September 12, 2019
Healthy Nutrition and Exercise Plans for Seniors
September is Healthy Aging Month. Read about nutrition and exercise plans that support healthy aging.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important at all stages of life, but especially for seniors. According to the Institute on Aging, the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight after the age of 70 include increased mobility, lower chances of a heart attack or stroke, less inflammation and lower rates of depression.
Healthy Nutrition Plans
Seniors should aim to eat a nutritionally balanced diet that incorporates protein, healthy fats, carbs and fiber. The National Council for Aging Care reports that many seniors lack variety in their diets or have reduced food intake, causing them to miss out on micronutrients that contain vitamins and minerals. Creating a balanced meal with a variety of ingredients is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Simple ways to benefit your diet:
- Aim to eat five servings of fruits or vegetables per day. Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber which increase digestion and can help with weight loss.
- Incorporate various protein sources into meals such as beans, fish and meat. Protein provides sustenance in between meals and is an important building block of bones, muscle and blood.
- Opt for whole grain options such as whole grain breads, cereals and pastas. These nutritionally-packed foods provide protein, fiber, B vitamins and antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity.
- Add healthy fats to meals such as avocado, nuts, olive oil and coconut oil. Healthy fats promote brain function, support heart health and can lower cholesterol levels.
- Increase your calcium intake with milk, cheese and yogurt. Calcium sources help our bodies build and maintain healthy bones and have been known to lower blood pressure.
In addition to eating a nutritionally balanced diet, it is essential for seniors to stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to confusion, headaches and drowsiness. Aim to drink eight glasses of water throughout the day.
Adding physical activity to a healthful diet is extremely beneficial. Seniors who exercise have increased bone density, reduced risk of heart attack or stroke, reduced risk of developing dementia, and more confidence and independence. If you have not been a frequent exerciser, it may feel overwhelming to begin an exercise routine later in your life. You can begin your exercise routine by starting with a shorter duration such as ten to fifteen minutes per day, and gradually increasing it to 30 minutes as you become stronger.
How to add exercise into your routine:
- Walk for 30 minutes per day. If 30 minutes is a challenging length, break it down into three separate 10-minute walks throughout the day. Walking is a low-impact way to increase heart and joint health.
- If walking is too stressful on your joints, try swimming or doing stretches in a seated position. These movements will increase mobility and joint health.
- If you enjoy a community aspect during exercise, try an exercise class for senior citizens in your area. These are great opportunities that benefit your physical health and allow you to socialize and meet new people.