Winning the race against aging

Naps, knitting and nuzzling with the grandchildren - the traditional image of retirement is being challenged by the more than 76 million baby boomers in the United States.

This vibrant generation wants to make the most out of their golden years, and while hobbies and time with grandkids are a priority, they want more. To do so, they know that a proactive approach to health and wellness is a must.

Matt Johnson, a health and performance expert and president of On Target Living, admires the tenacity boomers and all seniors exhibit when it comes to maintaining their health and well-being. He suggests five incredibly simple, yet powerful ways to age healthfully and keep those engines revving at peak performance, no matter how vintage the model.

1. Take advantage of pit stops

"Lack of sleep is the fastest way to age the human body," says Johnson. "Additionally, adequate sleep is extremely important for a healthy brain. Deep REM sleep allows the mind to rejuvenate. Memory, creativity and cognitive function get refreshed in this stage of sleep."

He recommends three steps to achieve quality sleep. First, go to bed at the correct time to achieve eight hours of sleep. Second, unplug and avoid digital devices that put out stimulating blue light. Third, add the relaxing mineral magnesium to your routine by taking an Epsom salt bath or foot bath once a week.

2. Fuel your machine

"I like to tell people to think of nutrition as fuel for the body; without the correct fuel, the engine and components can't work correctly," says Johnson. "The most critical nutrients that boomers don't get enough of are supergreens and omega-3s. We know we all need to eat more green veggies, but did you know that up to 91 percent of the American population is deficient in omega-3s?"

He recommends every boomer get 1,500 mg of EPA and DHA each day via fish oil. As for supergreens, he recommends spirulina and chlorella (types of algae), and frozen wheatgrass.

3. Get an oil change

Some oils are considered healthy and others cause health problems. Johnson recommends:

Adding:

- Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) for salad dressings, baking and low-temperature sautéing

- Virgin coconut oil as a substitute for butter and baking oil

- Cod liver oil as a supplement to get omega-3s (not for cooking)

Removing:

- Vegetable oils like canola and soybean which are heavily processed and often made with GMOs.

4. Rev your engines daily

"The benefits of exercise are endless, but the underdog benefit is how it makes us feel and think," says Johnson. "You should move your body if you want to stay sharp and happy."

Find an exercise program you enjoy, he suggests. "Exercise is the fountain of youth, but you shouldn't do something you don't like. Make sure you move your body daily. If you are looking for suggestions, think about hiring a trainer to learn a set program. I think focusing on form and technique over intensity is the first step."

5. Schedule regular maintenance checks

"Play offense instead of defense with your health," says Johnson. "Modern medicine is better than ever at early detection and treatment."

The key is to focus on prevention. "Use annual doctor visits to screen, ask questions and monitor your risk factors. Remember, you can only get good answers if you ask good questions," he says.

Finally, Johnson reminds people that anti-aging doesn't exist. "We are all aging - the key is to age well. This means to aspire to quality of life. We all have motivators in our life: kids, grandkids, spouses, careers, passions, etc. Without your health, none of these can be enjoyed to the fullest."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016

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