At Origin Active Lifestyle Communities, we believe that the quality of life a person experiences in their later years can drastically improve by staying active and engaged in life. While longevity may seem like something you can’t control, some habits known to promote a healthy and active lifestyle have also been linked to increased longevity!
Origin Active Lifestyle Communities offer active senior living services throughout Western Canada. We are dedicated to promoting active and healthy aging and committed to making positive changes in our communities in the way people view aging, living, and healthy lifestyles. We want to share four tips that can help you stay engaged, improve your quality of life, and increase longevity.
Keep in mind that medical history and genetics can play a significant factor in life expectancy. Still, the following habits can help improve your overall quality of life and could increase longevity.
1. Daily Physical Exercise
Arguably the most important tip for increasing longevity, and improving quality of life in general, is leading an active lifestyle. In Canada, the second leading cause of death is heart disease, which can be largely prevented by being active and following other health habits. Regular exercise has also been shown to reduce the risk of other chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
If you’re wondering how to get started with living an active lifestyle, it’s not too late! Any type of physical activity poses more health benefits than being sedentary. One study from Neurology Clinical Practice found that low-intensity workouts can carry the same benefits as intense workouts, as long as they are carried out long-term.
Here are some tips on how to incorporate more physical activity into your life:
Start small. Don’t let the idea of exercising intimidate you; it doesn’t have to mean going to the gym and “pumping iron” three times a day. Start by going on a brisk, 30-minute walk twice a day. Add some stretches to your nighttime routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. All of these are simple, easy to implement ways to get moving without completely switching up your lifestyle.
Recruit a friend. Starting a new exercise routine on your own can be intimidating and tempting to ditch when there’s no one else counting on you. If you ask a friend to become your exercise partner, you will always have someone keeping you accountable. Plus, exercising with a friend can make it more fun!
Find something you love. Some people may not want to exercise because they associate it with strenuous, monotonous activities like running or lifting weights. In reality, exercise can be whatever activity you enjoy that gets you moving! It could be hiking, dancing, swimming, yoga, or anything else that you enjoy.
2. Maintain an Active and Healthy Mind
Just as physical activity can increase longevity, mental activity can lengthen lifespan as well. In addition, mental exercises help to lower your risk of developing dementia or memory impairments. And while physical exercise does support brain health in some ways, there are other activities you can do that specifically exercise your mind.
Reading, solving puzzles, playing games, socializing, and listening to music are all fantastic ways to stimulate your brain. Like physical activity, mental activity can be anything that you enjoy doing, as long as it keeps your mind active!
Here are some ways to maintain an active and healthy mind:
Learn something new. Learning a new skill stimulates neurons in the brain and creates more neural pathways, increasing brain activity and memory. Whether it’s a new language, an instrument, or a new skill, learning anything new is valuable in increasing longevity.
Read more. Reading is a great way to stimulate the brain while learning something new or enjoying a good book! Reading can also increase your memory and decision-making skills.
Socialize with others. Recent studies have indicated that people who regularly interact with others have higher memory and cognitive functioning. Socialization can also reduce feelings of stress and depression.
3. Incorporate Longevity Foods in Your Diet
It’s probably not a surprise that, in addition to physical and mental exercise, eating a well-balanced diet of whole, nutritious foods is also a component in increasing longevity. And while you may know that it’s necessary to eat a diet consisting of whole grains and vegetables with limited sugar and processed foods, certain foods can help delay the aging process itself. These foods, known as longevity foods or superfoods, can add a plethora of health benefits to your diet and ultimately increase longevity.
Here are a few superfoods you can easily incorporate into your diet:
Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are full of fibre, vitamin A, and antioxidants that can aid in almost every part of your body. This nutrient-packed vegetable is also extremely versatile and can be made into chips, fries, breakfast hash, or simply roasted for a healthy alternative to a baked potato!
Spinach: Spinach, and any other leafy green, is an excellent source of magnesium, bone-building calcium and is full of healthy nutrients and minerals. You can easily incorporate spinach into your diet by adding it to your breakfast, making a salad with your favourite toppings, or even blending it into a smoothie!
Almonds: While most nuts offer some type of health benefits, almonds may come ahead of the rest. Full of vitamin E, calcium and magnesium, almonds are a perfect snack to add some nutrients into your life. If you’re not a fan of plain almonds, try it in a trail mix with dried fruits or find it in butter form and spread it on apple slices!
Dark chocolate: Who said you can’t eat superfoods for dessert? Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, which support a healthy heart and blood vessels. While dark chocolate is considered a superfood, it is one with plenty of fat and calories, so make sure you choose dark chocolate with over 70 percent cacao and only eat it in moderation.
4. Focus on Your Mental Health
Everyone experiences stress from time to time—whether it’s as minor as a traffic jam making you late for a meeting or as major as a significant change in your family life. While some stress isn’t necessarily bad, chronic feelings of stress and anxiety can contribute to poor health and potentially even shorten your lifespan.
By practicing stress management, you can reduce your risk of chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and cognitive decline and you may even be able to increase your overall longevity.
Coincidentally or not, some of the most effective ways to manage feelings of stress are also some of our other tips for increasing longevity: physical exercise, socialization, and a balanced diet. However, there are some more specific strategies for managing stress that you can try, as well.
Practice self-care. In between work, exercise, and family time, carving out time for yourself is vital in maintaining mental well-being. Set aside some time every week for something that you simply enjoy: whether it’s reading, taking a hot bath, or going on a hike.
Be mindful. Practicing mindfulness can not only help you manage stress, but it could even help you prevent it. Pay attention to what triggers you and causes stress, and when it happens, be mindful of your reaction to the situation.
Deep breathing. Deep breathing is a great exercise that calms the mind and body and can relieve feelings of stress almost instantly. Next time you feel stressed, practise a few deep breathing techniques to calm yourself down.
Maximize and Enjoy Life
Incorporating any of these habits into your life doesn’t take much time or effort, but it does take consistency and commitment. However, once you decide to make the change, it will ensure that you’re on your way to living a healthy, full, and happy life—complete with lots of new memories to create and others to share them with!
At Origin Active Lifestyle Communities, we provide our community members with ample opportunities to join in on social and physical activities, all of which encourage active and healthy senior living. We genuinely believe that life should not slow down after retirement.
Updated on May 15, 2021.