In the simplest sense, aging well centers on establishing healthy patterns before the progressive effects of age take hold. Physically, this means conditioning the body for strength and flexibility – components of mobility. Cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness go towards energy and stamina. Often overlooked is the importance of rest and sleep, during which your body can recover from the burdens of stress and physical wear. Mental awareness/acuity is also assisted by exercise, especially if it requires focus and form. Critically, good nutrition is the foundation for maximizing all of the benefits of physical conditioning, with the added benefit of strengthening the body’s natural defenses against disease.
It is important to realize that there is no such thing as not aging. The intent here is to take steps that proactively aid in healthier aging. Contrary to passing thought, fitness programs and/or the concept of good nutrition are not the problem. Most fitness programs do not take a lot of time, nor are they too difficult, and most people know the benefits of healthy eating. The major roadblock seems to be that of replacing old (bad) habits with new (good) ones. Unfortunately, many people who initially embrace the need to change will ultimately return to their previous habits. In this sense, they view the components of healthy aging as only transient solutions, not collectively as a lifestyle that assists in maintaining good health.
Our experiences and observations in aging are interesting. I have to admit that I’ve been fortunate with regards to aging well. At over 50, I’m rarely sick, get around fairly well and can still maintain reasonable thought – essentially, in fairly good health. I attribute these things to a number of habits that all work in combination. The truly strange thing is that these routines are pretty much unconscious; they are just things I’ve been doing for years. For instance, I’ve always cooked, which starts with grocery shopping and ends in having much control over my nutritional intake. I’ve always performed exercise programs on a fairly routine basis. But even without working out, I’ll get up and move around throughout the day, which has the added benefit of letting me collect/digest my thoughts while working at a desk. Most significantly, I don’t really feel old and still approach many things – both physically and mentally – as I did 20 years ago.