5 things you should be doing to ensure good health in old age

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Fact: The average life expectancy of women in Australia is 87.1 years*. You don’t need me to tell you that is a pretty good run. But will it be a healthy one? Well, that’s up to us!

If you pay attention to some key areas of your health now, you’ll reap the rewards in your old age. It’s never too late to start – whether you’re in your 20s, 40s or 60s, the time to get ahead is now…

1.Walk where you can

Walking is arguably better than running in several ways. It’s low-stress, low-impact and best of all, practical – it gets you where you need to go! Studies have also linked it to a myriad health benefits, including improved heart health and a lower risk of stroke. So, while those health tips telling you to get off the bus a stop early might seem silly, every extra step helps. 10,000 steps a day is a good distance to aim for. Go on then, get moving!

2.Embrace the ‘batwing’

You know that ‘old man’ stoop your grandpa has? That’s often the direct result of years of poor posture. Hunching over your laptop, desk and/or steering wheel tightens your muscles over time. To prevent this, try an exercise that takes less than a minute (without getting sweaty or rolling around on the floor). Steps:

  1. Find a wall, stand a foot from it and lean back against it.
  2. Press your elbows into the wall and bring your thumbs up to your armpits.
  3. Hold for 10 seconds, relax and repeat.

Do this a few times every day and your scapula will thank you for it!

Image credit: redefiningstrength.com

3.Build some strength

Cardio fitness isn’t enough to take you effortlessly to old age. Studies show resistance exercise (so, anything that involves lifting or pulling) is also vital for strengthening bones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis and, surprisingly, even dementia. Press-ups and pull-ups are a good start, and you can do them while you watch TV or wait for the kettle to boil. Multiple, short sets (with a few reps on the minute, every minute, for 10 minutes) are a good option, but if you’re in a rush, one quick set before your morning shower is better than nothing! 

4.Stand up regularly 

We all know sitting isn’t exactly good for us, but the fact is, many of us have desk jobs. Unless you have a standing desk (in which case, high five), try to stand up four times an hour, every hour. This way, you’ll combat constricted circulation, tight muscles and sleepy glutes – and also stop yourself from falling into a stupor. 

5.Do ‘loaded carries’

Walking with a heavy backpack or load of supermarket shopping is arguably better than a bench press session, in that it’ll activate more muscles, force your lower back to work and even improve your grip (a key indicator of health in old age). Carrying a litre of water with you has the dual benefit of keeping you hydrated. Similarly, helping your friends move house will score you brownie points and better health!

*Statistic taken from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study.

Do you follow any of these health tips already? What other advice do you have for ageing fabulously?

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