‘My body is a temple’; ever heard that saying? You may have heard it but how many of us actually believe it? The reality is that as a society we don’t tend to look after ourselves as well as we should, adopting a healthy lifestyle to maintain the so called ‘body beautiful’.
It’s not just about looking good though, although I’m sure my wife wouldn’t mind me looking a little more like George Clooney!! Isn’t it more about feeling good; staying that bit more agile and trying to keep active?
Don’t worry; I’m not going to start preaching. You only have to look at my holiday snaps to realise that I’m not exactly the best ambassador for healthy living; but having reached my 50s and started to notice more of the aches and pains, I have become more conscious of my health, so I am trying to make changes however small that will improve my wellbeing.
So if you too are starting to feel your age, here are some tips for a healthy lifestyle:
No surprise here. I love food and have a healthy appetite so it isn’t helpful that as we get older, our metabolic rates slows down; basically we don’t burn off the calories quite as well as we used to so we need to either adjust our diet or exercise (well both really).
The trick with food for healthy living is portion control and a nutritious balanced diet. At least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, oily fish, cut down on saturated fat and sugar, eat less salt and off course cut down on alcohol.
It’s also good to drink plenty of water and don’t skip on breakfast. For more information on a healthy balanced diet, visit the NHS website.
Exercise and keep active
The level of exercise you require to maintain a healthy lifestyle depends on your age. The younger ones amongst you should be doing around 2 hours 30 minutes of exercise every week, whereas the more mature should look at less strenuous exercise that builds strength, flexibility and balance.
Swimming, golf, fast walking, gym-based activity or fitness classes; anything that makes you feel warmer and gets your heart and pulse working a bit faster (do start slowly though and where necessary, talk to your doctor first).
The other good thing about keeping active is that in addition to reducing the risk of developing illnesses or life-threatening diseases, it is also good for maintaining a healthy weight, improved sleep patterns and boosting your confidence.
If you are physically active, you are also more likely to lead an independent healthy lifestyle for longer too.
For more information on exercise and fitness for all ages, click here.
Keep mentally active
There’s some truth in the old adage ‘use it or lose it’ when it comes to staying mentally active as you age. In the same way it pays to keep your body exercised, it is also important to keep the brain in good shape too as studies show that this can stave off dementia conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
Not wanting to harp on about fitness and diet but it is true that both will help your mental agility. It is also important however to keep your brain exercised too with puzzles and crosswords, reading, new interests such as gardening or by playing mind stretching games such as bridge, chess or even computer games.
It is also key where possible to avoid stress as this can bring on memory loss and lack of concentration. Again keeping active can help alleviate the pressures of day to day life too.
Keep socially active
Healthy living is not just about exercise and diet. A healthy lifestyle is also about our social wellbeing. We appear to be on the verge of an epidemic of loneliness in UK, especially amongst our elderly so we need to do want we can to be socially active, both for the sake of ourselves and our families. Think I’m exaggerating, then just look at the news; there is bound to be an article somewhere reporting on the increased number of elderly people admitting to being lonely, with the TV as their only source of company.
So it might sound cheesy but get out there; join a club, meet new people, call on a friend. Whatever you need to do to keep an active and healthy social life, just do it. And if you can help make the day of someone who is feeling the pressure of being alone, even better.
Listen to your body
I’m not suggesting you become a frequent visitor at your doctor’s surgery but it is important to seek help if you have any concerns about your body or your bodily functions (I think you know what I’m talking about).
You’ve seen the adverts; the cancer, stroke and heart attack warnings. They are not there to scare you; they are there to save your life.
Go and have your prostate checked on a regular basis; go and have your breasts screened; if something is not working the way it should, get help, don’t just put your head in the sand.
At the end of the day, achieving a healthy lifestyle is all about balance and making those few changes. It’s true when they say life is short so live for today but isn’t life that little bit better if you are feeling good?