Inevitably, lifestyles, metabolisms, and bodies evolve as years pass. While the naturally biological process of aging cannot be avoided, good health at 60 is definitely possible.
Many of the same good health habits that promote vitality at a younger age also benefit you later in life. Yet, others may need an uplift. For example, the best diet for women over 60 may differ from the diet that most benefits a 20-year-old.
Moreover, good health habits for healthy aging place a bigger emphasis on relational, mental, and spiritual health and for good reason.
So, without further ado, here are the best health habits for the healthiest aging.
3 Good Health Habits for Healthy Aging
From diet to relationships, pick up these good health habits for good health at 60 and beyond.
In terms of energy content of diet, the jury is still out. Some studies show calorie restriction promotes longevity, while others suggest being overweight later life is protective of mortality.
Fret not, though, the nutritional quality of the diet tends to trump the caloric quantity. Seniors can ensure a quality diet by eating a nourishing breakfast, consuming protein with meals, and adopting a Meditarranean-style diet.
Eat A Nourishing Breakfast
Hormonally speaking, eating breakfast is vital for healthy aging. Starting out the day with a healthy dose of quality protein, fat, and fiber will help balance blood sugar. It also ensures consumption of energy and vital nutrients.
Loss of appetite can diminish with age, and it can become easier to forget to eat and nourish the body. But eating a healthful breakfast can kick start metabolism and lead to further good health habits throughout the rest of the day.
While the classic American breakfast of donuts sounds enticing, it can be a dangerous recipe for managing good nutrition and blood sugar. Instead, opt for something similar to 1 to 2 eggs and whole wheat toast with avocado. Fruit or unsweetened oatmeal with nut butter and protein powder is also a great option.
Consume Protein with Every Meal
Protein is not only important to eat alongside a favorite fiber source at breakfast. Because muscle mass tends to decrease with age, it is even more imperative to ensure adequate protein.
Aging populations should focus on consuming lean sources of protein, including:
- Skinless chicken breast
- Fish and seafood such as canned tuna, salmon, shrimp, and tilapia
- Lean ground meats such as beef, chicken, and turkey
- Red meats containing the phrase loin
- Beans and legumes
Eating lean proteins protects from muscle loss while reducing the risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Create this good health habit by aiming for 1 to 1.2 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. While this may seem like a large amount, eating protein with meals and snacks can help achieve this target with ease.
Eat a Mediterranean-Style Diet
Ample research touts the health benefits of the popular Mediterranean Diet. This eating patterns focuses on the following healthy aspects:
- Consume lean sources of meat (mostly white and seafood sources) with less than 2 grams of saturated fat per serving.
- Eat plenty of different colored fruits and vegetables. Achieve this by making half the plate veggies at meals and snacking on fruit and a fat or protein source.
- Healthy fats including all unrefined/unprocessed sources like nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oil, grass fed butter, and coconut oil.
- Quality starch (carbohydrate) foods like whole wheat breads and pastas, brown rice, quinoa, and beans and legumes.
In addition, the Mediterranean diet is high in polyphenols like antioxidants. These target free radicals known to enhance risk of chronic diseases and health problems.
On the other hand, this way of eating is low in processed foods, refined sugar, high-fat red meat, and highly oxidative fats.
Portion control is still important, but this diet is so nutritive, aim to include most of these good healthy habits liberally.
Exercise and physical activity is a good healthy habit that spans a lifetime. However, the type and time recommendations tend to shift with age and in older adults.
Also referred to as cardio, aerobic exercises elevate heart and breathing rates, as well as burn calories. In turn, this can lead to a number of health benefits such as:
- Counter against high blood pressure
- Better heart function
- Enhanced memory and overall cognition
- Protection against congestive heart failure
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight
To absorb the most benefit, aim for 30 minutes of light- to moderately-intense cardio 3 to 4 times weekly. Excellent cardio exercises include walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming.
Otherwise known as resistance or weight-bearing exercise, this type of movement is undoubtedly beneficial for anyone at any age. Strengthening exercise moves force you to work against gravity.
Resistance training at least 2 to 3 times a week helps preserve muscle mass. It also protects against bone loss and keeps bones strong, thus reducing fall risk.
The best anaerobic programs target all major muscle groups with compound exercises to inherently involve more than one muscle or muscle group. Look for trainers and/or exercise advice that provide modifications for moves to stay safe. Executing proper form or modifying a move to abilities is safer and more effective for the long-term.
Also included as a segment of strength training, yoga practices or pilates can improve health physically, mentally, and emotionally. Such benefits include reduced stress, a sharpened mind, and preserved muscle mass.
Maybe surprising, but relationships and social connections keep seniors healthy! Human connectedness can protect against mortality, too.
Creating supportive relationships is key to enjoying life, and research shows they enhance quality of life. Sustaining relationships may also increase longevity, especially in the older population.
However, the protective effects of human relationships against mortality does depend on age. Whereas, marriage is connected to lowering the risk of mortality within the general population, this effect actually diminishes as age increases.
Rather, socio expressive relationships with friends and family and religious or spiritual participation decrease mortality risk in older populations. Moreover, functional measures like the quality of the aforementioned relations make a difference as well. Thus, meaningful relationships elicit a greater benefit than quantity of relations.
To achieve good health at 60 and beyond, consider participating or engaging in the following (also keeping quarantine protocols in mind):
- Talking with friends and relatives on the phone often
- Eating meals or snacks with loved ones via Zoom or Facetime
- Attending church services or watching online with a loved one/spouse
- Joining a book club or another club organization
- Volunteering for a favorite local organization (when they resume safely)
- Calling an older friend once a week
- Getting a dog or cat (do not discount the relationships you can build with animals!)
- Asking for assistance or seeking a caregiver figure if needed
- Learning a new skill with your partner or another friend
- Making it a point to tell at least one person a week how you are truly feeling and doing
Certain aspects of relationships lead to the most protection against mortality. And, overall, good health habits for people over 60 include forming solid, supportive relationships.
Creating good health habits at age 60 is not only possible, it can also be simple. Focusing on a nutrient-dense and balanced diet, targeted exercise, and quality relationships is a solid starting point.
Consuming a nutrient-dense diet is one of the most important good health habits people over 60 can implement. Focus on quality protein, healthful fats, tons of fiber, and plenty of colorful fruits and veggies.
Also engage in aerobic and resistance exercise, as well as including balance exercises. Physical activity greatly helps preserve muscle and bone mass, in addition to preventing chronic heart disease and improving memory.
Finally, one of the most fun good health habits… Building supportive, meaningful relationships! Such connections are proven to help one live longer and truly enjoy aging years.
Even though the physical body inescapably changes as you age, your health doesn’t have to suffer.
Healthy eating over 60. Healthdirect Australia. www.healthdirect.gov.au/healthy-eating-over-60.
Sabin, Edward P. Social Relationships and Mortality Among the Elderly. Journal of Applied Gerontology, vol. 12, no. 1, 1993, pp. 44–60., doi:10.1177/073346489301200105.
Shlisky, Julie, et al. Nutritional Considerations for Healthy Aging and Reduction in Age-Related Chronic Disease. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, vol. 8, no. 1, 11 Jan. 2017, doi:10.3945/an.116.013474.