Jenson Mak | Vitality & Healthy Ageing Blog

Dr. Jenson Mak covers the best of living a vital and healthy life at any age.

Author: Jenson Mak (Page 2 of 5)

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Health Benefits of Volunteering

As mentioned in an earlier blog, volunteering is a great way for senior citizens to remain involved and active in their communities upon retirement. Not only is giving back to the community a great way to remain involved but many volunteer opportunities also present many health benefits. When it comes to community service, the benefits go far beyond helping others, as it gives so much more for a volunteer to gain.

 

Mental Stability

There are endless opportunities for people to serve others on a level that requires minimal to no physical efforts. While these opportunities don’t benefit the body as a whole, it is just as important for older generations to continuously exercise their brain. Volunteering in educational based roles such as tutoring is a great way to maintain a healthy mental activity level. Even doing work for organizations that guide students through life’s challenges is a boost for the brain. Create the Good shared that studies at Johns Hopkins proved those who volunteer have greater mental capacities, and who would complain having more of that at an older age?

 

Physical Enhancers

With organizations that require volunteers to take physical action, there are surpluses of opportunities to gain while donating their time. There are specific events designated to running or walking for charity, which is a tremendous activity for seniors in and of itself. Additionally, philanthropic groups are always looking for a lending hand; whether it be helping to build a house, paint a mural, serve food, or run a clothing drive. All of these activities involve getting up and moving, giving volunteers a great way to get in their physical activity for the day. Living longer, decreased risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s, and fat burning are all side-effects of volunteering at an elderly age. Some even believe doctors should recommend adding volunteerism when mentioning diet and exercise and healthy means of life.

 

Feel Good

As do most physical activities, volunteering has the ability to reduce levels of stress. Many people have felt the altruism effect but are unsure as to its true value. As someone uses their free time to help others, they are releasing dopamine into their bodies, giving them a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. Those who volunteer are often less likely to suffer from depression, as they have a more comprehensive understanding of those who truly are less fortunate than them.

From boosting brain activity to physical well-being, volunteering does a world of good for the overall health of an individual. More often than not these positive reactions to giving back are seen instantaneously. There are plenty of organizations out there looking for anyone willing to share their time, finding one that is a perfect fit should never be too far out of reach.

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Get Fit at 50 to Embrace 80

Choosing to lead a healthier lifestyle, never truly has an age limit. Many people in their 20s and 30s pick-up on the trend of health awareness and begin their journey around that time in their lives. However, studies have shown that as middle-age approaches, there is a priority shift away from personal well-being. Contrary to popular belief, a person’s 40s and 50s are some of the best years to optimize one’s health and fitness.

 

One of the most important tasks someone approaching middle-aged can do is make sure they are fully aware of their health. For example, someone who may have previously smoked for many years, but eventually quit, will likely want to withstand some tests, making sure their lungs are on the road to recovery. The only person who knows exactly what their body has endured is the individual themselves and making sure no repercussions occurred due to past experiences is vital to continue ageing in a healthy way.

 

A report in the Washington Post shared physician, Andrew Weil’s advice on health aging. Weil’s approach focuses directly on the relationships, especially creating ones that encourage achieving healthy goals. For those seeking a healthier lifestyle, it is crucial to surround themselves with like-minded individuals. Finding or even starting a group with people who have an objective to keep active is a great way to hold someone accountable for continuing a healthy mindset. By maintaining social relationships with those who are willing to support and even help someone seeking a better life for themselves is very important to the overall process.

 

Unfortunately, for too many people, deciding to focus on health and fitness comes after a life-altering event. Many people look back and wish they would have changed their lifestyle prior to the incident, however they inevitably change for the better, which is the most important part. Taking preventative measures, while still having the capabilities necessary to continue living independently likely to save not only grief and aggravation but a life. Although many people believe they are well and by their own personal standards, feel fine, doing everything possible to make sure optimal health is reachable is a great way for middle-aged adults to lead their lives.

 

For those approaching their golden years, setting up for a successful transition is as easy as being in control of your own health. Having a complete awareness for every health concern is one essential aspect to formulating healthy middle-aged years. Don’t wait until it’s too late, fit at 50 is possible!

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Superfoods and Their Super Abilities

With the ever-changing trends in foods, it is sometimes hard to keep up with the latest lingo and new products. Recently, a huge focus has shifted to the incorporation of “superfoods” into every diet, but many are confused by the term and what it takes for something to be considered part of this group. Remaining knowledgeable in regards to which foods truly provide the right nutrients for our bodies to continue on a healthy path is crucial, especially when age becomes a factor.

