Monday, 22 December 2014

How to keep fit and healthy

Make the most of life, whatever your age

Written by Lynda Shaw
As you get older, maintaining a healthy lifestyle means keeping active both mentally and physically. If you can maintain a positive attitude about yourself, eat healthily and regularly exercise it will put you in good stead for a happy and full life over 50.

There is a saying ‘life begins at 50’ and if you want to live by this philosophy you need to start looking at ageing as a rewarding experience. While there are challenges and changes that will occur to your body, it’s important to realise that you can still grab life by the horns and try something new, visit new places, enjoy leisure breaks, meet new friends, a lover and moreover enjoy a good quality of life for many years to come.

Here are some tips for remaining on form at age 50 and beyond...

1. Stay mentally active by working your brain
As you get older, changes to your mental ability are to be expected but really challenging your brain by learning a language or musical instrument can help keep your mind alert and have a positive effect on your brain power. Remember we don’t have to become experts; we just need to have a go and enjoy the process. Studies have shown that people who lead more intellectually stimulating lives are less likely to develop dementia conditions such as Alzheimer’s, so there’s even more of a reason to crack those puzzlers.

2. Get that heart pumping
Another key to warding off Alzheimer’s as you get older is through exercise. This is because getting your heart pumping increases blood flow to the brain and helps new brain cells to grow. We’re all aware of the physical benefits keeping active can have on the body such as lowering blood pressure or cholesterol, but if you wanted another reason to get yourself motivated, this is it. Regularly exercising can lower your risk of incurring memory issues by 39%. You can start by doing some walking, dancing, cycling or even gardening five days a week or join a Warner Leisure Hotel where you can take part in these activities along with other people.

3. Use a wearable technology band to keep you motivated
Warner Leisure Hotels, the hotel group designed for the over-50s, recently conducted a study as part of their Digital Health initiative, which found that 8 of out 10 of the over-50s are increasingly put off by out of touch gyms, and the same number believed using wearable tech devices will help them to keep track of their activity levels. The research also found that two-thirds said using wearable technology bands would enable them to keep a fit and healthy lifestyle. If you are feeling unmotivated by the gym, why don’t you try one out?

4. Novelty works – and it’s fun
Have you ever tried to clean your teeth with your non-dominant hand? Or how about taking a different route to a regular destination? What about trying something you’ve always wanted to do like photography or sailing? Trying something new can be mentally rewarding as it helps to improve your cognitive functioning and can bring noticeable effects to an aging mind (no matter how old you are). By doing something unfamiliar and challenging, you can make a positive difference to your brain.

5. Eat a healthy diet and stick to it
Sticking to a Mediterranean diet has proven effects to keep you healthy. Plenty of fruit, vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts, pulses (peas, beans and lentils) seeds and fish are super foods and will help keep your body in top shape. In addition, don’t forget to drink lots of water. When we’re dehydrated we can become a bit ‘foggy’, so stay hydrated for crystal-clear thinking.

6. Get a good night’s sleep
Try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep a night. A good night’s rest can help to improve concentration and memory formations, allowing your body to repair damaged cells that have occurred during the day, refresh your immune system and subsequently try to fend off diseases.

7. Socialise with others
Keeping contact with others in a social environment will help prevent isolation. There are plenty of ways to socialise and meet new people such as joining a leisure club like Warner Leisure Hotels, where like-minded people of the same age get together to enjoy activities.

8. Find a purpose
People need to feel valued to have a purpose and meaning in life. This can be looking after grandchildren, volunteering in your local community or starting a business. It’s never too late to contribute and feel valuable.

Lynda Shaw is a cognitive psychologist. She is working in conjunction with the Digital Health Workshop Initiative by Warner Leisure Hotels. For more information visit www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk


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