As we grow older (even if you’re just a young or middle aged adult), we begin to think about the aging process. Well, I hope you do – LOL! It’s inevitable. It happens to everyone. It starts right after you’re born. Did you know that in more developed countries, people are living longer? It’s estimated that by the year 2050, the over-60 population will triple. And baby boomers (we number about 73 million) – yes, I’m talking about myself – are a pretty large population segment. This increase is happening because life expectancy is increasing, and birth rates are decreasing.
There has been quite a bit of research conducted about active lifestyles and the risk of dying, preventing chronic disease, etc. So, long story short, a recent review study demonstrated that if you have an active lifestyle, you reduce risk in all causes of death, and help prevent the typical, chronic diseases we seem to get as we get older.
The most important factors in this were 1) physical activity and 2) exercise. Not only does this positively impact your physical health, it also strongly impacts your mental health – in a very positive way! So, understand this connection – it’s quite important. I always advise others (as well as practicing this myself) to move in ways that give you pleasure. This is very different for people. For example, I love to dance, and I am enjoying walking these days. There is a beautiful park with water nearby that I take just short walks through. It’s good for my body and soul. Don’t overdo it, and for sure, don’t underdo it either. Listen to what your body is telling you (and not necessarily your mind). Your mind might say do more than is healthy, and it might also tell you that you don’t have time or some other rationalizing reason. (I’m the queen of rationalization.) Take time for yourself – you’re definitely worth it!
Being in just a little bit of the outdoors can be very healthy for many people, too. In fact, gardening has been studied in conjunction with mental health and physical health. In a study with people who gardened, aged 60-95 years old, these people reported more mental and physical health benefits than those who did not garden.
Aside from the obvious physical benefits of gardening, since you’re moving around a lot when you do it, exposure to nature through gardening can improve your psychological well-being by helping you regulate your emotions and give you a respite from daily stress. Some studies have shown that it may help lower blood pressure and slow down your heart rate. Gardening can be thought of as a healthy distraction from daily stressors. For example, for some it is about healthy reminiscing of childhood gardens, or perhaps a flower triggers a happy memory! Working in the garden is something you have to do nearly every day, so it’s an enjoyable way of moving your body and being with nature.
I know my garden brings me much joy. I only have a very small garden, but I make the most of it with both colorful flowers and healthy veggies. I also have one perennial strawberry plant which faithfully grows each spring and summer! Have you ever tried gardening? There are also vertical gardens which can even be grown indoors successfully!
Think about aging as more than the absence of disease and degeneration. Those who have meaningful, healthy activity in their lives seem to be very productive both physiologically and socially. Being able to age positively is about having a positive mind-set in which you believe you can enjoy abundant health through your later lifespan, even if you’re declining in some respects (a normal part of the aging process). Now imagine that you add a very healthy diet and take some well-placed supplements to this mix, and voilà – you have a recipe for a happy, healthy, long life.
As always, have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.