About one in every three Americans is age 50 or older. If you or someone you care about is among them—or hopes to be someday—it may be wise to heed these five hints on keeping healthy, active and pain-free as you age. They come from Dr. Bob Arnot, an award-winning author of 12 books on nutrition and health, and former chief medical correspondent for different television networks.
Healthy Aging Ideas
1. Give good health a shot. Get your flu, shingles and pneumonia immunizations. Follow your doctor’s advice about regular cancer screening tests, stress tests and bone density measurements. Head off some of the problems of aging before they occur.
2. Stay mentally alert. Read the newspaper every day. Do the crossword puzzle. Play bridge or chess. Take—or teach—a class. Keeping your mind engaged could ward off the brain changes that lead to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Stay socially active, too. If friends and family are far away, see if you can communicate electronically with computer programs such as Skype.
3. Don’t smoke. You’re never too old to quit.
4. Eat right. In addition to lots of fruits, vegetables and a few lean meats, older people should consume foods with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals. Also, add flavor to foods with spices and herbs instead of salt and look for low-sodium packaged foods. Drink three cups of fat-free or low-fat milk throughout the day or the equivalent in yogurt, cheese or other dairy products.
5. Be physically active. Regular activity can help delay, prevent or manage many costly chronic diseases faced by adults 50 years old or older. Try for at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. Do it in increments of 10 minutes or more. Bike, dance, walk for cardiovascular health. To help preserve your balance, add strength-building activities such as lifting small weights at least twice a week. Check with your doctor about the regimen that’s best for you.