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Eating Right and Exercising are Key to Healthy Aging

National Council on Aging
National Council on Aging
Taking Simple Steps to Change Old Habits Bring Big Dividends.

Taking care of our minds and bodies as we age is as simple as eating right and staying healthy.  Poor nutritional habits and lack of physical exercise can lead to several health issues and diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Jordan Guillot, wellness program supervisor at Vantage Health Plan, explains that education is the key to enhancing quality of life.  “You are not old till you are cold in the first place.  You are as old as your mind thinks you are.” 

By gradually changing deeply ingrained cultural habits, it is possible to lead a happy and healthy life.

Guillot elucidates that, often, eating habits are culturally determined.  For instance, in the southern United States, people eat too much salt, sweets, animal fats (saturated fats), and fried food that may lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes. 

He admits, “Cultural habits and traditions will not get completely changed.  Start with small changes.” 

One of the myths people often believe is that chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease can be reversed.  Guillot clarifies that “the damage has been done.  The goal is to change the underlying causes.”  The disease may not be reversed but it can be controlled by diet and exercise.

Dr. Sharma's full interview with Jordan Guillot.

Guillot focuses on the exercise aspect of making positive changes in life. He says that exercise includes “implementing functional tasks,”  It's about making people “more efficient at their tasks of daily living” such as walking, standing up and sitting without support or with minimal support, picking up groceries, setting plates in the cabinet, cooking, walking to the mail box, etc.  These are simple tasks but they reflect the quality of life of an aging individual.

Guillot sums up that “Quantity of life is important, don’t get me wrong, but the quality of life will make a difference in every aspect of your life and generally that will lead to more quantity of life.”

Anita Sharma Ph.D., LCSW, is a Gerontology and Social Work Educator, Researcher, and Practitioner. She holds an M.A. in Medical and Psychiatric Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, a prestigious social sciences university in India, a Master of Social Work (clinical practice) and a Doctorate in Social Work from Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Louisiana and serves as a pro bono consultant to various agencies.
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