As people age, they typically feel their energy levels gradually decreasing. This can be caused by a variety of reasons including poor sleep patterns, muscle mass decline, decreasing metabolic rate, irregular digestion, and more. If you frequently find yourself falling asleep in front of the TV, you're not alone. Cellular aging causes cells to become less efficient and function less well. The rate at which your cells age depends on genetics and lifestyle. Here are eight ways to maintain your energy levels as you age.
1. Don't Stop Moving
As you become older, staying active gets more difficult and strenuous. According to Rush University, “Both genes and environment lead to alterations in cells that cause aging muscles to lose mass and strength and to become less flexible. As a result, strenuous activities become more tiring. These cellular changes also limit the heart muscle’s pumping ability.” Talk to your doctor and find out how much activity you can safely incorporate into your day.
To keep your heart strong, Rush University recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as swimming or walking, per week. This number will vary depending on the person and their health conditions so make sure to check with your doctor. They also strongly suggest that you help try to maintain your muscle mass and flexibility by incorporating yoga, strength training, and stretching into your weekly routines. If you have been injured or haven't been active in a while, consult with a doctor, physical therapist, or trainer to learn how to ease your body into moving regularly again.
2. Eat Healthy and Nutritious Food
This is important at any age but can make a bigger difference in older adults. You will quickly feel more energized by cutting out highly-processed and unhealthy food from your diet. According to Mayo Clinic, you can actually counteract the structural changes to your intestines that can cause constipation by eating healthy. Not only that, but it can also keep you feeling alert and strong because it will help support your heart health and cognitive function.
“Make sure your diet includes high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit high-fat meats, dairy products and sweets,” says the Mayo Clinic. Make sure that you're also drinking enough water each day. Your energy can take a hit if you're dehydrated. Studies have shown that as you age, your thirst sensations may weaken causing older adults to forget to hydrate.
3. Add Supplements to Your Regimen
As you get older, you may notice loss of memory, difficulty learning new things, and trouble maintaining concentration. This can be caused by connections between neurons becoming less efficient or broken from age. An example of this may be forgetting people names or certain words. These changes can be worrying and unnerving for those who are experiencing this for the first time. Emotional worries can drain your energy very quickly. Exercise, brain games, and nutritional supplements can help with memory and energy levels.
Talk to your doctor to see if it would be safe for you to add some of the following supplements to your daily regimen.
4. Keep an Eye on Your Vitamin D
Having a healthy diet may sometimes not be enough. You may also need to monitor certain nutrient levels. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Nutrition-related problems — osteoporosis, iron deficiency, vitamin deficiency, and protein-calorie malnutrition — become more evident after age 60.”
If you're feeling down or tired, some sunlight may help! Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is critical for supporting your immune and bone health, as well as, fighting off depression and fatigue. Not only will sunlight help boost your energy, but it will also decrease your risk of osteoporosis, falls, and fractures. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, as people get older, they may not be able to convert sunlight to vitamin D as efficiently as they used to. If this is the case, check with your doctor because you may need to take vitamin D supplements.
5. Take Inventory of Medications
Medications can start to build up in your cabinet and become overwhelming. According to the CDC, 50% of Americans take at least one prescription drug and 25% take three or more. Medications, when used incorrectly, can have negative consequences. “Many drugs — including high blood pressure medications, antidepressants and antihistamines — have side effects that can sap energy levels,” Johns Hopkins Medicine said.
Take inventory of your medications and supplements. It's important that you give your doctor a full list of everything you're taking. By doing this, they can better prescribe you and may even take you off certain medications that you may not need anymore. Tell them about any side effects that you're experiencing because they may also alter your doses.
Make sleep quality a priority. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-8 hours of sleep per night for people 65 and older. "Studies on the sleep habits of older Americans show an increase in the time it takes to fall asleep (sleep latency), an overall decline in REM sleep, and an increase in sleep fragmentation (waking up during the night) with age,” according to the National Sleep Foundation. “The prevalence of sleep disorders also tends to increase with age. However, research suggests that much of the sleep disturbance among the elderly can be attributed to physical and psychiatric illnesses and the medications used to treat them.”
To ensure better quality of sleep, make sure that your bed is comfortable. If you find that your back or hip hurt in the morning, your body may require a different level of support from your mattress. Also, make sure not to eat too much or exercise just before bedtime. If you still aren't feeling refreshed in the morning, you may want to check with your doctor as there may be another underlying medical issue.
7. Socialize and Take Up Hobbies
Participating in group activities and finding hobbies that you truly enjoy will keep you mentally and physically fit and give your days more meaning. “Maximize the amount of time that you spend with people you enjoy being around. Connecting with others who radiate positivity and have similar interests will excite and energize you. Putting effort into the things that matter most to you will help you utilize and reserve your energy in ways that will bring out the best in you,” said Mayo Clinic.
8. Visit Your Doctor Regularly
It's very important that, as you age, you schedule routine screenings. As you get older, you're more at risk for many health problems. Doctors continue to stress how important preventative care is. If you live in South Florida, schedule an appointment with our Smart for Life Clinic in Boca Raton for a checkup.
Medline Plus recommends that if you're over 65 years old to get your blood pressure checked at least once a year or more if recommended by your doctor. If you have normal cholesterol, get it screened at least once every 5 years. Don't forget about cancer, dental, vision, and hearing screenings. If you feel that you're weight is holding you back from doing things you enjoy and is impacting your health, talk to the team at Smart for Life. The doctors at Smart for Life can set you up with an easy-to-follow and effective diet plan.