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Ten Tips for Healthy Aging
Today, due to numerous medical and scientific advances, people are living longer than ever before. But, you do not just automatically live longer—you have to be good to your body, mind, and soul. The following 10 tips are a good start for getting you on your way to living a long and healthy life.
- Eat a balanced diet. —A balanced diet is one that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grain, and fiber and low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. A well-balanced diet can provide your body with the essential nutrients needed to achieve and maintain optimum health. If you have certain conditions, you may need to take supplements. For example, if you have osteoporosis, your doctor may recommend that you take calcium and vitamin D .
- Be physically active. —Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of activity into your day. The options are numerous. Start walking in the morning, join a yoga class, try jogging with a friend, sign up for a basketball league, or go for a bike ride in the afternoon. Make sure you choose activities that you enjoy, that way you will be more likely to make them a habit.
- Get regular preventive check-ups. —See your doctor regularly. Remember your doctor is your partner in healthcare. You are both working toward the same goal—your optimum health. By having regular check-ups, you may be able to catch small problems before they become big problems. It is also important to have regular dental and eye exams.
- If you smoke, quit. —Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death. It is never too late to quit . Talk to your doctor about methods that may help you reach this goal.
—Use common sense and be street smart. Do not put yourself in situations that may be dangerous. Just a few ways you can put safety first include:
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- Wear a helmet when participating in sports such as biking.
- Use smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
- Do not go for a run, walk, or jog alone at night. Most attacks happen to people who are alone. Reduce your risk by bringing a friend.
- Use medications wisely. Follow directions and ask your doctor or pharmacist about side effects and drug interactions.
- Keep your home well lit. Remove items that could cause you to fall such as loose wires, cords, and area rugs.
- Avoid environmental extremes. —Protect your skin when you are outdoors by using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 that protects you against UVA and UVB rays. Try to avoid getting too much sun. Dress appropriately for the weather so that you do not get too hot or too cold.
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
—For a man aged 65 or younger, moderation means no more than 2 drinks a day. For a man aged 65 or older or a woman of any age, moderation means no more than 1 drink a day. One drink is:
- One 12-ounce bottle of beer
- One 5-ounce glass of wine
- 1.5 ounces of spirits
- Keep your personal and financial records in order. —Start planning now for your long-term housing and financial needs. For information on banking, saving, buying, getting credit, and investing, check out National Consumer Protection Week at http://www.ncpw.gov .
- Stay in touch with family and friends. —Get to know your neighbors. Take the time to be involved with your community. By creating a strong social network, you will have friends to celebrate with when good things happen and a support system in difficult times.
- Keep a positive attitude. —Studies have shown that people who have a positive attitude tend to live longer and lead healthier and happier lives. Try to avoid taking things personally. Look for the humor in life. And remember to laugh. Several studies have shown that laughter makes you feel better. But, who needs a study to prove that? Just laugh, and you will know it is true.
National Institute on Aging
Seniors—Government of Canada
Alcohol and public health: Frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm. Updated November 16, 2015. Accessed January 7, 2016.
Attitudes about aging affect longevity, study says. American Psychological Association website. Available at: http://www.apa.org/monitor/oct02/attitudes.aspx. Published October 2002. Accessed January 7, 2016.
Dawson-Hughes B, Heaney RP, Holick MF, et al. Estimates of optimal vitamin D status. Osteoporos Int. 2005; 16:713.
Malabanan A, Veronikis IE, Holick MF. Redefining vitamin D insufficiency. Lancet. 1998; 351:805.
Need AG, O'Loughlin PD, Morris HA, et al. The effects of age and other variables on serum parathyroid hormone in postmenopausal women attending an osteoporosis center. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004; 89:1646.
Skin cancer: What can I do to reduce my risk? Centers of Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic%5Finfo/prevention.htm. Updated May 29, 2014. Accessed January 7, 2016.
Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreens. Accessed January 7, 2016.
Tsai KS, Wahner HW, Offord KP, et al. Effect of aging on vitamin D stores and bone density in women. Calcif Tissue Int. 1987; 40:241.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 01/2016
- Update Date: 10/20/2014