What do you think of when we say active aging?
Perhaps walking, staying physically active, exercising? All amazing, and very important, as you continue on in years to remain well and able to sustain your daily activities. In fact, here are a few exercises that can be done anywhere to keep you moving throughout your day.
Walking: Start where you are, even if that's just five minutes a day, and work up to 30 minutes a day five days a week. It's the most simple form of exercise, yet incredibly powerful.
Sit to Stands: Start from a seated position on the edge of your chair, knees stacked over ankles. Shift your weight forward to lift your hips to standing. Return to a seated position and repeat.
Calf Raises: Come to stand with your hands to a wall or table to support your balance, with your feet hip width distance. Lift your heels from the ground to rise onto your toes of both feet, then lower your heels back down to the ground and repeat.
Seated Twist: Sit tall in your chair, then take your left hand to the outside of the right thigh. Take your right hand to the back of your chair and twist to your right side, maintaining a tall spine the entire time. Gaze can move over your right shoulder. Hold for about 30 seconds, switch sides and repeat.
And now that we've discussed the obvious aspect of active aging - daily exercise and movement - how about some factors that are less obvious in the process. For example, nutrition.
In fact, as we age our bodies utilize nutrients differently, highlighting the importance of nutrition when it comes to active aging. Like all stages in life, it is important to have a balanced diet, incorporating all five food groups (Proteins, Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Dairy or Dairy Alternative). However, nutrients that need more focus when we age, either due to compromised absorption or common inadequacy in diet, include potassium, calcium, vitamin D, dietary fiber, and vitamin B12. The ability to absorb vitamin B12, decreases with age. Vitamin B12 is found in animal-based proteins such as meat and dairy, so incorporating meat or dairy in all your meals is a good way to ensure adequacy of this important nutrient as well as provide protein to prevent muscle loss. If you are considering taking dietary supplementation, it is important to discuss this with your dietary provider to determine what is right for you.
And don't forget about hydration as we age! Many older individuals lose sensation of thirst, so a conscious effort is needed to maintain hydration.
So in conclusion, active aging is much more than the exercise sessions you log each day. Although aging is inevitable, with proper nutrition and hydration the process can be slowed more than it would be without these practices. Moral of the story: stay active, eat well and drink your fluids!