Healthy aging begins before the signs of aging are even apparent and the foundations on which it is built are nutrition and physical activity. It is inevitable that your resting metabolism will decrease a little each decade after you reach the age of thirty and if you do not compensate for the fewer number of calories you burn while at rest with more exercise or smaller meals, you will eventually pay for it in weight gain.
Fighting Middle-Age Spread This weight gain can be aggravated by the changes in hormonal balance which the body also experienced over time, causing it to store more fat-hence the spare tire of middle age-while losing muscle. Healthy aging will require a diet which limits the fat and has adequate protein to assist in muscle building, and an exercise program designed to strengthen muscles. Muscle tissue, even at rest, burns energy, and will help compensate for that reduced metabolic rate.
Healthy aging also addresses the increased bone mineral loss which occurs, especially in women, with a calcium-rich diet and/or calcium supplement; calcium carbonate is the most easily absorbable form. Weight bearing exercises have been shown to stimulate bone growth, so a healthy aging exercise program should include walking or running, as long as it is done in moderation and does not overly stress the joints.
The Importance of Antioxidants While cutting back on calories to compensate for a lower resting metabolic rate will help fight weight gain, the lower calorie diet may result in less nutrition. One of the biggest obstacles to healthy aging is the amount of free radical damage which your body accumulates over the years, and one of the best ways to prevent further free radical damage is to increase your consumption of antioxidants. Antioxidants are vitamins and other nutritional substances which bind to, and neutralize free radicals.
Any healthy aging regimen will have to include a diet rich in antioxidants, including Vitamins A, C, D, E, and beta carotene. Citrus fruits, berries-especially blueberries, yellow and orange vegetables and organ meats are excellent sources of antioxidants.
Wild salmon and flaxseed are terrific ways to get Omega 3 fatty acids, which contribute to brain health and mental alertness by stimulating the communication among the brain’s neurons. Healthy aging is as much a matter of maintaining your mental capacity as it is of physical vitality.
Staying Involved Healthy aging also includes social interactions; those who maintain friendships and have a focus beyond themselves have been shown to live longer healthier lives than those who have lost a purpose for getting up each day. Even having a pet to take care of can make a big difference between healthy aging and simply growing old.
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