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6 Healthy Habits of Super Agers

My grandmother was an amazing woman who could recite book passages from memory, recall minute details from decades past, and beat anyone at Scrabble until the day she passed at 96 years old. She spent much of her 80s and 90s caregiving for her cousin and sister-in-law, volunteering for numerous organizations, running from choir practice to literary club, socializing with family and friends, and overseeing hundreds of acres of farmland. Not only that, but she was very spry and moved around with the grace of someone much younger.

She was well-known in her community, and people often marveled at how she could do it all. What accounted for her ability to thrive while so many of her peers dealt with physical and mental decline?

Researchers are studying people like my grandma and trying to figure out what makes them tick. Some of these exceptional seniors are being categorized as super agers—adults over age 80 who have the mental capacity of individuals who are at least three decades younger.

Studies of super agers are ongoing, and while there is probably a biological element to super agers, lucky genes don’t tell the whole story. Lifestyle habits can also influence a person’s chance of becoming a super ager.

Are you ready to help your brain remain as strong as possible as you age?

Check out these six healthy habits of super agers!

1. Super Agers Stay Physically Active

Studies show that regular physical activity positively affects cognitive function in older adults. The CDC recommends adults aged 65 and older need:

  • At least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking.
  • At least two days a week of activities that strengthen muscles.
  • Plus activities to improve balance.

Check out these 5 Stretches Than Can Help You Stay Flexible as You Age!

2. Super Agers Eat Well

According to the Mayo Clinic, the ability to maximize memory function may be related to what you eat, and eating a nutritious diet that’s good for your heart may also be good for your brain. A diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, fish, healthier fats, herbs and seeds is best for boosting your brain.

3. Super Agers Control Their Blood Pressure

Most people are aware that high blood pressure can lead to heart attack and stroke, but fewer realize that it can play a role in causing dementia and damage to brain function, too.

A recent study found changes to nine parts of the brain were related to higher blood pressure and worse cognitive function. One area of the brain affected by high blood pressure is the putamen, which is responsible for regulating movement and influencing various types of learning.

Super agers control their blood pressure by eating well and exercising and through medication.

4. Super Agers Challenge Themselves Mentally

My grandma loved to sing, play the piano, read, do crossword puzzles, and play games with her friends.

These activities weren’t just good for passing time; they helped to stimulate and engage her brain on a daily basis. Forbes references a study that shows how brain exercises help older adults maintain reasoning skills and speed of cognition after 10 years—and another study that concludes older adults who learn a complex new activity like quilting or photography enhance their memories.

If you’re in search of some new ways to keep your brain engaged, check out these seven ideas!

5. Super Agers are Social

A recent study found that older adults who connect every day with others have less brain shrinkage than those who have seldom contact with family and friends.

Many seniors worry about a diminishing social life, but there are many opportunities to connect with others. Joining a club, volunteering, getting a part-time job, getting involved in a church, and visiting family and friends are all ways seniors can stay engaged.

Learn about seven ways to maintain healthy relationships with people in your life.

6. Super Agers Avoid Stress

Researchers recently found that people with elevated stress levels are 37% more likely to have poor cognition. Feeling stress is normal and natural, but it can become a problem when it’s chronic and your mind and body don’t get relief or relaxation. Check out these 10 stress management strategies and make positive changes that can help you find peace of mind.

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