Keys to living a longer life

Retirement used to be the cue to close the curtains on life as you knew it; nowadays retirement is largely embraced as a time for personal growth through new opportunities.

Retirement used to be the cue to close the curtains on life as you knew it; nowadays retirement is largely embraced as a time for personal growth through new opportunities.

Living a long, enjoyable and meaningful life is largely a matter of choice. Invest in your health and wellbeing and you will give yourself many opportunities for personal growth.

To enjoy a happy rewarding retirement, start by focusing on the three areas that you have the most control over – your diet, exercise and attitude. Many things are possible when you are healthy and have a positive outlook.

The ability to open your mind to exciting new interests depends as much on your personal well-being as much as the genes bestowed upon you by your parents.

‘Glass half full’ people with their positive spin on life’s twists and turns may have a head start over those with a negative ‘Glass half empty’ disposition, but it’s not too late to take a new ‘Why not?’ approach to the best years ahead.

Eat yourself well

It is never too late to live a healthier life. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight will ease aches and pains, increase mobility, boost morale and limit age-related ailments such as high blood pressure, heart problems and the like.

Your diet is hugely influential in maintaining weight. Good nutrition from childhood lays the foundation for lifetime good health, but from the age of 60 it is especially important because a poorly maintained body may be less able to absorb all the nutrients from food.

Under-eating, can be as much of an issue as over-easting. Either way, you may be missing out on nutrients that your body requires to maintain and renew itself.

Good nutrition begins with a balance of food; good protein sources (chicken, fish, red meat and legumes), vegetables of all colours for disease-fighting anti-oxidants, and complex carbohydrates such as grainy breads and brown rice rather than the refined carbohydrates found in cakes and white breads.

Moderate your alcohol intake and aim to give up smoking. Put the money you’ll save towards a new hobby, a holiday or an exercise class.

Keep moving so you can keep moving

Along with keeping your body at a healthy weight, you need to keep moving.
Fitness for life is functional fitness – being able to get out of the car easily, getting up out of a chair without leaning on the arms, or being able to carry shopping bags up the stairs.

These everyday activities are actually weight-resistance exercises that keep your muscles toned. This, in turn, supports your joints, stops your bone density depleting further, which in turn, keeps you physically balanced and less likely to suffer falls.

Whether your preference is for yoga, walking or pulling weeds, it’s important that you do it regularly. Experts suggest 30 minutes a day, three to five times a week.

Regular exercise reduces obesity and lowers the risks of the major lifestyle diseases of heart disease, strokes and even dementia and is believed to help build new brain cells that improve memory.

A positive outlook

Life can offer plenty of challenges. Maintaining a positive and realistic outlook can take some effort, but it does pay off. As the Chinese proverb says; fall down seven times, get up eight.

Make it a habit to count your blessings. Share your feelings with friends or family, and never stop being interested in new things. Even if you are geographically far from the ones you love, phone them, skype them or make a regular date with friends to walk together, garden together or meet for a movie.

The Neurological Foundation’s ‘Ten Tips for Living Longer’ list says: “Several studies have older adults who regularly participate in cognitively stimulating activities and who appear to have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

Age Concern lists adaptability, having a sense of pride, keeping your sense of humour and maintaining social relationships as factors in ageing positively.

Every day is a new day to make a change, learn something or improve.