Welcome to the Medicare Plan Finder Healthy Living Challenge. As you age, it can become easier and easier to form unhealthy habits. We’re here to help you break those habits and live your best life!
In just 28 days, you can turn your life around and start living a healthier lifestyle. Making healthy choices should not be one-time decisions. Start by making small changes (like following this calendar), then look for other ways to live healthier.
- Set your health goals
- Cut out a bad habit
- Invest in a reusable water bottle
- Join a gym or create a workout space in your home
- Eat a healthy breakfast
- Pick an inspiring book to read
- Develop a healthy eating shopping list
- Try a new healthy recipe
- Invest in a multivitamin
- Schedule your annual wellness visit
- Go for a walk
- Try something new
- Practice good posture
- Get screened for genetic health conditions
- Work on your morning routine
- Get out of the house
- Start journaling to reduce stress
- Drink only water
- Practice deep breathing and meditation
- Start cutting out caffeine
- Splurge on a spa day or massage
- Read the labels on the food in your pantry
- Declutter and deep clean your home
- Brush your teeth for a full two minutes, and make it a habit
- Wash your hands for a full 20 seconds, and make it a habit
- Spend time outside, but don’t forget the sunscreen
- Schedule your regular dental and vision appointments
- Reflect on the Healthy Living Challenge and assess your health goal progress
Day One: Set Realistic Health Goals
Start the Healthy Living Challenge by talking to your doctor or taking the time to sit and think about your health. What can you improve on? What needs to change? Think about your weight, your diet, your blood test results, your daily habits, etc.
Remember that living a healthy lifestyle is about more than eating your vegetables and exercising – it’s also about keeping a rounded diet, exercising safely, engaging in social activities, reducing stress, drinking plenty of water, and more. Set goals like getting your cholesterol back to a healthy level, losing a few pounds, or drinking eight glasses of water per day.
Day Two: Cut out a bad Habit
On the second day, think about your daily routine, and cut out a bad habit. The habit could be anything from sitting on the couch for too long to overworking yourself. Or, it could be something like eating too much sugar or staying up too late.
Cutting out your bad habit can be one of your S.M.A.R.T health goals. Take day two of this Healthy Living Challenge to really focus in on that one bad habit and think about how you can put an end to it.
Day Three: Buy a Reusable Water Bottle
Find a reusable water bottle that you like, and carry it with you wherever you go. It is recommended that you drink at least eight 8oz glasses of water per day. If you purchase a 32oz reusable water bottle, all you have to do is drink two bottles per day!
Everyone’s water needs can be different, so be sure to check with your doctor before taking our medical advice. The amount of water you need each day can depend on your individual healthcare needs.
Day Four: Join a gym or Create a Home Exercise Space
Creating a home exercise space can be as simple as buying a yoga mat and a few ten-pound weights, or as complicated as investing in equipment such as a treadmill. Alternatively, join a gym! If you have a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan, you may be eligible for a Medicare fitness program, such as SilverSneakers or Silver and Fit.
Day Five: Cook a Healthy Breakfast
Too many of us eat unhealthy breakfasts or skip the meal altogether. It’s easy to eat unhealthy, especially in the morning, when you’re tired and rushing to get on with your day. However, sometimes preparing a healthy meal is just as easy as pouring a bowl of sugary cereal.
Consider focusing on superfoods in the morning, like a handful of blueberries coupled with a kale and tomato omelet. Or, start by making small changes like reaching for less sugary cereals in the grocery aisle and replacing your white bread toast with whole wheat.
Day Six: Pick an Inspiring Book to Read
Sometimes all that you need to take charge of your healthy lifestyle is a motivating book. We found the following healthy aging books available on Amazon:
- Yoga for Healthy Aging, by Baxter Bell and Nina Zolotow
- Younger Next Year – Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond, by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge
- The Longevity Paradox: How to Die Young at a Ripe Old Age, by Dr. Steven R Gundry
- Just Move!: A New Approach to Fitness After 50, by James P. Owen
Day Seven: Develop a Reusable Grocery List
Build a grocery list that you can take with you every time you visit the grocery store. This grocery list can help you stay on track and prevent you from grabbing unnecessary items like sugary desserts. Add items like 2% milk instead of whole milk, lean chicken breasts instead of fatty steaks, and wheat bread instead of white bread.
Click to download the list that we’ve started for you. Use the blank spaces to fill in the other items that you need.
