The Secrets of Successful Aging: Navigating Your Golden Years Gracefully

Sporty woman eating apple. Beautiful woman with gray hair in the early sixties relaxing after sport training. Healthy Age. Mature athletic woman eating an apple after sports training

Getting Daily Exercise

One of the secrets of successful aging is getting daily exercise which has a lot of benefits for the life of an older adult. Active physical activity is vital for healthy aging because older adults over the age of 65 with low levels of physical exercise are associated with an increased risk of mortality. In addition, the lack of physical activity for people in old age is associated with a range of health problems, including reduced bone strength, increased blood pressure, reduced coordination, as well as many other issues of physical health. Exercise is an integral part of the secrets of successful aging. For example, the study Promoting and Prescribing Exercise for the Elderly found that an increase in life expectancy and better health is still possible in those older adults who did not begin regular exercise until they were 75 years old. In that study, it states that individuals' health span and longevity can decline from inactivity and that's there are 3.2 million deaths a year due to inactivity of the human body. The study recommends that a key to better health is exercising moderate-to-vigorous aerobic or strength training for physical activity. In addition, exercise can give more excellent health in life by improving short-term memory, risk of obesity, blood pressure, osteoporosis, and diabetes.  Inactive seniors who start exercising after 45 years old had a 24% lower death rate than seniors who didn't exercise. So one of the secrets of successful aging is that it is never too late to start exercising because the heart's peak capacity to pump blood begins to decline in the aging process. For many 80-year-old seniors in life, they can only pump about a quart of blood a minute. Meanwhile, a 25-year-old heart can pump two and a half quarts of blood a minute. In later years, the blood vessels will stiffen, the blood becomes thicker and harder to pump, and oxygen-carrying cells will decline. So one of the secrets to successful aging that the same article recommends is doing endurance exercises. Endurance exercise can help increase well-being by bettering the heart's ability to deliver oxygen to the body's tissues. Another way it can better health for successful aging in life is by reducing body fat, increasing insulin sensitivity, and lowering blood sugar levels. The article's recommendation is to slow down aging through walking, jogging, and biking.  Daily exercise jogging One of the secrets of successful aging is that it is never too late to start exercising because the older person will find that exercise gives them greater strength and self-confidence. Moreover, exercise is a huge stress reliever that can help combat feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety. In addition to that, the article also mentions that exercise can help older adults sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed. Therefore, besides endurance training, one can still try strength training in old age. In addition, for people aging, one of the secrets of successful aging regarding strength training is that it can help combat the condition of arthritis which is causing the individual great pain in life. Furthermore, the article states that it can also help improve the immune system and lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers as part of healthy aging. Besides these illnesses that help improve from old age, one of the secrets of successful aging is that exercise also helps with better flexibility, balance, and coordination, reducing your risk of falling. 

Eating a Healthy Diet

healthy food diet nuts eggs avocado Besides exercising, which is an integral part of the many secrets of successful aging, another one of the secrets of successful aging is eating a healthy diet. Eating healthy is part of the secrets of successful aging because a bad diet of processed food can lead to a high inflammatory response in the brain and an increase in memory loss. As a result of a diet of processed food limited in omega-3 fatty acid DHA, the aging adult will rapidly decline in memory loss and risk of having neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. In addition, according to an article on the science of food and aging, processed food is bad for living a healthy life because it has a high amount of hydrogenated oil. For successful aging in life, it is best to avoid these kinds of food because, according to that article, it speeds up the aging of cells by promoting chronic inflammation in the body.  From a source on healthy eating, older adults will find their senses weakening during old age as part of aging, so the sensitivity to salty and bitter food begins to decline first. That same source also states that certain medications that older adults take will also affect their appetite and sensitivity to taste. It also mentions that the digestive system will slow down, making it more challenging to get specific vitamins and minerals to maintain the body at its best function. As part of the secrets to successful aging in life, the same source recommends eating wholesome food, especially fish and nuts, containing many omega-3 fatty acids. Besides slowing down the digestive system in older adults, an article titled Nutrition as We Age stresses that the sensation of thirst would also decline. So an essential secret of successful aging is to drink enough fluids, which will prevent dehydration and aid with digestion for an older person. From the process of aging in life, a resource titled Nutrition and Aging from Colorado State University recommends experimenting with adding flavor to food with seasonings and using low sodium seasonings like lemon juice, curry powder, or fresh and dried herbs such as rosemary or basil. And one of the secrets of successful aging for healthy eating, besides adding flavor to food, is to eat a nutrient-dense variety that contains many vitamins in the diet. The article recommends roasting or sautéing vegetables and adding a bit of garlic and olive oil. Seniors can also try purchasing in-season ingredients that give the food the best flavor and richness. Certain foods can make older adults slow down the signs of aging and look more youthful. An article relating to secrets of successful aging states that foods rich in antioxidants like berries can help prevent premature aging by removing toxins from the body. There were also other foods that the article recommended for a healthier life, like avocados and dried nuts that are good for the skin and hair. 

