2018-04-16 / Community

Mind & SOUL: Age gracefully with tips for all-around well-being

STAN STRYCHARZ, PSY. D.

We are privileged to live in one of the most beautiful areas in the country, and Collier County ranks near the top in longevity in the United States.

A long life can be an amazing gift. Living longer requires not only careful financial planning, but also demands from us consistent care of our physical, emotional and psychological health and well-being. The good news is that we can add years to our lives and also improve the quality of our lives. Here are evidence-based recommendations that can make us feel younger and increase our quality of life.

Studies on longevity emphasize the importance of close social connec­tions. The happiest people in the world interact socially for seven to eight hours a day, particularly in face-to- face, meaningful conversations.

Regarding diet and nutrition, a plant-based diet full of vegetables is the best source of antioxidants, which may lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. As we age, we also lose about 8 percent of our muscle mass every decade; so eating enough protein-rich food is also important. The Mediterranean diet, which has lots of vegetables and protein, is associated with a lower risk of cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Studies consistently confirm the importance of exercise to physical and mental well-being. Aerobic exercise is the best exercise. High- intensity aerobic exercise can reverse some cellular aspects of aging, enhancing the body’s ability to make new proteins. Even moderate- intensity cardiovascular exercise improves blood pressure, respiratory health, muscle mass, metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Studies demonstrate that exercise and yoga increase the level of GABA, which is essential in mood elevation and decreased anxiety. Tai chi is excellent exercise for reducing stress and even outbursts of temper.

Evidence suggests that practicing mindfulness and meditation regu­larly can be a useful and effective treatment for chronic pain, depression, hypertension, addiction and anxiety. Plato said, “In order for a man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection.”

Do your part to keep your mind and body healthy for many years. With our determination and discipline, yes, you and I can seem younger as we age gracefully like fine wine.

Stan Strycharz is a licensed psychologist practicing in Southwest Florida. He can be reached at drstan.net.

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