September is Healthy Aging® month. It’s what? Another observance month? But let’s take a moment to understand what this could mean for you. Healthy Aging® Month is an annual observance month designed to focus on national attention on the positive aspects of growing older. As children return to school and the seasons begin to slowly change September is a great time to evaluate how your year is going and take stock of your well-being and “reset” or “kickstart” those healthy habits that may have fallen by the wayside while enjoying the summer.
Fearing how well you will age is a common concern but there are many positive aspects of aging! Often, aging is associated with terribly outdated and disrespectful stereotypes. We tend to believe older adults are frail and have dementia. Both of which are preventable through different lifestyle avenues! In a study recently published in JAMA Network Open researchers analyzed 46 studies of more than 120,000 people aged 60 and older living without assistance in 28 countries. They concluded that 4.3% of people in that age group develop frailty each year, and that women are more vulnerable than men. Fortunately, there are proactive interventions that can help prevent or delay frailty and dementia related conditions. Interventions like strength training, regular walking or physical activity, a clean diet with ample protein, practicing mindfulness or gratitude, and surrounding yourself with family, friends, and peers with similar interests all can support how well one ages.
With age comes experience and a level of awareness we sometimes wish we had during our younger years. In addition, we can appreciate our bodies more despite their flaws because we learn to appreciate how they move and get us from place to place. Increased awareness and appreciation for our bodies and minds as we age is important to recognize so we can be sure to adopt various healthy lifestyle behaviors. I encourage you to take stock of where you are with the following lifestyle behaviors and if there are areas for improvement.
- Do you move most days of the week for at least 30 minutes?
Go for a walk with a friend, take a yoga class, go dancing
- Do you keep your mind challenged?
Try a pottery class, read a book on travel, go to a trivia night with friends
- What do you fuel your body with each day?
Drink plenty of water, eat a rainbow of colors, watch the sweets
- Are you grateful? Do you practice mindfulness?
Trying journaling, take a meditation class, write a thank you note to a loved one
- Do you see your friends and family regularly?
Schedule a trip with family, meet for dinner with friends, join a neighborhood group
It is important to embrace these approaches to living all the time, but September is a fantastic time to get back into a variety of healthy habits that may not be where you would like them. Now go out and enjoy life and keep on moving!
Kelly Stranburg, CEO of Excellence in Wellness, has over 20 years of designing programs to help people live their best life or in other words, age optimally! Stranburg is a Certified Exercise Physiologist, Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach, Certified Health and Life Coach, and licensed Total Brain Health provider. Stranburg lives with her soon to be husband and their menagerie of pets in north Charlotte close to the Lake Norman region.