Everyone at one time or another tries to find the winning combination to living longer, healthier, and aging with grace.
While death is inevitable, we can at least find ways to live fuller, more agile lives throughout all our years.
Living Less Timidly
Much of the science around living healthy doesn’t necessarily tell us to restrict our diet, exercise vigorously, and work too hard. In fact, most of the healthiest people don’t do this. They play hard, and they work hard.
There may be something to living with less rigidity in our lives and embracing the natural cycles of aging.
“The most important advice we offer people about longevity is, ‘Throw away your lists(opens in a new tab),’” says professor of psychology and co-author of The Longevity Project(opens in a new tab) Howard Friedman.
Friedman recommends against the life of self-help, slowing down and restricting our lives. If you want to have fun, do it. If you want to exercise, do it. When we limit ourselves and think that we can’t have what we want, we throw off our body’s ability to self-regulate.
Our body is fully capable of coping on its own. However, according to the author of Health at Every Size(opens in a new tab), in depriving the body of the things it likes (this includes dieting!), we are messing with our body’s neuroplasticity!
Living with less timidity means that you let yourself age in a way that is comfortable for you. You also should work on embracing some of the things that are very normal in our life, including the inevitability of death, struggles in life, and emotional conflict.
A Yale University study investigated 4,765 people around the age of 72, all with a genetic link to dementia. Those who had a positive attitude about death were 50% less likely to develop dementia than those who faced aging with fear.
This is not to say that excessive happiness is a good idea either (as another study from Friedman found no correlation between extreme happiness and longevity). Some excessively happy people may ignore real threats and fail to take necessary precautions, like following medical advice.
What is the Perfect Exercise for Living Fuller Lives?
So while you are opening the doors to live with less timidity and more adventure, you may find that you want to be active. Lucky for you, there is no perfect exercise for living fuller, more agile lives.
The critical thing to remember is that you move, no matter how you want. Movement is one of the best forms of preventative health.
In general, there is no perfect exercise that will have you feeling 100% all the time. But you can listen to your body and give it what it wants(opens in a new tab)! There are also personal requirements to consider, like if the movement is suitable for your body and whether or not you like it.
Exercising will improve endurance, muscle strength, balance, and psychological elasticity. It also reduces the chance of serious falls, which could cause injuries and seriously impair your life, especially as you age.
There is no magic number to how often you should exercise. One study suggests that 30 minutes a day (opens in a new tab)could prevent early death. Another found that in older populations, a 15-minute brisk walk(opens in a new tab) could be as much as 22% effective at reducing premature death (compared to those who did not exercise).
Other researchers suggest that exercising two days a week(opens in a new tab) can reduce premature death. Even less than that, researchers at McMaster University found that an intense 60-second workout(opens in a new tab) could be enough to improve health!
Managing Injury and Lifestyle Disruptions
Sometimes injuries get in the way. And other lifestyle disruptions could set us back physically. Learning to roll with the punches, continue moving, eating regularly, and laughing a little is sometimes harder than it seems.
Managing injury has to do with learning what your body can handle. You can try a healthy aging exercise regimen, but your body will tell you when you are overdoing it.
Of course, an injury does take its toll. When an injury happens, even a minor one, it is your body’s indicator that it was pushed past the limit. In some instances, this might be because you worked out too hard. But it may also be because you haven’t strengthened your muscles enough. Other times, it may come about because of a lack of stretching.
Don’t beat yourself up when an injury happens. Take the time to recoup and reassess how you’re feeling.
Refer to specialists for pain and injury management. You can also seek orthopedic therapy for preventative and lifestyle therapy. An OT might recommend rearrangements for your living space or a behavior change that will give you more energy and more time during the day.
If you’re seriously hurt, then make sure to see a doctor.
Taking it One Day at a Time
While a one-sized-fits-all-perfect-remedy does not exist, there are smart ways to stay strong at any age and ways that technology can help us move efficiently.
Here are some other things to consider to live fuller lives:
- Listen to your intuition. If you feel like getting up and going for a walk, or being active and cleaning the house, don’t try to talk yourself out of it.
- Consider friendships. Having a healthy social life can get you out and about more often. It may also encourage you to do things that you wouldn’t usually be comfortable doing. You don’t need to cave into peer pressure, but having a buddy to go along with makes it more enjoyable.
- Move in the ways you want to, and even as you age(opens in a new tab). This one should be very straightforward. You don’t necessarily need to think it through or explain yourself. If you want to move, do it, and your body will tell you what it needs.
- Rest when you need to. Here is where peer pressure might be a problem. If you need a rest, take it. Your friends should understand. Just like you should be resting when you need it, you should also be moving when you need it!
- Don’t beat yourself up over the foods you eat. Many of us are plagued with the aftermath of diet cultures. However, our body is fully capable of regulating itself. While you may have to be mindful of some things, like medical conditions and unique needs, you should be able to enjoy what you eat.
Agility comes not only from physical well-being but also mental and spiritual health as well. Keeping an active social life will help us to continue to choose being active even if injuries crop off. You can also turn to professionals like orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, and orthopedic therapists for recovery and injury prevention.
If we take it one day at a time, we may find that our well-being is improved, or energy is increased, and we want to do more things with friends.