"The best time to plant a tree was yesterday. The second best time is today," goes the Chinese proverb. The same is true with aging. The wellness choices we make every day, like whether to exercise, eat more fruit or get more sleep, affect how we'll age. The decisions we make today, set us up for healthier lives for years to come.
Here are five tips for healthy aging:
1. Regular exercise
Regular exercise helps you strengthen muscles and joints, promotes mobility, and supports good cardiovascular health — all factors that can improve wellness as you age.
"Exercise helps make almost every tissue in your body healthier and better," said Greg Wells, an assistant professor of kinesiology and physical education at the University of Toronto, in an interview with Best Health Magazine.
Working out regularly is key to reaping the anti-aging benefits of exercise, noted Wells, who pointed out the many connections between regular workouts and a lower risk of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and cancer.
The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends adults exercise at least 2.5 hours each week. You can focus mostly on moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity, such as walking or running, but make sure to strength train twice per week to maintain healthy muscles and bones.
2. Make healthy meals
What you put into your body each day has an effect on how you may age, it's important to pay close attention to what you eat and drink, said Jennifer Pearlman, a health and wellness expert and attending staff physician at the Menopause Clinic at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, in an interview with MindBodyGreen.
Pearlman recommends eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, as they contain antioxidants and vitamins that support healthy aging. Plus, look for produce containing B vitamins in particular, as they promote efficient cell turnover. She also advises steering clear of any refined or processed sugars, which can heighten your risk of heart disease.
3. Flex your brain muscles
Exercising also supports good cognitive health as you age.
"Whatever is good for your heart is good for your brain, too," said Ken Rockwood, a professor of geriatric medicine at Dalhousie University, in an interview with Best Health Magazine.
There are other activities that support healthy cognitive functioning, too. You can read often and learn something new regularly, like a dance, language, recipe or joke. Learning helps keep the brain young!
"Read often and learn something new regularly."
4. Tend to your social networks
Feelings of loneliness and isolation can contribute to health issues, especially for older adults. Take the time to tend to your social networks and maintain relationships with your friends and family. Call your children and relatives often and meet friends or colleagues for lunch throughout the week. Expand your social circle — join clubs, sports teams or classes.
5. Practice your passions
Elizabeth Kelson, an instructor at the University of British Columbia specializing in cognitive aging issues, told the school that one of her top tips for healthy aging is to pursue your passions. Maybe you've always wanted to try photography, learn to paint or discover your family history — sign up for a class or get started at home! Also, volunteering with your community for a local organization or jis a great way to support healthy aging, said Kelson.
These five tips can help support your health now and in the future. As part of taking care of your ongoing health, consider your health insurance, too. Whether you're retiring soon or a while from now, making sure you have supplemental health insurance is a good way to proactively take care of your health. Whether it be dental, vision, physio, massage, or travel insurance, coverage is an important part of healthy living plans.