Aging well happens by thinking, acting young

Many of you know that I have a master’s degree in gerontology and that one of my keen interests is helping people (of all ages) to age healthily.

Since September is Healthy Aging Month and we only get this opportunity once a year to celebrate it, I thought I’d write another article for you on this important subject. By the way, at my tender age I’m doing my doctorate in educational psychology — why not?

The website www.healthyaging.net offers some great advice on how to age well with a focus on proven strategies and on the positive aspects of growing older. It beats the alternative. The site provides practical ideas on how to improve physical, mental, social and financial wellbeing, as well as motivational tips towards living a great life.

Today there are over 76 million baby boomers over age 50, and the first of the 82 million generation Xers are set to reach that milestone birthday next year, in 2015. One of the prime focus points of healthy aging is to dispel most of those nasty myths about it. It is not a time to slip into decrepitude and frailty but a time to finally enjoy your life as you free up from some of the responsibilities of younger years.

We’ve all heard the saying 60 is the new 40, and really, given the increase in longevity, it seems true that 60 is just the beginning of middle age. Most people 45 years and older are vibrant, interesting and interested in pursuing many hobbies, travel, sports and other activities that help them stay fit, active and engaged.

So here are some tips from the healthy aging website that you might make part of your battle bag against the myths of aging.

First, there is no good reason to act your age. Act young, because “what you think about you bring about.” So think young and act young. Be positive in your conversations and actions every day. Don’t gripe and complain — it is not attractive at any age, but certainly not as we get older. It is depressing for you and the others around you.

“Look on the sunny side of life.” If you have Negative Nellies or Debbie Downers in your life or even negative situations, dump them. At this stage of the game you don’t need that dragging you down, so clean house!

If you’re lonely, pick up the phone, volunteer your time with a social group, take a self-enrichment class, invite someone for lunch or for a tea break, or volunteer at a school to keep in touch with what’s current in the world of young people, and engage with lots of friends and acquaintances.

Expand your circle! Surround yourself with fun, happy people who are interesting and interested. Smile a lot. It will attract the kind of people you should have in your life. Make sure that you keep your oral hygiene up to date. Make your smile attractive and white by following good dental care practices. Your mouth is the beginning of your whole digestive tract so keeping it healthy not only looks good but also impacts your overall health.

Pull your posture up. Walk tall and use your muscles to do so. Take a look at how you walk. Do you shuffle along because you are afraid of falling? Do exercises to strengthen your core, your legs, ankles and your shoulders so you can walk with confidence and ease? Walking is a great way of getting out and meeting new people, as well as strengthening your body.

If you have a dog great, otherwise try to borrow one. People like to talk about dogs, and this can be a way of meeting many other like-minded individuals. You could also (if you are an animal lover) go and volunteer at the Humane Society and interact with both new furry and not-so-furry friends.

As well as walking tall, sit tall and pull your tummy in. Your body will function better if you use your muscles to pull your shoulders back so you can breathe easily and, of course, you will look years younger. Keep your medical checkups current so if something does happen to your health, you nip it in the bud and you can start a plan of action to reverse it!

Perhaps there is something that you have been yearning to do your whole life, such as paint, sculpt, sing, travel or garden. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be something that really turns you on. Go for it. Fall is a great time to start classes at the college or other centers to learn and experience something new. I’m loving this time of my life, and want that for you too. Your attitude sets your altitude. Come fly with me!

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Jane Riley, M.S., B.A., C.P.T., Certified Nutritional Adviser, can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, 212-1451 or www.janerileyfitness.com.

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