By Dawn Huffman
Mille Lacs Health System
September is Healthy Aging Month and chances are that if you are younger than 50, you have put this concept in the very back of your mind. No matter your age, it is never too early or late to think about aging well.
Healthy aging is about making changes now so that you can build a body that is resilient and can withstand the normal aging process. Dr. Lynne Steiner, a family physician at Mille Lacs Health System said, “Healthy aging is more than just eating right. It’s about taking care of all aspects of your health and having a good functional capacity – feeling good, performing well, maintaining and developing healthy relationships, and thinking about your body and what it needs.”
Physical exercise is one of the most important things that you can do to encourage healthy aging. Steiner said, “Doing some kind of physical exercise 25 minutes a day will help you maintain your body, but if you want to make changes to it, then you will need to increase that amount of time. Also, don’t start bad habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol or drugs. If you have them, quit.”
Eating healthy to maintain a varied diet is important, but equally important is eating the proper portion sizes. “Because of the abundance of food in this country, we have grown accustomed to eating portion sizes that are sometimes double or triple the amount we should be eating. Select unprocessed foods including lots of beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables,” said Steiner.
In order to get your body to its optimum level, you also have to think about the mind, noted Steiner. “It’s easy to get caught up in what is going on around you and forget to take time out for yourself each day. In order to have a resilient body, you have to think about building and maintaining healthy relationships, getting enough sleep and making time to relax,” Steiner also stated. Taking time out of the hectic day to just talk to someone can make all the difference in a person’s perception of the world. “Today, with social media, it’s so easy to forget that you need to actually have a one-on-one direct social connection,” Steiner said.
Mille Lacs Health System has health care providers who can help you find the right balance for your body and mind, which will help you age-healthy.