The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), the professional association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry, searches health-and-wellness research studies every year to find the most relevant to adults ages 50-plus. This year ICAA has sorted through these studies to compile a list of tips that governments, communities, businesses, families and individuals can use to encourage older adults to achieve a healthy lifestyle in 2021
1. Expectations: If you’ve followed a healthy lifestyle this year, keep going. If you need to make lifestyle changes, start by anticipating success-and don’t let age be a barrier. Research has shown that thinking negatively about getting older can shorten your life by as much as 7.5 years.
2. Enthusiasm: Few people are thrilled with every aspect of their lives, but many have at least one area-family, friends, work, hobbies-that they feel good about. Identify an activity or connection that sparks your enthusiasm and make it your lifeline, then do your best to extend that enthusiasm to other areas.
3. Energy: Having the energy and motivation you need to age well are hallmarks of healthy living. If you’re tired all the time, don’t let apathy and lethargy drag you down. Instead, get a checkup to try to determine the cause-and the solution.
4. Eating: Eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight are keys to physical and mental health. If you need to lose weight or make changes in your diet, keep your expectations high. You can do it!
5. Exercise: Staying physically active fuels the body and mind. If you’re already exercising regularly, keep it up. If you’re getting started, know your fitness level, then set goals and progress at your own pace. The key is to be consistent.
6. Engagement: Get involved in your community. Research has shown that people who volunteer have higher levels of well-being and life satisfaction than people who don’t. Volunteering and other kinds of civic and social engagement can contribute to better health. In the midst of the pandemic this may be restricted to being just online.
7. Emotions: Everyone feels down at times, but full-blown depression is a major cause of disability. If you’re feeling out of sorts for two weeks or more, talk with your doctor or take an online screening test. In many instances, simply exercising and eating right can change your mood.
8. Education: Lifelong learning is important to living an independent and fulfilling life as you advance in age. Start now to learn new subjects or physical activities-it’s good for the brain.
9. Effort: Changing expectations and embarking on new behaviors take energy and effort, but the results are well worth it.
10. Enjoyment: A healthy life generally is a joyous one. Savor the process of being or becoming active, engaged and truly alive in 2021.