How to stay healthy and fit as you get older
As you get older, it’s natural to feel a little down about your body and the changes that come with aging. But it’s possible to stay fit and healthy at any age — and the benefits are more than just physical. Maintaining good health can improve your mood, boost your energy levels, and help you keep up with your grandkids. And it’s not as hard as you might think.
Here are some simple ways to stay fit and healthy as you get older:
- Get moving
You won’t see many seniors walking laps at the gym, but that doesn’t mean fitness isn’t important at this stage of life. The key is to find activities you enjoy and build them into your routine. Walking is great for seniors because it’s low impact, easy on the joints, and something almost everyone can do. Once you start feeling better, try adding some weight training a couple of times a week. It will help strengthen bones and muscles, boost metabolism, and build endurance. A personal trainer can help you find an exercise routine that works for you.
- Get a good night’s sleep
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Sleep problems are particularly common in older people, the National Sleep Foundation reports because many have health conditions or take medications that interfere with sleep. But getting enough sleep is important for both physical and mental health at any age. “The body heals itself during sleep,” the foundation says. “Mental processes become clearer when we are rested. Memory improves and so does your ability to learn.”
To get better sleep:
- Set a regular bedtime and stick to it every night, even on weekends or when you’re traveling.
- Reserve your bed for sleeping. Don’t use it as an office, a TV room, or a place where you eat meals or do other activities.
- Avoid caffeine in the evening, and try not to eat large meals within three hours of your bedtime.
- Drink less alcohol
Drinking less alcohol may help keep your mind sharp as you get older. This is especially important if you have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. Too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of some cancers. If you drink, do so responsibly — no more than two drinks per day for men and one for women.
- Stay active and Exercise Regularly
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity) each week to maintain good cardiovascular health. Vigorous exercises include running, brisk walking, swimming laps, or bicycling on hills; moderate exercises include brisk
- Eat healthy and well.
Eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. Limit high-fat foods (such as red meat), sugar, salt, alcohol, and caffeine.
- Be social.
It’s never too late to make new friends. Find a social group that meets regularly — book clubs, cooking classes, or a sports team are all great options. You’ll not only meet new people, but you’ll also get more involved in your community.
- Avoid risky behaviors.
This includes things like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and having unprotected sex with someone who has a history of drug use or risky sexual behavior. All of these behaviors can do serious damage to your health.
- See your doctor for regular checkups and preventive screenings.
The American College of Physicians recommends that healthy adults see their primary care provider once a year for preventive health services, including routine medical exams and counseling on topics such as diet, exercise, and stress management. These visits could help your doctor spot problems early on when they may be easier to treat or manage. If you have symptoms or other concerns, make an appointment with your doctor right away.
Screening tests help find diseases at an early stage before there are any symptoms or signs of illness — when treatment works best. The goal is to prevent disease or detect it early when it’s likely to respond well to treatment. Check with your doctor about what screening tests are recommended for your age,