We make no apologies for returning to the issue of fitness and personal fulfilment with considerable frequency because it is fundamental to the ageing process.
You don’t need an advanced degree in philosophy to understand that whether it’s pursuing a demanding career, eating better or maintaining friendships, reaching any of the goals we aspire to requires a healthy foundation.
Mens Sana in Corpore Sano
Mens sana in corpore sano is typically translated as “a healthy mind in a healthy body” and was coined by the Roman poet Juvenal, born in 55 AD. The phrase is widely used to express the idea that exercise is an important or essential part of mental and psychological well-being.
A healthy mind in a healthy body.
Good physical and mental health is, for most people, a habit. According to Merriam-Webster, habit is defined as: “A settled tendency or usual manner of behavior.”
What follows are our suggested habit-forming principles to adopt if you want to lead a healthier life. Here’s where to start.
Prevention is key. Let’s say you screen positive for pre-diabetes. Then there are steps that you can take to prevent progressing to diabetes.
The best time to see your physician is not when you already have symptoms and need help. It’s on a regular basis to build and establish a relationship so that your physician can get a baseline of your health.
Getting enough exercise can lower your risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease and stroke.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults (65 years and older) need:
- At least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking
- At least 2 days a week of activities that strengthen muscles
- Simple activities to improve balance such as standing on one foot
Eating more plant-based foods provides a great source of antioxidants and, since excessive oxidation is associated with ageing, it makes sense to:
- Eat less red and processed meats
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts
- Remember that baking and broiling is better than frying
- Ensure that your diet is balanced, healthy, sustainable (and doctor-approved, if you have medical conditions that are impacted by your food or beverage intake)
Good Mental Health
Humans are under stress, and you don’t need a lecture from us to remind you where the origins of that stress comes from – just take a look at the news, let alone delving into personal matters. The Anxiety & Depression Association of America recommends, among other activities:
- Finding just 15 minutes in your day for a bit of mental health hygiene
- Taking deep breaths when you wake up
- Being present with your morning coffee instead of being distracted
- Going for frequent walks or perhaps keeping a journal as well
- Taking a break from too much TV – a guaranteed source of bad news
The benefits of these mindfulness practices come from lowering levels of cortisol, the stress hormone linked with health complications as we age.
Plenty of Sleep
According to the National Library of Medicine, people who sleep less than seven hours nightly tend to have higher levels of stress hormones, blood sugar and blood pressure.
You can improve the quality and quantity of your sleep by getting regular exercise and having good sleep hygiene. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool at night—and make it a screen-free environment!
Avoiding too much alcohol can add at least several years to your life by lowering your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other chronic diseases. If you must drink, drink less. And drink wine, rather than spirits.
According to the Centers of Disease Control, smoking is a major risk factor that increases the likelihood of multiple cancers – not just lung cancer but also things like breast cancer. Specifically, not smoking:
- Improves health status and enhances quality of life
- Reduces the risk of premature death and can add as much as 10 years to life expectancy
- Reduces the risk for many adverse health effects, including poor reproductive health outcomes, cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cancer
- Benefits people already diagnosed with coronary heart disease or COPD
- Benefits the health of pregnant women and their fetuses and babies
- Reduces the financial burden that smoking places on people who smoke, healthcare systems and society
Having close, positive relationships adds happiness and comfort to our lives and reduces stress. According to Harvard Health, studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and community have fewer health problems, live longer and experience less depression and cognitive decline later in life. This seems like a great place to start!