Buh-bye winter and hello spring! This is one change I am always ready for and can hardly wait for it to begin.
Looking out the window the other day (searching for the first Robin sighting) the thought popped into my head that even though spring is getting ready to pop I personally have entered the autumn days of my life. Now I don’t mean that in a depressing way, but just as a matter of fact. I’ll talk more about that a little later.
Anyway, back to looking out the window. As the snow is melting I see things out in my yard that need a little work. There are leaves from last fall that need to be cleared out having settled around my bushes and pockets in the grass. There are trees that need pruning. And the siding could use a good high pressured wash, etc. This perusal got me thinking about how with every seasonal change there comes a list of different duties to perform.
The same can be said of us as we traverse the different seasons of our lives. With those of you who have also entered the autumn years of life you’ve probably noticed how your health needs have changed with each passing decade. You also know how easy it is to let things slide or to ignore what your body needs to function at its best.
Taking care of your health is important no matter what your age. But when you hit those mid-life years, taking care of your health is more important than ever.
HOW TO BE HEALTHY DURING THE MID-LIFE YEARS
First, let’s recognize that physical, mental, and emotional health are all connected with each other. With one not being more important than the other, poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems. Likewise, poor mental health can lead to serious physical health complications. The good news is there are changes you can begin making to your lifestyle that may help improve your mental and physical health at the same time. Let’s look at four steps to get you started.
1. Eat well. Don’t stress about going on a diet or losing weight. Instead, make a pact with yourself that you will focus on healthful eating habits. In other words focus more on what you should eat for health and performance and less on what you shouldn’t eat. Chances are, you will not only enjoy more energy but will likely lose weight in the process. Now I call that a definite win-win situation!
2. Move it, move it, move it! Most middle-aged and older Americans do not exercise. Roughly one in four of those over 50 are pretty much sedentary. Coupled with a poor diet maybe that is why while most Americans are indeed living longer today it doesn’t mean they are necessarily living better. Furthermore, studies suggest that those Americans living longer are spending those extra years living with chronic diseases and ill health. Now, being physically active doesn’t mean you won’t age or deal with disease. However, research has shown that those who are physically fit in their 40’s and 50’s have a better chance at shortening the time they are likely to spend debilitated with disease. So, if you haven’t previously bothered with exercise, now would be a good time to start so you can reap the benefits not only now but also later in life.
3. Rest. Americans are sleep-deprived, plain and simple. Poor sleep habits have been linked to a whole host of problems such as anxiety, depression, heart disease, suppressed immune system and the list could go on. But another problem that poor sleep can have an unwanted effect on is weight gain. And here’s one of the reasons why. Sleep deprivation causes changes in the two hormones (leptin and ghrelin) that regulate hunger and appetite. Leptin suppresses the appetite and encourages your body to release energy. Ghrelin on the other hand activates feelings of hunger. Sleep deprivation reduces leptin and ghrelin goes up when you don’t get enough sleep. So, to put it simply, when sleep goes down, weight goes up. So get a good nights sleep!
4. Quiet your mind and recover. When you think about health the first things that come to your mind are usually eating right and exercise. Now those components are important but like I said earlier; physical, mental and emotional health are all interconnected. And in this day and age I’m here to tell you we need to focus on quieting our mind like never before. For example; as I write this blog the world is in a state of fear because of a potentially deadly virus becoming a pandemic. We’ve got all forms of media bombarding us with Presidential election babble with each side claiming the evils of the other side. We subject ourselves to daily irritations by reading threads on Social Media from people we don’t know and will never meet. And don’t forget the kids, bosses, financial pressures, etc. Do you get the picture? Can you say, “Calgon, take me away?” Maybe it would be better if we could jump in the bath and say, “Calgon, take them away!” Regardless, our minds are like a muscle. After a workout it needs recovery time. So, give your brain a little R & R by unplugging, getting out in nature, meditating, daydreaming or take a nap. Whatever helps to quiet your mind, do it and give it the break it needs to rejuvenate.
Practicing these simple four steps will not only keep you healthy, they can also help slow down the aging process, inside and out. Don’t ever let age stop you from adopting new healthful habits. With the right mindset you’ll never be too old to learn new tricks. And though some days my body reminds me I am not a “spring chicken” anymore and my date of birth indicates I’m in the autumn years of life, I have a lot of living yet to do and so do you if you happen to share this same season of life with me. So let’s take the necessary steps to stay young at heart as well as in body and in mind. Life is precious and now more than ever we need to take good care of it. I hope you will join me! ~ Kris