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Healthy Aging – How to Feel Great, Look Fantastic, and Fit It All Into a Busy Life

Healthy Aging – How to Feel Great, Look Fantastic, and Fit It All Into a Busy Life

All the reports I have heard in the past has indicated that Baby Boomers, people born between 1946 and 1954, are healthier than their older counterparts. Also, we, as the Baby Boomer generation, live richer, more active lives. However, as we fall into the category surveyed by the University of Michigan's Health and Retirement Study (HRS), an ongoing NIH-funded program that surveys over 22,000 Americans over 50 years old each year, this picture of health and wealth is starting to fade away. Researchers are learning that Baby Boomers, as a whole, are actually LESS healthier than their older counterparts!

The reasons are subject to controversies and beyond the purpose of this article. If you would like to read more about the results, point your browser to http://hrsonline.isr.umich.edu/ . This article, instead, is asking; what can you do about it, now? I'm here to tell you, LOTS! But, I will also warn you that you actually have to make a serious effort, you can not work towards feeling great, looking fantastic and fit it into your life without real commitment to make it happen.

First, what does feeling great mean to you? Fewer aches and pains? Getting a good night's sleep and waking with anticipation to the day? Feeling in charge of your life? Well, perhaps if you can accomplish the first two, you will accomplish the last one. If you do suffer from aches and pains, feel tired and not in control, there are several things you can do now to help resolve that. Multiple studies have shown that exercise improvements sleep at night. Look at the amount of exercise you get each day. Health organizations are recommending 60 minutes of cardio per day. You can even mix it up into 10 minute slots, six times a day! If you want to, anyone can fit 10 minutes of walking into various slots of their day. Just stop for a moment and recall what time it was when you began reading this article! Set a timer, in fact, and realize how quickly 10 minutes flies by.

Let's imagine a typical day. You wake up, but today you wake up 15 minutes earlier than usual so you can put your shoes and sweats on and take your first 10 minute walk outside (or on that treadmill that you have to unforgettable). You bring your walking shoes with you to work, and in the morning break and afternoon break, you again walk for 10 minutes each time. Then at lunch you walk for 10 minutes before you eat. Wow; you're half-way there! When it's time to leave work, you allow for a quick 10-minute walk before heading home. But, you have some shopping to do, first, so, put those shoes back on and walk around the parking lot or in a local park, first. You've already put in 50 minutes of exercise, today! When you get home, you may be rusched, so if you do not have time for a quick 10 minute walk before dinner, or while it's cooking, take it after dinner. There you have it! While you're sitting there (with the timer on), pull out a piece of paper and figure out where YOU can fit six 10-minute walks in tomorrow.

The advantages of exercise lead to more than just better sleep, however. Once you have been doing it for just a couple of weeks, you will start to feel better, emotionally. Stress levels decrease with consistent exercise. Also, once you will start to notice a change in your body. Granted, with simple walking, you may not see a big change on the scale, but if the walking motivates you to pay closer attention to what you're eating, not only will you notice your clothes fitting better because of the reduced body fat from the exercise, but also because of the reduced calories, leading to weight loss.

But there is more you can do to feel better. Many of the aches and pains we suffer as we age are due to inflammation. Taking medications and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories just mask the causes. The foods you eat can make a difference in how 'inflamed' your joints are. Fish oil supplements are showing great results for general arthritic-type symptoms. Discuss them with your doctor or a registered dietitian to learn what would work for you and to make sure they would not interfere with other medications you are taking. Make fish a regular choice in your diet; even nuts, measured out in moderation, help with inflammation. Increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables can also help you feel better. Not only will the antioxidant properties help fight your risk for diseases such as cancer and heart disease, but can also help you feel better, physically. Your skin will start to glow, too!

Another common problem that many older women complain of is constipation. Once a post-menopausal woman increases her intake of fruits and vegetables to 5-7 per day, and follows this routine for at least 2 weeks, she will see an improvement. When you increase your water intake, also, the results can be quite impressive. Constipation is NOT a natural consensus of aging! Another advantage of increasing your water intake is what it does to your skin. The cosmetics industry loves dehydrated women! Then they can sell tons of anti-wrinkle creams. But you really will feel and see the difference if you increase your water intake. First you'll notice it in your lips, and then your hands, and soon you'll see it, if it's not too late, in areas like your neck and upper lip.

