By Jason Lewis

For many seniors, the golden years aren’t quite as gold as they expected. It might be a few little things — your memory isn’t as sharp as it was before retirement or you’ve put on a few extra pounds with the extra time reading books or watching movies. However, these little things shouldn’t be brushed off or ignored. Over time they can really add up — especially for seniors.

Taking control of your physical and mental health sounds challenging— and it can be. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Maybe a good challenge is exactly what you need right now. If you’re ready to tackle quality of life improvement head on, then this article is for you.

We’ve compiled some of the most effective — and surprisingly easy— ways for seniors to improve their mental and physical well-being.

Start Working Out
There’s no denying that we all need to exercise more. In the U.S. alone more than 90 million people are diagnosed as obese, according to the CDC. This number hits seniors hard — more than 40 percent of people over the age of 60 struggle with obesity. A regular exercise plan — one that gets you moving for at least 30 minutes a day— can make all the difference. If you need a little motivation, check out a SilverSneakers program. Offered through some Medicare Advantage plans, a SilverSneakers membership provides access to more than 13,000 gyms, wellness centers and YMCAs nationwide.

Pay Attention to Food
Being aware of the reasons you are eating can be just as life-changing as putting healthier options on your plate. It’s not uncommon for people to eat out of boredom or to break up long, monotonous tasks. If you’re feeling stagnant in retirement, you could be choosing food as a distraction. When you decide to hit the fridge, drink a glass of water instead or take a walk in your backyard. If you are still hungry, choose healthy finger foods like snacking on carrots or grapes, rather than opening a bag of potato chips or cookies. If you have diabetes, be sure you are making choices that keep your blood sugar balanced.

Be Mindful About Emotions
The second half of life can be a difficult stage for some seniors. Surviving as beloved friends and family members pass away can be isolating. Retirement might bring more free time, but it could also eliminate your sense of meaning and purpose. It’s easy to slip into depression— though you may think it’s just “normal” signs of again. However, persistent feelings of sadness and despair are a sign of something deeper. Other signs include weight loss, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating and withdrawal from family and friends.

Let Go of Stress
Most people think retirement is all fun and games, but seniors have a lot on their minds. From health concerns to financial issues, people over 65 can experience a great deal of stress. Not only are there valid reasons for worry, seniors also have a harder time coping with stress, one study showed. This means that stress can be doubly impactful for any senior, at any time. In a moment of feeling stressed or anxious, seniors should take time to focus on their attention on their breath. Counting your inhales and exhales is a great way to lower your heart rate and blood pressure and give you a break for clarity.

Seniors should be empowered to be in the driver’s seat of their lives. While there are many important opinions to hear, like your doctor’s, or activities to consider such as fitness programs, when you make the choice to seek out happiness in your golden years, your life can change— almost immediately.

Jason Lewis is passionate about helping seniors stay healthy and injury-free. He created StrongWell to share his tips on senior fitness.