Optimizing Health at Any Age

Michelle Martin
Optimizing Health at Any Age People age 50 to 70 are currently reshaping how we define aging. Many of these trailblazers have maintained regular exercise, good nutrition and reduced stress throughout adulthood as part of their healthy lifestyle commitment. These healthy habits are directly associated with vitality and longevity. Unfortunately, there are people who experience illness early in life. Chronic illness, social pressures and media messages can create a negative perception around aging, and may cause some people to perceive aging as a painful process which must be endured instead of celebrating what a long and healthy life can reveal.

Change is inevitable and happening at an accelerated rate. Since each generation has its own set of experiences, each generation will define its reality unlike the one before it. David Harry Stewart writes about aging wisely, and has a key point to remember about aging. Our current attitudes about aging are relevant to how people lived 20 to 30 years ago. This has nothing to do with our current reality. Stewart reminds us perspectives continually change. In 300 BC, when Alexander the Great was at his most powerful, the head of his personal guard was 65. Attitudes during this historical time reflect aging was not focused on illness or decline, but hard work and purpose.

Take a moment to consider your attitudes regarding aging, and how you may want to modify your choices and behaviors for improved health and well-being.

Physical Movement
Using your body isn’t defined by the gym or previous perceptions of how to “get fit.” Consider something you love that is physical. If you’re not a fan of the gym get outdoors to walk, run, and hike. Stretch or do yoga at home first thing in the morning. Kickbox your stress away after work. Any physical activity which increases your heart rate and encourages strength training for bone density is good for you. Strength training doesn’t automatically mean lifting weights. Tai Chi, yoga, racket sports and golf are considered in the realm of load-bearing activities. Reinvent your idea of a workout and make it work for you!

Appearance
Much of the negative perception about aging is around what it does to our physical appearance. Remember, past perceptions have nothing to do with your current environment. People who embrace their age and celebrate it openly exude confidence. At the age of 36 Shalane Flannagan became a NYC marathon winner. Hugh Jackman is 49 and still does his own movie stunts. Christy Brinkley is currently 64 and still graces the pages of major beauty magazines. Wang Deshun is a male runway model, who at 82 is part of a growing trend in the fashion industry to redefine what beauty looks like, including vitality at any age. Find inspiration which makes you feel good about your own personal journey. Remember, everyone else’s opinion of your “appearance experience” isn’t relevant.

Nutrition/Hydration/Sleep
A nutrient dense diet is essential for longevity. The biggest food trend in 2018 is predicted to be veganism, but a meatless diet may seem intimidating to the average carnivore. Longevity and a meatless (or mostly plant-based) diet isn’t a new health industry topic. Scientists have been studying Blue Zone cultures for years. These cultures have the largest concentration of centenarians and live on a mostly plant-based diet. If you’re not ready to reduce your animal product intake, focus your efforts on avoiding processed foods. Eat real, clean, nutrient-dense food which is organic, non-GMO, and free of hormones. Don’t forget to drink lots of H2O! Our bodies are made up of 60 percent water, so it’s no wonder water helps act as a major component for most parts of our body, including encouraging a youthful appearance.

For anyone who thinks longevity isn’t linked to sleep, think again. Poor sleep patterns have been linked to numerous health issues, both immediate and long-term. These health issues include reduced cognitive thinking, depression, heart disease, stroke, obesity, and increased inflammation in the body. Make it your goal to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If you are finding it difficult to consistently achieve this goal, consider implementing a sleep hygiene program as part of your healthy lifestyle.

Emotional Well-being and Purpose
Most people do not take the time to consider the connection between their physical health and their mindset regarding the future and aging in general. Some retirees are looking at their next phase of life with dread, as they do not know what their purpose will be. Oregon State University recently conducted a study led by Chenkai Wu. This study concluded mortality rates drop 11 percent when people retire after age 65 and worked at least one year past retirement. It is never too late to change careers, become an entrepreneur, or devote yourself to a new cause. Be curious…create and cultivate what you want to contribute to the world around you.

As you move closer to your next birthday search for how you can truly celebrate your life and share your gifts with others. We are individually accountable to create, shape and celebrate our own life and the lives around us. Aging is part of that creation, and when we move into that space with positivity and courage we will discover we can be amazing at any age.

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Michelle MartinAs a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Michelle supports Cascade Centers' health and wellness initiatives through a holistic approach, and believes true well-being is based on bio-individuality. Along with supporting wellness initiatives, she is part of the account management team and assists with providing proactive service and solutions for clients and their employees. Michelle writes and speaks about holistic health related issues including sleep hygiene, sugar addiction, forgiveness and mindfulness. For more health information and wellness inspiration, you can follow her on Twitter and Facebook @sohowellbeing.