You may be asking the meaning of that question. The thinking behind it is that if you are not aging in a way that is intentional, in other words, caring for yourself and living your life in a way that can positively impact your health and well-being, then in essence you are a passive participant in the aging process and merely letting it happen to you.
Reaching our elderhood years, or the third act of life, is a time when our years of experience culminate in wisdom that can benefit the younger generations as mentors. But it is also a time when we can live more authentically, become more introspective, explore life’s true meaning. and cultivate our creative interests and passions.
In a recent conversation I had with Dr. Bill Thomas, he put it best: if your desire is to be doing a specific activity 15 years from now, whether it be running, jumping, strength training, walking, biking, rowing, etc. then you had better begin doing it today. If you are not, then in all likelihood, you won’t be able to do it 15 years from now. Especially true if you are in your 40s, 50s or 60s. The reality obviously becomes less likely with increasing decades. This made me think about my own aging journey and what am I doing to embrace it in a way that may afford me the highest possible level of health and well-being.
As it is said. "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now."
What seed will you plant for yourself today in order to age consciously?
The components of the conscious healthy aging process include what many of us already know.
It Includes adequate:
· movement on a regular basis
· nutritional support
· social connectedness
Preferences in each area will likely differ from individual to individual.
However, there are some rules of thumb worthy of consideration.
It is well documented that older adults should have some form of physical activity on a daily basis. It not only improves overall health but also reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. This includes at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity on a weekly basis or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous physical activity. However, slow, consistent, sustained activity can be as beneficial as vigorous exercise. A sustained is activity such as gardening, which done consistently is considered as a low to moderate to high intensity activity. The tasks involved: weeding, mulching, hoeing, sowing seeds, harvesting, watering, mixing growing medium, and planting are moderately intense physical activities benefiting the upper body, arms, core and legs. Even routine housework, done consistently, can be considered beneficial physical activity.
Vacuuming, dusting, cleaning windows, etc. all have tremendous benefits for the upper and lower body. Do you have what you need in your present daily routine that will offer you the benefit of movement?
We all know about healthy eating. It is important now more than ever. Much of our food is lacking in
the nutrients needed by our bodies and our mind. In previous blogposts I’ve written about Blue Zone Eating habits. Whether or not you choose to adopt a Blue Zone style of eating, there are numerous alternatives that offer foods that are more nutritionally beneficial. As it is said, eat more food that grown on plants, rather than food that’s made in plants. Do your eating habits reflect these choices?
This is an important area that many do not consider when thinking about wellness. Optimally, the body requires half of its body weight in ounces of water/day. The skin is the largest organ, covering 90% of our body. In addition, our mucous membranes, those that lead to the air, need moisture. (i.e., our eyes, nose, mouth, etc) and our physiologic system needs water to flush out toxins.
Similar to a car that requires lubricants, the body requires water. One would not think of running the car without oil in the engine, water in the radiator, or gas in the tank. The end-result would be a
breakdown of the finely tuned machine.
Strategy: If not already doing so, there are strategies you can implement to begin drinking more water each day. For one week try a glass before and after each meal. The following week increase in-between meals. Notice the difference in your skin, digestion, etc.
Good days start with good rest. I’ve heard many people say they function well on 4 or 5 hours sleep/night.
However, the body actually requires 7-8 hours to function optimally. Adequate sleep helps with hormonal balance which keeps your heart healthier, reduces stress, boosts mood, helps maintain blood sugar at consistent levels, increases productivity, increases exercise performance, and can improve memory.
People who get less sleep also tend to carry more weight. The body is in recovery and rejuvenation mode when at rest.
Strategy: If falling asleep is an issue, establishing a regular sleep routine and incorporating strategies like avoiding social media, the phone, or TV before bedtime may be strategies that will help you get the rest your body needs.
The pandemic highlighted the need for social connection. Isolation and loneliness can be true killers.
Maintaining a circle of friends and community connection is integral to successful aging. Studies have shown that people who enjoy an increasing number of social connections are happier, they have lower anxiety and depression, higher level of self-esteem, and lower blood pressure. It has been said that social connections are good for brain health and can even lower your risk of dementia. It also promotes a sense of safety, belonging and security and gives a person the opportunity to share experiences, develop friendships and find people in whom they can confide when its most needed. Do you feel socially connected? If not, what can you do to develop more social engagement in your family and/or your community?
If you would like to find out more about Strategies for Conscious Aging, feel free to email me at:
You can also download my podcast: SeniorsSTRAIGHTTalk; Bringing Informative Conversations to the Seniors Years of Our Lives on the Voice America Empowerment Channel and Syndicated on the Voice America Influencers Channel and popular podcast platforms.