by: The My Medicare Matters Team
You’ve probably heard a lot about wellness in the past few years—from “wellness initiatives” in the workplace to fitness classes promising that they will “restore your wellness.” Healthcare plans emphasize wellness now too—Medicare covers an annual wellness visit as well as a variety of other preventive health services. But what exactly is wellness, and how can you implement it in your everyday life?
Wellness refers to the pursuit of a healthy, balanced lifestyle focused on both the mind and the body. Pursuing wellness also means following healthy aging strategies, and implementing lifestyle changes that can prevent diseases before they occur. According to the CDC, about half of all American adults have one or more chronic conditions (such as heart disease, stroke and obesity). Even worse, around 70% of Americans die from chronic diseases and conditions each year–many of which are completely preventable. By focusing on preventing diseases before they occur, people of all ages can live healthier and happier lives. So what are some tried and true strategies for achieving wellness in your life? Check out our 7 tips below.
1. Eat right
For most adults this means at least 400 grams (5 portions) of fruits and vegetables a day, as well as five to eight 8-oz. glasses of water. It is also important to keep your sugar intake low and to avoid highly processed foods that contain lots of sugar, fat, and salt. Try using spices and fresh herbs for flavor in your favorite dishes (rather than extra butter or fried coatings) and consider swapping less healthy ingredients for their vegetarian version, such as zucchini noodles instead of regular pasta. To increase your water intake (and decrease sugar), try subbing homemade flavored water for soda. Just add whatever natural ingredients you like to your next glass of water, such as lemon juice, cucumbers, fresh mint/basil, or strawberries.
2. Stay active—in a way that’s fun for you
You’re more likely to stick with an athletic activity that you actually enjoy, so consider walking with a friend, trying a group dance class, going for a hike, or anything else that appeals to you. You can start with just 10 minutes a day, and eventually try building towards 30 minutes or more of daily exercise. Every little bit helps.
3. Try meditation
New studies have shown that meditation may prevent mental deterioration, keeping your brain healthy as you age. Meditation is also a proven way to reduce stress and anxiety, leading to better overall health and quality of life.
4. Learn a new skill
Try learning a new skill that requires concentration, creative thinking and memorization, like chess, crossword puzzles, or writing poetry. It’s never too late to master that skill you always wanted to have—piano playing perhaps, or speaking French? Daily mental exercise helps you stay sharp and prevents cognitive decline.
Volunteering has been proven to boost happiness, and is also a great way to bond with friends and meet new people in your community (another proven factor in achieving wellness). Find a few hours a month and pick an activity that appeals to you and will keep you coming back.
6. Learn more about fall prevention
Every 15 seconds, an adult 50+ is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Falls are also a leading cause of fractures and traumatic brain injuries. Prevent falls and injury by removing loose carpets or throw rugs around your house. Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter, and use night-lights in hallways and bathrooms. You can learn more here.
7. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Many people don’t realize that your skin actually gets thinner and more susceptible to sunburn (and therefore skin cancer) as you age. Each year more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the US, over 90 percent of which are caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UVR). Make sure to wear a high SPF sunscreen that protects against UVR rays, and always reapply every few hours.