We all understand that with age comes decline. But many people experience physical and mental health problems and social isolation at an early age. They might still have many decades left to go. How can you enjoy longevity if you don’t have the good health that should go with it? Here are some practices to help you become stronger on all fronts:
The case for strength in old age
In the developed world, aging presents a two-fold problem. On one hand, our average life expectancy is high, thanks to advances in medicine and reduced child mortality. On the other hand, advances in technology have created a lifestyle that’s increasingly driven by comfort, convenience, and instant gratification.
Put together, those factors create an unusual conflict. We live longer lives, but our lifestyles have become sedentary. We enjoy greater affluence and access to information, but our bodies have become weak, and our minds accustomed to passive consumption.
When you retire and cease to earn further income, you hope to live out your golden years in content. But poor physical and mental health reduces your quality of life and your capacity to enjoy your retirement. The arising complications will place a more significant strain on your financial resources.
As a result, many people are holding off retirement; they continue to work and build up their savings and benefits. Again, this emphasizes the underlying tension between extended lifespan and one’s ability to enjoy those added years.
Get out and about
Most people associate strength with physical fitness. This aspect of strength is highly relevant to aging. Studies have shown that most working adults can only expect ten years of good health after age 50. Being overweight in middle age dramatically increases your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Regardless of age, staying in shape is a significant health goal. You don’t have to sculpt your body or chase personal records in activities such as weightlifting or running. Simply getting up and going about for a walk around the block each day will increase your baseline of physical activity.
Aiming for a healthy weight is a more realistic goal for everyone. Getting there will require consistency. You can’t just go to the gym for a week or two then drop out of training. No matter what workout routine you choose, you’ll only get results if you stick with it over time. And you’ll also need to follow proper nutrition. Thus, maintaining your health will require you to form good habits for life.
Continue to learn
However, strength should also encompass our mental capabilities. You might have seen an elderly relative or neighbor having to move into a dementia residential care home. Their bodies might be strong, but their minds proved to be unreliable over the years.
Although heredity, accidents, and other risk factors can affect your mental health as you age, there are other things you can do to offset these influences. Nothing helps more in this regard than becoming a lifelong learner.
By merely staying cognitively active and retaining your curiosity about the world, you can reduce the risk of age-associated mental illness. Become an avid reader. Try your hand at some new hobbies. Seek to learn, practice, and master new skills.
By doing these things, you’ll strengthen your mind. Start earlier in life, and you can expand your career (and earning) opportunities. As you become more skilled in conversation, you can even enjoy better relationships. Mental strength thus helps enhance your appreciation of life.
Impart value to others
At some point, age can be liberating. You no longer experience the pressure to attain certain career milestones or compete for status. Free from this influence, you can turn your efforts towards meaningful work. Thus, older people will often change their careers. This time, you get to follow your passion.
Working with purpose allows you to continue giving back to the community, and society in general. By finding an occupation that is genuinely aligned with your values and capabilities, you make meaningful contributions. The experience you’ve gained over a long life can enable you to impart value that might be missing when younger people handle the same job.
You can also provide mentorship and guidance to those younger generations. Using your age as an asset, you continue to create value. In turn, your community will continue to support you. This is a form of strengthening your social capital.
Engage in these practices to boost your strength in many ways, well before you reach your final chapter in life. This will help you balance longevity with the ability to enjoy and appreciate those extra years.