Adding quality &years to your life

Published 7:50 pm Monday, November 23, 2009

Have you ever wondered, “How long will I live?” For years many people believed that their genetic make-up was the key factor in determining how long they would live, and they often used references to their parents or grandparents ages as proof that they would live a short or longer life based on the ages of their family members.
But the truth is genetics, while a contributing factor in your longevity, is far less important to both your quantity and quality of life than your lifestyle. Heres a list of 10-suggestions, things you can do to change the quality of your life, which should be far more important than just adding years to a life if its a life of pain, prescriptions and problems.
1. Stay physically active. Exercise, even if its just a daily 30-minute walk around the block. Exercise improves your attitude, strengthens your muscles and bones, and improves your balance and mental sharpness.
2. Dont retire. If you love your job, why walk away? Negotiate a part-time or flex schedule with your current employer, or if youd rather, consider some excellent alternatives like volunteering as a Foster Grandparent or at the local animal shelter. Doing this keeps you moving physically and mentally, and helps you stay socially engaged.
3. Floss your teeth every day. The American Dental Assn. has been telling us for years that periodontal disease can be a contributor to cardiac problems due to bacteria in the mouth that can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation in the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease.
4. Sleep is as important as exercise. Sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle. How much sleep you need is often determined by the demands made on our bodies. Most of us require a minimum of 6-hours and some as many as 8-hours to recharge our bodies and brains.
5. Get your vitamins from nutritious foods, not pills. There is very little scientific evidence that many of the over the counter supplements we take like beta-carotene, vitamins C and E or selenium will slow down your aging process. But there is strong evidence that empty calorie foods junk foods are just that, junk. They pack on pounds but do nothing for your nutrition or health, and they dont slow the aging process.
6. Get regular with those whole grain products in the morning. Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. Most of us fast 7 to 12 hours overnight, and our bodies need to be refueled. Start your day with whole grain cereals and breads not sugary junk. The fiber in whole grains helps keep you regular, and provides complex carbohydrates for energy, plus they can help stabilize blood sugar levels in some people.
7. Learn to manage your stress levels. Stress is a normal part of life. But too much stress taxes our minds and bodies in ways that can negatively impact our health.
8. Treat your body like the temple it is. You have only one body, notwithstanding the new parts being made available to us through medical technology. Its better to take care of the original “factory installed” body parts than to have to go through the stress, expense, pain and time of getting them replaced.
9. Make it a habit to practice good habits. While our bodies are designed to handle changes, challenges and the occasional shock to the system, they are best equipped to thrive on structure regular care and good daily habits. Eat a good, sensible diet virtually every day, be consistent with your exercise and with your schedule for sleeping and awakening each day. Our bodies can handle surprises, but thrive on consistent good habits.
10. Continue to stay socially engaged. Socialization with friends and loved ones is one of the best ways to avoid depression. Losses occur as we age, making the concept of meeting new people, building and maintaining relationships critical, particularly for the elderly who may have lost spouses. Seeing friends is a great way to incorporate exercise, and the fun of having a partner encourages you to participate in exercise. Remember, to have a friend – just be a friend, itll make you both happier.
Thats it, simple steps that if followed, can almost guarantee you not just a longer life, but a quality of life that makes living longer more enjoyable. Until next time, be well and prosper.
Ron Kauffman is a Certified Senior Advisor, radio talk show host and an expert on issues of aging and care giving. He is the author of Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimers Disease, which is available at www.seniorlifestyles.net. He can be reached at 561-626-4481 or by email at drron407@bellsouth.net.~ Senior Lifestyles written by Ron Kauffman.