Health Connection: September 2018

7 Keys to Healthy Aging

Take Charge of Your Health in Your Senior Years

As we age, there are things we can do to help make our senior years as healthy and fulfilling as possible. These tips can help:

1. If you smoke, get help to stop.
According to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, it’s not too late. Even after 40 or 50 years of smoking, the body can still repair much of the damage. Studies show benefits to quitting at any age. And you don’t have to wait years for benefits to begin. Many are noticed in the first year (or even the first month) after quitting.

2. Move more.
The heart and lungs naturally experience a reduction in efficiency and strength over time, especially if we are sedentary, says the American Council on Exercise. Regular exercise helps increase blood flow and oxygen supply. Becoming, and remaining, physically active and incorporating aerobic exercise (walking, aquatics, cycling, etc.) also can lower and control blood pressure, which reduces stress on the heart.

3. Drink plenty of liquids.
With age, you may lose some of your sense of thirst, according to the National Institute on Aging. Stay hydrated. Drink water regularly. Limit beverages that have lots of added sugars or salt.

4. Monitor your health.
Schedule an annual physical with your primary-care physician. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises asking your doctor for a schedule for important health screenings. Catching health problems early makes them easier to treat successfully.

5. Make eating a social event.
Meals are more enjoyable when you eat with others. Invite a friend to join you or take part in a potluck. A senior center or place of worship may offer meals that are shared with others. There are many ways to make mealtimes a social experience.

6. Increase your appetite with herbs and spices.
Eating a variety of healthful foods is especially important as we age. But foods may seem to lose their flavor as we get older. Maybe your sense of smell, sense of taste, or both have changed. Medicines may also change how foods taste. Herbs and spices can add to the enjoyment of your meals.

7. Add some “me time” to your day.
Carve out time just for you every day—even if it’s only 30 minutes. Yoga, meditation, a walk with a friend, a crossword puzzle, listening to music… Do whatever feels good and helps you de-stress.

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