 

What Are They?

According to Health.com, there is no medical or legal definition for a superfood. Nutritionists consider foods of this group to be powerhouses, loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. There are countless foods out there that contain all of these elements, but health professionals are encouraging people to utilize the ones with the highest levels of each. A lotl of food items have been labeled as a “superfood” and it is important to recognize why they have earned the title. Here are a few fan-favorites from each food group and the reason they are so “super”;

 

  • Blueberries: filled with fiber, vitamin C, and cancer-fighting compounds
  • Salmon: contains omega-3 fatty acids, which the body cannot produce by itself (prevents heart disease)
  • Broccoli: high levels of vitamin C and folate (helps reduce risk of certain cancers)
  • Oats: full of fiber, magnesium, and potassium, helping to boost metabolism (and in certain forms tastes delicious!)

 

Benefits of Eating Them

Experts say that eating superfoods on a regular basis can significantly improve health in more way than one. Of course, ultimately healthier bodies are an advantage to eating superfoods, but they have also been proven to prevent chronic illnesses. By consuming these foods, people are additionally prolonging their lives and giving themselves one consisting of good health. Certain superfoods mentioned above have actually helped in lowering blood pressure and other pre-existing medical conditions. The examples above just begin to scratch the surface of the benefits that come from superfoods, and by consuming at least one superfood on a daily basis (alongside an overall healthy diet), quality of life is destined for improvement.

 

Food trends are becoming a huge part of society and people are becoming more concerned about exactly what they are putting in their mouths. Certain foods have become a part of the “superfoods” group, consisting of large amounts of key nutrients needed to help improve the overall health of our bodies. Including these foods into a diet has benefits beyond belief and should be considered of high importance to those conscious about healthy living.

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Stay Fit From Home

 

Who says you need a gym membership to stay active and in good health? Many people are making the transition to using in-home techniques for working out, especially those with limited access to a fitness center. The growing trend of working out from the comfort of your own home has become easier to accomplish every day. Through various online resources and programs which bring wellness coaches right to your home, staying fit is accessible at any age.

 

The internet has become a great resource for finding useful tips when it comes to health and wellness. As the largest source of online videos, YouTube, has also become a bank for easy to follow in-home workouts. By simply using the search bar one can effortlessly find the routine that best suits their individual goals and ability levels. For example, those just starting out with their fitness training should use key terms when searching such as “low-impact” or “beginner level”, usually followed by the style of workout desired (i.e. cardio, weight training, yoga). Those with more advanced training intentions, finding a video suited for targeted areas of improvement are just as straightforward. Here is a great example of a result when “low-impact cardio for beginners” was searched. The internet has truly done wonders for those seeking different techniques to improve their workout routines, especially when it comes to those not able to leave their homes.

 

Another great system for those hoping to avoid the chaos of a gym is the utilization of in-home trainers. This concept not only includes purchasing equipment for the home but also hiring personal trainers, who come to your location and demonstrate best exercises for your fitness desires. Most personal trainers who travel to your home provide their own equipment, but purchasing personal equipment is definitely beneficial for days off from the training sessions in order to continue improving fitness! Amazon provides some high-quality pieces for reasonable prices, which would make great additions to any home fitness plan.

 

Certain circumstances may limit people from leaving their house on a daily basis to complete their exercise routines. With today’s technology advances, it has become much easier to continue achieving fitness objectives from the comfort of your own home. There are also plenty of programs and individuals willing to provide their training services at a location best suited for the fitness seeker’s needs. Getting and remaining in shape doesn’t require a gym, but a little determination and dedication can help get the fitness goals you desire!

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5 Ideas for Continuing to Work After Retirement

 

When it comes to completing a career and retiring many people are hesitant to completely give up on the idea of working. Studies have shown that keeping busy and involved in the workforce after retirement, is beneficial to overall health and prolonging of life. There are an infinite number of options for those not wanting to just golf, sit on the beach, or visit their grandkids, in order to continue working in a productive environment.

 

Previous Employer

There are a lot of people who after retirement miss their previous place of employment, and therefore seek a chance to continue working in the same or a similar field. Many times, an employer feels a mutual connection with the retiree and will offer them to remain a member of the team in a part-time position. If the positive relationship is reciprocal, there is no need for it to end, when a new role can be created for the individual looking to retire.

