April is a big month for a chiropractic, nutrition and wellness center dedicated to helping patients prevent and reverse a wide variety of limiting conditions. It is the National Month of Hope, an awareness campaign launched by Mothers in Crisis to encourage others to do nothing less than “think hope.” We choose to interpret this open-ended appeal by encouraging others to move better and feel better at any age!
How convenient is it, then, that April also happens to be Stress Awareness Month, when people are encouraged to find healthier ways of coping with nerve-racking situations? As one of Georgia’s biggest proponents for exercise and diet as solutions for stress management, Stress Awareness Month was seemingly custom-tailored to promote the Calhoun Spine & Wellness team’s message.
We’re going to share some of our favorite ways to observe National Month of Hope and Stress Awareness Month. There’s just so much overlap between enjoying greater health at any age and reducing your overall level of stress!
Get Plenty of Exercise
The benefits of taking regular exercise are manifold and include reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, certain types of cancers, and developing type 2 diabetes. Seniors who exercise build stronger bones, joints, and muscles, which in turn, lower the risk of falling and developing osteoporosis. Long periods of recovery following hospitalization are also reduced.
But physical activity’s benefits aren’t solely physical. Exercise reduces levels of adrenaline and cortisol – the “stress hormones” which raise your blood pressure and increase sugars in your bloodstream, respectively. It also elevates the production of endorphins, which are hormones that essentially act as natural painkillers.
Exercise has a marked positive impact on anyone’s health, although the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that adults aged 65 and older stand to receive substantial benefits from engaging in regular exercise. Being physically active makes every facet of daily life easier once you become older!
The recommended amounts of physical activity remain the same for people of all ages. It’s recommended to get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly. Alternatively, 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise weekly works as well. If you are healthily able to do so, exceeding these recommended amounts of exercise only brings greater advantages. You can cope with stress better and keep yourself healthier into old age.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Summarizing the benefits of a healthy diet would fill a book. (Several books already exist to prove that point.) From a physical standpoint, avoiding becoming obese will significantly reduce your risk of sustaining severe injuries. For example, lower extremity fractures and joint dislocations. Obesity is the leading risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, as well as several other serious conditions including hypertension, heart disease, osteoarthritis and certain types of cancer.
Unfortunately, obesity’s impact on the human body isn’t solely physical. There is a growing body of evidence that obesity also directly impacts mental health. One study showed that people who are obese have a 55% higher risk of depression. Another showed that obesity is associated with a 25% increase in mood and anxiety disorders.
What constitutes a “healthy diet” varies widely across individuals and is largely determined by age and sex. Women 60 years and older should generally consume 1,600 to 2,000 calories daily; men 60 years and older should consume 2,000 to 2,600 calories. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating healthful, whole foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meats.
You can double down by eating a healthful diet which also helps to relieve stress. Foods high in vitamin B can help your body to more efficiently metabolize the stress hormone cortisol. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acid can help your body recover from inflammation caused by stress. Foods high in magnesium are similarly effective at combatting inflammation, and healthy foods which are also rich in protein can help your body balance its levels of blood sugar.
Make a Few Other Key Lifestyle Adjustments
- Quit smoking. The science is quite clear: non-smokers live for an average of 10 years longer than smokers. Quitting smoking before you turn 40 reduces your risk of dying from a smoking-related illness by nearly 90% as well. And despite a cigarette’s apparently calming effect, several studies have shown that smoking actually increases tension and anxiety!
- Drink in moderation. Whether you would live longer for quitting drinking altogether is not yet fully understood; in fact, some studies show that moderate drinkers actually live longer on average than teetotallers. But moderation is key, as people who have more than 18 alcoholic beverages weekly could lose an average of four to five years of their lives. Excessive alcohol consumption is frequently associated with higher levels of stress, and may also interfere with your body’s natural sleep cycle.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Getting adequate sleep can significantly reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. One in five adults report feeling more stress following a single night of poor sleep – but anyone is likely to experience a decrease in positive affect when they are tired!
Would you like to remain hopeful that you’ll enjoy good health in your old age? How about reducing the amount of stress you experience on a daily basis? Calhoun Spine & Wellness Center’s chiropractic, nutrition, fitness and meditation services are all available to help you become the healthiest, happiest version of yourself. We welcome you to schedule an appointment at our wellness center in Calhoun, Georgia today!