7 Tips for Staying Healthy as You Age

Senior couple on a jog

You know the old adage that “age is just a number?” While that may be true, living a healthy lifestyle helps offset the effects of aging. The physicians of Gaston Medical Partners are here to remind you of ways to keep your body (and mind!) in tip-top shape:

1. Be Active

We’ve heard it before and we’ll hear it again–staying active is key to staying healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that physical activity can help delay, prevent or manage any chronic conditions in adults ages 50 and older. And yet 28% of these adults are not active, which equates to 31 million people. Even if you cannot meet the recommended weekly guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, any amount of movement is helpful, and you can always work to incorporate more activity into your daily life. Small steps like taking a walk or push-mowing the yard absolutely pay off and there are plenty of ways to be active at home if the COVID-19 pandemic has changed your previous fitness routine.

2. Eat Right

Another of those adages is “you are what you eat.” But in all seriousness, what you put into your body as fuel plays a role in your overall health. The Mayo Clinic recommends limiting food high in saturated fats and salt and instead choosing lean proteins, high fibers, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables for cardiovascular health. Even when on the go, our doctors have shared the ways they snack healthy between meals. It’s also important to note that alcoholic beverages should be consumed within moderation (no more than two a day for men and one a day for women).

3. Lose Bad Habits

If you haven’t already, there is no time like the present to give up using tobacco. You will find that stopping smoking gives you more energy and helps you breathe easier. Your body will begin to heal itself from the effects of smoking beginning within just 20 minutes of your last cigarette and you will reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help in making this important change and discuss options with your doctor.

4. Stay Connected 

If we have learned anything from this current pandemic, it’s how much we miss the normalcy of having a regular social life. Maintaining your social connections with friends and family helps prevent feeling isolated and can lower your overall stress levels. Besides making you feel bad, stress hormones can cause inflammation and contribute to arthritis and diabetes.

5. Don’t Forget Preventative Care

Regular preventative care (think recommended health screenings and annual physicals) help address any healthcare concerns and changes and better the odds of treatment and recovery. Having an established relationship with your doctor will ensure that you have someone dedicated to your healthcare needs who knows your specific medical history and can best advise you in both sickness and health. And you’ll be sure that you’re up-to-date with your vaccines as well.

6. Keep Your Mind Sharp

It’s normal for your brain to change as you age but remember that you can exercise your brain while exercising your body (back to tip one about being active!). The Mayo Clinic reports that physical activity works the part of your brain that creates and stores memories, called the hippocampus. The other thing we think about as we grow older is developing memory issues. Dementia is a disease that affects memory and thinking but this is not a normal part of the aging process. If you find yourself or a loved one struggling to remember, speak to your primary care provider.

7. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Adults should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. The amount and quality of sleep you get impacts your overall health. Being sleep deprived can make you feel tired and sluggish both mentally and physically, but sleep impacts even more than that. Not getting enough sleep can contribute to other risks from obesity and high blood pressure to stroke and type 2 diabetes. By establishing good sleep hygiene practices, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

We want our golden years to live up to their name. By incorporating these seven tips into your lifestyle and talking with your primary care physician about your overall plan, you can stay on the right track to aging gracefully.