Special 1 October, 2018 Maria Clara Restrepo E.
Adopting healthy routines from early on can have a positive impact on your quality of life and on your ability to enjoy every moment.
Medical advisor: Miliana Sofía Álvarez Borré – General Physician
The aging process can put the brakes on a rapid pace of life and it also brings an insistent desire to live a full and healthy life. Fulfilling this desire, which is often shared among the elderly, is possible if healthy routines are included as part of a person’s daily activities; especially during the transition of aging. Including these routines, as simple as they may be, can transform the way you live.
For example, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection estimates that 80% of cardiovascular diseases and 30% of all cancers in Colombia could be prevented by making lifestyle changes. This means adopting practices that can improve your health and reduce your chances of developing non-communicable diseases, which have a significant impact on public health.
As general physician Miliana Sofía Álvarez Borré states, “Studies have shown that the cardiovascular risk of someone with unhealthy lifestyle practices increases by 60% to 70% compared to those who do lead healthy lifestyles. It is important to remember that the main cause of death in Colombia is cardiovascular disease. Healthy lifestyle practices can slow certain diseases from progressing. By not practicing them, on the other hand, they can lead to certain health conditions.”
By placing a priority on the development of prevention efforts that can help people improve their health as they age, the World Health Organization recommends that it is never too late to take on healthy habits at any point in life such as healthy eating, fostering opportunities to socialize, not consuming alcohol and tobacco and engaging in physical activity. According to the Ministry of Health, physical activity alone can reduce heart disease by 30%, diabetes by 27% and breast and colon cancer by 25%.
Making it a part of your daily practice
Engaging in healthy activities on a daily basis is important as people age as it has a direct influence on quality of life. Álvarez elaborates on this: “As we age, we lose muscle mass, which makes us more fragile and causes us to lose less calories, especially if we are not active. To prevent weight gain, it is important to eat less, but it is also important to consume nutrient-rich foods. If you have never been an active person, starting a regular exercise regime can improve your resistance, strength, balance and flexibility. It is also important to get good sleep, be near friends and family, maintain healthy relationships, and surround yourself with people whose company you enjoy.”
The key to these practices having a positive impact on your health is to make them part of your daily routine. You can begin at any time, but the earlier you begin, the greater effect they will have on you as you age.
“It is very important to make healthy habits a personal commitment, as all people have them. Just how our parents teach us to talk, walk, go to the bathroom, or eat, we can make these habits part of our daily routine and say no to those things that are not good for us,” Dr. Álvarez explains.
According to Dr. Álvarez, with all the information and professional guidance that is available, it is also important for people to understand what the consequences of poor lifestyle habits are in order to understand when they need to change, which can also help reduce trips to see your doctor. A prevention routine not only helps keep future woes and worries bay, it also helps people fulfill their desire to live a full and healthy life, throughout all stages. (You can also read: A healthy heart).
Healthy lifestyle habits
Some healthy habits the WHO recommends as for being part of a daily routine include:
Getting physical activity. This involves moving the body (walking, running, dancing) for at least a half hour each day, in adulthood and old age. You can also try other recreational activities such as gardening.
Eating a healthy diet. This includes eating at least five fruits and vegetables each day, as well as decreasing how much fat, salt and sugar you consume. By making it a practice to cook at home, you can be more aware of what you consume.
Maintaining good mental health. This involves fostering opportunities to socialize that allow people to express their emotions and connect better to their environment. Maintaining social bonds and friendships is key.
Maintaining good oral health. This goes beyond aesthetics and a good smile and affects digestion as well as people’s social lives. The recommendation is to brush at least twice a day, floss and use fluoride toothpaste.
Avoid tobacco and alcohol. This recommendation comes from the understanding that these habits greatly impact the deterioration of certain body functions. Limiting your weekly consumption can help prevent behavior that can put you at risk.