Monday, June 14, 2010
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Aging without getting old? It's largely possible, according to the June issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.
Certainly, some diseases affect the quality of life and shorten life spans, but for the majority of adults, age is what one makes of it. Consider that some people seem old in their 50s and 60s, while others waltz through their 80s and 90s with a spring in their steps. The Mayo Clinic Health Letter offers ingredients for an "anti-aging potion."
Exercise: Being active and getting regular, moderately intense exercise is probably the No. 1 way to slow the aging process and improve vitality. Exercise can lower blood pressure and improve bone strength and cholesterol numbers. People often experience increased energy and strength with just a few sessions of physical activity. Exercise also can reduce stress and improve mood and sleep. A plan that includes at least 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace, on most days of the week is recommended. The benefits are even greater when the exercise regimen includes strengthening exercises two or three times a week.
Healthy diet: A healthy diet is the foundation for maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight if needed. For those who are overweight, weight loss from even a small reduction in body fat — about 5 to 10 percent — may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Regular doctor visits: Regular visits allow a doctor to watch for signs of disease, through activities such as screening for certain cancers and other problems. And regular visits are important to managing ongoing medical concerns and medications.
Brain challenges: Staying mentally fit falls into the "use it or lose it" category. Brains benefit from challenges, such as regularly reading, taking classes, learning new skills or engaging in stimulating conversations. Research shows that older adults with normal brain aging can learn just as well as younger adults, and it's possible to increase brain cell connections regardless of age.
Social connections: Social connections play a vital role in health and well-being, especially during times of change and transition that occur with aging, such as retirement, death of a loved one or downsizing a home. Connections with friends, relatives, a religious community or even a pet are motivators to stay healthy. Social connections can reduce stress and anxiety, protect against mental decline and provide a sense of purpose.
Optimistic attitude: Although pessimism can be deeply ingrained in one's personality, it's never too late to examine thoughts, viewpoints and actions that sour one's attitude. Bad things happen to everyone, but optimists tend to look for the positive, count their blessings, savor good times and simple pleasures and practice kindness to others as a way to direct thoughts beyond themselves.
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