Column: Successful aging is within our reach

Cindy Huff, Staff Reporter

Successful aging can vary from person to person, however, there are still a few things

that stay consistent throughout our lifespan. I define successful aging as being involved in all that life has to offer: in other words, keeping yourself engaged in life. Staying both physically and mentally active, accepting your infirmaries if you have any and rolling with the punches that life throws our way are all major parts of aging successfully.

To age successfully, we all need motivation to get out there and exercise and to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Exercise and eating healthy helps to strengthen our bodies as well as our minds. I have heard that reading improves your mind and that it actually exercises your brain; our brain is like a big muscle, so the more that you exercise that brain, the better off you will be.

Furthermore, did you know that exercising regularly promotes the growth of new brain cells? In your hippocampus, these new brain cells help boost memory and learning. When we are growing older by the minute, who could not need a memory boost?

I am not saying that you have to train like you are an athlete; just keep that body moving for at least 30 minutes a day. Remember that old saying: 30 minutes of play keeps illness at bay.

I know that I heard that saying somewhere, but I just cannot remember where at this moment. I guess my brain needs more exercise. This is the kind of thing that I am talking about: exercising and staying fit and active keeps our brains stimulated and also helps us remember things.

A positive social support system is also extremely important as we age. Having someone to talk to when we are worried or upset helps with our psychological well being as well as with anxiety and depression. It is good to go out with friends and have a good time, just as it is important to your overall well-being to stay socially active.

The best part about aging today is that we are living longer thanks to all the technological advances of our healthcare system. We are enjoying and engaging ourselves in life, getting involved in learning about technology like computers, smartphones and apps. We are going back to school to keep our minds active and learn new things. Universities all over the country are welcoming us with programs tailor-made for aging adult learners. How exciting is that?

To age successfully we all need to make adjustments in our lifestyle, but it is worth it to be able to stay as strong, healthy and happy as we possibly can. I have a picture hanging on my wall at home of a surfer riding a wave and that picture often reminds me that when life gives us waves, we have to learn how to surf. That is how I feel about aging, so we should all grab our surfboards and ride those waves.

Cindy Huff is an aging studies graduate student. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]