7 Simple Tips to Focus on Healthy Aging
It’s reassuring to know you are more likely than ever to be alive at age 80. The million dollar question is, of course, will you be alive and well?
Although some risk factors for age-related diseases may be partly out of your control, Virtua Medical Group family physician Sam Weiner, MD, encourages you to consider the following tips for improving your lifestyle…starting now.
The time to establish good habits is in your youth. But if that ship has sailed, you must make time to exercise as you get older. Dr. Weiner recommends doing something you really enjoy for 30 minutes, 5 days per week or a total of 150 minutes per week. Make it social and walk with a friend or family member. Or, try something that challenges you such as training for a 5K or a new exercise class like TRX or kettle bells. Exercise helps keep you strong and lowers your blood pressure.
Dr. Weiner suggests aiming for a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats like nuts and fish. If you need ideas for healthy eating, a registered dietitian can work with you to analyze your food preferences and help you come up with a plan that works for you. There’s no perfect diet, especially if you can’t stick to it. The key is to keep unhealthy fats and sugars to a minimum. And, above all else, drop the sugary drinks.
Don’t take your weight for granted. Your metabolism can change as you age and it can become more difficult to maintain an ideal weight. However, overweight or obese individuals still can lower their health risks by making healthy food choices and exercising regularly.
Catch some ZZZs
Dr. Weiner stresses that getting older doesn’t mean you require less sleep. Seven to nine hours per day is critical for maintaining a healthy metabolism and managing stress. If you struggle with insomnia or snoring, a sleep study can help determine if you need expert assistance. Especially, since lack of sleep has been linked to higher blood pressure, increased risk of stroke, and even changes in your mood.
Exercise, massage, meditation, reading a good book, or relaxing with a cup of tea at night are all simple techniques to decompress and help improve blood pressure and eating habits.
Did you know that volunteering in your community, staying socially active, and finding ways to keep moving are more effective than brain games for preventing cognitive decline? These habits also help reduce depression by keeping you oriented to time and giving you a sense of day-to-day purpose.
An ounce of prevention
Dr. Weiner reminds you to keep up with recommended screenings, immunizations, and physical exams as you age. It’s like maintaining a car—if you take care of your body with regular maintenance and good fuel, it will last a lot longer!
Updated June 6, 2016