The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle as You Age
Staying healthy is especially important as we age, since older adults are at greater risk for complications from illnesses like the flu and COVID-19. While you can’t change genetics or family history, there are things you can do to help prevent chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Mitra Hashemi, MD, a gerontologist and internal medicine physician with Adventist Medical Group, answered common questions about healthy aging and offers advice that is important no matter your age.
Q: Do I need a physical every year?
Dr. Hashemi: Yes, physicals are a way to stay on top of your health, even if you are healthy. No matter your age, it’s important to establish a relationship with a physician. Your doctor will recommend appropriate health screenings, adjust any medications and offer resources and tips to help prevent health risks like strokes and falls as you grow older.
Q: I know exercise is important, but how often is enough?
Dr. Hashemi: Exercise is important to maintaining a healthy weight and can help reduce your risk for chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. The recommended amount is 30 minutes at least five days a week. As you age, incorporating weight-bearing and balance exercises can help strengthen your bones, reducing your risk for falls and complications.
Q: How can I keep up with my mental health as I age?
Dr. Hashemi: Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, especially as social distancing has become a normal part of our lives. Stay connected with family and friends virtually through regular check-ins. It’s important as you get older to build a support system with family and friends. This can help you stay active and engaged in the things you love. There are many resources at local senior centers and libraries that offer programs, support groups and recreation to help you.
Q: How can I incorporate healthy eating into my life?
Dr. Hashemi: Healthy eating gives your body the nutrients it needs to continue working properly as you age and can even improve your mental health. Start including a variety of vegetables in your meals, cut back on foods with added sugars and saturated fats and reduce your sodium intake. This will help your heart and overall health.