Living a healthy lifestyle is essential no matter what age you are. It’s particularly important for older people, however, as simple infections such as the flu or common cold can lead to secondary infections and complications. Someone with a chronic underlying condition such as diabetes or asthma could be at serious risk due to these complications.
Taking steps to strengthen your immune system and improve your fitness can reduce the likelihood of serious illness and help you stay healthy for longer. Consider the following tips to get yourself on the road to living a healthier lifestyle for many years to come.
1. Get more physical activity
Being physically active can help to boost the immune system. Being active helps the body fight inflammation and reduces the risk of infections taking hold. Physical activity doesn’t have to mean strenuous exercise. Light, low-impact exercise can be beneficial for those who were previously sedentary or those that are less mobile than they once were.
Activity can mean walking, swimming, riding a bike or even just getting out and doing some gardening. Try to get some exercise for at least 20 to 30 minutes every day, or a total of 150 minutes a week. In addition to that, do some weights or yoga to build strength.
The type of exercise doesn’t matter so much as the effects it offers. A mix of cardiovascular and strength building exercise is best. Whatever exercise you enjoy and are going to stick to is a good choice.
2. Supplements can be a good addition to your healthy lifestyle
Talk to your doctor about adding some supplements to your routine. Useful dietary supplements can include calcium, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. There’s no need to take mega doses, but taking enough to ensure you’re not deficient in those nutrients can be a good idea.
Supplements can interact with prescription medication, which is why it’s so important to seek professional medical advice first.
3. Take care of your diet
Supplements aren’t a substitute for a good diet. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, choose lean meats, and try to stay away from processed sugars and excessive amounts of fats. Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants which can protect your cells from damage and protect your health.
Try to avoid alcohol as much as possible. Excessive drinking can put you at risk of many different health problems.
4. Practice good hygiene
Hand washing is something that is all too often overlooked. Viruses can live on doorknobs and other surfaces for up to 24 hours. If you touch a contaminated surface with your hands, then touch your eyes or face, or handle food, you could become ill.
Wash your hands with warm soapy water, paying attention to the fingernails and the area between your fingers too. It should take at least 20 seconds to finish washing your hands, and you should do so after using the toilet, when you return home from shopping or work, and before eating. Try to get out of the habit of touching your face with your hands.
Carry hand sanitizer with you for those times when you can’t wash your hands.
5. Find ways to cope with stress
Stress causes the body to release cortisol, and this can interfere with your mood, your ability to sleep, and your immune system. Find ways to manage stress, whether that’s through sleep, meditation, exercise or engaging in hobbies.
6. Get more sleep
While you’re sleeping your body repairs itself. Getting enough sleep is essential to your well-being. Having a regular and adequate sleep pattern can also help reduce stress, improve mental clarity and boost your mood. Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night.
If you struggle to get enough sleep, try cutting back on caffeine, exercising during the day, and setting a regular bed time. If those things don’t help, you may have sleep apnea or some other issue impairing your ability to sleep. Talk to a doctor for assistance.
7. Don’t skip regular vaccines
If you’re eligible for the flu vaccine, it may be worth getting one. The strains of flu that are active vary from year to year, so it’s worth getting re-vaccinated regularly. While doctors can’t guarantee the vaccine will match the strains you’re exposed to, when they do line up the vaccine can reduce your risk of flu by between 40 and 60%.
Other vaccines are available for pneumonia and meningitis. Ask your doctor if it makes sense to get those vaccines.