Limit the Stressors

Another essential part of the secrets of successful aging is accepting, recognizing, and limiting the amount of stress for longevity purposes. For example, a Harvard Health article on mental health for older adults after retirement recommended joining groups and taking courses on best handling conflict and mind-body programs that focus on chronic pain or heart disease. In addition, a study about mindset and loneliness in adults later in life examined that adults aged 85 and older are more vulnerable to stress and depression due to declining health and a dwindling social interaction in their lives. For example, according to the State of Mental Health and Aging in America, men aged 85 years and above have a higher suicide rate of 45.23 per 100,000 compared to an overage suicide rate of 11.01 per 100,000 for all age groups. And this depressive mindset amongst older adults can lead to physical or mental impairments.  In addition, from an article about stress on older adults, health problems can be an existent stressor due to the age affecting their immune system, making it easier for older adults to get sick. The article states that a stressful situation creates a "flight or flight" response in the brain, which causes a decrease in secretions necessary for digestion. The effect of chronic stress and a decrease in a positive attitude, the article mentions, will lead to complications like irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers. And the secrets of successful aging are related to exercise because it can reduce stress, as mentioned here, by improving health and lifting your mood. Finding ways to reduce the amount of stress experienced is vital. According to a study on immune function and aging, with old age comes an association with a reduction in the efficiency of the immune system's ability to respond to certain bacteria and viruses. Another effect of an increase in cortisol from high stress on wellness is the trade of memory loss, and this tradeoff in brain health from stress affects the elderly more than a younger person. Moreover, in terms of secrets of successful aging, higher-perceived stress correlates to a more negative mindset towards aging. The result shows that people with a better perspective on aging from lower pressure of stress in their life tend to have fewer health symptoms. Besides shortening the life span, there are also other factors of an elevated cortisol level, including poorer cognitive function in the brain and atrophy in the memory-related structures in the brain like the hippocampus. The effects of high stress are so prominent on the human body that although stress hormones that come as a reaction to stressors can heighten energy and focus in the short term, it throws the person's body system in the long term off-balance.  Later in life, after retirement, many older adults feel like they have lost their sense of identity before, purpose, and financial security, which makes it more likely for them to have depression. Especially experiencing the physical limitations from years of a sedentary lifestyle might limit their enjoyment of activities they used to do regularly. The article Seniors and Mental Health reports that one in four older adults experience some mental disorders like anxiety or depression. Unfortunately, two-thirds of the seniors do not get treatment for the mental illness they need. As per the secrets of successful aging, it is best to reduce any stress to make the later years smoother. Besides exercising, a person can also take relaxation or breathing courses online or talk to a psychologist to find a new perspective in life. It is also possible for seniors trying to combat loneliness to get involved with exciting communities or volunteer for a cause that the person deeply values. Another thing an older adult can do is adopt an animal companion, which a study has shown to help with lowering stress and increasing overall emotional wellbeing.

