Blog

This Year, Make Resolutions You’ll Actually Keep

group of seniors laughing and having fun

 

Most of us have had the experience of setting a goal and falling short of that goal. And most New Year’s resolutions fall into that category. According to Statistic Brain, only 14 percent of people over 50 achieve their resolutions each year. Perhaps that’s because many resolutions – losing weight, exercising more, quitting smoking – require some sacrifice and discipline. But what if you could come up with some resolutions that not only improved your health and overall well-being, but were fun to do? Here are some goals for the New Year that we think you’ll actually enjoy trying to accomplish – and doing so will likely improve your health and enjoyment of life.

Spend more time with friends and family

Who doesn’t like getting together with friends for coffee, cocktails or a special celebration? It turns out that spending time with family and friends is more than just an enjoyable way to pass the time. A study from the Rush University Memory and Aging Project concluded that a higher level of social engagement in old age is associated with better cognitive function. A study conducted at Brigham Young University demonstrated that “the effect of [social isolation and loneliness] is comparable to obesity.” Lead study author Julianne Holt-Lunstad concluded that “we need to start taking our social relationships more seriously.”

Get some ZZZZs

Ah! Is there anything better than crawling into bed after a long day of work or play? It’s our time to reflect, recuperate and rejuvenate. It’s also essential to overall health. Studies have shown it helps us do everything from maintaining a healthy weight to improving our memory to spurring our creativity. It may even help us live longer. If you’re one of those people who has trouble squeezing in eight hours of sleep at night, take a nap!

Go exploring

It’s a big, beautiful world out there, just waiting for you to appreciate it. Getting up off the couch and going outside has all sorts of benefits. A study conducted at the University of Essex demonstrated that the color green – which can be found in abundance in nature – makes exercise feel easier, so you’ll be inclined to do more. Taking a stroll outdoors can increase creativity, reduce stress, and may even help us age more gracefully. Research published in the Journal of Aging showed that those who got out of the house more often had significantly fewer complaints regarding pain, sleep problems, and a decline in the ability to perform activities of daily living. Plus, you’ll increase your intake of vitamin D, which many Americans are deficient in.

Laugh

It may turn out that laughter really is the best medicine. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter reduces stress, strengthens the immune system and improves your mood. According to a study done at the University of Maryland, it’s also good for the heart. Michael Miller, a cardiologist who led the study, said, “The recommendation for a healthy heart may one day be exercise, eat right and laugh a few times a day.” Laughing is also good for the brain. A study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School showed that adding humor during classroom instruction led to higher test scores. And, finally, laughing may extend your life. In a study of 53,000 seniors done by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, researchers discovered that study participants who had a sense of humor had a 20 percent lower mortality rate compared to those who had difficulty in finding the humor in life.

Learn a new skill

Challenging your mind is one of the best ways to help strengthen your brain, which may protect it against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. While any mental exercise – crossword puzzles and other “brain games” – is good for the brain, a study done at the University of Texas at Dallas showed that learning a new skill has the most impact on brain health – and the more challenging the new skill, the greater the result. So, enroll in a computer class, learn a new language or learn how to samba. You’ll not only be gaining valuable life experience – and hopefully enjoying the benefits of your newfound talent – you’ll be helping your brain now and in the future.

Categories: Senior Health