September is Healthy Aging Month

As someone committed to aging as well as possible and helping others do the same, this is a perfect time to celebrate healthy aging. There are many aspects of aging that people decry as problems or issues, but there are many scientifically proven ways to avoid or minimize these factors.

And truly aging well is the goal of most people rather than the two other bleak alternatives of doing it poorly or not at all.

It is increasingly difficult to keep your body fat level down and your muscle tone up as you age and you are not alone. Middle age and “prime time” bring with it many physical changes that can lead to weight gain in the form of fat increase and muscle loss (sarcopenia).

One of the ways to offset these changes is to increase the amount of quality protein that you consume. Studies have indicated that adults from the age of 50 to 85 years of age who consume 30-45 grams of protein in each meal develop increased muscle mass and strength and reduce their body fat.

This flies in the face of the vision of many older people who simply have tea and toast or some other convenient junk food for their meals that doesn’t provide the protein that they require. I advocate good quality protein shakes for those who want a convenient, good-tasting, economically affordable protein source.

Another dietary consideration for older people is adequate fiber intake. The recommended intake is 25 grams of fiber a day for women and 38 grams a day for men. Studies indicate that adequate fiber intake helps improve satiety (feeling full) digestive health and regularity and also helps reduce belly fat. Most Americans fall far short of their daily fiber needs.

Another issue in aging well is to up your workouts to at least five days a week doing cardio such as walking or swimming, and also include a couple days per week of resistance training such as weight training or resistance bands workouts.

These are recommendations from the World Health Organization as a minimum. Newer research has indicated that upping the intensity of your workouts is associated with longer telomere length — slowing the rate of aging at a cellular level.

Of course, increasing your resistance training has many side benefits besides helping you stay youthful. You will get stronger, increase your balance, and you will increase your resting metabolism and therefore burn more calories all the time, which means you can eat more without gaining fat. These factors increase the likelihood that you will be able to live independently and more fully longer into your life.

Quality sleep is essential at all ages and should be a priority for physical, mental and emotional health. Lacking as little as one hour’s sleep consistently is associated with weight gain and poor general health.

Also important for emotional and mental health is socialization and a positive outlook.

People who enjoy a good laugh and being with other positive, emotionally healthy people live longer, better lives. Good nutrition, a consistent comprehensive exercise program, and good quality sleep all contribute to a feeling of well-being that supports a positive engaging outlook.

To hear and see more about Healthy Aging Month, tune into channel 54 (Ho’ike) in the month of September to my TV program on Community Camera at 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. every weekday to hear Kathy and Randie Peters, local healthy aging Isa-body Finalists, discuss with me their proven strategies for aging well. A hui hou!

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Dr. Jane Riley, EdD., is a certified personal fitness trainer, nutritional adviser and behavior change specialist. She can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, 212-8119 cell/text. ww.janerileyfitness.com

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