What’s involved in healthy aging?
First, get rid of some myths about health and aging.
Next, the CDC recommends a program called “10 Keys to Healthy Aging,” developed by the University of Pittsburgh.
10 Keys to Healthy Aging
- Lower systolic blood pressure. Track your blood pressure, and work to get the top number below 140. 120 is better.
- Stop smoking (or don’t start). Smoking is the #1 preventable cause of death.
- Participate in cancer screening. Talk with your doctor about which screenings are right for you. Women should generally have breast and cervical cancer screenings regularly, and both men and women should have colon cancer screenings.
- Get immunized regularly. You should have an annual flu shot and ask your doctor about a pneumonia vaccine.
- Regulate blood glucose. Check your blood sugar level for diabetes, and strive to get your blood glucose average below 100.
- Lower LDL cholesterol. This number, too, should be below 100.
- Be physically active. All adults should get at least 150 minutes a week of cardio, plus strength training twice a week. Your doctor can help you figure out how to stay active — or how to become active if that hasn’t been a priority for you.
- Maintain healthy bones, joints, and muscles. You may need a bone density test, and you might also want to talk with your doctor about your weight.
- Stay connected with other people. Loneliness is a growing problem among older adults and has been shown to have health effects.
- Combat depression. Talk with your doctor about treatment options if you feel sad or no longer have much interest in daily life.
None of those items will surprise you, probably. The list would be disappointing if you were hoping to learn that an avocado a day was all you needed, but if you have developed healthy habits throughout your lifetime, you’ll be glad to know that those good habits will pay off.
If you haven’t made these key habits a part of your life yet, it’s not too late. Healthy aging is the culmination of lots of good choices made every day. Talk with your doctor to learn your next steps.