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March 12, 2019 3 min read

Back when you were working full time and raising a family, you had an excuse not to be healthy: There simply wasn’t enough time for all the jogging and nutritious meal-cooking that being healthy entailed. But that’s all changed in retirement, when you’ve got all the hours you need, and then some. Besides that, each year that passes increases your risk of health conditions that you want nothing to do with, such as diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer. 

Warding those off takes a sincere dedication to diet and exercise, as well as other practices that keep your mind as fit as your body. As an added bonus, your days become more enjoyable thanks to higher levels of energy and greater independence. Here are some sure-fire ways to stay in form for the long haul.


Eating Right

You’ve heard it all before: Nutrient-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, ward off illness and keep you trim. What you may not have heard about is the psychological benefits of eating right, much of which comes down to what scientists call the gut-brain axis. 

It turns out that maintaining a healthy microbiome in your intestines results in a better mood, partly due to enhanced communication via the vagus nerve which runs between the gut and brain, as well as neurotransmitters produced in your digestive tract. Probiotics, which can be found in fermented foods as well as supplements, help maintain this microbiome, resulting in lower levels of stress and agitation.


Sleeping Well 

Getting enough Zs often becomes more difficult with age due to many factors, but it’s more important than ever. While slumbering, your brain consolidates new memories, and your body repairs damaged tissue, both of which are vital to your continued good health. If you’re having trouble sleeping or staying asleep, follow this advice from HelpGuide.


Seeing the Dentist

There’s more to bad oral hygiene than just bad breath. If you forget to brush and floss regularly, your mouth becomes a breeding ground for bacteria that can spread throughout the body, leading to cardiovascular disease, respiratory infections and even dementia.


As if that’s not frightening enough, there’s evidence that depression is also linked to unhealthy gums and chompers, which may be partly due to inflammation in your mouth triggering a similar response in your brain. Remember to see your dentist regularly, which is free if it’s part of your Medicare Advantage plan.


Moving Your Body

More well known is the role that physical activity has on mental health. During exercise, your brain releases endorphins, or neurotransmitters that provide feelings of satisfaction, and a daily dose of them is just what the doctor ordered. That’s in addition to the other benefits, such as staying trim and maintaining a strong immune system to ward off illnesses.


Working Your Mind

Don’t let your brain laze about, or it won’t stay sharp for long. Whether it’s through reading, learning a language or doing math the old-fashioned way, you’ll maintain a strong memory while warding off the early onset of dementia.


Hitting the Trails 

Bring that book along with you on your next hike; you may want to take a reading break under the sun. That’s right, it’s time to hit the trails. For one thing, it makes for a wonderful addition to your fitness routine, burning off calories with every step. That, in turn, gives you a healthier heart and lower blood pressure.


Learning to Relax 

A hike also does wonders for relieving stress, which can be a killer, according to Everyday Health. But there are other ways to chill out right in your own home if you’re feeling the world weigh you down. Draw a hot bath, listen to music, or just close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. That’ll help you find your calm place again.

Though not everything is in your control, much of your health truly is in your own hands. Start taking charge right now by eating a piece of fruit or going for a walk. It’s as simple as that.



Image via Pixabay.


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