Day Eight: Try a new Healthy Recipe
Now that you have a start to your grocery list, take a look at some healthy recipes that you can make with your healthy ingredients (you may need to add a few items to your list). We found these cookbooks on Amazon:
- “The Healthy Seniors Cookbook: Ideal Meals and Menus for People Over Sixty (or Any Age)” – by Marilyn McFarlane and Carol Baird
- “Cooking For Seniors: Over 60 Delicious and Nutritious Easy-To-Prepare-And-Freeze Recipes Especially Designed for Senior Citizens” – by Sherry L. Day
“Low Sodium Cookbook: Delicious, Simple, and Healthy Low-Salt Recipes” – by Shasta Press
Day Nine: Find the right Multivitamin for you
If you’ve had a blood test recently, talk to your doctor about your results and find out if you lack any crucial vitamins. Then, ask your doctor if you should be taking any supplements or multivitamins. You can usually get multivitamins over the counter at any pharmacy or grocery store. Taking a multivitamin is an easy positive step you can take towards better health.
Day Ten: Schedule Your Annual Wellness Visit
Have you been attending your annual wellness visits with your doctor? Medicare covers an annual wellness visit for all beneficiaries. This visit is your chance to ask your doctor about any possible health concerns you have, and to request tests and screenings for various illnesses that you’re worried about. Remember, it’s always best to get ahead of your health and start healing before your symptoms worsen.
Day Eleven: Go for a Walk
Getting your daily exercise does not necessarily have to mean an intense cardio workout. Especially as you’re getting older, you have to be careful about over-exerting yourself and getting hurt. Today, go for a walk around your neighborhood or at a local park. Even a one-mile leisurely walk can lift your spirits and boost your metabolism. Consider taking your grandkids to the park for even more fun!
Day Twelve: Try Something new!
Trying something new, no matter what it is, can positively alter your mood and motivate you to make the most of your days. While there is certainly value in having a daily routine, think about new things that you’ve always wanted to try. It can be a physical, mental, emotional, or social task! Consider trying yoga for the first time, taking yourself out to a new restaurant, or taking a painting class.
Day Thirteen: Practice Good Posture Today
You could be hurting your back every day without even knowing it. Pay extra attention today to the way you sit, stand, and bend over to pick things up. Practice always bending with your knees instead of your whole back, and practice straightening your shoulders as you sit and stand.
If you notice pain or discomfort, consider visiting a chiropractor. Medicare covers spinal manipulation when necessary, and some Medicare Advantage plans may cover other chiropractic services.
Day Fourteen: Get Screened for Genetic Health Conditions
If you didn’t already talk to your doctor about this, think about getting some genetic tests for familial health conditions. About one in every three people develop some form of cancer, and some of those cases are hereditary. The best way to beat cancer is to stop it before it develops and spreads.
A genetic test is the first step in determining whether or not you might need to prepare. The new myPath melanoma test is a popular one that your Medicare plan may cover.
Day Fifteen: Work on your Morning Routine
While it may seem small, your morning routine can impact your entire day. If you’re someone who has “bad” morning habits like sleeping in too late or skipping breakfast, use today to come up with a plan to adjust your routine and develop healthy habits. Try things like starting a morning workout regimen or opening the blinds before you go to bed so that the sun gets you out of bed earlier.
Day Sixteen: Get out of the House Today – Go Shopping or see a Friend
A lot of adults can get into the habit of getting home from work and sitting on the couch for hours. Retired adults sometimes go a full day or longer without even leaving the house!
If that sounds like you, make an extra effort today to leave your house and do something. Your effort can be as small as going to the grocery store and running errands, or as large as spending all day with a friend. Figure out what works for you and make it happen today.
Day Seventeen: Start Journaling to Reduce Stress
If you’ve been feeling stressed or depressed lately, one great way to lift your spirits is to start journaling regularly. If you don’t have one, buy a journal or a notebook today and jot down notes about how you’re feeling, why you’re feeling that way, and what you’re going to do to try to fix it. Some people find happiness in just writing about what they did throughout the day!
If journaling is not helping or if you have a more serious mental health issue, please know that you CAN get the care you need. If you have Medicare, many of your treatments and appointments may be covered.
If this is an emergency, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Day Eighteen: Drink Only Water Today
Did you buy that water bottle on day three? Today, focus not only on drinking at least eight glasses of water but also not drinking anything else.
That means no juices, no alcoholic beverages, no coffee – none of it.
If you’re worried about cutting out caffeine, you may be surprised to find that the effects of drinking all that water can eliminate your caffeine withdrawal. Sticking to only water can also help you lose weight, reduce your appetite, and even increase your focus.
