing with stress. Consider confiding in friends or trusted professionals. Other methods of coping include religious practices and helping someone in greater need. Stress contributes to many severe health problems, so it is important to deal with stress earlier, rather than later.
7. Sleep and rest are essential to wellness. Each person needs slightly different amounts. The average amount of sleep required is seven hours. If you are tired, get some rest. Exhaustion can lead to many illnesses.
8. Follow all regimens for disease management. Let’s face it, as we age, we develop health problems. People with heart disease, arthritis, cancer, depression, diabetes, hypertension and other common problems should receive care from a physician. Follow the plan given to you by your physician.
9. See your physician at least once a year for a thorough evaluation. The so called “annual physical” is necessary for you and your doctor to evaluate your overall health, go over all medications, and prescribe any changes or tests that need to be performed under the “preventive maintenance” program that you and your physician have agreed upon.
10. Read this column. Or, just pay attention to the countless other voices of self-help and wellness. Ultimately, your health is your responsibility.
New Year's Top 10 Health Resolutions
1. Exercise regularly
2. Eat properly
3. Drink plenty of water
4. Drop bad habits
5. Take vitamin supplements
6. Stress abatement
7. Sleep and rest appropriately
8. Adhere to a disease management plan
9. See your doctor
10. Stay current with health strategies