 

Nonprofit/Volunteer Work

Although a large portion of nonprofits seek volunteer work there are many organizations who seek part-time employees to assist on projects. Finding a cause meaningful to someone, and putting any extra time and efforts towards supporting that cause is a great way to remain sharp after finishing a career. Participating in programs such as tutoring, animal care, and fundraising are just a few opportunities requiring limited manpower for retirees.

 

Consultant Work

Doing consulting work is an ideal post-retirement situation especially for those with unique niches or experience. Money Crashers recommends such an experience, as most consultants have the flexibility to set their own hours, as well, give expert insight on an area in which they possess a vast amount knowledge. Participating as a consultant is a great way for a retiree with a specific background to decide the amount of time they want to continue to be a part of the workforce.

 

Personal Retail

Upon hearing “working in retail,” many think this means becoming a cashier or working for a department store, however, the retail industry has become more of a personal experience in recent times. With a countless number of “be your own boss” industries popping up, there are so many opportunities for a retiree to continue working, but from the comfort of their own home. With makeup companies such as Mary Kay to clothing lines like Lularoe, those who have completed their careers can continue to make an income, while having fun!

 

Hobby Related Work

Finding a job that supports a beloved hobby or interest, additionally gives those who have completed a career, a way to continue growing. Say, for example, someone enjoys crafting and creating handmade items. With websites such as Etsy, individuals can open their own unique online boutique and create a profit from doing something they are passionate about. Doing something you love and making money from it, what better way to keep busy!

 

There are a lot of people who fear the word “retirement”, as they feel life as they know it will be coming to an end. For those wanting to continue being productive and not simply wait around for the next adventure, finding work after retirement can help support a longer and healthier lifestyle. Distinguishing the right balance of ending a career and continuing to follow a passion can create a whole new chapter in life!

 

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Top 5 Healthy Food Substitutions

It’s never too late (or too early) to start adjusting your diet towards becoming healthier for the sake of your body. If you typically don’t spend your time experimenting with foods in the kitchen, then you won’t know about the healthy substitutes that you can use in your cooking. By substituting these simple, everyday foods, for ingredients that typically make your meals unhealthy, you can enjoy all the foods you love while contributing to the overall health of your body, and longevity of life!

 

Black Beans

When thinking about luscious cakes, brownies, and sweet treats, black beans are the last thing that would come to mind, right? However, if you’re looking to cut calories and carbs, while still enjoying your sweet desserts, black beans are the way to go. The legumes are considered one of the healthiest foods for your body, as they are packed with protein and fiber. Substituting black beans for flour in your baking dishes will allow you to maximize your nutrition without noticing a taste difference. Wherever a recipe calls for a cup of flour, use a cup of black beans, well drained and mashed.

 

Olive Oil

The ever so popular mediterranean diet has caused many to switch their diets for optimal health, and olive oil plays a key part. Olives are one of the oldest food sources known to mankind, including one of the healthiest. Olives are filled with OMega-3 fatty acids that your body needs to function properly. Instead of using the typical vegetable oil, opt it for olive oil. It is also great for making dressings or cooking dishes (although its health benefits are optimized when unheated).

 

Greek Yogurt

You’ve heard about the health craze all over. Greek yogurt is not going anywhere thanks to its high nutritional benefits. Greek yogurt is packed with high protein, and less sugar, sodium, and fat compared to regular yogurt. Greek yogurt is also great for substitutes. Instead of using mayo or sour cream in your daily cooking, plain greek yogurt will make your meals much more nutritious without a taste difference. It’s also great for making dressings, desserts, and baking because of its thick and creamy texture.

 

Wine

Wine is also considered part of the mediterranean diet. Known as the Drink of the Gods, the ancient drink comes with more health benefits than any other alcoholic drink out there. For one, many studies have shown that wine can play a role in preventing depression and anti-aging due to the high amount of antioxidants made with the drink (with moderate consumption). It’s also a great drink to sip when out at the bar with friends or relaxing at home, as wine is significantly lower in calories compared to sugary and sweet cocktails.

