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Healthy Aging
October 9, 2012

Healthy Aging
By Larry D. Jones, MPH
October 9, 2012

No matter how old you are, it’s always a good time to think about healthy aging. For those of us who already have a few gray hairs, it’s not too late to think again about how we can take care of ourselves, body and mind, as we get older. It’s also not too early for younger folks to start thinking now about how to build and maintain a healthy level of physical, mental, and social health to set the stage for healthy aging down the road.

We all know that with age come a variety of health challenges. The best ways to stay healthy are the same no matter how old you are: eat a healthful diet with plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables; be physically active; stop smoking (or don’t start!); and visit a doctor for regular check-ups. Check out these additional tips:

Enjoy local produce. There is still plenty of fresh produce around. Pay a visit to the folks at the Independence Farmers’ Market (at the Corner of Truman and Main on the Independence Square) or Hartman's Heritage Community Market (at Little Blue Parkway & Jackson Drive, between World Market and Dress Barn). See www.independencefarmersmarket.com for more information. Wondering how many fruits and vegetables you really need? Check out this fruit and vegetable calculator for a personalized recommendation: www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov.

Dance the night away. Any kind of physical activity that gets your heart pumping is good for your health, strengthens muscles and bones, improves flexibility and heart health, and much more! Exercise improves blood flow to your body and brain, which helps keep you mentally alert. Dancing also engages your mind in learning and remembering the steps. Plus it’s just a lot of fun and gives you the chance to spend time with friends.

Travel more. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is just take a break and get away. You don’t have to go on a luxury cruise to benefit from a little time away. Try a day trip to a park for a hike and a picnic lunch. Ask friends for recommendations of places they’ve visited and enjoyed. A change of scenery can do wonders for our mental health!

Take time to learn something new. Whether you’re looking for a career move or just after personal enrichment, formal learning opportunities are a great choice. Check with a local community college or find an online program. Take a class about something that you are genuinely interested in for the greatest chances at success.

Find time for a hobby. Whether it’s a sport you used to play, singing in the church choir, some form of artistic expression, or crossword puzzles, hobbies provide lots of chances to make new friends and keep your mind and body active.

There are lots of ways to keep your body and mind in shape this fall. The Palmer Center offers a wide range of activities for 50+ adults, including games, arts and crafts, a fitness center, educational opportunities, and social events. Check out the community calendar at www.ci.independence.mo.us/parksandrec/Palmer.aspx or call (816) 325-6200. A membership to the Sermon Center gives community members over the age of 13 access to the weight room and cardio equipment. The Sermon Center also offers a variety of fitness classes. If you’d like more information on current classes or to ask about a membership to the Sermon Center, call (816) 325-7370.

For more tips and information on healthy aging, visit www.cdc.gov/aging.

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