6 Simple Steps to Keeping Mentally and Physically Sharp as You Grow Older

One of the key indicators of age is that our minds and bodies appear to start on a downward slope.  Popular opinion seems to indicate that these changes are a normal part of getting older, and while the the loss of cognitive and muscle function is inevitable, significant changes occur because of bad lifestyle choices, brain injury or the dreaded Alzheimer’s.

With changes in your eating habits and lifestyle, you can stay physically and mentally fit regardless of your age, keeping you vibrant and healthy in business and work or at play.

1. Change how you think

Too often we accept society’s verdict on how we should be. People of all ages can be forgetful, but when an older person experiences a memory lapse, it is more likely to be attributed to old age than simple human imperfection. People believe vitality dims in your fifth decade on earth and your mind reacts accordingly. This mindset can make you resign to being weak physically and mentally. The first thing you need to drop on your road to fitness is this mentality. Your mind and body may decline but with a little effort, you can stay sharp and strong.

2. Adopt Healthier Eating Habits

You have likely heard the expression “you are what you eat”. Fast food should be limited or eliminated. Caffeine and carbonated drinks should be kept to a minimum. Eat a balanced diet with low levels of saturated and trans fats. Watch your salt intake. Replace sugary snacks with fruits and red meat with fish. Eat lots of vegetables. If you have a special condition that determines what you can eat, consider talking to a dietician and having him draw up a meal plan for you. Keeping a tight leash on what goes into your body is an effective way of improving your mental and physical wellbeing.

3. Stay Physically Active

Growing older often means that exercise becomes a little more arduous. You might find that you can no longer keep up with your one hour jog every morning, or that you can’t lift heavy weights like you used to. You need to scale your exercise to your new capacity.  Instead of a daily one hour run, a bi-weekly twenty-minute jog might suffice. Take up hobbies like gardening or walk the dog often. You will find that an active lifestyle increases alertness and fitness. You can also look forward to extra benefits like improved appetite, a more restful sleep, lower risk of dementia, and balanced blood pressure levels.

4. Stimulate Your Mind

You are never too old to learn. According to Harvard Health, lower levels of education can be linked to a more steep decline in mental acuity as we age, so consider enrolling for some courses to help you continue learning. Do not shy away from new technologies, as that will mean resigning yourself to being redundant which will cause your mind and body to wither.

Play games that challenge your mind and memory with puzzles. If possible, learn new skills

5. Quit smoking

Smoking is a harmful habit that has numerous possible negative health effects. Smoking can inhibit your brain activity by decreasing the amount of oxygen which reaches the organ. Several studies have also linked smoking to the shrinking of the brain’s cortex and rapid memory loss.

Smoking has been found to exacerbate coughs, colds, wheezing and asthma symptoms in adults. In addition, it increases the risk of lung diseases like chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer.

6. Limit Alcohol Intake

There are links between alcohol abuse and mental problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, and psychosis. Alcohol use can also damage short-term memory while heavy long-term use can leave negative lasting effects on memory retention.

Regular drinking can affect the quality of your sleep, making you feel tired throughout the day and causing stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea.  Alcohol is linked to high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of stroke or heart attack.

If you must drink, cut it down to only a glass of wine each day.