When my youngest son was a toddler, he loved Fred Penner….I mean he absolutely IDOLIZED him! That was mostly good, except that twenty-seven years later, many of those songs have a way of creeping back into my head.
When I was asked if I would write a guest post on positive aging for Retirement and Good Living, Fred’s words once again sprang to the forefront of my mind.
“You can do it if you try, you can do it if you try, you can do do doodly do it if you try.”
Many of us know the basic research on longevity and aging well (as much of it is based on common sense). We just need reminders to try…and sometimes to creatively modify! When browsing the research on positive aging, you will typically find:
- Eat your vegetables.
- Get off the couch (i.e. stay physically active).
- Get your sleep.
- Manage your stress.
- Build a close network of family and friends.
- Find your purpose.
- Keep learning (i.e. stay mentally active).
- Help others.
- Maintain a positive mindset.
Regarding healthy living advice, many of us need prompts (sometimes frequently). More importantly, we need to prevent ourselves from putting things in the ‘too hard basket,’ or it’s twin ‘I’ve already failed at this basket’. Equally, we need the strength to pull things out of these baskets when they do end up in there.
Let’s take vegetables for example. Most food guides recommend a minimum of seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day. A cup of leafy greens or a half cup of fresh/frozen/canned fruit/veggies counts as one serving. Although dial-a-pizza can seem quicker and more convenient, even a vegetarian pizza usually offers less than one meal’s worth of vegetables. (American Institute for Cancer Research). But that doesn’t mean we need to give up on pizza altogether. Here’s where the modification part comes in…brilliantly.
Hankering pizza but want to maintain your seven-serve vegetable intake? If you’ve just dialed, why not steam up some extra veggies (yes they can originally be frozen) to add on top. Or make/order a side salad. Feeling supercharged and motivated? Why not do both? If watching your weight, remember that a typical delivery or frozen vegetarian pizza weighs in at 240—340 calories per slice, while a homemade version with whole wheat crust and reduced fat cheese often starts at 185 calories. (Livestrong)
Let’s try another. Alex, I’ll take ‘Get off the Couch’ for 200! Our muscles tend to become shorter and lose their elasticity as we age. But we don’t need to accept this fate. Even fifteen minutes of regular stretching each morning and before exercise can make a huge difference. So much so that most fitness experts agree that regular stretching is equally important to regular exercise.
Hate gyms and don’t have the commitment to stick to your own exercise routine? Why not try a yoga class? They are gender-neutral, available most places and at most levels. And most yoga instructors are gurus at helping you to modify movements that are right for you. I’m sure that there’s no one who has taken more advantage of this than me. Extended sitting in legs-crossed position = prop! Butterfly = another prop! Dreaded Downward-Facing Dog= two props. It’s gotten to the point that I’ve often entered the yoga studio, grabbed all the props that my arms could hold and then sheepishly asked the others, “no one else was hoping to use props today, were they?” It’s a good thing that my yoga studio offers a large stock of supplies! Once you get into a routine, you can easily practice yoga at home…or even on the beach!
Let’s do one more. Long for the peaceful sleep of childhood? You can modify for this too. Also, you can often combine this with another item off of the healthy aging list to get double benefits with one fell swoop. For example, instead of sleeping pills why not try a few natural remedies? Regular physical exercise is known to help improve sleep, just ensure you have completed all vigorous workouts four hours (or more) before bedtime. Also, be sure that there are no blue lights illuminating from your computer, television or phone as this form of light has been proven to interfere with sleep. You might also try reducing/eliminating your caffeine intake in the afternoon, not going to bed on a full stomach and investing in a good pillow/mattress.
It is important to make all positive aging and healthy living tips your own. We’ve reviewed a few examples of modifications together. I’d love to hear from you in the comment section on which healthy aging tips work best for you, and how you have modified them.
June 29, 2017 at 9:49 pm
Thank you to all at Retirement and Good Living for sharing this piece. Here are some comments that were left on my site for this post.
From Terri Webster Schrandt:
A great post to read, Donna, that has simple solutions for aging with health and wellness! Congrats on getting published in Retirement and Good Living!
