The new year is a perfect time to reflect and reevaluate before resolving to make positive changes. Health experts say your 2012 resolutions should include striving to age well — no matter your age.
Common additions to the New Year’s resolutions list involve moving more and eating better, but there are many activities we can incorporate into our lives to enrich them.
Dr. Terri Ginsberg of the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging at The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic Medicine says successful aging isn’t just about having good health — it is taking charge of your personal well-being.
“Successful aging isn’t difficult, but it does require a personal commitment to active living,” says Dr. Ginsberg. Making such a commitment will enable you to live a vibrant, independent life, regardless of your age.
Dr. Michael Finkelstein, a physician and medical director of a New York wellness center, says that it is common in the holiday bustle to forget to take time to reflect and be grateful.
Cultivating a better mental attitude can contribute to better overall health. Dr. Finkelstein says that among the things we can do to create a healthier mindset is to practice contentment:
Contentment is never realized through external sources alone, and inner stillness and peace of mind are the foundations of true contentment. Be happy with what you have. Perhaps you are better off than some of your friends and family, financially or mentally. Remember that, and share the resources you do have, financial or otherwise, to help them find relief in a way that transcends solving immediate problems. A silver lining exists … while you may have to do some work to find it, it is out there.
He adds that negative emotions such as guilt and anger, and the accompanying stress and negativity “can wreck havoc on the body. Emotional or physical stress induces the release of certain hormones which have significant effects on how our body functions, and can make us sick and fatigued. In order to keep your body functioning at its best,” he says, “including keeping your metabolism stable, make it a rule not to beat yourself up and to take time to look at the positive qualities of life.”
Dr. Ginsberg suggests adults — no matter their age — heed these “10 Resolutions for Healthy Aging”:
- Sleep at night. Avoid frequent daytime naps, late-night snacks, or watching television in bed.
- Eat lots of colors. Vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables on your plate mean a healthy diet that keeps your body moving.
- Get checked out. Catch up on any health screenings your doctor has recommended, and don’t forget eye and dental checkups.
- Worry less. It really is possible to “worry yourself sick.” Excessive worrying can lead to high blood pressure, digestive problems, chronic headaches, and unhealthy weight gain.
- Stay in touch. Living alone doesn’t mean being alone. Reach out to friends, neighbors, and relatives.
- Move more. Exercise improves heart health, and good heart health helps prevent a range of related disorders, including blood clots and depression.
- Read more. You can “exercise your brain” with newspapers, books, magazines, or puzzles.
- Laugh and sing. Is there a better way to enjoy life? And both will help you to worry less.
- Take control. Be proactive about your own health. Ask your doctor questions about your health and for advice on positive lifestyle changes.
- Get involved. Local organizations of all types need volunteers. Helping others is the best tonic for feeling good about yourself.