When it comes to life expectancy and how good you feel as you age, there are many factors at play. You can’t control your genetics, but you can give yourself a big advantage by making healthy lifestyle choices. Get smart about your diet, activity level, daily routine and habits to increase your chances of staying healthy into your 90s.
Steps to staying healthy longer
If you want to boost your chances of living a longer, healthier life, some of the most important steps you can take are lifestyle changes:
- Quit smoking.
- Take all your medications as prescribed by your doctor.
- Get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes lots of vegetables, whole grains and lean protein but limited amounts of red meat, fat, and sugar.
- Drink in moderation. The American Heart Association recommends that men have no more than two drinks per day and women no more than one.
- Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
You don’t have to do everything at once. For example, you can start exercising by making an effort to walk more. You can start eating healthier with a simple switch from white flour to whole wheat flour. Every little change can make a big difference. Even if you’re already in your 70s or 80s, making these lifestyle changes now can help prevent more damage to your health and even reverse it in some cases.
Exercise to increase life expectancy
Staying active is one of the most important things you can do to reach your 90s in good health. As you age, you’ll experience a natural decline in your coordination, muscle strength and mental acuity, but this doesn’t mean you need to slow down. In fact, the more you can stay physically and mentally active, the more you’ll be able to be independent for years to come.
However, because of age-related decline, you might want to expand your fitness program beyond just cardiovascular exercises. Two important areas of focus are balance/coordination and strength training. Improving your balance and coordination will help you reduce your risk of falling as you age, and rebuilding weakening muscles will help you fight the natural progression of losing muscle tone.
A physical therapist can help you set up a routine that incorporates everything you need to stay healthy and active as you age. At Heather Lane, we can provide you with a free consultation today and get you started on your path to a long, healthy life.
Staying mentally sharp as you age
Many of the strategies for staying active physically—exercising, eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep—carry the added benefit of helping you stay cognitively sharp. More steps you can take to stay mentally healthy include:
- Making time to see friends and family.
- Reading, doing word and spatial puzzles and tackling other brain-stimulating activities.
- Keeping up with your hobbies and passions.
- Learning new things. Challenging your brain by learning something new puts you on a fun path to lowering your risk of cognitive decline.
There is no way to guarantee a longer life span, but making smart choices and staying active can greatly increase your chances of living into your 90s in good health.
The American Heart Association, Alcohol and Heart Health, https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Alcohol-and-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_305173_Article.jsp