Advice from the Blue Zones: Avoid the Sitting Disease

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Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 65– 6/8/15

Yes, I know I’ve talked about the sitting disease before, but it bears repeating! 

In Sardinia, Italy, walking is a regular part of people’s lives.  In Okinawa, most people are not only avid walkers, but gardeners as well.  In the Nicoya Peninsula, people take pleasure in physical labor throughout their lives.  In the Greek Island of Ikaria, even the elderly walk, bicycle, or work daily in their gardens.  These are some of the “blue zones” of the world, where people regularly live to be 100+, as well as avoiding age-related illnesses and dementia.  These people are natural movers.  Their living environment encourages this regular physical activity.

What a stark contrast to our sedentary lifestyles in most of the United States!  The “sitting disease” is alive and well here; too much sitting causes obesity, along with higher risks for heart attacks, diabetes and other chronic illnesses, (all of which can lead to an earlier death).

Additionally, according to research discussed in this article from Medical News Today, exercise alone may not be able to counteract the effects of the sitting disease.  Along with a regular exercise routine, we also need to get up off our butts, stand up and walk around periodically. All it takes is from one to three minutes of standing up and moving around every 30 minutes.  Check out this Harvard Health article to find out more about the sitting disease, along with related posts about exercise and fitness.  

Take a stand against the sitting disease at the Just Stand website! 

4 Ways to Combat Sitting Disease 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2015

Got the Gratitude Attitude?

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 64 – 6/1/15

The other night I couldn’t get to sleep.  I’d had a difficult day at work and it kept me tossing and turning. Perhaps you’re familiar with that negative tape that continues to wind and rewind through your brain at night? Finally I managed to stop myself and put my mind to thinking about things I’m grateful for.  Not the typical stuff, like having a good marriage, an awesome daughter, and good health (though I am thankful for those things). 

No, this was all about the weird stuff.  Like I’m grateful for the sound of a train at night; for some reason, it makes me feel good.  I love cloud pictures and how they morph from one thing to another.  Frost on the windowpanes in the winter, which always make me pause to check out the intricate designs.  Ditto rivulets of water on a car window when driving on a rainy day. The smell of a freshly cut lawn. Hearing the song Somewhere over the Rainbow sung by Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole (who left this earth far too soon, in June of 1997) and of course, rainbows (especially those rare double rainbows).   

Beautiful rainbow over a rain forest mountain

Finally, I’m grateful to have the ability to get up and write down my ideas at 4:30 in the morning! 

In her book, The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky wrote that expressing gratitude is the #1 “happiness activity.”  Ms. Lyubomirsky had the research to back up her assertions; but to be honest, I don’t need an expert to know that being grateful is good for me and makes me happier (along with helping me fall asleep).  I mean, it simply makes sense, doesn’t it?  

I can only speak for myself – but I know that when I’m taking my life for granted and get cranky or ticked off because things simply aren’t going my way, God has a way of showing me something that stops me in my tracks.  I’ll be watching the news, and see someone who has really big problems.  I’ll click on one of those FB posts about a child who’s suffering from a rare cancer. I’ll think about my oldest sister, who’s had her independence greatly hindered because of deteriorating eyesight; or my sister-in-law, who survived cancer and other health issues, with the help of PMA (positive mental attitude).  

Along with helping me sleep, gratitude for my life helps me focus on the positive, enhances my self-confidence, decreases my stress, and simply helps me appreciate the good stuff about growing older. And it sure beats the heck out of walking around with a dark cloud above my head.  

How about you?  What does gratitude do for you? 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bea’s New Pages!

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 63 – 5/29/15

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Bea’s Buzz for Friday

Bea’s recent efforts to get out of a blue mood led her to thinking of ways to perk up Bea Boomer’s Wellness.  

As a result, Bea is buzzing about two new pages she’s adding, which will be available on Tuesday, June 2nd.

  • Vital Aging Tips  will provide you with quick tips for health and wellness as you grow older (we’re not just “getting old,” you know – we are growing, even as we age.)  For Bea, that’s the key to vital aging.  This page will be updated with a new tip every Tuesday.  
  • Vital Aging Links will provide you with healthy living resources for your quick reference, separated by categories such as healthy eating, exercise, brain fitness, and the like.  Bea is still figuring out the best way to develop this page (maybe you have some ideas – please email beaboomer@gmail.com or comment if you do, or if you’ve found great links that Bea can add to this page) 

 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009 – 2015

 

How to Boost your Memory

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 62– 5/27/15 

As a person from the middle years of the baby boomer generation (born in the fifties), I’m at an age where my memory is a concern.  I don’t want to lose it, and I want to keep my brain functioning well for as long as I can. At work or in social situations, I regularly hear people of my age, and even younger, complaining of memory problems. It doesn’t have to be that way – we have some power over it. We just need to take some simple steps, not only to improve our memory, but also to enhance our overall brain function.  

I know that at age 58, my memory is simply not trustworthy. Brain farts are a common occurrence. Too often, I resort to making lists and notes to remember things. Recent notes have included gentle reminders such as: take shower, go to work and make dinner.  Ok, I’m just kidding, my memory isn’t that bad.

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I’ve also gotten to the point of speaking to inanimate objects, such as the stove; as in, “I’ve shut off the stove.” This is so I won’t go crazy on my drive back to work, wondering if I turned the darn thing off.  I guess I won’t worry too much about this until I start having long conversations with my appliances.

