September is Healthy Aging® Month

Celebrate by trying one of these tips for healthy aging.

A group of older adults laughing and exercising outdoors.
Photo: Shutterstock.

Healthy Aging® Month started in 1992 as an observance to highlight the positive aspects of growing older, and in 2021, the U.S. Senate officially designated September as National Healthy Aging Month. A great way to celebrate this observance is to take steps toward living a healthier lifestyle, and Healthy Aging Online provides several tips for ways to achieve this:

  • Balance calories. Balancing what we eat with the physical activity we get to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight is important. The best approach to weight management consists of two simple parts:
    • Stay physically active, with 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity most days of the week. If you can talk, but not sing, while you’re doing the activity, then you are working at a moderate level. Moderate physical activity may include walking, mowing the lawn or biking.
    • Avoid eating more calories than your body uses each day. According to the Cleveland Clinic, adults 61 years or older need around 1,600 to 2,600 calories daily. Your calorie needs depend upon your activity level, whether you are male or female, and if weight loss is a goal.
  • Be physically active. It does more than just manage our weight. Regular physical activity is linked to lower risks of several types of cancers. Walking is one of the best exercises we can do to keep our bodies healthy. Walking is inexpensive and available any time on any day of the week.
  • Enjoy a variety of plant-based foods. Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains each day. Fiber-rich plant-based foods contain a complex mix of disease-fighting nutrients and phytonutrients (plant compounds that are thought to have health-protecting qualities). What’s more, plant-based foods are low in fat.
  • Watch the amount of fat you consume. To maintain your best health, it is important to limit the intake of saturated fat, trans-fat and cholesterol by choosing lean meats or meat alternatives. Select fat-free, 1% fat, or low-fat dairy products or milk equivalents. Be sure to read the nutrition label for fat content and other nutritional information.
  • Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. There’s a strong relationship between sodium intake and increased blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and other conditions.
  • Consume alcohol in moderation, if at all. Moderate drinking is up to one drink a day for women and two for men. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define a drink as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
  • Make your life a non-smoking zone. In addition to being linked to cancer, smoking also lowers our blood levels of some protective nutrients.
  • Be social. Don’t wait for someone to call you. Take the initiative and call someone to play cards, go to lunch or go for a walk. Reconnect with old friends and make new ones. Volunteer and use your talents to help others. According to the National Institutes of Health, older adults who engage in social activities may lower their risk for some health conditions.

Want more information on healthy aging? Visit the My Plate website to learn more about healthy eating, and the National Council on Aging has many resources related to social and emotional well-being and physical activity. Start early on your New Year’s resolutions by adopting a new healthy habit during Healthy Aging® Month.

For more information on nutrition, disease prevention, classes of interest to people living with diabetes or other chronic conditions, and other issues of interest to Michigan families, please see the Food & Health section of the Michigan State University Extension website.

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