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“Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.” -Stanislaw Jerzy Lec
There’s a group of older adults that we can all learn a lesson from when it comes to aging. Health care professionals call them the super-agers. This intriguing group of people are striding into their 70s and 80s (and sometimes 90s!) with the cognitive and physical capacity of much younger adults. There is a great deal of medical research and data on super-agers. Researchers believe that for many of these folks the difference stems from some simple lifestyle choices and healthy habits. In honor of Healthy Aging Month, we’ve collected some habits of super-agers that we can practice today.
- Super-Agers challenge themselves: The brain is often called a “use it or lose it” organ. This means that if you don’t use your brain regularly, over time it will lose cognitive ability. Super-Agers choose to regularly challenge themselves by learning new skills, trying new adventures, meeting new people, reading books, listening to music, regularly surrounding themselves with stimulating environments, etc.
- Super-Agers get physically active: We’ve discussed before that regularly physical exercise protects against cognitive decline. Not only that, regularly physical exercise relieves stress and can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. It also helps improve circulation, balance and muscle tone, strengthens your heart, controls weight, improves sleep, and provides many other benefits.
- Super-Agers look for silver linings: Stress ages us, especially chronic stress. Super-agers don’t necessarily have less stressful lives. They have simply learned to be resilient and optimistic in spite of stress. They have healthy coping mechanisms to combat it. Many times stress is caused by factors that are out of our control. In these times, resiliency comes from focusing on the things we can control. Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for fighting stress. Meditation, breathing exercises, therapy, and gratitude journaling are also healthy ways to practice reframing thoughts and focusing on the positives. Connecting with friends is also a great way to alleviate stress and enjoy life.
- Super-Agers embrace their age: Focusing on the myth of frailty and other age related ailments can negatively impact physical and cognitive health. Studies have shown that adults who fixate on negative perceptions of aging or worry about things like age-related diseases and age-related limitations tend to create a self-fulfilling prophecy of becoming those things they fear most. Super-Agers embrace the positives of growing older. For instance, wisdom that comes from real-life experiences. Studies show that older adults are more able to regulate their emotions, and more likely to seek out positive environments and interactions.
It’s no secret that at Be Active Be Well we believe wellness is a lifestyle. The path to wellness and longevity is paved by daily choices that reap benefits over a lifetime of intentional practice. You may feel like you are just shuffling through life, slowing down and losing motivation, but here is always room for improvement. Discuss with your medical providers what healthy habits you can incorporate to improve your life. Don’t give up. Start small now and build toward your goals. A healthy future may await you.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.