Older woman doing yoga

5 Healthy New Year’s Resolutions for Seniors

Every New Year, millions of Americans make up their minds to improve their health and happiness. Self-improvement books fly off the shelves, gym memberships soar, fad diets and supplements promise a slimmer waistline and increased libido. But you don’t need dubious diets and fancy workouts to improve your health. Instead, focus on doable goals you can turn into healthy habits. Even small daily adjustments can have a big impact on your health.

Here are five New Year’s resolutions for seniors that can help you stay healthy and feel good. With the start of a brand-new year in sight, now’s the perfect time to turn resolve into results.

1. Be More Active

Physical activity improves your quality of life. Even 10 minutes of dancing or taking the stairs makes a difference. Starting a regular exercise program now can improve your strength, balance, flexibility and endurance. It can help you maintain a healthy weight and manage chronic health problems, such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease.

All physical activity counts — even things you do anyway, like walking the dog, vacuuming the house, or raking the leaves. The best activity is the one you enjoy the most and can see yourself continuing the most. If you like the outdoors, try biking or hiking. Make it social by joining a walking club at your local mall, or an exercise class at your local community center. Yoga, tai chi, water aerobics, dancing, hiking and weight training are just some of the ways Sagewood residents make fitness a part of their daily life.

2. Get Enough Sleep

Depriving yourself of the recommended eight hours of sleep each night has serious health consequences. It reduces the effectiveness of your immune system; increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease; triggers hormones that make you feel hungry (even when you’re full); and makes you feel dull and forgetful. It’s no way to go through your day. Getting a good night’s rest is one of our top New Year’s resolutions for seniors. There’s nothing better than waking up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, avoid large meals and alcoholic drinks late at night; try to exercise most days but not later than two to three hours before bedtime; don’t take naps after 3 p.m.; and go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. For more tips on getting a good night’s sleep, visit the National Sleep Foundation website.

3. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

As you grow older, your body doesn’t burn up as many calories as it used to because your metabolism slows down as you age. That means eating less, but eating better, to maintain a healthy weight. The USDA’s Choose My Plate program, and your healthcare provider, can help you make good choices. They include eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke; lower blood pressure; help prevent constipation; and reduce the likelihood of cataracts and macular degeneration. Five servings a day is the minimum recommendation for fruits and vegetables. As a general rule, eat for variety and color.

Older couple working out together

4. Exercise Your Gray Matter

Your brain is like a muscle — you need to use it or you lose it. To keep your brain healthy, challenge it by learning something new. Take a class at a local college or community center. Learn a new language or instrument. Join a book or bridge club. Even solving a jigsaw or crossword puzzle can give your gray matter a workout.

Scientists have noted that problem-solving activities may protect the brain by establishing “cognitive reserve.” They may help the brain become more adaptable so it can compensate for age-related brain changes. Being social also supports brain health, so consider joining a group focused on a hobby you enjoy — like dancing with a friend.

5. Nurture Your Relationships

Social connections are essential for health and well-being at all ages, but especially in later life. Studies show that social isolation can lead to a wide range of serious health issues in older adults, including heart disease, stroke and cognitive decline. Isolation is as much a risk factor for death as smoking or obesity.

On the flip side, being socially connected can improve your health, slow cognitive decline and boost your immunity. If friends have moved away, rekindle your relationship. Make a phone call, send an email, or reach out via Facebook. Play with your friends, whether it’s a game of cards, a round of golf or fetch with your dog. You could also volunteer for a group or cause you’re interested in. While you’re giving back to the community, you’ll benefit your own health and gain a sense of fulfillment.

New Year, New You

At Sagewood, we’re committed to supporting the health of residents. From personalized fitness programs and healthy food choices to educational seminars and fun social events, there’s always something to engage mind, body and spirit. Residents also have the security of a full continuum of care on-site, if ever needed, including assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation.

To learn more about how we can make your New Year something to celebrate, get in touch. We can arrange an in-person or virtual appointment, whichever suits you best.