(BPT) - A health renaissance is taking place in America as more people are embracing aging well and being proactive rather than reactive about their well-being. Prevention has become the focus, and many aging Americans are turning to time-tested methods for keeping their bodies and minds healthy so they can live longer, higher-quality lives.
Kristen Johnson, certified personal trainer, registered dietician and nutrition expert at www.ontargetliving.com points out five time-tested strategies for aging well:
'Daily movement is the real fountain of youth. It keeps us healthy from the inside out,' says Johnson.
She notes that quality over quantity is what really matters.
'When it comes to improving overall fitness, high-intensity exercise for a short amount of time may be much more beneficial than low intensity for a long amount of time,' Johnson says. 'Research suggests that fat-burning hormones like human growth hormones and testosterone are stimulated by high-intensity exercise, while fat-storing hormones like cortisol may be lowered. Try increasing the intensity and frequency of your exercise, while decreasing the time spent.'
The foods you eat influence how you look and feel, from glowing and confident to lethargic and sick. Selecting foods that people have eaten historically as nutritional powerhouses can help boost overall wellness.
'Superfoods are nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, ancient grains, healthy fats and lean proteins,' says Johnson. 'These foods naturally contain high amounts of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which all contribute to healthy aging.'
A few to focus on:
* Carrots, squash and sweet potatoes are extremely beneficial for eye and skin health, thanks to high levels of beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A.
* Any brightly colored fruits and vegetables will have an abundant amount of antioxidants, and these help prevent oxidation and cell damage. Examples: raspberries, kale and cabbage.
* Carbohydrates like healthy grains, beans and potatoes help you produce serotonin, a calming and satiety hormone that helps fight stress and anxiety's negative effects.
Supplements help fill nutritional gaps, especially as the aging body requires greater amounts of certain vitamins and minerals. Johnson points out the importance of omega-3s for aging well.
'Omega-3 fats are essential for getting you healthy from the inside out, all while helping improve hormonal balance, brain health, weight loss and metabolism,' she says. 'Omega-3 fats are also extremely helpful for healthy skin, hair and nails.'
Her favorite? Nordic Naturals Cod Liver Oil. 'This contains EPA and DHA, both of which contribute to a healthy heart and brain,' she says. 'Cod liver oil also helps improve cellular function, energy and mood. Did you know cod liver oil can actually taste good? Try their delicious orange flavor.'
'Chronic lack of sleep is one of the fastest ways to age the human body,' Johnson says. 'Lack of sleep can have a huge impact on the appearance of skin, causing fine lines, wrinkles and dark under-eye circles. Not getting enough sleep can also cause your body to release a stress hormone called cortisol.'
She notes that adequate sleep can positively influence cognitive ability, mood, weight loss and skin rejuvenation, so it should be a top priority for an aging-well routine. While the right amount of sleep will vary between individuals, the goal for most adults is around 7 to 8 hours a night.
Human interaction can decrease as people age, but it's more important than ever to form and maintain bonds with others. Participating in social activity is a fun way to enjoy life and reap real health benefits.
'The American Medical Association has noted that stress is the basic cause for more than 60 percent of all human illnesses and diseases,' says Johnson. ''When you are socially active and surround yourself with people you enjoy, you may be less likely to feel lonely, unhappy, or unfulfilled, all of which can cause unwanted stress.'
Finally, there's no need to become overwhelmed; start an aging-well routine by taking one small step and building healthy habits over time. This is what will lead to long-term success.
'Remember that it's never too late to start living a healthy and happy life,' Johnson says. 'Give yourself more reasons to smile and laugh! Did you know research suggests that happy people live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives?'