Successful Aging

As we get older it seems that staying healthy gets much more difficult. It’s harder to maintain a healthy weight. All forms of exercise seem more troublesome than they once were. And new health conditions seem to appear as the years add up. With so many people chasing the fountain of youth, it’s a hot area for research too. There have been a couple recent studies on the subject of healthy aging that I wanted to share with you.

The first study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and involved 5100 British men and women 42 to 63 years old who were followed for 16 years. At the end of the study the participants were split into groups. The “successful aging” group—those with no chronic diseases and able to function well with good mobility, cognitive skills, breathing function, and mental health—were found to also engage in four behaviors thought to be helpful in maintaining their health: not smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, exercise, and eating fruits and veggies daily. If you are not engaging in these four behaviors—start! (Although if you don’t drink alcohol at all, experts say don’t start, you’re better off.) 

Another recent study highlights the particular benefits of exercise on aging of the brain. In a study involving almost 700 people and published in the journal Neurology, people over 70 who also exercised were found to have less damaged areas of the brain related to memory and thinking. The researchers stated, “We already know that exercise is important in reducing our risk of some illnesses that come with aging, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. This research reemphasizes that it really is never too late to benefit from exercise, so whether it’s a brisk walk to the shops, gardening, or competing in a fun run, it is crucial that, those of us who can, get active as we grow older.”

Take stock of your habits. Get rid of those habits that don’t contribute to your health, and adopt those that do. Begin with just one. (Exercise would be a good one, based on these studies and so many more I’ve seen.) Here’s to your healthy aging.

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