Local Doctor: Six Elements Can Help You Age Gracefully

Published 07/24 2014 11:16PM

Updated 07/25 2014 09:22PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Aging is an inevitable part of life. However, a local doctor says there are six elements that can help us grow older gracefully.

There are the obvious things like diet and exercise, but there are less obvious elements of equal importance when it comes to aging gracefully.

Meet Angie Fulbright, 51, and Sandy Tripp, 61.

How do these ladies stay fit and fabulous past 50?

Dr. Chris Shorter, a chiropractor, says there is six things a person can do that can really make them age gracefully. And on the top of that list is stress reduction.

"Stress could even be put up there just as high as things like exercise and eating healthy,” says Shorter. “The best example of how stress effects aging would be if you look at an oncoming president. Look at a picture of him before he goes into office and then you look at him four years after."

If you love your job, like Sandy and Angie, you'll age more gracefully.

"I enjoy teaching high school,” says Tripp.

“I’m an interior decorator,” says Fullbright. “I love what I do."

Shorter says even though stress is a chemical process, it affects physical appearance, too.

“When we deal with chemical stress or emotional stress, it appears in a physical way,” he says. “If you ever get stressed at work your shoulders start to tense up you start to get a headache. That's a physical presentation of a chemical emotion."

Fulbright and Tripp say they manage stress well.

“Everyone has stress,” says Fulbright. “You just have to find a way to manage it. I think that's where workout for me comes in."

Tripp focuses on stress at a more emotional level.

“I think I do have a positive attitude about life and things in general,” she says. “I have a strong faith in God and I feel like that has contributed a lot."

Another key element to aging gracefully is to stimulate your brain.

“Aging is not just about physical appearance, but it's about mental capabilities,” says Shorter.

“I try to read,” says Fulbright. “I try to play cognitive games. Anything that can keep your mind sharp and keep your memory going."

Even after retirement, Tripp tutors math.

“I find that after I tutor those kids I say, 'gosh, this is so good!'” she says.

Learn something out of your comfort zone.

“When you do that there are studies that show that people who are educated tend to live longer,” says Shorter.

Dr. Shorter says one of the best ways for those in their 50’s and beyond can keep an active mind is to embrace technology. He says Facebook facilitates graceful aging.

“In today's world with Facebook and social media, if you go online and say 'hey, I’m starting a new workout program,’ your friends and family can follow you. Those are accountability things, that can be a positive impact because you say, 'hey, I have to go work out so I can tell everyone how I did,’” says Shorter.

Keeping it moving also slows down the aging process.

“I’m a really big proponent of resistance exercise,” says Shorter. “So that would be weight training. It keeps you moving. And if you don't move you get to a point where your joints don't work well. That makes you age because you look like you can't move as well."

“This neighbor that I have, we've walked for 31 years now,” says Tripp. “We walk every morning, seven days a week."

Today's women have more exercise options.

“Different things that are becoming popular like yoga, Pilates, boot camps are really popular,” says Shorter.

"I do strengthening and stretching, flexibility,” says Fulbright. “Hot yoga. A little bit of everything."

Also, eat at a healthy diet.

“Eating things that are nutrient dense like fruits vegetables,” says Shorter. “Those high colored foods, things that are bright, green leafy."

“I love every vegetable,” says Fulbright. “I eat good carbs. I eat a lot of protein. I eat a lot of eggs, chicken, poultry."

At the grocery store, avoid inside aisles, which have processed foods and empty calories.

“If something is sold in a box so that it can sit on a shelf, more than likely that's not good for you,” says Shorter. “That's going to effect the aging process. Those chemicals that your body doesn't break down."

But you can still look like Tripp and Fulbright and have your favorite treat once in a while.

“I have some friends who say I can't believe you eat McDonald’s hamburgers,” says Tripp. “I mean they're a dollar, and they're only 250 calories. I can do a lot worse!"

The fifth element? Don’t smoke.

"I could show you a ton of studies that show you that smoking is bad for you,” says Shorter. “Whether it be from back pain to cardiovascular risk to cancer."

And finally, here is an element of aging gracefully that often gets shoved under the bed.
Sleep at least 7 hours per night

“One that's not talked about much is sleep,” says Shorter. "Getting seven to eight hours of sleep helps your body recoup from the day before."

Living a healthy lifestyle is a process that takes practice.

Finding your motivation in doing so can propel your journey toward good health.

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