Aging, the saying goes, is not for wimps. But it also doesn’t have to be more difficult than necessary. Too many of us make it so, by engaging in everyday habits that can accelerate aging or significantly increase the risk of chronic disease. These are five health patterns you should never fall into after 60, according to experts. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Many of us become less active as we age—at the exact time our bodies need us to move more. Exercising regularly increases muscle mass, decreases bone loss, sharpens memory, increases metabolism and improves sleep. Conversely, being sedentary raises your risk of a wide range of chronic health problems—obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease, just to name a few. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise) each week. And more is even better.
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A recent study found that 10 percent of people over age 65 engage in binge drinking, defined as having four or more drinks in one sitting. Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer and heart disease at any age, but as we mature, there are even more reasons to moderate. Age inhibits the ability to metabolize alcohol. A drunken fall at 60 can cause a lot more damage than it did at 20. And long-term medications may interact dangerously with booze. To stay healthy, drink moderately: No more than one alcoholic beverage per day for women, and two for men.
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Loneliness may be as unhealthy as smoking, and staying socially engaged is as important to health as physical exercise or eating right. Social isolation seems to cause a stress response in the body, which can lead to inflammation and an impaired immune system. Research has found it can increase older adults’ risk of dementia by 50%. And a recent Finnish study found that men who reported feeling lonely over two decades were more likely to be diagnosed with cancer—and to receive a worse prognosis.
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Blood pressure is one of the most important sets of numbers you need to know. The American Heart Association says it should be 120/80 or below. Over time, high blood pressure can damage blood vessels, vastly increasing your risk of stroke, heart attack and dementia. According to Harvard Medical School, today more than 70 percent of men over age 55 technically have high blood pressure. Do you know your latest numbers?
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Get your COVID booster as recommended—the chance of being hospitalized or dying from respiratory illnesses of all kinds increases with age. And talk to your doctor about all the other routine vaccinations recommended for people over 60, including flu, pneumonia, whooping cough and shingles. The CDC says every adult should get an annual flu vaccine, and people over 60 are a priority group. The CDC also recommends two pneumococcal pneumonia vaccines for people 65 and older, and two doses of shingles vaccine for people over 50. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.