You may have noticed that we love themed months and days. They’re the bread and butter over here in the blog post-writing realm of SkyBlue. And this month is no exception! We’re kicking off our September blog posts with another monthly theme—this time, it’s healthy aging! September is Healthy Aging Month, so why don’t you join us in an exploration of five simple lifestyle tweaks that can help you live a little healthier? Let’s get started.
1. Ditch the soda
This is one of the smallest changes you can make that can have one of the biggest health effects. So many of us are reliant upon some kind of ultra-sugary, caffeinated drink, whether it’s coffee, soda, energy drinks, or something else. What we don’t know is that these drinks can make it very difficult to maintain a healthy weight. They also make our bodies crave more sugar—the more sugar we put into our bodies, the more we’re going to feel like we need!
Try to be a little healthier by trading out one of your usual cans of soda or cups of coffee for water. In addition to cutting out the bad effects that soda (or coffee, or any other sugar-packed or caffeinated drink) has on your body, replacing it with water lets your body enjoy all the benefits of good hydration, including appetite and complexion management. Score!
Tip: If you’re still looking for a little bit of flavor, try adding sugar-free flavorings to your water, like Crystal Light.
2. Choose to walk
This is one of those tips that I feel like I see everywhere. From pro-environmental groups to physical trainers to the fitness nut down the street, everyone seems to be telling me to put down my car keys and walk (or bike) to where I need to go. And for the longest time, I brushed them off. “It’s too far!” or “I’m already running late!” were always my go-to responses. But one day I told myself to just try it out. Instead of driving to the grocery store (about a half mile away from where I was living at the time), I chose to walk. And I was amazed at how much I loved it! I was able to enjoy where I was walking and be more engaged with my environment. I was able to have a little bit of personal time to think and unwind after a long day. And, best of all, I was squeezing a little exercise into my schedule! I felt invigorated and rejuvenated after that walk, and I’ve been taking advantage of my own two feet ever since.
Now, this might not be practical for everyone. If you live in an area with poorly-paved sidewalks (or no sidewalks at all), have physical impairments, or live far away from where you travel to on a daily basis, then this tip might not be the best idea for you. After all, cars are a great way to get around, and help us do things we can’t necessarily do on our own. So, don’t feel bad for driving! You can always drive (or get a ride from a loved one) to a park with walking trails—trails around ponds are one of my favorites. There are many ways to get in a little bit of walking during your day. Find something that works for you!
Tip: If you find yourself getting bored or unmotivated while walking, give yourself a mini scavenger hunt to do on your walk. For instance, I like to see how many number 6’s I can see on houses and signs as I pass by them. It keeps me engaged and interacting with my surroundings!
3. Switch up your snacks
It’s easy to fall into the habit of unhealthy snacking. I’ll be the first one to admit it—when I’m hungry, I’d rather satisfy my grumbling stomach with a Snickers bar than an apple. But these unhealthy snacks can add up throughout the day and really take a toll on your body’s ability to function. Processed sugar slows you down and inhibits your body’s natural functions. On the other hand, whole, unprocessed foods, like fruits and vegetables, act like a natural pick-me-up for your body.
So, instead of reaching for a processed snack, like cookies, candy, or chips, next time you’re hungry, try out a new fruit or vegetable. Nuts work great for satisfying hunger as well! My favorite snack mix is a handful of almonds and some cold honeycrisp apple slices. Go to the grocery store and see what interesting fruits and veggies you’d like to try out!
Tip: If you find it hard to naturally choose healthy snack options, try pre-packaging a few healthy “grab bags” at the beginning of the week and keep them in your fridge or pantry for easy access during the week. Keep these “grab bags” on hand when you feel the urge to snack coming on. Having a healthy snack option in an accessible form makes it easier to snack smart!
4. Pick up a new hobby
Hobbies that are active and/or outdoors-based are a great way to get in a little bit of exercise while doing something you enjoy. Gardening, tai chi, yoga, birdwatching, and fishing are all examples of hobbies that get you moving. These kinds of hobbies are not only fun, but also help you sneak in a little bit of exercise—the perfect balance!
If you don’t know where to start on a new hobby, there are many community programs that can help you get started. Organizations like the YMCA have great classes for seniors to begin learning hobbies like yoga, water aerobics, tai chi, and more. Organizations and programs vary by region and city, so you may have to do a bit of Googling to find out what works best in your area. There are groups of people all around you that you didn’t even know about who are willing to help you pick up a new hobby and thrive in your community!
Tip: If you’re not really a “hobby person,” or if you don’t know what hobby to choose, don’t give up before you even start. Make a goal to try a new activity or hobby every day for the next week—you might be surprised by what you like!
5. Don’t skip out on doctor’s visits
Many people feel like they don’t need to go to the doctor for regular visits if they feel healthy. However, there are many things going on in our bodies that doctors can pick up on much better than we can. We might feel healthy, but could be missing the warning signs of a serious condition. It is always a good idea to go to the doctor for a general well visit screening at least once every year. You can never be too careful!
If you are regularly going to the doctor’s, then good for you! You’re doing great. Encourage your friends and loved ones to also go to the doctor and get checked out, even if they dislike the doctor’s or feel healthy. Your support could make a world of difference in catching potentially threatening conditions.
Tip: If you find yourself struggling to make or keep appointments, tell someone close to you that you are going to the doctors on a certain day. Having someone know your plans helps keep you accountable. You’re more likely to follow through on plans if someone else knows about them. If this doesn’t work, ask them to go with you to your appointment. You can even go out for a fun treat afterwards as a reward!
We hope these tips help you keep the mission of National Healthy Aging Month in mind this September. These 5 tips are definitely not the only things you can do to be healthy, though! What are some little changes you’ve made in your life that help you live healthier? Do you have any tips or tricks for other people struggling to keep their health up to par? Tell us about it in the comments below! From all of us here at SkyBlue, wishing you health and happiness this September.