There Are Two Magic Bullets for Lifetime Health

Much of the Western world, and particularly Americans, have an ongoing search for the magic bullets that will aid in staving off the effects of aging. The answers to that quest are the same as those for questions about staying healthy for a lifetime, for weight loss and control and for stamina and aging. Hold on, I'm about to give you the keys to the Fountain of Youth: eating a nutritionally balanced, calorie-appropriate diet and getting moderate levels of physical activity most days of the week.

Like many, you might have been hoping that the answer lies in a pill or two, or maybe even a surgeon's knife. But the best way to look and feel your best every day of your life is to follow what has been health care's mantra: Diet and exercise.

How Physical Activity Effects Your Health and Aging

[507] In a scientific study performed in Portugal and whose results were published in the September 2011 edition of The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, researchers found that study participants in the age group 65 to 95 years of age reported increased vigor and slight improvement in mood after a 16-week strength-training program.

[514] An article written by physicians at the Klinik fur Neurologie in Berlin, Germany addresses the known improvements in cognitive function created by physical activity not only in the normal aging brain, but also in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.  The article explains that human experiments have demonstrated that physical activity increases the volume of grey matter in the brain in the areas of learning and memory, along with improvements in cognitive function.

Not only does regular physical activity improve thinking ability, memory and mood, but it helps to promote heart and lung health. Exercise helps you to keep up a weight within advised limits or will help you to shed excess weight.  Regular exercise helps boost self-esteem and self-confidence.  Considering all the potential benefits of regular physical activity, it would be difficult not to see the association this element brings to lifetime health and anti-aging.

Aging, after all, is at least partly seen as the decline in physical and mental functions. When your body is at its best health levels, you are not going to feel as old. And when your body is not at its best health levels, you can feel old regardless of the number of birthdays celebrated.

Balanced Nutrition to Fuel Your Body's Engine

Actually, you body has millions of engines--the mitochondria that are the powerhouses of each cell. Enzymes and hormones need proper nutrition to be produced and to function adequately. You know your teeth and bones need calcium and vitamin D; iron is necessary for your blood to carry oxygen; potassium, sodium and magnesium in proper balance allow your muscles, including your heart, to function at their best.

The adage, "Junk in, junk out," is nowhere more true than in your body. Feed it mostly empty calories from sugar-based foods and drinks and those cell engines will be spitting and sputtering while trying to function.  Too much cholesterol, such as from animal fats, fried foods and large amounts of dairy will slowly but surely clog your arteries.[514] The same article that addresses the value of physical activity for brain function also addresses the value of good nutrition.

Diet is a word that has come to be associated with reduced or restricted calories or foods. Diet, however, is simply the term for all the foods you eat. You needn't adhere to a calorie-counted diet to eat healthy.  An eating plan such as that set forth by the [523] U.S. Department of Agriculture's My Plate ensures you will  receive adequate, balanced nutrition each day.

The Mediterranean diet or eating plan is one that is espoused by nutritionists and health care providers alike. This eating plan is based on the eating habits of a group of people indigenous to the southern Mediterranean region who enjoy long, healthy lives.

The DASH diet is another [524] eating plan that has received a great reputation as a healthy, nutritional eating plan. DASH--dietary approaches against hypertension--is often recommended by health providers to their patients who have hypertension, but you need not wait to develop the condition before choosing this eating plan.

Talk to your health care provider about what eating plan(s) are right for you and your general health condition. Your health care provider can also recommend whether nutritional supplements such as a multi-vitamin would be helpful. You want the engines of your cells purring along like kittens, helping you to meet whatever your life goals may be.

Aging Versus Getting Old

Remaining vital both physically and mentally is the goal of most people. It is the absence of vitality that makes a person feel or seem "old." "Old" is synonymous with obsolete, of low value, decrepit. We can't stop the hands of time; we will grow older day by day--but we don't have to become "old." Aging is a fact of life; how you do so is up to you. You can choose to make good decisions now about your nutrition and physical activity, or you can wait. Just remember, though, time waits for no man.

Do right by yourself and choose lifetime health; aging will take care of itself along the way.