 

Applesauce, Dates & Cinnamon

There’s nothing evil about sugar, spice, and everything nice in those beautiful iced cupcakes and luscious chocolate cakes, right? Wrong. Many experts have found that sugar can actually become as addictive to humans as some drugs. Sugar is responsible for obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases, as it converts to fat in our bodies. The new guidelines show that men and women should not consume more than 6-9 teaspoons of sugar per day. The key is to stay away from as much added sugar as you can, however, it is still possible to enjoy sweet treats. One old fashioned trick is to substitute applesauce in recipes that call for sugar. This also allows your item to become more moist. Another trick is to add dates to recipes that call for sugar. Dates are naturally sweet, so you won’t notice the taste difference. Cinnamon is also a great spice to substitute sugar for. Recent studies have found that cinnamon has amazing health benefits that could positively impact your health. Try adding cinnamon to your coffee or oatmeal instead of sugar!

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The Best Health Apps 2017

As technology and education continues to revolutionize and empower human beings, there is no better time to focus on your personal health and fitness than now. The ease and flexibility of having a fitness app on your phone allows you more time and motivation to workout throughout the day and keep up with your health. Here are the top health apps you should have on your phone for optimal daily motivation.

 

Workout Trainer

This app is great for those looking to stay active throughout the day. If you get bored of the same, boring routine, then this app is for you. Workout trainer provides you with hundreds of workouts from strength training, to cardio, to yoga and relaxation. You get to pick what type of workout you’re feeling that day and which muscles you want to strengthen. This app will ensure that you’re staying physically active throughout the day with many different options for you to choose from. This is a great app to switch up your routine, while keeping track of your daily activity.

 

Yoga Studio

If you’re tired of driving back and forth to the yoga studio every morning, while traffic is far from allowing you to destress. Yoga Studio is the app for you. First of all, yoga should be relaxing, and there is nothing relaxing about paying a costly monthly fee for joining yoga studios each month. Yoga studio is a great app to use throughout your day. All you need is a relaxing, quiet space to turn your home into the same comfort as a yoga studio. The app offers a variety of virtual yoga classes from beginner to advanced practices. Save time and money by implementing this app into your lifestyle, and be on the road to a relaxing and stress free daily routine.

 

My Fitness Pal

Part of living a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise is planning out and monitoring your daily activity and the foods you eat. My Fitness Pal is a great app for those on the go. The app allows you to scan or enter in details about any foods you eat throughout the day. It also allows you to enter in your daily physical activity, which can be linked to other apps in your phone. The app will keep track of the nutrition of your daily foods, such as calories, carbs, sodium, etc, while tracking your physical activity. You can also set goals such as weight loss, and the app will help you with a target of calories to intake daily, and exercises to practice throughout the day.

 

Sleep Cycle

One of the biggest aspects of living a healthy lifestyle is getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep Cycle is a great app to keep track of your sleeping. It works through a motion sensor in your phone and a microphone which is able to be heard when you move around in your sleep. It also has an alarm feature that will softly wake you up, allowing you to train your body to go to sleep and wake up at a consistent routine time. The key to your daily productivity is sleep, therefore this app will allow you to start the day right.

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5 Health Benefits of Yoga

Yoga and meditation have been studied and practiced for thousands of years. The primary idea of yoga is to find peace and happiness between yourself and your body in the outside world. Even if you consider yourself happy, the practice gives you a boost in your life through the way that you think. Yoga is a great way to enhance your health and wellness, and is an excellent practice for those looking to age well. The practice fights against stressors and allows you to find peace within your mind, while strengthening your physical body as well. Through consistent yoga practice, you can increase your health through these benefits

 

Mental Health

Yoga has a great positive effect on various mental health diseases. Yoga allows you to become one with yourself through practice, ultimately decreasing negative thoughts. The brain is able to relax and focus on one thing only: the practice. Studies have shown that consistent yoga practice has had a positive impact on patients fighting mental health struggles. It is one of the most positive homeopathic medicines available for mental diseases.

 

Muscle Strength

Yoga also comes with the benefits of a daily workout. If you’re looking to build up muscle strength, yoga is a great practice. Because you are using your own body weight, you aren’t pressured of dealing with free weights, which could be harmful if not practiced correctly. When using your own body weight, you have the ability to build the strength you need naturally through practice.

 

Increased Flexibility

Your body’s flexibility is very important when it comes to working out. When your muscles aren’t stretched before and after a workout, you risk the chance of developing an injury. Yoga allows you to increase your flexibility and loosen your muscles. Through practice, you’ll see a great difference in your typical workouts and exercises.

 

Better Breathing

Because you are focusing on your breath and your body during yoga, you practice the art of better breathing. Breathing allows you to calm your body down and receive the oxygen it needs to circulate through your blood in your body. During yoga practice, your body practices circulation and increases the functions of your organs as you practice breathing techniques.

