Vail Daily column: Keep moving and eat well to live a longer life
Colorado’s label as the best place to live was just publicized once again. Our mountain communities of Summit, Eagle and Pitkin counties made national news recently, when a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association ranked these communities as having some of the highest life expectancy numbers in the nation.
I have read scholarly articles hypothesizing many theories as to why this is. While I do agree that socioeconomic factors play a big part, it is my opinion that remaining physically active, eating well and maintaining social interactions are more important. I know it is a generality, but regardless of age, most people living in the mountain communities of Colorado are more concerned about healthy lifestyles.
Growing up in a metropolitan city, I witnessed many of my childhood friends’ parents use and view their education as a means to gain affluence. Too often, it was a detrimental path leading to work exhaustion, little family time and the fear and stress of losing it all. I find people living in the mountain towns place greater value on a balanced life.
For me, there is little wondering why Colorado mountain towns exceed the nation as a whole in life expectancy. Seniors in these communities have spent a lifetime being active, and most maintain a very healthy diet.
When we provide senior home care in places such as Breckenridge, Keystone and Frisco, our caregivers are assisting people in their 80s and 90s. While we assist them with errands, doctor appointments and meal preparation, we also accompany them on hikes, gardening and visits to the recreation centers. These clients are active. We have no clients in their 60s and 70s in Summit County.
Our homecare clients in Vail, Edwards, Beaver Creek, Eagle and the roaring Fork Valley are equally active. As a cohort, we notice that clients in these areas are also quite social. Some have social calendars that would easily challenge a person in high school or college. The many seniors we provide care for inspire me — not all are healthy or wealthy. Each and every one of them has vigor for life.
I got the following from Kaiser Permanente’s Thrive website and couldn’t present any better information or suggestions on how to prepare to live well:
• Keep moving: Do something active each day — something you enjoy and that maintains your strength, balance, flexibility and heart health. As you get older, you can lose lean muscle, leaving you at risk for falls.
• Eat well: As you get older, you may find that you need less food, so make every calorie count. Many conditions — such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis — can be prevented or controlled with dietary changes and exercise.
• Drink water: Water in your diet is important. Along with fiber, water helps prevent dehydration and constipation.
• Sleep: Get plenty of restful sleep. Your body needs to heal, and it does this while sleeping.
As you get older, what you put into your body and how you exercise maters. Prepare to live well!
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. Contact him at 970-328-5526 or visit http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns.