Created more than 20 years ago, Healthy Aging Month is an annual observance designed to raise awareness about the positive aspects of growing older. It was first introduced when the baby boomers were turning 50, and it is now also addressing Gen X.
Why September? The creator of the observance, Carolyn Worthington, says September is the time when people start thinking about new things after summer. That is why people are being encouraged to reinvent themselves, and take charge of their well-being by starting a new healthy aging routine that promotes good health. Maintaining good health includes a healthy diet, staying connected, mental well-being, and exercise. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, and adding at least 2 days of high-intensity muscle strengthening activity. Ways to add moderate activity into your routine include brisk walking, gardening, water aerobics, and biking slower than 10 miles per hour. Ways to add vigorous activity include hiking with a heavy backpack, running, swimming laps, and cycling 10 miles per hour or faster. Remember, if you are just starting a new exercise routine, talk to your doctor first.
Getting out for a walk or bike ride is also great for our mental well-being. Biking and walking are also activities that we can make a part of our daily routines by choosing to bike or walk for errands or to visit friends instead of driving. According to Mayo Clinic, 30 minutes of exercise per day, 3 or more days per week may significantly improve depression and anxiety symptoms. Going for a walk in your neighborhood, while social distancing and wearing a mask, can also help beat the feeling of isolation and loneliness. Even if we don’t walk in groups and talk to other people when out and about, the simple fact of witnessing life happening around us helps us feel less isolated. And that is really important especially nowadays, when many people are social distancing to avoid getting sick.
Other ways to stay connected include making phone calls to friends and family, using social media to attend virtual classes and groups, having coffee or tea with friends and family on Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Google Meet, and other applications. Great ways to find virtual events, lectures, and classes are: Eventbrite.com, your local library, your local art center, YouTube, local Facebook group to catch up with neighborhood news, and virtual support groups.