As you get older, it becomes even more important to take care of your health. Cigna Medical Group has your back with tips and resources that can help you stay physically and mentally well.
Be physically active
It’s never too late to get active. Watch our video to learn about the benefits of getting and staying active as you age. Then, keep reading to learn more.
Among the many physical benefits it offers, physical activity can help you:
- Maintain or lose weight
- Improve your immune and digestive systems
- Lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, hip fractures, arthritis and certain cancers
- Enhance your mobility, flexibility, and balance while reducing the risk of falling
- Extend your independence and lifespan
Physical activity also has mental benefits. It can:
- Improve sleep
- Boost mood and self-confidence
- Reduce stress and feelings of sadness, depression and anxiety
- Help the brain stay active
Staying active as you age is important, but it’s even more important that you do it safely. Before you get started, here are some tips:
- Get medical clearance from your doctor, especially if you have any preexisting medical conditions.
- Consider other health concerns. Ongoing health issues might affect your workouts. For example, if you have diabetes, you may need to adjust the timing of your medication and meals.
- Listen to your body. Exercise should never hurt. Stop immediately and call your doctor if you feel dizzy or short of breath, develop chest pain or pressure, or break out in a cold sweat.
- Start slow and build up steadily. If you haven’t been active in a while, try spacing workouts in 10-minute increments twice a day. Or try just one class a week. If you’re concerned about falling or have an ongoing heart problem, start with chair exercises.
- Prevent injury and discomfort by warming up, cooling down, and keeping water handy.
- Commit to an exercise schedule for at least three or four weeks so that it becomes a habit. This is easier if you find activities you enjoy.
Talk to your Cigna Medical Group provider if you have any questions about the types of exercises that are safe for you.
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Make smart food choices
Eating healthy is important at any age but can be especially important as you get older.
Here are some tips to help you choose foods and beverages for better health:*
With age, you may lose some of your sense of thirst, so it’s important to drink plenty of water every day – even if you don’t feel thirsty. Water is always the best choice, but if you’re craving something with more flavor, try to limit beverages that have lots of added sugars or salt.
It’s easier to eat well when you’re prepared to do so. Find ways to choose and prepare healthy meals ahead of time so you can eat the foods you need without skipping a beat.
The simplest way to avoid overeating is to control how much you put on your plate in the first place – especially if you’re of a generation that believes in clearing your plate. When eating out, ask your server for a to-go container right away and then pack part of your meal to eat later.
Eat your vegetables
Most vegetables are a low-calorie source of nutrients and a great source of fiber.
Eat for your oral health too
If you’re finding it hard to chew fruits, vegetables or meats, don’t let it make you miss out on much-needed nutrients. Try eating softer foods that are cooked or canned, such as unsweetened fruit, low-sodium soups, or tuna.
Season with herbs and spices
Some people find that their sense of taste changes as they age. Medicines may also have this effect. Instead of adding more salt or butter, try adding flavor to your meals with herbs and spices.
Talk to your Cigna Medical Group provider if you have any questions about your diet, or need help determining which foods are best for you.
Get regular health screenings
Your body goes through changes as you age, so preventive health screenings become increasingly important to help you stay healthy. They can help you prevent health problems – or identify them early – so you can live a long, healthy and satisfying life.
See your primary care provider (PCP) once a year for your regular preventive check-up. During your visit, ask your PCP about any health concerns or questions you have; for example, you might have questions about healthy eating, exercise, mental health, fall prevention, drugs and alcohol, or how to quit smoking.
Your visit should also include these common annual tests and vaccinations:
- A physical wellness exam, including a blood test for cholesterol
- A blood pressure screening
- A flu shot
- A pneumonia vaccine
Colorectal cancer screening
At least every 10 years starting at age 50, you should be screened for colorectal cancer (more often if you are at above-average risk). The most common test for this screening is a colonoscopy.
Breast cancer screening
If you’re a woman between the ages of 50 and 74, you should have a mammogram at least every two years or more often, depending on your risk.
Bone density scan
After age 65, you should have a bone density scan.
If you’re a man age 50 or older you should talk to your PCP about the benefits and risks of prostate testing. Men who are African American or have a family history of prostate cancer should speak with their provider about screening beginning at age 45. Depending on your risk factors, your screening may include a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test.
Everyone needs social connections to stay well. But as we age, it’s common to spend more time alone – and even more common during the COVID-19 pandemic. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and affect our mental and physical well-being.
Here are some ideas to help you stay connected safely.*
- Start a new hobby or take a class to meet new people with similar interests.
- Make time each day to stay in touch with family, friends, and neighbors – whether it’s in person, by phone, mail, email, social media, video chat or text.
- Consider adopting a pet if you’re able to care for one.
- Choose a physical activity you can do with others, such as walking or yoga.
- Check out resources and programs at your local community center, senior center, or public library.
- Join a cause and get involved in your community.
- Share a healthy meal with close friends and family.
Talk to your Cigna Medical Group provider if you’re experiencing loneliness or depression.