From Jill Weatherholt:
These are great tips, Donna. Homemade pizza is the best!
From Ally Bean:
Who is Fred Penner, asks the child-free woman?
From Mona McGinnis:
This list can be applied to all stages of life. I maintain that retirement is a continuation of responsibilities and privileges. Even in retirement, we have to pay the bills and commit to our physical/mental health. We have the privilege of more time which can be a blessing and a curse (if we succumb to boredom). When asked what I would do in retirement, I often replied that those things I did before 8AM and after 5PM, I would do between 8 & 5. The truth is, I usually do them between 10 & 5.
From Anabel Marsh:
The only bit I always fail at is sleep. I’ve been a poor sleeper since young adulthood, and although I thought that would improve with having less stress in retirement, it hasn’t much. I have no trouble getting to sleep but wake up very early. I suspect the modification my body wants me to make is to go to bed in the early evening and get up at the crack of dawn. I don’t think that would do much for my social life (or my marriage) so I struggle on! When I do get a really good night’s sleep I feel so much better.
From Joanne Sisco:
Your Fred Penner was our Raffi. I still catch myself humming the occasional Raffi tune!
A great read, Donna. I’m grateful that I’ve always loved vegetables. I credit my mom who knew how to use seasonings and my dad’s large garden that kept us with fresh off-the-vine vegetables in the summer. We happily wandered into the garden to raid a handful of peas or beans to snack on between meals. That love has served me well over the years as a counterbalance to all my other bad habits.
… and the power of stretching should never be underestimated. It’s even more important as we age and our muscles shorten.
June 30, 2017 at 11:16 am
Great points! I don’t eat my veggies, but I do pretty well at the other things. I walk each day at the walking track at the Y and I’m usually one of the youngest people there. LOTS of seniors are trying to age positively there.
June 30, 2017 at 7:20 pm
You’re doing it right, Donna. We make our own vegetarian (and sometimes chicken, pesto and caramelized onions) pizzas and love them so much that we never feel the need to order pizza anymore. We have made this a Friday dinner habit with a glass of red wine. Yum. Favorite ingredients: broccoli, mushrooms, red onion and spinach. I think one pizza for both of us holds about ten veggie servings. Some of them do shrink!
Walking is an activity we enjoy, which is easily and daily combined with taking the dogs we sit out. Usually between 45-60 minutes. Not much time for more exercise, but we try to make up for that during the weekends.
July 1, 2017 at 5:41 am
The best thing I have done recently to get motivated to move, not just one 45 min effort but throughout the day is to get a Fitbit. I so love the motivation it gives me. I get a nudge at 10 minutes to every waking hour to get up and move (from my computer). It tells me my heart rate, resting and exercising. How many calories I use. If I want, it will also monitor my sleep patterns.
Thanks for all the other ideas here.
July 1, 2017 at 10:39 am
This is all good advice, Donna. I like the approach you’ve taken to not be discouraged about past failures or inability to do something unless modified. I’m taking this as a cue to give up the belief ‘all or nothing’ and like it!
July 2, 2017 at 7:40 pm
Great tips Donna and congratulations for getting published. The reminder of the importance of a good night’s sleep is paramount for aging gracefully. I found that out the hard way. Thank you for sharing this post with #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty.
July 2, 2017 at 9:54 pm
Hi Donna I’m a great believer in Positive Aging and not being defined by our age. You don’t have to be a marathon runner but keeping fit and active and eating a balanced diet will ensure you can make the most of life and also keep up with the grandchildren!
July 4, 2017 at 6:20 am
Ha! My oldest daughter was a Fred Penner fanatic too. She watched his morning TV program, and we had his albums and attended his concerts. To this day, hearing a Fred Penner tune cheers me right up. So even though I guess you could put Fred Penner under the “manage your stress” category, I think that he deserves his own place on your list, Donna!
July 4, 2017 at 11:45 pm
Thank you all for the great comments above. They’ve each added a new piece to the post! I greatly appreciate it!
July 5, 2017 at 4:56 pm
Positivity is so important as we’re aging. There’s no time like the present to enjoy life!