Have Social Connectedness

Besides exercise and reducing stress, another part of the secret to successful aging is having healthy and rewarding social relationships, like friends, family members, or colleagues. And one of the secrets of successful aging for connected relationships is that it is not so much the number of friends; what is more important is whether you meet those emotional and social needs accordingly. A study notes that social connectedness is a critical factor in the secrets of successful aging since women who have more social connections are more likely to have greater resilience and experience healthier aging than women who were isolated from others in their midlife. Still, a study on social relationships and cognition also points out that having poor social relationships was correlated with cognitive decline in aging adults' brains. And conversely, neuroscientist explores in research that those who are married or have frequent contact with friends have slower memory decline in their brains. As pointed out in an article titled Family Relationships and Well-Being, relating to the secrets of successful aging, social support can lessen the impact of stress on personal wellbeing, promote greater self-esteem, optimistic personality, and better mental health. Furthermore, this source states that social engagement can help reduce the risk of disability and dementia. Diverse social relationships are one of the secrets to successful aging since it lowers the risk of death and reduces cognitive and physical decline. Still, solitary individuals are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease and rapid cognitive decline. Moreover, socially isolated adults have a 29% higher risk of death than those who are not. elder social party Another study involving 7,000 people in 9 years points to an essential fact regarding the secrets of successful aging. The mortality rate of men without social ties was 2.3 times higher than men with social connections in their lives. For females without social links in their lies, the mortality rate was 2.8 times higher than for those with social relations in their lives. And overall, the researchers summarize that people with good social connections tend to live longer regardless of other behaviors like smoking, drinking, or economic status. The human brain is a social organ wired to connect and interact in groups. That's why centenarians tend to be more extroverted, which indicates a higher likelihood of reaching out to others, maintaining social connections, and giving support. Drawing this a bit further, older adults that are socially isolated have a higher risk for mental health problems such as suicidal ideations, depressive symptoms, and feelings of anxieties in their life. Research has shown a correlated reduction in social network size and engagement as people age. Still, all these reasons should show that social connection is an integral part of the secrets of successful aging. It is essential at any age to continue cultivating a diverse social connection. 

Prioritizing Your Sleep

elder better sleep There's also sleep, which is another part that makes up the secrets of successful aging. Poor sleep quality in later life elderly is associated with depression, and sleep disturbance is an additional risk factor for inflammation. Furthermore, sleep is another integral part of the secrets of successful aging because unmet sleep needs tend to increase the risk of memory loss and other physical disorders. Also, sleep is more vital for older adults since they are less likely to notice symptoms of sleep deprivation and mental fogginess that cloud their decision-making abilities. In later life, seniors must find ways to get better sleep instead of relying on sleeping pills since they sedate the brain rather than providing natural treatment for sleep.  Another reason the secrets of successful aging lie in getting good sleep is that, according to the Center for Healthy Aging, insufficient sleep or poor sleep quality confers a higher risk of diabetes as being physically inactive. And for adults who sleep less than 7 hours, there is an increase of 11% in coronary heart disease. In a similar case, the article shows that as people lose an hour of sleep during daylight saving, there was a spike in the statistical occurrence of heart attacks. And as people get older, their ability to sleep changes because there is a deterioration in the ability to coordinate circadian rhythms. The circadian rhythm is like a system in the body that influences when a person feels asleep or alert. And for the circadian rhythms in the body to work correctly requires not only sensitivity to light from the eye but also sufficient exposure to light during the daytime. Unfortunately, according to that article, many older people average around one hour of daylight each day. And changes in hormones in the body will also affect the body's ability to sleep. Still, the body secretes not as many of these chemicals that promote sleep as people age.  Promoting better sleep is part of the secrets to successful aging since lack of proper sleep will result in slower motor skills, increased risks of falls, and changes in cognitive functioning. The National Institute on Aging recommends minimizing napping in the afternoon, using low lighting, preparing for bed, and avoiding eating large meals close to bedtime. It is also suitable as one of the secrets to successful aging is to develop a bedtime routine that can help you relax and keep a regular schedule since aging makes it harder to recover from a night of lost sleep. In addition, older individuals who exercise regularly will improve their sleep quality and ability to fall asleep faster. Getting quality sleep is an important of the secrets to successful aging since sleep disorders are common with age and can eventually lead to impaired health and reduced perceived quality of life. Another important tip is to avoid drinking alcohol at bedtime because it can make the person wake up later while sleeping at night. Also, if the individual has difficulty sleeping, and can't fall asleep even after 20 minutes, try doing an activity like reading or listening to music before trying to sleep again. 

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