HABITS FOR GOOD HEALTH AT EVERY AGE: WHAT TO DO IN YOUR FIFTIES AND BEYOND
Once we reach our fiftieth birthday, we’re all at greater risk for health issues. It’s just a fact of life. It’s also why screening tests for various cancers — like colon cancer — become even more important. If you’re celebrating a milestone this year, make sure you talk to your doctor about what to expect next and then use your Trust benefits to stay on top of your health. Here are some important habits you might also want to think about building in.
Keep Exercising or Start Now
Walk the dog, take an after-dinner stroll or try an online class. Think outside the gym and find physical activity that works for you. Despite the many benefits of physical activity, 31 million Americans (28 percent) 50 and older are inactive.
Add in Strength Training
Muscle mass and strength decrease as we age, so we need to lift some heavy stuff regularly to combat it. Recent research confirms it works. Try small free weights a few minutes a day or consider walking home with a few groceries now and again.
Be Aware of Your Heart Health
The impact of aging on your heart is not as obvious as wrinkles and gray hair, but the risk of heart disease increases as we age. The good news is that you can dramatically reduce your risk with lifestyle changes.
Focus on Nutrition
Older adults need more calcium and vitamin D to help maintain bone health. Dietary fiber also may help lower your risk for heart disease and reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes. Eat whole-grain breads and cereals, beans and legumes and fruits and vegetables. Also, select and prepare foods with little or no added salt. Add flavor to food with herbs and spices.
Go to the Eye Doctor
Age-related eye care in the form of an exam serves as an important first step because many signs of eye disease are subtle. Glaucoma can develop without people realizing it, and other diseases can also crop up with age. Also, be sure to wear sunglasses that offer 100 percent protection from UV rays.
Pay Attention to Your Hearing
Many people over the age of 50 have some hearing loss. Aside from natural aging, your genes can play a part, and some health issues — like high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes — can affect your hearing over time. If you have concerns, ask your doctor about a hearing test.
Try Some Workouts for Your Mind
Mental exercise has been shown to strengthen brain cell networks and help preserve mental functions. This could include everything from learning a new language or skill to taking on activities that are mentally stimulating, such as puzzles or a crossword app.
As we age, our bodies are slower to react to common viruses, such as those that cause the flu, pneumonia or tetanus, so make sure you’re up to date on your vaccines.
Watch for Changes and Get Support
No matter what your personal history or needs are, it’s always important to watch for changes and talk with your doctor about anything that comes up. The Trust is here to help support you along the way.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Tufts University