(As seen in the Surprise Independent newspaper)
The choices we make about diet, exercise, and other habits impact our overall health.
Here are 10 keys to improving and maintaining your health as you age.
1. Lower blood pressure – Monitor your blood pressure regularly. High blood pressure is a main culprit for heart attack and stroke, congestive heart failure, age-related dementia and kidney failure.
2. Stop smoking – Studies show benefits to quitting at any age, including noticeable changes in the first year—or even the first month—after quitting. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit smokefree.gov for more information.
3. Get cancer screenings – It’s important to follow recommendations for cancer screening tests. Screenings help detect cancer as early as possible – while it’s small and before it has spread. Go to www.cancer.org and look for “cancer screening guidelines.”
4. Watch the sweets – The key to sweets is to keep portions small and save them for special occasions. Limit drinking sugar-sweetened beverages to help prevent type 2 diabetes.
5. Lower your LDL cholesterol – Low density lipoproteins (LDL) is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol. A high LDL level places you at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Have your lipid panel checked at least once per year.
6. Activate your body – Regular physical activity helps fight chronic diseases and lowers stress. Work up to a minimum of 2 ½ hours (150 minutes per week) of cardiovascular activity. Always check with your doctor before you start a new physical activity routine.
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7. Maintain healthy bones, joints and muscles – Prevent injuries and falls by keeping your bones, joints and muscles healthy. Ask your doctor for a bone density test, manage your weight and consider adding more calcium in your diet.
8. Maintain social contact – People who are socially active maintain their brain vitality, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Social interaction prevents cognitive decline and isolation, improves self-esteem and reduces stress.
9. Manage stress – Research has linked chronic stress to chronic disease and even the ability to effectively metabolize fat. Find ways to relieve stress through exercise, yoga, music and other relaxation techniques.
10. Manage your weight – Set a realistic weight goal and map a course to get there. Consider using a fitness tracker to stay accountable. Draw on friends or professionals to help you stick to your plan.
Margaret Brown is a registered dietitian from the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing. For information, call 623-832-WELL (9355) or visit www.sunhealthwellbeing.org. This information should not be substituted for medical advice from your physician.
(Originally published April 11, 2016; last updated Jan. 6, 2019.)