Positive Outlook is Key to Longevity

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A study presented in November, 2010 at a meeting of the Gerontolgoical Society of America, suggests the ability to age well lies in large part to your state of mind. Danilea Jopp of Fordham University in New York studied some 350 older adults ages 65 to 94. Researchers found that being open-minded, persistent and optimistic helps seniors flourish in their golden years and may even promote longevity.

As the baby boomer generation enters retirement, they will have to create a new sense of self-worth, says Jay Firman, president of the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Approximately 20% of the U.S. population will be over age 65 by 2050.

Aging Well From the Inside Out

The quality of your retirement will depend largely not only on your mental state but your physical health as well, notes the Mayo Clinic. Baby boomers can anticipate a number of changes in cardiovascular health, metabolism, and other areas.

As you age your heart muscle has to work harder than it once did to pump enough blood through your body. Aging blood vessels lose elasticity, which makes your arteries stiffer and more prone to high blood pressure.

The ability to lose or maintain weight becomes more challenging for older adults as the metabolic rate tends to becomes more sluggish. Muscle mass diminishes while fat tends to increase. Since fat tissue doesn’t burn as many calories as muscle, older adults are more likely to gain weight.

Diet and Exercise for Healthy Aging

Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can promote cardiovascular health and prevent weight gain. Aim for 30 to 45 minutes of moderate aerobic activity most days of the week. Good choices including swimming, walking, tennis and bicycling.

A nutritious diet includes several daily servings of vegetables, fruits, lean meats and whole grains. The National Institute on Aging recommends baking, broiling, roasting or steaming foods rather than frying. Good fruits and veggie choices include spinach, sweet potatoes, black beans, corn, plums, blueberries, and watermelon.

Eating low fat or no fat dairy products and limiting trans fats and saturated fats can help keep your cholesterol levels in check. Trans fats include prepackaged cookies and cakes, while saturated fats come mostly from animal sources.

Sources:

Mayo Clinic, “Healthy Aging, What to Expect When You Get Older”.

Mayo Clinic, “Healthy Retirement”.

National Council on Aging, “Improving the lives of Older Americans”.

National Institute on Aging, “Healthy Eating” .

.USA Today, “To Thrive in Old Age, Keep an Open Mind”.

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