How long can a human being live? The answer used to be three score years and ten – 73 years. These days, more and more of us are living into our eighties, nineties or even hundreds. If you’ve got that much time ahead of you, you’ll want to be in a state to enjoy it. It has never been more important to stay as healthy as you can and fend off the problems we used to take for granted as part of later life. So how should you go about it?
Although there have been diet fads for centuries, public enthusiasm for healthy eating only really began to develop at the start of the 20th Century, and for decades it was viewed with suspicion. Only this century has it come to be seen as the normal, appealing choice. That’s partly because improvements in infrastructure have made it much easier to get access to fresh fruit and vegetables, and in far greater variety. It’s also because cultural prejudices against vegetarianism have broken down. Although a healthy diet can incorporate meat and dairy, most people have traditionally eaten far too much of it, so incorporating different types of food is a good move.
Sensible Diet Choices
In recent years, many different kinds of diet have come and gone, but some have turned out to do more harm than good. Cutting out carbohydrates may help with weight loss but it can also lead to liver and cardiac problems as well as severe dehydration. Cutting out dairy is good if you plan to stick to it, but if you do it completely for more than a few months, your body will never be able to digest it properly again. Almost everyone can benefit, however, from increasing their intake of fruit and vegetables, cutting down on alcohol and caffeine, and drinking more water.
Just as important as eating well is getting regular exercise. Experts recommend at least two half hour sessions per week of strength building exercises, such as push-ups, sit-ups or squats – it’s good to vary them to build up different muscles. This helps to fend off the muscular deterioration that’s common in later life. You should also aim to get in at least three hour-long sessions of cardiovascular exercise per week – during which your heart rate should speed up noticeably. This could mean going for a run, swimming, dancing, playing basketball or engaging in martial arts. It could also mean working out hard in your local gym or playing squash in your lunch hour.
Staying Safe When Exercising
Although exercise is good for you in the long term, it can put you at increased risk of accidents. To reduce this risk, always make sure you warm up your muscles first with stretching and massage. If you suffer a strain or sprain, take time off from your usual regime to let it recover. Websites like tommiecopper.com have a range of support garments such as compression stockings that provide support after an injury or reduce the risk of it happening in the first place. You should also make sure that you have proper footwear to reduce the risk of slipping or of subjecting your knees to too much repeated shock.
Alongside all this, there are other factors that can affect your health that many people overlook. Getting enough sleep and sleeping at the same time every night (or as often as reasonably possible) is very important. Reducing stress is important, which means it’s worth taking the time to see if you can reorganize your work and home life to make frequent tasks easier. Though it’s stressful in the short term, giving up smoking can boost your health enormously in the long term, and having at least two days a week when you don’t consume any alcohol at all lets your body repair damage more effectively.
Why It’s Worth It
Staying fit and healthy can literally add years to your life. Just by reducing you cholesterol, easy to do through diet and exercise, you can significantly reduce your risk of stroke, heart disease and certain types of cancer. Regular exercise can improve your circulation and maintain your lung function so that you’re less likely to find yourself getting out of breath in later life. Although everybody loses some muscle in old age, it’s a myth that energy levels have to decline. Take care of your health and your later years can be as active as those in the prime of your life.