New research shows that 30 minutes of low-intensity physical activity a day can help older adults live longer. Low-intensity exercise can also improve flexibility, balance, muscle strength and depression, while reducing the risk of injuries. Low-intensity, low-impact activities like walking, tai chi, yoga, aquatics and dancing offer multiple health benefits, and are safe, accessible and sustainable for seniors.
Older adults are more likely to get dehydrated due to a decreased sense of thirst, kidneys that no longer work as well or medications that cause fluid loss. Dehydration can lead to falls and dangerous complications, such as a rapid or irregular heart rate, or fainting. You can prevent dehydration by sipping water regularly, drinking before you feel thirsty, and consuming extra fluids in warm weather and during physical activity.
Over half of Canadian seniors have hypertension and five of the top 10 drugs used by older adults are for treating high blood pressure. Healthy lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of developing hypertension or help lower high blood pressure and the amount of medication needed. Losing extra weight, being physically active, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and reducing stress all help keep blood pressure down.
t turns out that eating alone isn’t always the best for our health. A long-term British study led by a Canadian researcher found that participants aged 50+ who lived and dined alone ate a smaller variety of fruits and vegetables (i.e., a less healthy diet) than those who lived with a partner. Those who didn’t enjoy a fulsome social life and had little contact with friends also suffered from a poorer diet than their more socially-engaged counterparts.
Walking is an easy, enjoyable form of exercise that offers multiple health benefits. Studies show that regular walking reduces the risk of dying prematurely and developing a disability that affects your quality of life. It also boosts your mood, keeps your heart healthy, strengthens your bones and protects your memory.
While traditional health wisdom has always touted the benefits of getting enough sleep—along with a healthy diet and exercise—science now backs that up. For older adults, a decreased risk of heart attack and stroke, along with improved memory and a myriad of other benefits, all come with quality sleep.
Older adults are more vulnerable to conditions such as gum disease, dry mouth and sensitive teeth. Take good care of your gums by brushing and flossing twice daily, and sip water often to relieve dry mouth. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and avoid acidic food and drinks to ease pain from sensitive teeth. Dentures and implants also need good daily care, just like regular teeth.
Although people can develop cancer at any age, the risks increase as a person gets older. Appropriate screening for breast and colorectal cancers can help detect cancer at an early, treatable stage. Healthy habits, like physical activity, eating nutritious foods and drinking alcohol in moderation can prevent up to 40% of cancer cases.
Regular and appropriate exercise can offer many valuable benefits for people living with chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or joint pain. Tailoring exercise to the condition allows you to exercise safely, gain specific benefits that may improve symptoms and overcome illness-related limitations. Chair aerobics help people with mobility issues keep their hearts strong, while balancing activities help people with osteoporosis avoid falls and fractures.
March is National Nutrition Month, a great time to take a look at your eating habits. Seniors have unique nutritional requirements—and meeting those requirements is key to staying healthy and active, whether you’re 65 or 105.