For Health: Jumpstart your day with breakfast. Try a high-fiber cereal topped with berries. For Fun: Visit the State Farmers Market and select fruits offered there. It makes for a nice outing as well as a great resource for fresh fruits and veggies. Open everyday!
For Health: Get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Walk briskly, bike, swim, hike, play tennis, chase your grandkids, do wateraerobics, dance. For Fun: Walk or bike at Saluda Shoals Park. You’ll love the paved trails, the benches by the rushing Saluda River and quiet peace. Open everyday!
For Health: Strengthen your muscles twice a week to ward off frailty and muscle loss. Climb stairs, mow the grass, rake leaves, dig in a garden, lift weights, use an exercise band. For Fun: Join a local gym where you can find like-minded folks and take classes together. The YMCA of Columbia offers Aqua Zumba, Silver Sneakers, Group Exercise and Water Aerobics for Active Older Adults.
For Health: Select nutrient-dense foods. Choose colorful fruits and vegetables, fat-free milk and cheese, whole grains, seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds. For Fun: Go vegan occasionally! It’s a delicious and fun experience at Good Life Cafe on Main St. in downtown Columbia. Open everyday!
For Health: Split bulk items or fresh produce with friends if you are on a fixed income. Fresh Food Boxes are available from a number of partner sites across the Midlands. Each box is filled with 12 -15 varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables. With the contents changing weekly, it’s an affordable and exciting way to eat healthy food. A large box costs $20 and a small box costs $15. SNAP cards are accepted. Go to foodsharesc.org/fresh-food-box for locations and details. For Fun: It’s a fun way to meet new people.
For Health: Share an entrée to control portion sizes. Or save half of your meal for tomorrow. For Fun: When dining out with a friend, spouse or date, agree ahead to split an entree and each get a salad or bowl of soup to get the meal going. Most restaurant entrees easily feed two.
For Health: Be good to yourself. Get enough sleep. For Fun: Lift your spirits by enjoying friends and family.
Grey Matter, Matters!
Incorporating healthy habits in your life can positively affect brain health. Though some factors, like genetics, cannot be controlled, there are many choices you can make to keep your mind in good shape as you age, and it’s never too early! The following are some tips for improving and maintaining your brain health and cognitive function:
Catch Those Z’s: Make sure you are sleeping enough, from 7 to 9 hours each night. Poor sleeping patterns can lead to memory problems and even mental health issues. If you do struggle with a sleeping disorder, Family Medicine Centers of South Carolina offers help. Dr. Stephen Serbin has special interest in Sleep Medicine and Geriatrics.
Butt Out: Smokers should consider giving up the habit for a variety of reasons, including the risk of cognitive decline from long term smoking. The good news is, quitting at any age can lead to a healthier brain and body! If you need help, DHEC has several smoking cessation programs available to you.
Brain Food: There’s growing evidence that what you eat can affect the health of your brain. Incorporating a new diet, like the MIND diet (Mediterranean-Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) recommends 10 “brain healthy food groups” a person should eat. Enroll in a cooking class at Good Life Cafe or Columbia’s Cooking, where they ‘make healthy taste delicious, or at Fleur De Lys Home Culinary Institute, a Columbia institution for over 30 years.
Balancing Act: Do balance and strength exercises to reduce the chance of a fall-related head or brain injury that can cause memory problems and/or impaired thinking. Yoga classes can improve your balance through various poses. Find a class through one of the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission’s “50 & Better” programs.
Mix & Mingle: Stay connected with others through social activities and community programs to keep your brain active and to improve well-being. Added benefits include learning new skills and feeling a more solid sense of purpose by engaging with and helping others. Consider volunteering your time with an organization such as Senior Resources, Inc., which has opportunities for every area of interest such as Meals on Wheels, special events, Senior Center classes, or taking food to pets in need.
Brain Games: Stay sharp with brain games that work memory and language skills. Online games and phone apps like Lumosity, Peak, and Elevate will give you a quick mental workout.