Not so many years ago, most people assumed that certain health problems emerged as an inevitable part of getting older. Today, science tells us that a healthy lifestyle can ward off many of the problems historically associated with aging. What are some of the most effective steps seniors can take to preserve their health and maintain vitality and an excellent quality of life?

1. Keep moving

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to start a regular exercise program. A commitment to activities that maintain and improve your fitness level is one of the keys to a high quality of life as you age. Staying fit will help you remain independent and continue to participate in activities you enjoy, such as traveling. Exercising regularly also can help ward off chronic health problems like diabetes, depression and arthritis.

2. Eat well

What you put in your mouth on a daily basis eventually reflects on, or in, your mind and body. By committing to consuming nutrient-dense foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, you give your body a leg up in warding off a variety of chronic health conditions.

3. Stay in touch

Isolation is a significant problem among seniors and can lead to mental health problems such as depression. Nearly 30 percent of seniors live by themselves, which is strongly linked to loneliness. The death of a spouse and friends also may contribute to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Staying in touch with loved ones is critical for seniors; social time should be regularly scheduled, and seniors should reach out to others who might feel lonely or isolated.

4. Get serious about preventive care

Annual flu shots and other preventive medical care are critical in maintaining your quality of life as you age. Check in regularly with your health care provider to ensure you’re getting all your recommended screenings, for blood pressure, diabetes and other potentially chronic conditions.

5. Maintain your optimism

Keeping a positive attitude is linked to a longer and healthier life, in part due to lower levels of stress. Many studies suggest that people who maintain their optimism live longer and have lower risk of some chronic medical conditions. Faith-based activities and meditation can contribute to living in the moment and keeping a sunny view of the world.

6. Help people who are less fortunate

Remember that there is always someone in this world who could use a kind word or a helping hand. A study from the University of Michigan found that people who volunteer based on a desire to help others live longer than those who volunteer out of purely selfish reasons or people who don’t volunteer.

7. Age in a healthy environment

One important aspect of aging healthfully is taking time to consider long-term care, according to Mayo Clinic. Considering your options now alleviates worries about having to figure out things later and prevents the necessity of making hasty — and potentially regrettable — decisions after a health event. Continuing-care retirement communities like The Overlook provide a full continuum of care for every stage of aging.

Aging well requires planning

Healthy aging is a hot topic these days, but it doesn’t happen by accident. By committing to a fitness program, eating healthfully, visiting your doctor regularly, staying optimistic, helping others and choosing a supportive senior living environment, you take great strides toward aging well.

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