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Health Topic

Aging Healthfully

5 Things To Do Today To Make You
Healthier As You Age

There's no day like today to start paying attention to your health - especially if you want to enjoy your later years without serious medical problems. Take it from the experts: if you start practicing good health habits now, you'll reap the benefits for the rest of your life.

"Those who are in their 50s have to start thinking, 'What kind of health do I want to be in when I'm 75? Do I want to be recuperating from a heart attack or stroke or do I want to be a healthy 75-year-old?' '' says Dr. Suzanne Salamon, Associate Chief for Clinical Programs for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's Gerontology Division.

So grab a marker and put a start date on your calendar to make these changes for a healthier you:

  1. Move, really move - Start with just 10 minutes a day. Put on your favorite music and walk, dance, skip - whatever feels good - and move as quickly as is comfortable for you. Then increase your 10 minutes of moving to 2 or even 3 times a day!

    "The whole idea is just to move," notes Dr. Salamon.

  2. Set a weight goal and make it happen - If you are overweight, pick your ideal weight and then start working to get there. Eat a low-fat diet full of lots of fruits and vegetables and, if possible, fish once or twice a week.

    "We live in a stressful society," laments Dr. Salamon. "People eat for comfort. And they are busy. It's easier said than done. Yet people feel so much more energetic and healthier when they are in a healthy weight range."

  3. Build strong bones with Vitamin D - Take 1000 I.U. of Vitamin D every day to protect your bones from breaking. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a major public health threat to 55% of Americans over the age of 50. Women are most at risk, suffering loss of bone mass during and after menopause. Dr. Salamon also recommends 1,200 mg of calcium daily for women and bone density testing to find out if bones are brittle and at risk of fracturing.

  4. Know your numbers and keep them in the normal range - Make sure your blood pressure and cholesterol are normal. Often, just losing weight can accomplish this…and maybe even enable you to get rid of some of those pills you have to take every day.

    "Once you gain weight, everything follows along. Cholesterol goes up and blood pressure rises," notes Dr. Salamon. "The risk of stroke, heart attack and diabetes goes up. People become less active. It's all related."

  5. Find comfort in numbers - Do something with a friend or group - join a walking club, go for a walk or to the gym together, attend a group weight-loss program, or just go for a cup of coffee and conversation. Make it at least a weekly event to help both your brain and your mood.

    "Groups can be a powerful tool," Salamon adds. "All you may need is one other person."

And never forget the basics: quit smoking, lose weight, eat healthy, and exercise. While some health issues may be unavoidable, many can be prevented with some simple steps.

"You can't avoid your genes, but people have got to take control of the things they can control and start a whole new regimen," Dr. Salamon says.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted January 2010

Contact Information

Division of Gerontology
Department of Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Lowry Medical Office Building #1B (West Campus)
110 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02215