Our bodies change and grow weaker as we age, because this is a normal part of life. Though we can’t completely reverse the aging process, we can certainly slow down its effects to ensure that we live longer, healthier, and comfortable lives. Good health should start as early as possible, and the younger we are when we start, the easier it will be for us to continue these habits in later life. However, it’s never too late to start living a healthy lifestyle as long as our minds and bodies are still able to.
Here are a few practices to stay mentally and physically active as you age, keeping yourself young in spirit and maintaining your body as the years go on.
#1 Do Crossword Puzzles and Jigsaw Puzzles
One of the best ways to keep your mind sharp is to keep using it. Activities that stimulate your mind such as crossword puzzles and other brain teasers are great for the brain. In fact, visual-spatial reasoning can be improved by doing jigsaw puzzles. It reinforces brain cell connection, improves short-term memory (something that tends to decrease as we age), and improves mental speed. Other activities that you can do to keep your mind active include reading, playing checkers/chess, attending art galleries, and even taking a course to learn a new skill, language, or new information.
#2 Engage in Exercise
This goes without saying because everyone knows how moderate, consistent exercise is a great way to stay physically active and keep your body in shape. What many people may not realize is that regular exercise is also a good way to keep your mind sharp. Exercising increases blood flow throughout the body, carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain, which is needed to keep it functioning in a healthy way.
Staying physically active is also beneficial to mental health, as those suffering from depression and anxiety see some relief from their symptoms. If you’ve never exercised before, start with something simple, such as walking, and then gradually increase your activity level with advice from your doctor.
#3 Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating properly is an essential part of staying in shape, as it’s complimentary to staying physically active. But a healthy diet is also crucial for mental health and the physical health of the brain. Not only do poor eating habits cause physical illnesses, but they can also have a negative impact on the brain.
This mental decline can be accelerated when we consume too many processed foods high in saturated fats. Instead, we should focus on eating oily and fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), dark leafy greens (kale and spinach), fruits, and whole grains.
#4 Stay Socially Active
One of the best ways to stay physically and mentally active is to stay socially active. Socialization is a very important part of mental health, as many of us have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially important as we age, as many older individuals tend to isolate themselves, which is thought to speed up mental decline. You can even combine your physical activity with your social activity, engaging in exercise or taking fitness classes with friends.
Taking up a small hobby with friends is another great way to stay socially, mentally, and physically active. Even relaxing hobbies such as gardening or fishing offer an adequate amount of physical activity (especially for older adults) and mental stimulation and socialization. These types of activities keep seniors active so that they’re able to age in place, as opposed to having to go into a nursing home. This is a relief to those with aging parents, as nursing homes have gotten a bad reputation for giving substandard care to patients.
Again, it’s never too late to start becoming more physically and mentally active, as long as your body and mind allow you to. Staying socially active is also crucial to both your mental and physical health as well.