How to Maintain Your Energy as You Age

Life can be exhausting. And as you get older, there are several factors working against you that can drain your energy. But you don’t have to take it lying down. Try these seven methods to maintain your energy as you age.

1. Keep moving

It’s basic physics: An object in motion stays in motion. And the human body tends to follow this law, even as aging exerts its force. “Both genes and environment lead to alterations in cells that cause aging muscles to lose mass and strength and to become less flexible,” according to Rush University. “As a result, strenuous activities become more tiring. These cellular changes also limit the heart muscle’s pumping ability.”

But you can work against these changes to hang onto some youthful energy. Rush recommends aiming for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as walking or swimming, per week (or whatever your doctor recommends) to keep your heart strong. And engage in regular strength and stretching exercises, such as yoga, to maintain (or build) your muscle mass and flexibility. If you haven’t exercised in a while and aren’t sure how to get moving, consult a professional (doctor, physical therapist, trainer, etc.). They can give you the best exercises for your body and show you proper form.

2. Power your body with nutritious food

It probably goes without saying that a diet filled with nutritious, unprocessed foods can give you more energy at any age. But it can be especially helpful to ward off sluggish feelings in older adults. For one, a healthy diet can counteract the structural changes many older adults experience to their intestines that can cause constipation, according to Mayo Clinic. Plus, it can help support your heart health and cognitive function to keep you feeling strong and sharp.

“Make sure your diet includes high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains,” Mayo Clinic says. “Limit high-fat meats, dairy products and sweets.” Also, ensure that you’re consuming enough fluids to maintain your energy. Research has shown older adults might not feel thirst sensations as strong as younger people and consequently not hydrate enough.

3. Monitor your vitamin D

senior woman sitting on a beachCredit: jacoblund/Getty Images

Besides consuming healthy foods, older adults might need to pay extra attention to certain nutrient levels. “Nutrition-related problems — osteoporosis, iron deficiency, vitamin deficiency, and protein-calorie malnutrition — become more evident after age 60,” according to Cleveland Clinic. And one common deficiency is in vitamin D.

Vitamin D — the sunshine vitamin — is essential for bone health, supporting a strong immune system and warding off fatigue and depression. For an older adult, an adequate vitamin D level can decrease their risk of osteoporosis, falls and fractures, as well as help boost their energy. “The bad news: As you age, your skin gets less efficient at converting sunlight to D,” according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. So if you aren’t getting enough vitamin D from the sun and your diet, your doctor might recommend a supplement to prevent a deficiency.

4. Take inventory of medications

As you get older, you might find yourself with more pill bottles lined up in your medicine cabinet. Roughly half of people in the United States take at least one prescription drug, and about a quarter take three or more, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2011 to 2014. And using these drugs incorrectly can have some serious health consequences.

“Many drugs — including high blood pressure medications, antidepressants and antihistamines — have side effects that can sap energy levels,” Johns Hopkins Medicine says. So take inventory of all the medications and supplements you take — both prescription and over-the-counter. Make sure your doctor knows about each of them. Discuss any side effects you’re experiencing and whether you should alter doses. In some cases, you might even find you no longer need a certain drug.

5. Prioritize quality sleep

Older adults still need roughly the same amount of sleep as younger adults, with the National Sleep Foundation recommending seven to eight hours per night for those 65 and older (versus seven to nine hours for those 18 to 64). Still, aging tends to take its toll on sleep — and your energy level throughout the day.

“Studies on the sleep habits of older Americans show an increase in the time it takes to fall asleep (sleep latency), an overall decline in REM sleep, and an increase in sleep fragmentation (waking up during the night) with age,” according to the National Sleep Foundation. “The prevalence of sleep disorders also tends to increase with age. However, research suggests that much of the sleep disturbance among the elderly can be attributed to physical and psychiatric illnesses and the medications used to treat them.”

It’s important to get both the quantity and quality rest your body needs, and proper sleep hygiene can help. For instance, make sure your bed is truly comfortable to you, as your body might require a different level of support as you get older. Don’t eat a heavy meal or engage in strenuous exercise right before bed, and limit light exposure at night. If you’re still not feeling rested after a full night’s sleep, have your doctor check for any underlying medical issues.

6. Socialize and enjoy hobbies

senior women painting and smilingCredit: kali9/Getty Images

Exercise isn’t the only energizer for your body. Staying active socially and through hobbies also will help keep you mentally and physically fit as you age. “Maximize the amount of time that you spend with people you enjoy being around,” Mayo Clinic says. “Connecting with others who radiate positivity and have similar interests will excite and energize you.” And don’t allow negative people to drain your energy — life’s too short for that.

Likewise, find hobbies you truly enjoy to make your days a little more meaningful. Take cooking classes. Join a book club. Volunteer at your local animal shelter. “Putting effort into the things that matter most to you will help you utilize and reserve your energy in ways that will bring out the best in you,” according to Mayo Clinic.

7. Get regular checkups

As you head toward your golden years, you might be at risk for more health issues. But you can ward off some of these problems by being proactive about visiting the doctor for routine screenings.

MedlinePlus — a National Institutes of Health website that provides health care information to the public — offers some general guidelines for screenings. For instance, it recommends that adults over age 65 have their blood pressure checked at least annually (or more often if there are issues). If their cholesterol is normal, they should have it screened at least every five years. Plus, they should have colon cancer screenings at least through age 75. Regular dental visits also are important, as well as hearing and vision exams. And if you still have any bad habits lingering in your life — smoking, eating lots of fatty foods, etc. — it’s better late than never to seek help in breaking them.

It’s not always easy to maintain your energy as you get older. But when you invest in your health and happiness, you might just find you feel half your age.

Main image credit: gilaxia/Getty Images

80 comments

Ingrid A
Ingrid A2 days ago

thank you for posting

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Helen C
Helen C2 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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David C
David C2 days ago

do your best, thanks

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Shae L
Shae Lee6 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Val P
Val P6 days ago

cool

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beba h
beba h7 days ago

I think going vegan helps with aging. You are getting higher quality nutrition and it is also good karma.

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Lisa M
Lisa M7 days ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M7 days ago

Thanks.

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David C
David C8 days ago

thanks

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David C
David C8 days ago

thanks

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