Aging gracefully is not just a lifestyle – it’s a mind-set that focuses on connecting your mind, body and spirit for overall health and wellness. In order to embrace the golden years as a healthy and active senior citizen, it is important to take care of yourself today by adopting consistent massage, nutrition and exercise habits so you can live tomorrow and the years to come feeling restored, vibrant and pain-free.
Industry trends show that senior citizens are taking a more holistic approach to their health and well-being needs as they age. According to a recent study from the AARP and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), Americans aged 50 and older are discussing the use of complementary and alternative products and practices such as herbal or dietary supplements, meditation, massage therapy, chiropractic care and acupuncture with their health care providers.
The survey found that just over half (53 percent) of people 50 and older reported using Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) at some point in their lives, and nearly as many (47 percent) reported using it in the past 12 months. Herbal products or dietary supplements were the type of CAM most commonly used, with just over a third (37 percent) of respondents reporting their use, followed by massage therapy, chiropractic manipulation, and other bodywork, used by around a fifth (22 percent) of respondents. Nine percent of respondents reported using mind/body practices, while 5 percent reported use of naturopathy, acupuncture and homeopathy.1
Revive and Reinvigorate Your Body and Soul
As today’s baby boomers jump into the next stage of their lives as retirees, golfers, travelers and pool loungers, they are turning to massage therapy for a deeper sense of mind and body relaxation, restoration and circulation. Therapeutic massage is a medically proven method for supporting overall health and wellness. The benefits of massage for senior citizens can include:
- Improved range of motion and decreased low-back pain.
- Increased circulation, allowing the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs.
- Exercise and stretching for atrophied muscles.
- Reduced swelling and scar tissue.
- Reduced recovery time from injury/surgery.
- Reduced stress, the cause of nearly 90 percent of today’s diseases.
- Released endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller, thereby reducing the need for medications.
- Stimulated lymph flow and support for the body’s natural process of detoxification.
- Enhanced production of T-Cells to boost your immune system. 2
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to wait until you are stressed or injured to get a massage. Any time is a good time for a massage. Massage is like a health-supplement or preventative care for a person's body and mind. A regular monthly massage is a great way to cope with physical or emotional stress and to keep it from causing discomfort or harm to your body.
Protect Your Skin
If it’s not properly protected from nature’s elements, your skin can be the first body part to show signs of aging. Experts agree that consistently using sunscreen throughout the year (even during the winter months when the sun may be hiding behind clouds, but skin damaging rays can still be present) is one of the most important steps you can take to help your skin look as young as you feel. There are many make ups and daily moisturizers available that include SPFs of 15 or more to provide constant skin protection throughout the day.
Another element to consider when it comes to protecting your skin is increasing the humidity levels in your home, especially during the winter, to help prevent dry, chapped skin. Using a room humidifier while you sleep and/or using a house-wide humidifier system not only helps to increase the smoothness and softness of your skin, but it also can help with reducing wintertime nasal congestion and discomfort.
Massage also can help promote healthy skin and immune systems by stimulating and activating a body’s circulation. This mind and body relaxation technique can directly benefit skin by enhancing tissue elasticity, improving circulation and joint flexibility, as well as boost a body’s immune function, alleviate life-shortening stress and create a greater sense of self.3
Fuel Your Body
Fueling your body with adequate amounts of whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables is important for healthy bodies at any age. According to the National Institute on Aging, to eat well, it’s best to incorporate foods that are high in nutrients (vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats), but low in calories. When determining how much to eat, it’s important to take into account age, gender and activity level. The National Institutes of Health advises that women over age 50 should consume 1,600-2,200 calories per day depending on activity level, while men should consume 2,000-2,800 calories per day.4
Additionally, an often forgotten fuel for our body that is important to maintaining healthy skin and bodies as we age is drinking an appropriate amount of water each day. A recent study has found that people who drink 17-34 ounces of water daily are 36 percent less likely to develop high blood sugar or diabetes. The study suggests that when you’re dehydrated, your brain pumps out more hormones that tell the liver to produce glucose.5
So, how much is 17-34 ounces of water? Many water bottles have liquid measurements on the side and large ones will hold approximately 32 ounces of water. Fill up your water bottle at the beginning of the day and make sure it’s empty before going to bed. This will help you keep track of consuming the appropriate amount of water for a healthy and hydrated body.
Get Your Move On
Staying active as you age is an integral component to looking and feeling good throughout your golden years. Physical activity not only keeps your body fit and strong, but it also can help maintain mental strength and sharpness as you age. To get started, most cities or local organizations have senior citizen-specific fitness courses and/or activities that you can enroll in. Some popular senior citizen exercise activities include yoga and pilates to strengthen muscles, personal training to achieve specific total body goals or swimming for low impact cardio and full body workout.
In addition to participating in common exercise regimens, incorporating therapeutic massage into your activity plan can help keep you more mobile and pain-free. Massage not only tones muscle tissue, but it also supports joint lubrication to promote ease in movement.
To age gracefully, it’s important to approach your overall health and well-being in a holistic manner that connects your mind, body and spirit. By taking an active approach to regularly scheduled massage, nutrition, skin care and exercise routines, you are preparing for the next stage of your life as a happy, healthy and active senior citizen. Call Elements Therapeutic Massage today to start your journey of aging gracefully.
Sources: 1 AARP, NCCAM. Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What People Aged 50 and Older Discuss With Their Health Care Providers. Consumer Survey Report; April 2010. 2 Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, Healthy Aging, Body Sense, Spring/Summer 2009. 3 Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, Healthy Aging, Body Sense, Spring/Summer 2009. 4 National Institute on Aging, NIH Senior Health, Eating Well As You Get Older; May 2008. 5 Men’s Health Magazine, November 2011.