Day Nineteen: Practice Deep Breathing and Meditation
In this crazy world, it’s easy to get caught up in the stressful moments and forget to sit back and breathe. Spend some time today sitting and reflecting. Turn off your phone and the TV, find a comfortable place in your home, and allow yourself to reflect on whatever is stressing you out.
Practice deep breathing exercises and meditation. If you don’t care for yourself emotionally, you run the risk of your health declining physically.
Day Twenty: Start Cutting out Caffeine
Whether coffee, tea, soda, or something else is your caffeinated guilty pleasure, it might be time to cut back. Coffee and tea are healthy in small doses, but too much can lead to anxiety, insomnia, digestive problems, and high blood pressure.
If you drink more than one cup of a caffeinated beverage per day, or even if you only drink one but want to cut back, make today your first step. Drink one cup instead of two, or switch to decaf in the afternoon.
Day Twenty-one: Splurge on a spa day or a Massage
You may have learned from day 13 that posture is incredibly important, and you might not even realize that you hurt your posture. Use day 21 of this Healthy Living Challenge as an excuse to treat yourself to a nice massage or a day at the spa. Alternatively, schedule an appointment with your chiropractor!
Day Twenty-two: Read the Labels on the Food in Your Pantry
Common pantry items like canned soup and vegetables and pastas are often diet staples, but they could be doing more harm than you think. Canned soups are a great example. On the basic level, they are healthy…but they contain more sodium than you could even imagine! Use today to read the labels on the food items in your pantry and recognize what you could be putting into your body. You may decide to think twice the next time you’re shopping for those items!
Day Twenty-three: Declutter and Deep Clean Your Home
Whether you’re too busy, too tired, or just don’t feel like doing it, chances are there is at least one room in your home that could use some tidying. You probably haven’t thought of cleaning as a health-conscious activity, but decluttering and cleaning can prevent trips and falls, can improve the air quality in your home, and might even uncover some items you can sell for extra cash. If you can’t do it yourself, ask family for help or pay a cleaning service to come in and help you out.
Day Twenty-four: Brush your Teeth for a Full two Minutes
Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth for a full two minutes, twice per day. How long do you brush your teeth, and are you reaching every tooth? Some electric toothbrushes come with built-in timers, or you can put a kitchen timer in your bathroom to keep yourself honest. Healthy teeth lead to improved overall health, so this is crucial.
Day Twenty-five: Practice Really Washing your Hands for a Full 20 Seconds
People make the same mistake with hand washing as with teeth brushing. Every time you wash your hands – whether it’s after using the bathroom or before you eat – the CDC recommends that you wash thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to lather every part of your hands with antibacterial soap before you rinse.
Day Twenty-six: Spend Time Outside Today – Don’t forget the Sunscreen!
Spending time outside increases your Vitamin D intake, elevates your mood, improves your concentration, and can even help you sleep at night. However, even if it’s winter and you don’t feel the sun, you are still exposed to it and should wear sunscreen. Wearing sunscreen isn’t only about protection from burns; it also protects you from general sun exposure that leads to wrinkles and discoloration.
Plus, sunburn does more than just make your skin red and itchy – it can lead to skin cancer! Protecting your skin from the sun is more than just a good idea, it’s necessary for your health. Be sure to apply sunscreen every time you expect to be outside for more than a few minutes.
Day Twenty-seven: Schedule your Dental and Vision Appointments
Dental and vision appointments tend to feel less important than general doctor visits, because you may not notice that you are developing cavities or that your eyesight is worsening. Be sure to keep up with your annual (or bi-annual) dental and vision appointments.
Day Twenty-eight: Reflect on the Healthy Living Challenge and Assess your Goal Progress
Congratulations! You’ve made it through our 28-day Healthy Living Challenge. Moving forward, your goal should be to turn everything you did this past month into long-term habits. Drink eight glasses of water every day, get outside as much as possible, go for walks, and eat healthily. Find creative ways to reduce stress, declutter, and socialize with your friends, family, and neighbors.
For day 28, think about the S.M.A.R.T goals that you started with. Did you meet your goals, or at least make progress? What do you need to do next? If you need to follow up with a doctor, but you don’t have the coverage you need, maybe your next step needs to be reaching out to an insurance agent.
Do you qualify for Medicare? You can try to get a Medicare plan by yourself, but it doesn’t cost anything to meet with an agent, and there is never any obligation to buy. Your agent can help you assess your needs and pick the plan that works best out of all your available options. Just call 833-438-3676 to schedule your appointment.
This is only the beginning. Congrats on starting the path to a healthier you!