We live longer than ever before; in fact, the United Nations states that our global life expectancy is now around 72 years old, with that number much higher in developed nations.
However, this does not mean that we will age in optimal health. While genetics, location, and environmental factors all play a role in how well we will age, we also have a massive opportunity and responsibility to take action. By choosing a healthy lifestyle, we can age well!
The World Health Organization provides us with critical information on aging and the many and all too common health conditions that are often seen in older adults. While some of these health concerns may be unavoidable for some, many are preventable if we take action now. Many of these diseases require the same proactive approach: eat a healthy diet, reduce your stress, and engage in regular physical activity.
COPD is a serious disease caused by breathing in pollutants such as cigarette and pipe smoke and secondhand smoke. Some environments may also lead to COPD. If you are currently a smoker, avoiding COPD is just one of many reasons you should quit right now.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body can no longer make sufficient amounts of insulin or when your body can no longer properly process the insulin it does make. This allows for sugar to build up in your blood, causing severe health outcomes. If your body composition is more fat than lean tissue, it’s time to talk to your doctor about losing weight safely and effectively.
Depression is manageable, but it can be tricky. If your mood is low, see your
doctor right away. Again, healthy eating and being physically active are beneficial, as are staying socially and emotionally engaged. Surround yourself with people that care for you in a meaningful way, and find ways to keep your mind and spirit engaged in life.
Sadly, many types of dementia are unavoidable, but by maintaining a rich, healthy lifestyle, you may be able to reduce the symptoms and your risk. Again, this means a sound diet, regular activity, and engaging in activities that will stimulate your brain such as puzzles, reading, and social activities.
While we can’t prevent all falls, we can reduce our risk by participating in exercises and activities that strengthen our bones and muscles and safely challenge our balance and coordination. Maintaining a robust and active body can reduce our risk of a life-limiting fall, perhaps even a fracture.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, can result in heart disease or a stroke. These diseases can have devastating results. Like other age-related diseases, it’s essential to eat a healthy diet that includes foods high in fiber, potassium, and lean proteins. In addition, reduce your salt intake, as well as your intake of saturated fats. By becoming physically active, you can also help reduce your blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight.
Cardiovascular disease or heart disease includes coronary heart disease, acute
coronary syndrome, angina, aortic aneurysm, arrhythmias, and more. To prevent our risk of developing cardiovascular disease, it’s essential that we maintain a healthy weight, avoid smoking, eat well, and lead a healthy, active lifestyle.
This disease impacts your bones, which can lead to life-limiting fractures. Diet is essential, so eat plenty of foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, dancing, and hiking are great ways to help maintain your bone density.
While some forms of arthritis are unavoidable, we can manage the progression of
the disease and its many negative impacts. As we age, we must maintain a healthy weight, eat well, avoid smoking and excessive alcohol, and engage in a rich, active, and fulfilling lifestyle.
It’s natural to lose some muscle mass as we age, but we can slow this decline by engaging in regular, practical resistance training exercises. By participating in an active lifestyle right from childhood, we can help to delay age-related muscle loss and maintain our physical independence.