According to research, physical decline can begin when we’re in our 50s, and this decline tends to worsen the older we get. (1) Other studies add that our cognition may start to decline even earlier, or around age 45. (2) This means that our ability to remember, reason, and comprehend starts to reduce as we enter middle age.
Aging can take its toll on our health as well. In the eyes, for instance, the lenses lose flexibility, making it hard to focus on things close to us—hence the reason you might need reading glasses in your 40s or 50s. (3) Other age-related eye issues include dry eyes, glaucoma, floaters, cataracts, droopy eyelids, and more. Aging also puts us at greater risk of chronic disease due to our body’s tissues progressively degenerating. (4)
In honor of September being Healthy Aging Month, we’re providing you with a few tips to help you age as healthfully as possible. But first, let’s talk about some of the factors that can affect health with age.
Factors That Influence Aging-Related Health
Several things can impact our health as we grow older. A 2022 study highlights 10 factors that determine our aging-related health. They are: (5)
- level of physical activity or exercise
- diet or nutritional intake
- how self-aware we are
- our outlook and attitude
- whether we pursue continual learning throughout life
- if we have faith
- amount of social support
- financial security status
- engagement with the community
- level of independence
Each of these can increase or decrease our level of health as we enter our 40s, 50s, and beyond.
So, what can we do to age as healthfully as we can?
7 Tips for Aging Well
The fact that you’re reading this article is a good first step because it says that you’re motivated to look after your health.
In addition, here are seven actionable steps that you can take to promote healthy aging:
1. Get physically active if you aren’t already.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per week. (6) Split this exercise up and this equates to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days per week. Older adults should also do two or more sessions of strength training and exercises designed to improve balance.
2. Eat primarily whole, nutritious foods.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest eating a diet full of fruit, veggies, grains, lean protein, and healthy fat. For older adults, specifically, it also recommends making sure you get enough vitamin B12 since absorption decreases with age. And you should stay hydrated since thirst cues also tend to decline. (7)
3. Make sleep a priority.
Disrupted sleep patterns can contribute to or even cause cognitive issues with age. (8) Make it a point to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. It can help to avoid caffeine later in the day, shut off electronics about an hour before bed, and do something that relaxes you before lying down.
If you have trouble sleeping, you might also consider taking a natural sleep aid, such as our Fast Asleep with melatonin.
4. Work to stay positive.
Stress can take a major toll on both the body and mind. Staying positive can help you get through tough times, reminding you that even if things aren’t going as you expect, there are still things to be grateful for. Plus, life just feels lighter when we’re positive.
5. Grow your spirituality.
You don’t have to believe in God or another religious figure to have faith. You can also simply believe in a higher power. Feeling like there is something bigger than you can change your outlook on life and provide comfort when you’re struggling. Religion and spirituality also increase your feelings of self-empowerment, make you more mindful, and give you a renewed sense of belonging in what often feels like a crazy world. (9)
6. Connect with others.
Take the time to connect with not just family and friends, but also people in your community. This may involve joining a local group or recreational team. Look for groups that do activities you enjoy and forge friendships with people who have the same interests as you.
7. Make taking care of your health a continual process.
You can’t just do healthy activities once or twice and expect to feel good for the rest of your life. Attend your regular healthcare visits, take your medications as prescribed, and generally look after your health.
Do these seven things and it can help you age as healthily as possible. Or, as writer Betty Friedan once said, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” We couldn’t agree more.