Aging Gracefully: How to Look and Feel Your Best at Any Age
Though something we rarely like to think about, aging is a natural (and unavoidable) part of the life cycle. Our bodies go through many changes as we age, but taking the steps to maintain your health throughout every stage of life can play a significant role in helping you to look and feel your best at any age.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge report that the combination of four behaviors – not smoking, engaging in regular exercise, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol and eating five servings of fruit and vegetables daily – can add an average of 14 years to your life!1
Lifestyle. According to the CDC, regular physical activity can improve health, help manage weight, support healthy joints and muscles, and contribute to a healthy mood.2 To maintain health, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association recommend healthy individuals under age 65 do 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise 5 days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous cardio exercise 3 days a week and strength training exercises twice a week. Individuals over 65 (or adults 50-64 with significant chronic conditions) have the same recommendations with the possible addition of an extra strength training session each week. And for individuals who are at risk for falls, incorporating balance exercises can help increase stability. Be sure to work with your health care professional to develop your physical activity plan to manage any risks and to take any personal therapeutic needs into account.3
Diet. As we get older, good nutrition plays an increasingly important role in how well we age. Yet statistics show that only 17% of Americans over the age of 60 consume a good diet. Try to consume a diet that is low in cholesterol, fat (particularly saturated fats), and salt and high in fruits, vegetables and fiber. Also keep in mind that as we age, our body’s daily energy needs slowly decrease, requiring an intake of fewer calories. Women over 50 typically need between 1,600 and 2,200 calories a day, while men require between 2,000 and 2,800 a day.
Nutrients. Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient that helps convert food to energy, and maintain the health of red blood cells and the nervous system.* But as people grow older, some have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 that is found naturally in food. Additionally, B12, along with folic acid and vitamin B6 has been shown to help support healthy brain function as we age.*4 B6 is also important for healthy immune system function in older individuals. Calcium plays an important role in maintaining the health and strength of bones, which is increasingly important as we age.* Vitamin D, which our bodies produce through exposure to the sun’s UV rays, helps to promote absorption of calcium.* However, many older adults do not get sufficient vitamin D though sun exposure, which can result in less than optimum calcium levels in the body.*
1.Khaw K, et al. PLoS Med 2008;5(1):39-47.
3.Nelson ME, et al. Circulation 2007;116:1094-1105.
4.Leblhuber F, et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;82(3):627-35.
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