A Guide to Healthy Aging: Tips for Feeling Younger

Laughing at Videos

Laughing at Videos

If you’re looking to live a healthy lifestyle even into your older years, then you shouldn’t let your age be defined by the year you were born, but rather by the vitality you feel. There is no age limit on leading a healthy lifestyle. Keeping yourself physically, cognitively and emotionally well can help increase your vitality, helping you feel youthful for years to come.

elderly-exerciseAs we age, many biological factors come into play that may alter our physical well-being. General aging is accompanied by changes in metabolism (see our article “Navigating the Changes of Nutrition Needs”), loss of muscle, bone mass and more. Yet, healthy lifestyle choices can combat these biological changes and help your body continue to perform at its prime.

Deep Sleep

Deep Sleep

Three core components of living physically healthy include diet, exercise and sleep. What you put into your body greatly determines how you’ll feel. Eating a diet dense in nutrients and varying in color and texture helps ensure your body has what it needs to keep moving. Vitamins and minerals affect our systems in multiple ways, so it’s important to eat a balanced diet to avoid deficiencies and stay at your physical best. For example, the mineral iron is linked to energy levels. Eating iron-rich foods can help break through sluggishness, making sure your body is ready for whatever lies ahead—like aiming for the recommended two and a half hours of exercise every week. Whether you enjoy going to the gym, taking walks, riding a bike, swimming or swing dancing, getting two to three hours of exercise per week has immense benefits for overall health. When you work your body, it’s important to rest just as diligently. Getting adequate sleep rejuvenates the body and the brain, reducing your risk of illness. The combination of good diet, exercise and sleep habits can keep you feeling healthy and young throughout the years ahead.

brain_boostersAs important as it is to stay physically active, it’s just as crucial to exercise your brain to age healthily. Keeping your brain sharp can be achieved through daily activities, such as occupational or household tasks, but sometimes challenging your brain intentionally is important for sustaining your best cognitive health. Keep your synapses firing by doing puzzles or teaching yourself something new. Activating drowsy brain cells not only gives you the youthful experience of inspiration and creativity, but it helps to prevent protein deposits from forming in the brain, a condition that is often linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

playing_cardsAside from the physiological ways to stay healthy as you age, emotional well-being can contribute greatly to your quality of life. Choose a lifestyle for yourself that avoids anxiety and stress, as much as you can control. The people you surround yourself with often influence your emotional health. Being socially active is great, but it’s also important that your companions lift you up. Being around positive people can increase happiness by providing support and reducing stress. As recommended by Healthy Aging® Magazine, positivity can be your greatest tool in living a healthy lifestyle. Rather than looking to your future with worry, continue acting the way you did when you felt your best. Partake in engaging activities that bring you joy, start a new hobby, meet new friends and tap into the creative parts of yourself—and never forget that there’s so much life left to live!

Navigating the Changes in Nutritional Needs

As we age, our nutritional needs shift slowly with the changes in our bodies. Our senses weaken, metabolisms decline, digestion slows and we lose body mass. It’s important to note these normal changes and understand what’s happening inside of you. With awareness and observation, you’ll be equipped to take the best care of yourself and give your body what it’s craving.

Aging-manSensory changes often affect older adults’ nutritional intake by taking out the pleasure and ease of preparing and eating meals. Weakened vision can lead to a fear of cooking with sharp utensils or going to the store to buy groceries. The senses of smell and taste also weaken as we age, affecting our food preferences and even the desire to eat. There are many creative ways to combat this change. Adding extra flavor to foods with spices and cooking with fresh, in-season ingredients allows for better tasting meals. Add variety to dishes by cooking with as many colors as you can (which helps you avoid preparing too many starch-based meals). Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day also helps to stimulate your appetite.


When eating isn’t a problem, we need to pay attention to what we put into our bodies. As lean body mass (muscle and bone) decreases, metabolism begins to decline. This loss of our muscles’ important protein tissue is accompanied by a natural increase in body fat, challenging us to meet the same nutrient needs as our younger selves while consuming fewer calories. Eating foods lower in fat, as well as eating complex (rather than refined) carbs, can help achieve this goal.

A senior man holding two dumbbells while flexing his muscles.

Often, illnesses or medications cause nutrient deficiencies that go unnoticed, so building a nutrient-rich diet and eating a variety of foods allows you to tap into the full spectrum of nutrients. Rather than falling into the routine of cooking the same meals over and over, try switching up protein sources (fish instead of chicken), adding variety to the texture of your meal (changing grains is an easy way to do this) or preparing your food differently (grilled, baked or sautéed). By concentrating on adding variety to your meals, you’ll always discover new ways to get the nutrients your body needs while avoiding becoming bored or complacent.

Fresh fish of dorado on tray with lemon and parsley on wooden tableEven when we’re healthy, our bodies are in a state of gradual change. Keeping these changes in mind and adjusting your diet accordingly can help you absorb the vital nutrients you need to stay healthy. Find creative ways to prepare meals, and don’t be afraid to try new things! While our bodies are constantly changing, we can continue to make healthy changes for the better.

Maintaining Balance and Flexibility

Simple Habits with a Huge Impact

A senior man holding two dumbbells while flexing his muscles.

As we age, simple things we used to take for granted, such as keeping our balance as we go down the stairs, bending down to pick up a grandchild’s toy or reaching the top shelf in the cupboard, require more of our attention. Gradually, small actions become more difficult as the loss of bone and muscle mass as well as steadiness leads to a lack of balance and flexibility. Maintaining balance and flexibility is vital for retaining a comfortable quality of life, staying independent and avoiding and recovering from falls. Fortunately, keeping your balance and flexibility can be achieved by building simple exercise habits, and it’s never too late to start!

The Balancing Act 


Balance is rarely thought about until we start to lose it. However, with one-third of adults over age 65 falling each year, we should start thinking about balance sooner than later. While the natural weakening of bones and muscles is a huge factor, many balance problems are caused by disturbances in the vestibular system in the inner ear, which is responsible for balance. Several medications categorized as ototoxic drugs can cause damage to the inner ear. Low blood pressure and circulatory problems (such as stroke) can also affect balance.

Maintaining your balance is achieved through exercise. Basic strength training can help keep your body resilient, and exercises that focus on balance can help you retain your ability to perform daily functions. Exercising benefits your balance in many ways by boosting reaction time, improving coordination, adding muscle mass, building stronger bones and increasing brain function – all important for preventing a serious fall. The simplest exercises can be done anytime, anywhere. For example, standing on one foot, walking heel-to-toe and doing single leg raises work muscles and your equilibrium at the same time. If you have a specific balance disorder, talk to your doctor about exercises that work the areas of your body most crucial to helping your condition.

Stretching Out Your Well-Being 

Flexibility and balance truly go hand-in-hand. While stretching may not help to increase strength and endurance, it can make a significant difference in your ability to get around by maintaining or increasing your range of motion. Add stretches to your exercise routine for core areas of the body such as the neck, arms, legs, torso and back. Building a habit of maintaining flexibility will not only allow you to continue completing daily tasks with ease, but when unexpected physical demands occur (e.g., catching yourself if you trip down the stairs), your muscles will be more prepared to react to a fall.

Together, the benefits of maintaining balance and flexibility as we age can have a huge impact on our well-being, from performing everyday activities to preventing a fall. Considering the serious injuries and loss of independence caused by falls, a few minutes of simple exercises certainly goes a long way!

If you’d like to learn more about maintaining balance and flexibility, talk to your doctor or get in touch with organizations in your area, such as local gyms or senior living communities that have exercise programs specifically for older adults.