It’s important to take care of yourself no matter how old you are. As we age, our bodies shift. Understanding how to best address these changes can help us live longer and better lives. “At every stage of life, there are things each of us can do to not only be healthy, but to also thrive and feel better.” Here are some tips Dr. Harris, SMGOR Internal Medicine Specialist recommends for every decade:
- Get Enough Sleep. Between an active social life and working long hours to climb the career ladder, sleep often falls to the bottom of the priority list. Try to sleep at least seven hours per night. A few of the adverse health outcomes you may experience later in life from getting too little sleep are obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Establish a Healthy Diet. Pizza delivery is an easy go-to for 20-somethings. But taking time to cook healthy, balanced meals along with adopting other positive lifestyle habits can maintain your heart health as your grow older. Consider the Mediterranean diet, which focuses on fresh, whole foods.
- Always Wear Sunscreen. You’ve hopefully established this habit long ago, but, if not, start slathering it on. Even if you don’t burn, sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer. The bonus? You’ll likely keep wrinkles at bay for longer.
- Evaluate Your Diet and Exercise Routines. In your 30s you lose three to five percent of your muscle mass, making it more difficult to burn calories. Make sure to get the recommended two-and-a-half hours per week of moderate exercise. And talk to your doctor about possible adjustments to your current routine, such as a tailored exercise program and a high-protein diet.
- Take Care of Your Bones. People reach their peak bone mass by age 30, meaning they begin losing bone thereafter. Getting 1,000 mg of calcium and 600 units of Vitamin D through your diet and supplements each day, and exercising regularly, preserves and strengthens your bones.
- Examine Your Own Headspace. This is a busy, often stressful, time in people’s lives due to career and family commitments. But if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety, don’t ignore them. Even if you don’t think there is a clinical mental health issue, going to a therapist to take some time to focus on yourself is never a bad idea.
- Get Screened. People over 40 may need various screening tests ranging from blood pressure tests to cholesterol levels, based on your risk factors and history. Talk to your doctor about important screenings for you. It may seem overwhelming, but it keeps you on a healthy track for the future.
- Enjoy Meatless Mondays. Cutting out meat one day a week has huge benefits. Eating less meat and more vegetables helps fight cancer and heart disease.
- Cut Back on Added Sugar. Assess your sugar intake. The American Heart Association recommends only six teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and nine teaspoons per day for men. If you drink soda, try replacing it with sparkling water. Craving candy? Have fruit instead.
- Reduce Your Calorie Intake. By the time an adult is 50 years old, they need 200 fewer calories per day than when they were 20. Portion control, cutting sugar and fats, and eating lots of veggies can help you cut calories.
- Prepare for Change. The average age of menopause is 51. These changes to the female body, increases risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and urinary incontinence. Carefully track these things with your doctor.
- Find Balance. Maintain good balance through yoga, Pilates, or tai chi. These routines help your balance, increase joint flexibility, and aid in meditation all of which are important in keeping both physically and mentally fit.
60s and Over
- Get Vaccinated. By the time you hit 60, your immune system is weaker. Besides the annual flu vaccine, you should talk to your doctor about the shingles vaccine, the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, and the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.
- Assess Your Home. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle as you age means evaluating your surroundings. A cluttered or multi-level home may cause dangerous falls. Take a look around and consider what needs to change.
- Get Your Eyes Examined Yearly. Your vision changes drastically once you hit 60. Common eye problems are macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. Maintaining good eye health is key to staying independent, allowing older individuals to continue to drive and live independently.