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Take charge of your well-being with five steps for healthier aging | Mark Mahoney

Tallahassee's Capital Twirlers Square Dance Club beginner's class started Monday Sept. 19, 2022, and continues for 12-15 weeks.
Tallahassee's Capital Twirlers Square Dance Club beginner's class started Monday Sept. 19, 2022, and continues for 12-15 weeks.

Healthy Aging Month began in 1992 with the objective of encouraging people to focus on their health and take precautions to help them face the challenges that come with aging.

The origins are credited to a television special that inspired people to make lifestyle and dietary changes to prevent heart problems. September was chosen as Healthy Aging Month to further raise awareness on physical and mental health, especially in people over 45.

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As we age, we become aware that our physical and mental health, as well as dietary and social needs, changes over time. However, that doesn’t mean you’ve lost control.

You can take charge of your well-being, by taking steps to age with a healthy body and a healthy mind. Check out the following as we transition out of Healthy Aging Month.

Walkers at a Move Tallahassee event.
Walkers at a Move Tallahassee event.

5 steps for healthier aging

1. Get moving

  • It is important to consult your doctor before exercising. Start slow, know your limitations and modify activities if needed.

  • Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.

  • Beginning physical activity can be as easy as walking for 10 to 15 minutes for three to four days per week and increasing as you go.

  • Maintaining regular physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.

  • Make your physical activity FUN and something you enjoy doing!

2. Maintain a healthy diet

  • Eat appropriate portion sizes.

  • Overeating can lead to obesity and increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

  • Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and have them make up half of your plate.

  • Avoid excessively processed, especially ultra-processed foods.

  • Stay hydrated- adults should drink between 10-16 cups of water per day, depended on gender, living environment, and activity level.

Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.
Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.

3. Stay social

  • Try something new by attending online or in-person classes (employing appropriate safeguards) that interest you.

  • Use Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp, text messaging, email or other appropriate technology to stay in touch with friends and family.

  • Stay in contact with family and friends through in-person meet-ups utilizing appropriate public health practices.

4. Balance your body and mind

  • Maintain a positive attitude.

  • Keep your mind active by reading, doing puzzles or other mentally stimulating actions.

  • Keep your body active through mindfulness, stretches, yoga and similar pursuits.

5. Be proactive

  • Receive regular checkups, physicals and medical tests when needed as many diseases can be prevented when caught early.

  • Don’t forget appointments with the dentist, ophthalmologist/optometrist and dermatologist.

  • Take vitamins, supplements and medications as recommended and/or prescribed by a qualified health professional.

As a person ages, physical and mental health, as well as dietary and social needs, change over time. A person can take charge of their well-being by taking steps to age with a healthy body and a healthy mind and not lose control of their well-being.

As we transition out of Healthy Aging Month take the challenge to employ these steps for a more optimal quality of life through a healthier lifestyle.

Thanks to the District 10 Health Department in Michigan and the National Today for much of the content.

Additional Information

Check out the following 10 steps provided by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) to promote healthy aging and good brain health during September and throughout the year at alzfdn.org/september-healthy-aging-month-2022/ 

Mark Mahoney
Mark Mahoney

Mark A. Mahoney, Ph.D. has been a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for over 35 years and completed graduate studies in Nutrition & Public Health at Columbia University. He can be reached at marqos69@hotmail.com.

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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Keep mind and body in top shape with 5 steps to healthy aging