Aging is a fact of life. Each year, people find themselves reaching new life stages, decades, and seasons of life, all of which lead to physical, emotional, and cognitive changes. When looking at aging, compelling evidence shows that healthy lifestyle habits can improve a person’s well-being, and ultimately make a difference in quality of life throughout a person’s life.
three The University of Alabama at Birmingham Experts weigh and share tips for maximizing healthy alternatives and additions that can, in turn, increase an individual’s quality of life.
Long life vs full life
It has long been said that eating healthy and exercising can affect a person’s overall health and well-being. But the data shows that the tried-and-true statement can mean that people live healthier lives in the time allotted to them versus living longer.
“There is an abundance of research showing that healthy lifestyle habits – which include regular physical activity and a diet light on red meat and abundant in fruits and vegetables – lead to a healthy longevity,” he said. Stephen OstadPh.D. The Preventive Life Chair in Healthy Aging Research in UAB Biology section. “By that I mean living life with the physical and mental capabilities to do the things you love to do, not necessarily living longer.”
While we don’t have the keys to stopping time and aging alone, Austad’s comments are echoed by James Hill, Ph.D., president of UAB Department of Nutritional Sciencesand Thomas Buford, Ph.D., director of UAB Sports Medicine Center Professor at UAB Department of Geriatrics, Geriatrics and Palliative Care.
Don’t skimp on nutrition: Healthy eating is important in later years. (Getty Images)
“A healthy lifestyle will positively contribute to quality of life, while the effects on lifespan will be less,” Hill said.
Buford explained, “Older adults we’ve spoken with over the years say that improving quality of life or ‘life in your years’ is more important to them than the number of years they live.”
Small changes = big effects
All three experts agree that incorporating healthy eating and regular physical activity will make life fuller. However, Hill said the main reason for adopting a healthy lifestyle is to manage or avoid chronic diseases.
Adapting to consistent healthy eating habits and moderate physical activity can help ward off chronic disease and reduce the chances of major health events such as heart attacks, high blood pressure — and even dementia.
“The real surprise that has emerged in recent years is that continued physical activity helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia,” Ostad said. “The muscle-brain connection can make a real difference to a person’s overall health as they mature.”
Ostad also points out that the key to healthy aging lies in staying in social contact with others. “Continued social engagement is important to both mental health and life satisfaction. Sitting alone at home is a habit that is detrimental to health, but it is a habit we can all break with a little effort.”
Incorporating changes into life
Buford and Hill agree that as people age, they should try to find physical activities they enjoy and adopt good eating habits that they can stick to.
“A lot of people tend to get frustrated when they can’t meet physical activity guidelines or when they aren’t optimal in their diet,” Buford said. “Research shows that even low levels of physical activity can have health benefits if you are consistent, and diet quality is about balance and consistency. Also, finding a group of people to support one another is often cited as one of the best ways to maintain lifestyle habits. healthy”.
Experts agree that when making changes to lifestyle habits, it is best to start with small episodes and build up over time so that they can be sustained over the long term.
“It’s never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle,” Hill said. Oftentimes people who haven’t been following healthy habits can start by making some small changes in how much they move and what they eat. This will often result in more changes.
“No matter your age or how bad your lifestyle habits are, you can benefit from making better lifestyle choices,” Hill said.
This story originally appeared on UAB . news site.
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