 

Sleep Better

Yoga is also great for those who have problems with sleeping. As yoga calms the body down through the practice of breathing and mindfulness, you’ll feel more at peace and calm after your practice. As your body is relaxed, you will be able to sleep better at night, which is essential for your health and daily function.

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How Nutrition Impacts Age

A new study – Nutritional Considerations for Health Aging and Reduction in Age-Related Chronic Diseases – featured in Advances in Nutrition found that improving nutritional education within the healthcare system may promote healthier aging and reduce the financial burden of the aging population.

 

It is estimated that by the year 2050, almost 400 million people will be 80 years or older. This estimate is almost three times higher than in 2013. According to the published report, a growing number of this population will be susceptible to a concept known as nutritional frailty – a condition in older adults involving the sudden loss of weight and strength that increases the chance of experiencing disability. The growing number of obese older adults is also vulnerable to nutritional frailty and its associated diseases such as sarcopenia, mental decline, and infectious diseases.

 

The study determined that a specific model describing the various factors that influence food choices needs to be established to increase the understanding behind older adults and their food intake and meal quality. Recently, a new model was designed to monitor food intake in older adults in addition to the inclusion of randomised clinical studies. This model will help determine the specific nutritional requirements and biomarkers needed to further understand the impact of increasing age on areas such as necessary protein intake and muscle turnover. The study’s finding will also help establish new BMI guidelines tailored to the aging population.

 

According to Gilles Bergeron, the executive director at The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences, “A nutritional assessment model that takes into consideration the effect of aging on muscle mass, weight loss and nutrient absorption is crucial to overall wellness in our elderly population,”. He continues, “However, nutrition recommendations are usually based on that of a typical healthy adult, and fail to consider the effect of aging on muscle mass, weight loss, and nutrient absorption and utilisation..”
Simin Nikbin Meydani, director of the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, agrees with Bergeron’s views on the need for personalised nutrition recommendations stating, “much greater emphasis needs to be placed on prioritising research that will fill the knowledge gaps and provide the kind of data needed by health and nutrition experts if we’re going to address this problem,”. She adds, “There also needs to be more education about on-going nutritional needs for those involved with elder-care — not only in a clinical setting, but also for family members who are responsible for aging adults.”

 

Simin Nikbin Meydani, director of the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, agrees with Bergeron’s views on the need for personalized nutrition recommendations stating, “much greater emphasis needs to be placed on prioritizing research that will fill the knowledge gaps and provide the kind of data needed by health and nutrition experts if we’re going to address this problem,”. She adds, “There also needs to be more education about on-going nutritional needs for those involved with elder-care — not only in a clinical setting, but also for family members who are responsible for aging adults.”

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Age in Your Own Home

As our aging population continues to increase, many people prefer to live out their retired years in their own homes. There is a lot to be said for the comforts of home. This may not be practical for some. For those who are independent and capable, aging at home might be a good option with a few modifications for better safety.

 

Johns Hopkins University conducted a study of the risks and possibilities for aging in place. The study assessed the capabilities of older adults as related to daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, and meeting nutritional needs. An evaluation of problem areas in homes was done, and the services of a handyman were used to make the suggested improvements needed. It was determined that a few affordable modifications could make a big difference.

 

Minimising falls was one of the most important measures taken. This can be accomplished by adding grab bars at showers, tubs, and toilets. Installing handrails inside and outside the home also helps. Adding night lighting or dimmable lights is another simple modification.

 

Other areas of improvement might include changing batteries in smoke and CO detectors, putting in a taller toilet, adding non-slip mats to bathrooms and other wet areas, and adjusting water heater temperatures to prevent scalding. Getting rid of throw rugs is one of the safest things that can be done that doesn’t cost anything. Most of these simple modifications can be accomplished for less than $500.

 

If aging in place is something you or your loved one prefers, it makes very good sense to have an in-home assessment of your capabilities. There are trained professional who specialise in senior and special needs living. Many of these are Occupational Therapists. Once an assessment is completed, you should consult with a licensed contractor or handyman to give you advice and a cost estimate for making upgrades.

 

It is a good idea to get to know a reliable handyman who can keep up with the minor maintenance needs of your or your loved one’s home. Even if you just need light bulbs changed, having a good relationship with someone you trust will make things so much easier.

 

You can ask for information on in-home safety assessments from your healthcare provider, your local senior centre, or from AARP and its affiliates. Here is a home safety checklist to help you get started with the process. It is best to do this before a fall happens.

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