May is Older Americans Month, and as a leading nonprofit dedicated to improving the nation’s health and well-being, the YMCA of Greater Dayton offers the following tips to encourage older adults in the Miami Valley live healthier lives.
1. Have fun with your food. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring! Have fun with your fruits and vegetables by trying them fresh, frozen or canned. Find a new recipe that uses a different source of protein or find a way to incorporate fish or beans into an old favorite.
Remember as you age, it’s important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy and lean meats to help your body get the necessary nutrients.
2. Fill up on fiber and potassium, hold the salt. As you age, your body needs more fiber rich foods to help it stay regular. Aim for a variety of colorful foods on your plate (i.e. fruits and veggies) to keep fiber rich foods a part of your diet. Additionally, increasing potassium along with reducing sodium or salt may lower your risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt are good sources of potassium.
3. Tweak your routine. To get the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity, change your routine to 10-minute sessions throughout the day.
For example, stand on one foot while brushing your teeth to increase balance, and do squats while washing dishes to increase strength. To increase your cardio, take the stairs instead of the elevator or park farther from the entrance to work. When sitting in front of the TV, march during commercials or do some light stretching to break up sitting for long periods.
4. Get social. Socialization is an important part of aging. As we get older, it’s important to be active socially to stay healthy. Take a walk with a friend or a neighbor, join a book club or volunteer at your local pet shelter or local Y. Being connected to the community keeps you healthy!
5. Take a snooze. It’s important to get seven, but no more than nine hours of sleep at night to keep you healthy. A lack of sleep has been associated with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. To help get those necessary hours of sleep, leave mobile devices in another room, not in the bedroom. Digital distractions can disrupt your sleep.
For more information on how your family can live a healthy, active life, visit www.ymcaonline.org.
Jessi Graham is the Director of Marketing and Communications for the YMCA of Greater Dayton and guest columnist.