TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Tinker Air Force Base Nutrition Program Manager Wendi Knowles, with Tinker Health Promotion, recommends Team Tinker members get started on the right track if they want to remain healthy into their golden years.
“Whether you are 18 or 50, it is never too late to start a healthy aging lifestyle,” Knowles said.
She said studies have shown that it takes an average of about 20 years for “your bad habits to catch up with you and impact your body.”
“We need good habits so that when you are ready to retire you are healthy and can enjoy it,” Knowles said. “All the pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness — social/family, physical, mental and emotional/spiritual — are important.”
She said one of the most important ways to stay healthy is to develop good sleep habits.
Knowles said optimal sleep for people of all ages is critical to mission success.
“In the past, the military has had an attitude that you can sleep later in life, but they’re starting to realize that proper sleep is critical in keeping you mentally and physically fit and prepared to do your job,” Knowles said.
“A lack of sleep can impair reaction times, the ability to detect and engage the enemy and even squad-tactic coordination. It can lead to more accidents, impaired judgement and poor morale.”
Knowles also recommends that adults spend 150 minutes a week performing moderate exercises. She said critical guidelines now state that children as young as age 3 benefit from regular exercise.
“There’s a misconception that as you grow older, you should slow down,” Knowles said. “A couple of days a week of strength training is important because as people grow older their muscle tissue starts to break down and atrophy.”
As for diets, she said Americans age 65 and older need fewer calories, but oftentimes more nutrition.
“Americans are often overfed and undernourished, but if you plan your diet correctly, you can get the nutrition you need from food, but make sure you get your fruits and vegetables because they become very important as we age.
“Daily calcium and vitamin D are also very important in an overall healthy diet. I recommend low-fat dairy products, including skim milk and lighter cheese products at least three times a day.”
She said that while many seniors understand how to socialize online, both screen time and TV watching should be limited to a combined two hours a day outside of work hours.
“Nobody needs more time not moving around at all,” Knowles said. “Seniors need to socialize offline and the greater Oklahoma City area has three senior health and wellness centers designed to provide social and recreational settings for a wide range of uses.”
She said the emotional/spirituality pillar is also important for people as they age.
“There are many programs where you can volunteer and feel connectedness, but be sure to pick one that plays into your values.”
She also recommends that Team Tinker members consider having a “dry January,” a practice where people give up drinking for one month.
“The added calories in alcohol don’t help your waistline and you definitely don’t get any nutritional value,” Knowles said. “Instead of drinking wine, eat some grapes because they are more beneficial. No drinks are best for your overall health.”
Knowles also hopes that Team Tinker members who smoke or vape give up the habit.
“Remember, you’re still putting chemicals into your body whether you smoke or vape,” she said.
Tinker AFB offers many programs and services to help people quit tobacco and to embrace health-related behaviors and outcomes. For more information, contact Knowles at 736-2169 or email Wendi.email@example.com.
Get some Zzzzzzzzzzs
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website suggests the following sleep duration guidelines:
Newborns (0-3 months) 14-17 hours of sleep
Infants (4-11 months) 12-15 hours of sleep
Toddlers (1-2 years) 11-14 hours of sleep
Preschoolers (3-5 years) 10-13 hours of sleep
Schoolchildren (6-13 years) 9-11 hours of sleep
Teens (14-17 years) 8-10 hours of sleep
Younger Adults (18-25 years) 7-9 hours of sleep
Adults (26-64 years) 7-9 hours of sleep
Older Adults (65+ years) 7-8 hours of sleep