Fitness Beyond Exercise: The Importance of Sleep, Nutrition & Social Engagement

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Fitness Beyond Exercise: The Importance of Sleep, Nutrition & Social Engagement

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When it comes to health and wellness, many people immediately think of exercise. While that’s undoubtedly an essential part of one’s wellbeing, there’s much more to it. There are six dimensions of wellness, and it’s crucial for seniors to be holistic in their approach to staying healthy. Sleep, nutrition, and social engagement are just the beginning when it comes to staying well.

At Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS) and the Episcopal Church Home (ECH), we believe there are dimensions of wellness: physical, social, emotional, intellectual, vocational, and spiritual. Exercise — everyone’s go-to when it comes to health — primarily impacts your physical and emotional health. It can also be part of social health, depending on your exercise of choice. But what about the other elements of health? 

It might sound like a lot, but balancing these various dimensions of wellness doesn’t have to be complicated. Let’s look at some of the best ways to care for yourself and promote overall wellbeing as you age.

Take a Holistic Approach to Wellness As You Age 

1. Exercise

We’ve already established exercise supports your physical health and that your wellness plan should go beyond fitness. Still, make it a priority to have some form of movement in your day — whether that’s taking a walk, going for a bike ride, playing a sport, or any other form of activity you enjoy. Cardio exercises improve your cardiovascular health, strength moves help your muscles stay strong, and flexibility flows like yoga can help you stay limber. 

Remember, though, exercise also supports your emotional wellness by triggering the release of endorphins that reduce stress and boost self-esteem. 

2. Sleep

Your body needs plenty of rest to function at its best. Make sure you’re getting to bed on time at night. If you can create a consistent sleep schedule, your body will thank you! Naturally, sleep supports your physical and emotional wellness.

3. Eat Well

The most important thing to remember here is balance. Treats are great, but balance sweets with nutrient-dense foods like fruits and veggies. Make smart meal choices to give your body the nutrients it needs to function optimally. 

4. Socialize with Others

Connecting with others is vital for us as humans. We’re social beings, after all! So, spend some time each day socializing with someone else. 

You could play games, start a club, or just talk and catch up. These activities support your social wellness, which is important for your mind and spirit. It also helps your emotional health. When you have people you interact with regularly, you know you can turn to them in times of stress.

5. Keep Your Brain Sharp

Sudoku, crosswords, reading, board games do something each day that activates your brain. Engaging hobbies support your intellectual and emotional wellness. Completing puzzles gives you a feeling of accomplishment, and working through them gets you thinking, which makes your brain a little stronger each day. And, mix it up. A variety of brain-teasing recreation will keep you sharper than repeatedly playing your favorite game.

6. Do Something Meaningful

Volunteer in the community. Help someone you love. Support your children and learn about their interests. No matter what you choose to do, by doing something meaningful to you each day, you’ll support your vocational wellness and those around you. We’re all called to do something here on earth. Those callings may change, but they never fade. Find your newest calling and pursue it.

7. Pray, Meditate, or Care for Your Soul

The final dimension of wellness is spiritual. For some, the activities we’ve already listed may fulfill this need. You can also try praying, meditating, or engaging in some sort of activity that’s directed at your soul’s wellbeing.

Caring for your holistic wellness shouldn’t feel like work. It should make your body, mind, and spirit feel good. 

Seniors who live in independent living retirement communities often find it easier to keep up with different dimensions of wellness. They have more opportunities to socialize, have access to dining services, and don’t need to worry about home upkeep. Many retirement communities also offer seniors ways to get involved in volunteer programs and host events and activities that promote senior engagement. 

Fitness extends far beyond exercise, so make sure you’re caring for your whole self.

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Kristin Davenport
By
April 15, 2021
Kristin Davenport is the Director of Communications for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Kristin leads ERS’s efforts to share stories that delight and inspire through social media, online content, annual reports, magazines, newsletters, public relations, and events. Kristin earned her BFA in graphic design from Wittenberg University. She joined ERS after a 25-year career as a visual journalist and creative director in Cincinnati. Kristin is passionate about making Cincinnati a dementia-inclusive city. She is a Lead SAIDO Learning Supporter and a member of the ‘Refresh Your Soul’ conference planning team at ERS. Kristin and her husband Alex, live in Lebanon, Ohio with their 2 daughters. She also serves as a Trustee and the President of the Lebanon Food Pantry and is a board member for ArtScape Lebanon.

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