Eight Tips to Aging Well
Courtesy Cooper Aerobics Health & Wellness, North Dallas LIVING WELL Magazine
Aging is a natural process and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. The good news is that how you age is entirely in your control. Find out what “healthy aging” is all about, and learn eight tips to aging well.
Laura DeFina, MD, of The Cooper Clinic, explains healthy aging, health conditions that commonly affect people as they age, and provides tips for getting to your golden years in tip-top shape.
What is healthy aging?
The underlying goal or definition of the term: getting into your golden years without significant disease, functioning fully and with your independence intact. Aging is a natural process; healthy aging isn’t about preventing aging, but about aging well. What is the secret to healthy aging?
8 tips to healthy aging
- Control the things you can. You are the only one who has control over your lifestyle. Develop healthy eating and regular exercise habits now to promote a lifelong physical activity pattern. Adults should get 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous physical activity. A sedentary lifestyle significantly increases your risk of certain health concerns, such as heart disease. If you have a desk job, stand up and walk around at least once an hour, and take the stairs whenever you can. Focus on the activities you enjoy and change it up frequently to avoid overuse injuries.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep doesn’t just make you look younger, it also helps to prevent diseases such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Adults should get seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
- Manage your stress. Take advantage of personal stress management tools, take time to relax and exercise regularly to keep your stress levels low. Stress can be hard on your heart, brain and body. Manage your stress well to stay healthy.
- Make healthcare a priority. When was your last checkup? Regular preventive healthcare is critical to help you avoid developing health conditions or to catch diseases in the early stages. If you want to age well or age without disease, you must see your doctor regularly. This goes for men and women alike.
- Follow your doctor’s recommendations. Do you have an underlying health condition or disease such as hypertension or diabetes? Make sure you follow up with your doctor regularly to keep your health in check. You are your own best advocate to ensure control of your underlying health conditions to prevent long-term damage.
- Take supplements and vitamins. The best research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids do have positive effects on the brain. Vitamin D and calcium can help keep your bones healthy and prevent bone thinning. Talk to your physician to determine which supplements and vitamins you should be taking regularly.
- Don’t leave the house without putting on sunscreen. Yes, it is primarily cosmetic, but it is still a component of healthy aging. Recurrent sun damage makes you look older, even if you are healthy and well underneath your aging skin. Wearing sunscreen can help prevent age spots, wrinkles and most importantly, skin cancer.
- Always wear your sunglasses. Protect your eyes from the damaging UV-A and UV-B rays from the sun. Sun damage can lead to cataracts, which may not be life-threatening, but can certainly affect your quality of life. Wear sunglasses to help prevent cataracts and the need for surgeries to treat vision problems.
What health concerns commonly affect aging adults?
The older we get, the more prone we are to certain diseases. Classic health conditions affecting aging adults include: cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and complications from these conditions. There are also conditions referred to as “diseases of aging,” such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Some of these conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) can be prevented with a healthy, active lifestyle, while others (such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) are often considered a “disease of bad luck.”
Whether you develop a disease or condition that could have been prevented or are simply the recipient of “bad luck,” the more active you are going into any chronic disease, the better your long-term prognosis will be. There is also a clear relationship between being fit and healthy during midlife and needing to take medications later in life.
Make lifestyle changes now to get fit and be healthy. It will pay off in the long term and can set the stage for a more functional, healthier future.
Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas is an international leader in health and wellness research, education, products and services—all designed to help people achieve optimum health and fitness at every stage of life. www.cooperaerobics.com.