My 92-year-old grandfather passed away last week after living a very full and healthy life. In fact, up until the last three months of his life he was lucky enough to have nothing more than an old war injury to his back bother him from time to time. While staying at my grandparents’ home in Florida to attend the funeral, I watched as my grandmother buzzed around the house doing things and moving about faster than many people years younger (she’s 89). It got me thinking about how they’ve managed to stay healthy for so many years and it really comes down to two simple things–eating right and staying active.
I realize that good genes come into play to some degree. Unfortunately, there are people out there who can do all the right things and will still end up with cancer or some other disease that may run in their family, but why stack the odds against yourself? One thing my grandmother always did, and still does, is have a salad each and every night with dinner. It doesn’t matter what she’s having, there is always a salad and she serves it with the meal in a little bowl next to the entree. It’s such a great idea because not only are you getting extra veggies, but it helps to fill you up so you don’t overeat. Her salads always include lettuce, cucumber, onion, carrots, radish, tomatoes, celery–basically a variety of veggies she always keeps in her refrigerator. And, you can forget about any kind of pre-made salad dressing. She keeps it simple–a little red wine vinegar, olive oil, some oregano, basil and a little salt and pepper to taste. It’s good and there’s less calories, fat and less sodium than anything you can buy in a bottle.
Exercise was a daily part of my grandfather’s life and I don’t mean going to the gym. Simple, every day activities count as exercise too. He played golf on a regular basis up until the last few years of his life and always did his own yard work. Both my grandparents regularly got out and walked. Since they live in Florida, they were able to venture outdoors most of the year, but even when the weather didn’t cooperate, they got into the car and drove to the local mall where they’d join many others in walking the mall before it opened for business. I think staying active was key to his longevity. He always found something to do around the house to keep himself busy.
My generation might be more advanced than my grandparents’ generation in certain areas like technology, but I think we fall short in some of these simple, common sense solutions that could mean a big difference in our overall health. Perhaps it’s time we give some credit to our elders and take their lead in areas where they’ve obviously had more success than us.