Legend has it that Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León was searching for a magical Fountain of Youth when he traveled to what is now Florida in 1513. Although historians have established the legend is a myth, scientists today have sought and found evidence for healthy habits that help older adults stay youthful and live longer.
Research studies have shown that healthy lifestyles are more influential than genes in helping older adults avoid or delay the declines that are traditionally associated with aging. Only about 30 per cent of aging can be explained by biology and genes, according to the British Columbia Ministry of Health’s policy paper, “Healthy Aging through Healthy Living.” People who practice healthy behaviours lower their risk of chronic diseases and have a much reduced rate of disability, and healthy lifestyles can prevent, minimize or even reverse poor health in old age, according to Health Canada.
Here are seven good habits known to restore youthfulness in seniors, which can help you to maintain optimal health and quality of life:
1. Be physically active, which is good for your brain and body. Regular exercise boosts your brain, while lowering the risk of chronic disease, disability and falls. It also improves quality of sleep, overall mood and increases longevity, according to Dalhousie University’s Fountain of Health for Optimal Aging educational initiative.
2. Eat healthy. Good nutrition reduces the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, respiratory diseases and some cancers, says the British Columbia Ministry of Health.
3. Stay socially connected. Social activity improves your mood, lowers the risk of depression and improves brain performance, including your memory, says Dalhousie University.
4. Think positively. Studies show that a sunny outlook is linked to health benefits such as lower blood pressure, less heart disease, better weight control and healthier blood sugar levels, according to The New York Times. Research also reveals that people who live the longest have a relaxed and positive attitude about life, says Dalhousie University.
5. Practice mindfulness to reduce stress. Mindfulness is a way of tuning into the present moment, instead of worrying about the past or future.
6. Lifelong learning challenges your brain with mental exercise as you age. It increases cognitive reserve, or the brain’s resilience, and lowers the risk of developing dementia, says Dalhousie University.
7. Do things that give you a purpose, whether learning a new skill, volunteering, or setting a meaningful personal goal.
At Chartwell, we believe eating well, leading an active and fulfilling lifestyle and attaining the support needed to live life to the fullest is paramount to overall health and well-being. Learn more about our dining experience, lifestyle and recreational programming and personalized support services.