Dear Rich Lifer,

Fear is a great motivator. Despite 2020 being a bad year for the health of many Americans, the one silver lining of the pandemic has been an uptick in positive health habits among older adults.

The number of people age 50 and older who turned to mindfulness apps and other healthy activities in 2020 skyrocketed.

According to Fitbit’s medical director, the app saw a 1,000 percent increase in meditation and 236 percent increase in yoga among users over 50.

If you struggle with pandemic-related stress, we have five ways you can relieve stress and stay healthy this year while you wait for the vaccine to roll out.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Before you skip ahead thinking this first tip is too woo woo for you, consider that numerous studies have proven meditation can decrease stress, improve concentration, lower your blood pressure, and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in as little as 10 minutes per day.

Bruce Rabin, M.D. and professor of pathology, psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, says, “People try something like meditation, and they notice that when they do it, they start to feel better — they’re calmer, able to think more clearly, and even to use better reasoning when they try to interpret something in the news.”

Meditation can also be helpful to improve your memory and deal with social isolation. Two studies, found that 12- and 8-week at-home meditation programs, respectively, improved both verbal and spatial memory, and decreased rates of self-reported loneliness.

One of the easiest ways to begin meditation is by downloading a meditation app. A few we like are Calm, Aura, and Ten Percent Happier. Each app walks you through a guided meditation that can last 1 minute up to a few hours if you want.

Eat More Meat

Yes, this goes against everything you’ve been hearing lately with regards to eating more plant-based meals. But if you’re older, a meat-based diet is better for muscle health than a plant-based diet.

Researchers from King’s College London found that animal protein is more effective than plant protein in preventing muscles wasting away.

The study authors said, “While we know plant-based diets are beneficial for the environment, we don’t know how healthy these diets are for keeping muscles strong. Transitioning from an animal-based protein diet to a plant-based diet is likely to be detrimental to muscle health during ageing.”

The authors also quote that the number of vegans in the UK has quadrupled since 2006, meaning there are around 600,000 vegans in Great Britain.

“A more balanced and less extreme approach to changing dietary behaviour, meaning eating both animal and plant-based proteins, is best,” conclude the authors.

If you’re over 50, ignore the mainstream media’s vilification of meat. Your body needs it to stay strong and healthy. And despite what you may have heard regarding meat causing cancer and heart disease, these are myths that have been debunked.

Hire a Virtual Trainer

If the thought of never having to walk into a gym again makes you happy, 2021 will be a great year for you. As gyms remain closed or severely limited, a lot of personal trainers will continue offering fitness classes online.

Especially if you’re in an at-risk population for COVID-19, you’ll want to limit your exposure to public settings as much as possible. Exercising at home is a great alternative and an important habit to maintaining a robust immune system.

SilverSneakers and Silver&Fit, are two platforms offering programs specifically tailored to seniors: They’re focused not just on helping you gain strength, but also with building balance, mobility and stability.

Several online fitness classes require no equipment, instead leveraging your own body weight to provide resistance. It’s best to look for classes led by live virtual trainers. This way, you can get assistance and feedback on your exercise form to ensure you don’t injure yourself.

Take a Social-Distanced Vacation

Forget about cruise ships. A popular trend now among retirees is backpacking due to its inherent social distancing.

Steve Silberberg, owner of the adventure travel company Fitpacking, says “Our demographic has changed over the years, even before the pandemic, from 40s to 50s to even 60s,” he adds. “These are people who used to take elaborate vacations who now are saying they want an outdoor experience and almost a nostalgic desire to recreate the camping trips of their youth.”

Research shows spending time in nature offers health benefits like lower blood pressure and lower stress hormone levels. A 2017 study published in Current Biology found that it can improve sleep by resetting your body’s internal clock to a natural sleep cycle.

Trips like cruises are not usually too healthy, since most people tend to overindulge and are not very active. If you’re researching post-pandemic vacations, consider a more active trip that leaves you energized instead of hungover.

Check Your Vitals at Home

Hospital stays can add up fast plus you risk exposing yourself to other sick patients when you visit. A better solution is telehealth.

If anything good came out of 2020, it was the advancement of telehealth, enabling anyone to see their general practitioner, a dermatologist, or a psychotherapist from their living room couch.

We predict you’ll see a rise in easy-to-use monitoring equipment, to allow more older adults to check vital signs while avoiding a visit to the hospital.

One of the worst side effects from the pandemic, was patients avoiding medical attention due to fear of catching coronavirus. If patients can seek out the care they need early on because they know they can be taken care of in the comfort of their home, we’ll see less deaths and serious health complications.

Medicare already announced it will start allowing hospitals to bill for this service at home, and private insurers are expected to soon follow.

Keep these five health trends in mind as you set your new year’s resolutions.

To a richer life,
The Rich Life Roadmap Team

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