Healthy Aging Month: Aging Is Not for Sissies – Virginia Department of Health – Virginia Department of Health

“Getting old isn’t for the faint of heart.” – Mae West  It can be easy to lose sight of the adventure and joy involved in the journey of aging. The process of getting older – while a seemingly endless barrel of jokes for birthday card companies – is packed with experiences that empower deeper reflection, […]

It can be easy to lose sight of the adventure and joy involved in the journey of aging. The process of getting older – while a seemingly endless barrel of jokes for birthday card companies – is packed with experiences that empower deeper reflection, pursuit of personal hobbies, and broadened perspective. 

As of 2020, 21.6% of Virginians were at least 60 years old, and this percentage is expected to reach 24% by 2030. It’s more important than ever to share empowering resources that support this growing population as they age into the lives they’ve worked diligently to build. While successful aging will look slightly different for each individual, the general idea is to age in such a way that enables well-being in older age. This tactic requires purposeful decisions about how to treat one’s body, mind, time, and so on. In celebration of Healthy Aging Month, the following tips and resources are good reminders on how to live life to its fullest.

Taking note of the foods we eat and how they interact with our changing bodies is a great step towards healthy aging. For extra energy, increase the number of servings of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Whole grains are a better choice than processed carbohydrates, for adding fiber and vitamins to your meals. For the best protein options, choose lean meat, nuts, or beans.

It’s no secret that the body’s nutritional needs change over time. In addition to making healthy food choices, it’s important to know the best steps to take to satisfy hunger and cravings.

While physical activity is important during all stages of life it becomes even more so with age. Exercise conditions the body’s cardiovascular system, supports digestion, and maintains muscular strength for daily tasks (like dressing, walking, cooking, etc.).

Health research has traditionally focused on the physical benefits of exercising on aging; however, more recently, public health and medicine have delved deeper into the psychological, body-brain connection impacted by exercise. The mental health benefits of consistent exercise include stress management, improved sleep quality, and an increased sense of well-being. If you haven’t found a physical activity that you enjoy and can continue over time, now’s your chance to start exploring. From indoor swimming (available all year round) to plogging – a combination of jogging and picking up litter – there are a plethora of ways to get moving in ways you find fun. You may even consider physical activities that can be incorporated into daily life, such as walking or biking to work, gardening, or even adding in some dance steps while doing house chores.