Knowing how to be healthy in midlife and doing what it takes to maintain your health can make the difference between enjoying your later years or taking the slippery slope toward premature aging, degenerative diseases, and the seemingly unavoidable aches and frailty.
Even though aging is natural, there is much you can do to slow its effects. The earlier you start improving your health, the greater the benefits. For many, taking steps to make this happen is not as easy as it sounds.
According to the Commonwealth Report, the U.S. spends more per capita on health care than other countries, yet it ranks last for health care performance and healthy living compared to six other industrialized nations.
It may be tempting to blame the health care system, but the undeniable cause of much illness is our modern lifestyle.
Despite a wealth of available resources to educate and support us in building good health, our choices are often health damaging instead of health nurturing.
The good news is, that although some of the perils of modern life are beyond our direct control, there is much you can personally do to increase your odds of enjoying vitality and good health over 40 and for many years to come.
These 10 healthy habits of mind and body are key for how to be healthy in midlife and beyond.
1-Cultivate a wellness mindset. Your beliefs about health and what you say to yourself and others plays a big part in how you take care of yourself. Just as you are what you eat, you are what you think.
One important belief is that you have the primary responsibility for your well-being. The sooner you accept that your health is in your hands and and make it a priority, the better.
Remind yourself that it is easier to stay healthy than to try to turn around a health condition. Treasure and nurture your good health. That starts in your mind with the decisions you make. Unfortunately, people do not usually pay much mind to their health until their health is at risk. Imagine how good your quality of life would be like now and in the future if your well-being was top priority? What would it be like if, for the most part, if you were already practicing healthy habits in mind, body and spirit as a lifestyle?
This idea of cultivating wellness, making life supporting choices, and assuming responsibility for your well-being is key. It is behind all of the following suggestions for how to be healthy in midlife and beyond.
Take small steps. It's human nature to discount small steps and think we have to make big changes and take radical actions to improve our health. Unfortunately, that mindset often leads to no change at all. Unless you are very ill and have to do a major health overhaul to save your life, taking small consistent steps will probably work best in the long run.
The Japanese word "kaizen", means the practice of continuous improvement. People in general are uncomfortable with change and resist it over time. The idea behind kaizen is to continuously implement small, almost unnoticeable positive changes that don't force you to rely on massive amounts of will power or disciple. Over time, these small upgrades add up to real change and improvements in your habits and lifestyle.
Minimize toxic exposure and detoxify mentally and physically. Completely eliminating your exposure to toxins is not possible, but it is easy to reduce it. It is an ongoing healthy habit that is important to all aspects of your health and well-being.
Our bodies take in hundreds of toxins through air, food, and water. They generate toxins through natural metabolic processes and when we stress ourselves with negativity and worry. Our bodies are designed to handle some toxins, but not the excessive amounts common in modern living.
You can greatly help your body by supporting natural detoxification processes, avoiding chemicals and EMF waves, and reducing stress. A very easy starting step is to replace your chemical household and personal products with green products that are safe for you, your family, and the environment.
Breathe. Practicing proper breathing is an easy change to make. Cultivate the healthy habit of taking deep breath breaks throughout the day to relieve stress and oxygenate your blood.
Take a slow, deep, gentle breath into your abdomen through your nose and release it through your nose or mouth. If you feel stressed, let it out with a whoosh or ahh and drop your shoulders. Breathe like a sleeping baby does. You may have to practice laying down if you need to with hands on your abdomen. No shoulder lifting! Bring in fresh oxygen through your nose and release stale toxic air on the exhale.
Stand up and move. Too much sitting is the nemesis of how to be healthy and can actually shorten your life. If you are a desk worker or coach potato, make a point of getting up for a few minutes at least every hour. Set an alarm if you need to. Stand up, take a walk, shake it out, just do something other than sit.
Practice Healthy Habits. Consistently making healthy choices promotes mental and physical well-being.You greatly reduce your risks of health problems common in midlife and beyond, such as premature aging and degenerative lifestyle diseases like arthritis, heart, disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Top healthy habits to enjoy:
Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity, and the hormone imbalances and insulin resistance that often accompanies it, are underlying causes of many serious diseases and shorter life spans. As obesity rates rise, so does the incidence of Type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, with the waning hormones and slower metabolism of midlife and beyond, keeping off excess pounds becomes more challenging.
With perseverance and well researched tactics, you can lose weight and keep it off.
Nurture your soul and spirit. It may be important to know how to be healthy physically, yet is is just as important, if not moreso, to know how to be healthy in mind and spirit. Many experts believe that wellness of spirit is a big part of holistic health and healing if for no other reason than being a great stress reliever.
The popular quote, "Live, Love, Laugh", contains great wisdom. Let your inner child come out and play from time to time. Do something you love and to be with people and pets you love every day. Listen to your spirit and what it needs. Forgive. Love and accept yourself. Commune with nature and the divine. Practice being present in the now. Nurture your spirit in these ways for whole self wellness.
Reduce Stress. Following the keys for how to be healthy physically will reduce the amount of stress you body has to deal with because of inadequate nutrients, toxic overload and poor circulation. A healthier body is also more resistant to the effects of mental stress.
Unfortunately, many of us live in such a continuous state of mental and emotional stress, that it is very hard on our bodies. You may be so used to it that you do not even realize how stressed you are! It will eventually catch up with you as premature aging and illness, not to mention quality of life.
One of the most important ways to stay healthy is to keep dis-stress to a minimum.
Practice prevention. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure when it comes to good health at any age. Giving in to poor lifestyle choices may be the easiest, most enjoyable road in the short run, but eventually those choices catch up with us, especially as we get older.
It is easier to avoid damage than to fix it, to stay well than to reverse disease. Prevention is not just about disease, however, but about minimizing your risk for injury and early death.
Top risky behaviors to avoid include:
I'm not going to tell you that eliminating substance abuse is easy, but it is certainly worth it. Seek professional help if you need it.
As you implement these basics of how to be healthy over time using the kaizen approach, you will find that you have done much to get and stay healthy. Your health lifestyle choices and habits will look much different than they did a year ago.
Feel free to experiment and choose tips from these pages for mind body spirit health that you can implement easily. Make it fun. Make it an adventure. Don't underestimate the importance of any of them.
Cultivating habits for holistic health over 40 (or at any age) is a mindset and a process. Make these how to be healthy habits part of your life. They will help keep you well, and help you become even healthier in midlife and beyond.