“Health span” is just as important as lifespan. While ageing is inevitable, the onset of age-related disease is not; it can be delayed or even prevented. With simple lifestyle changes, anyone can enjoy their later years to the fullest.
An interesting phenomenon has been observed in recent years. There has been an increase in the average person’s life expectancy. People are not only living longer; they are also living more healthy lives for longer.
Quality of life does not have to quickly deteriorate with the ageing process. By taking care of our health, the best years of our lives can be ahead of us. Here are ways we can increase our health span with simple lifestyle changes:
What is ageing?
Ageing is a natural process that involves changes in the body’s structure and way of functioning. It is largely affected by lifestyle choices, which can change gene expression. DNA strands have a built-in clock that decreases cells’ replication and replacement over time. Damage caused by high stress, lack of sleep, alcohol, smoke, dehydration, and a poor diet leads to further dysregulation and a decline in tissue and organ function.
Keys to ageing well
Studies show that regular exercise prevents age-related conditions that affect quality of life, such as heart disease, reduced mobility, and impaired cognition. Exercise in the form of cardio, HIIT, and resistance training can be incorporated into daily routines.
A diet rich in good-quality proteins, healthy fats, and phytochemicals (found in vegetables) is proven to increase longevity.
- Foods high in omega-3, such as fatty fish and nuts, are recommended because of their anti-inflammatory properties. They are also helpful in their ability to nourish nerve cells in the brain.
- It is vital to keep bones strong by adding foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D, such as sardines, tofu, and mushrooms.
- It becomes increasingly beneficial to eat steamed vegetables as people age; this is because fewer digestive enzymes are secreted over time. Steamed vegetables also have an array of nutrients that are not available in their raw state.
- Phyto-estrogens provide support during the menopausal years and have been shown to assist with hormonal fluctuations. During menopause, aim for organic sources of soy, buckwheat, and seeds.
3. A balanced mindset
The first step to ageing well is understanding that every life stage can be enjoyable. Many people dread ageing because of the associations with age-related diseases. But many of these can be prevented or delayed, allowing people to live healthy, full lives well into old age.
4. Healthy priorities
What we prioritise can either enhance or diminish our lives as we grow older. It can be tempting to prioritise work or temporary pleasures over health sometimes. But the value of a long health span can’t be compared to anything else. It is important to prioritise mental and physical health.
5. Purpose-filled living
When we have a reason to live, we become invested in our health and longevity. This reason can be anything: family, passion projects, community, or simply enjoying each day. Aspirations need not be limited by age. And if we are uncertain about what we pour ourselves into, the process of finding a purpose can lead us to discover ourselves, which is one of life’s joys.
Society benefits when its elders are able to contribute the wealth of their knowledge, insight, and experience. This is even more possible when they are in good health. It’s never too late to begin taking care of ourselves.
Chiva-Som’s ageing well retreat
Chiva-Som’s ageing well programme combines diet, exercise, and lifestyle modification to help guests preserve their health in later years. Gentle physical activity builds core stability to prevent falls, as well as muscle strength and bone density. Biofeedback enhances emotional stability and the quality of sleep, while a healthy diet keeps the body and brain healthy.