My husband points out that since I’m always in a hurry, my memory is not the problem; it’s simply lack of concentration.  Memory experts would agree with that assertion. One way to combat that age-related forgetfulness is to take the time to focus on what it is you want to remember.  Distracted thinking leads to memory ‘burps.’

People who research this kind of stuff also point out that there are ways we can proactively address age-related memory issues. The actions I’ve taken, though they may sound silly, are actually good for my memory. 

Experts point out that making lists of important tasks helps keep them in your memory banks. Nowadays, you don’t need an old fashioned pen and paper list – cell phones provide reminder and note making applications.

Also, saying things out loud, such as repeating the name of a person after you’re introduced, helps store that information for later retrieval. 

A common sense way of keeping track of your reading glasses, keys or other commonly lost item is by simply putting them in the same spot every day. My husband is always preaching about this to me, and I have to admit that he seldom loses things.  

Another way to remember something like a person’s name is to create a picture in your mind based on the name. Which isn’t so tough if a person’s name is Harry Snow! Other names might be more difficult to create a mind visualization.

We can also make some lifestyle modifications to enhance our memory and other cognitive functions.  This includes regular exercise to increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain. Healthier eating and including antioxidant-rich foods to our diets is also important.  Playing strategic games, learning a new language, journaling, and taking an online college course can also help our brain functions.  Taking charge of our brain health is an important step for vital aging. 

When I did some research on the subject of memory, I found out what we all know to be true:  some memory loss is simply normal as we age.  It’s common for a person to occasionally lose their keys – what’s scary is forgetting what keys are used for, which can be a sign of dementia. People who have concerns about memory issues may want to address it with their doctors, to see if an underlying condition is causing it. If so, dealing with that condition will improve the memory concerns. 

For Further Reading:

Simple Techniques for Improving Memory 

Memory Boosters for Seniors: Vitamin b12 & Folic Acid

Improve your Memory with a Good Night’s Sleep

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009 – 2015

Living to be 100 – the Blue Zones

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 61– 5/25/15 

 

sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

Sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about centenarians lately. Recently in my workplace, employees had the opportunity to watch a Ted Talk video by Dan Buettner (How to Live to be 100). Beuttner pointed out that while it’s certainly not “easy” to live to 100, there are areas of the world where it is more common to do so.  He described the blue zones – places where people commonly live to a ripe old age.  And in my current class through Ed2Go (Healthy Aging), I read that centenarians are the fastest growing demographic group in the world.

One thing that struck me as I watched the video was that in these blue zone communities, there was a sense of respect for the elders (family came first, and that meant keeping parents and grandparents close, not casting them off in nursing homes) and a strong sense of community. The centenarians in these communities had a sense of belonging and of purpose.  

Lovely grandmother with her family outside their house

After all, what’s the point of a long life if you’re stuck in a nursing home or in your own home, vulnerable and isolated?  Our American society would do itself a favor by treating their elderly with respect and compassion. As individuals, we can also enhance our aging by having a “take charge” attitude toward our health and not letting those old age stereotypes govern our lives   According to health and aging researchers, we can add over a decade of to our lives, unhindered by age-related diseases,  simply by taking the measures followed by people in the “blue zones.” 

You can read more about aging in the blue zones in the March/April 2015 edition of the Positive Aging Newsletter from the Taos Institute. 

The Taos Institute 

You can get the newsletter sent directly to your inbox 

For further reading:

7 Cultures that Celebrate Aging and Respect their Elders. 

Places that you don’t live as an older person (scary and sad) 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009 – 2015

Quote for the Week: May 24, 2015

 

Stormy skies over Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from. (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Psychiatrist & Author, 1926 – 2004)

Read more about Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.  

 

Lost: Bea’s Sense of Humor

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 58– 5/15/15

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Bea’s Buzz for Friday: 

Lost – One Sense of Humor

Last Seen – May 10th, 2015

Reward $$ Offered for its Return! 

Please help Bea!  She’s lost her sense of humor. Really.  It’s causing her to take herself WAY too seriously and life seems so darned difficult!  Hopefully, she’s just misplaced it, like she misplaces her car keys and such (you know, this aging thing).  If Bea has lost her sense of humor completely, she’s simply doomed to a miserable life.

 She last saw her sense of humor while reading the Sunday newspaper. Silly woman, instead of checking out the Comics section, a gloom-and-doom headline caught her eye and just like that, her sense of humor walked out the door.

Then she noticed more bad news, and more and more and yikes, her sense of humor was running like heck down the road just to get away from Bea’s crabby self.

c166960_s  Oh, this is worse than just crabby – much worse!

Bea has to find her sense of humor as soon as possible.  Heck, everyone knows that humor makes our life struggles less difficult to bear and eases our stress.  

Laughter:

  • Relaxes us
  • Boosts our immune system
  • Releases endorphins (you know, those “feel good” chemicals)
  • Protects our heart
  • Helps defuse arguments
  • Enhances our friendships 
  • And so much more!

Bea has searched everywhere and now she’s getting desperate. There’s only one thing she can do! She needs to make herself laugh! But how?

Please help her, readers. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Need more encouragement to maintain your own sense of humor?