For men, studies have shown that drinking adequate water helps reduce their risk of bladder cancer. I do not know about you, but regardless of which sex I am, I like like my bladder to last as long as I do. So, men and women, here is a tip for you that I tell all my clients; drink enough water so that your urine is clear by the afternoon.

One thing that many people tell me is that they do not want to drink water in the evening because then they have to get up in the middle of the night. However, if you wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, do you have trouble going back to sleep? Most people do not, so it is still better to increase your water and get up than avoid the water. The benefits far outweigh the discomfort of getting up in the middle of the night.
Finally, the other complaint people have that when they increase their water intake, they have to constantly use the bathroom through the day. Well, that is your body's way of adapting, and the increased bathroom runs (no pun intended) will decrease as your body starts to know what to do with adequate fluids!

Believe it or not, the things mentioned above will all lead to not only feeling better, but you'll start to look better, too! What else can you do, though? Once you start exercising every day, allow yourself to consider what else you can do for your health and body. How much caffeine do you drink each day? Can you change or cut it down? What kind of fats do you eat? They should be mostly plant fats and less animal fats. What about your intake of whole grains? Are you eating whole wheat breads and cereals? Have you ever had brown rice? Finally, are you eating breakfast in the morning? I do not need to remind you that this is the most important meal of the day. So, let's take some time to talk about how you can add breakfast into your life if you currently avoid this meal.

The two things I hear most often from people is they do not have the time and they are not hungry. Let's address the hunger issue, first. If you are someone who is not hungry in the morning, look at what you're eating in the evening. Do you snack at night? Do you eat a late dinner? Often, this is why people are not hungry when they wake up. The reason it is called breakfast is because it is supposedly to be the meal that 'breaks' the 'fast'! If you have not gone long enough for a 'fast', how can you break it? Chances are, if you snack at night, you also would like to lose some weight. I know very few people who snack at night on healthy, whole, low-fat foods. So, first the evening snacking habit has to change. I realize that saying, 'stop' could send you into panic or withdrawals, or just downright revolution. You'll stop reading right here! So, why not just cut down? I will be honest and tell you the goal is to stop the snacking, but your body is used to it, so it will NOT stop without a fight. Think I'm kidding? Try it and see what your stomach says. If I went into strategies as to how to cut down, this would become a much longer article than even your 10 minute timer will track, so do some research to learn how to make these changes.

But, let's say that now you have eliminated the evening snacking. Trust me; you will start waking up hungry. If you eat dinner late at night, start cutting the amount you eat down, too. Once the meals are small enough, again you will wake up hungry.

So now you're hungry, but still have no time for breakfast in the morning! Now you REALLY do not like me! Not to worry, though. First of all, you have to get into the habit of even wanting to eat. To help you with this, pick some foods that are easy to grab and go. Examples are yogurt and bananas or apples and a boiled egg. Those are just a few and again, there's no space here for details. Just know there ARE ways.

We have discussed how to fit exercise into your hectic daily life, and we have even offered tips on how to fit healthy eating into your day. As you consider those 10 minutes, there is something else I want you to think about. I always hear, 'I do not have time' when talking about exercise, and cooking / eating healthy meals. How much time did it take you to read this article? If you do NOT already exercise, here is a challenge for you: Print up a daily calendar that has space for each hour and tracks a full week. Microsoft has free ones from their site. Then block out when you sleep, how much time you spend getting ready for work and bed, when you work and commute to and from work. Block out the time spent with your family and on preparing and eating your meals. Now look at how much free time you have left. What are you doing in that free time? Need I say it? There is your exercise time!

Let me leave you with this personal example for why I do not fall for the 'I have no time' excuse. I am in my 50's, I have two businesses, one in the start-up phase, I am a graduate student, and I am currently writing my first book. I seldom eat meals out, I cook all my meals at home and do not skip meals, with breakfast as routine as breathing. Exercise is also a regular routine in my life because I want to feel and look at good as I possibly can. And I know that only * I * can make that happen!

If you want to sleep better, feel better, look better, and feel in control of your life, you really do have to follow some of the suggestions above. You must take your health as something serious that you want to keep for many more years to come. If you find you have more extra, free time than you thought you did, you also see that you really ARE in control of how you feel and look. You have the choice to continue where you are or do something about it. What do you plan to do about it?

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