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Lifestyle tweaks for healthy aging

You want your kids to grow up happy and healthy, but you also need to take care of yourself. September is “Healthy Aging Month,” and here are some tips to help moms make beneficial lifestyle changes.

Diet

April Schetler, RD, a registered dietician with Virtua in South Jersey, suggests that you make your home a healthy food zone. “Last minute meal decisions are often unhealthy. During the weekend, try to take an hour to plan your meals for the week, then shop for the ingredients.”

Mom and college professor Dana Resente of Skippack, PA says diet is more important now that she no longer has the metabolism of a 20-year-old. “I am more aware of the calories, preservatives, and nutrients that I ingest. That isn’t to say that I don’t have an occasional soda or bag of chips. I just look for healthier choices.”

April Schetler, RD, will give a talk on "Food Swaps for a Leaner, Healthier You" at Virtua's 8th Annual Women's Health Symposium, Sept. 15 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

Healthy Aging magazine, based in Unionville, PA, notes that September is still harvest time, so seek out local farmers markets and buy local produce. Try to make foods from scratch and avoid processed foods.

For a new cooking technique, try a food or rice steamer. You can cook rice, vegetables and fish or chicken together. The steam retains flavor and nutrients without adding oils or butter.

Exercise

Joseph Grover, MD, OB/GYN chair at Delaware County Memorial Hospital, notes that “walking one mile, which takes 20 minutes at a leisurely 3 mph pace, will burn 100 calories. It doesn’t have to be 20 minutes straight. If you walk for five minutes four times a day, you’re burning the same amount of calories.”

 “Dance to incorporate some fun into your exercise regimen. It’s a good way to burn off calories, increase the heart rate and work up a sweat,” suggests the health site Livestrong.com. “Aim for 30 minutes a few times a week.”

“Walking one mile, which takes 20 minutes at a leisurly 3 mph pace, will burn 100 calories....If you walk for five minutes four times a day, you’re burning the same amount of calories.”

Habits

Review your snacking, your leisure time and other areas where unhealthy habits might lurk. Schetler cites estimates that it takes 28 days to break bad habits. “You have to give it time to get yourself over the hump. Start a journal and write down everything you eat; it will help you recognize bad choices.”

“Practicing self-control with small tasks like choosing to watch less TV, or choosing the apple instead of the slice of cake, can make it easier to manage self-control on bigger tasks, like staying on a regular exercise program or diet,” says Dr. Rosa Hyatt, MD, an OB/GYN at Riddle Hospital in Media, PA.

Other tips

Take an exercise class or join Weight Watchers with a friend to keep motivated. “Even if it’s not people you’re physically in touch with, you can get support from people on social media,” says Schetler.

Get regular doctor checkups. An annual evaluation “allows us to screen for illness as well as to educate patients and assist in optimizing their health,” says Dr. Grover.

Be realistic. “Don’t give yourself such a difficult target that you will be afraid to start or give up quickly,” Dr. Grover advises.

Larry Atkins is a freelance writer and teaches Journalism at Temple University and Arcadia University.

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