"Unhealthy" Habits to Give Up After 60
If you want to be happy, healthy, and thriving into your 60s and beyond, it's time to wave bye-bye to some bad habits and embrace a vibrant, meaningful life. "Leading a life of purpose not only feels good and meaningful, existentially speaking," says Carol D. Ryff, Ph.D, "it may also be an area of rich potential in which intervention studies and public health education programs might contribute to improved health of our ever growing aged population." Here are five things you need to leave behind in your 60s, experts say. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Don't Let Your Weight Creep Up
Being overweight is linked to a number of scary health conditions no matter what your age, but carrying excess weight over 60 can lead to a significantly lower quality of life and loss of independence. "Among older adults, physical function of the upper and lower extremities and the ability to perform activities of daily living are key for their day to day functioning, and thus important indicators of health," says Dr. Rahul Malhotra, Head of Research at Center for Aging Research and Education, Assistant Professor at Health Services and Systems Research Programme, Duke-NUS Medical School.
Eat a Healthy Diet for a Healthy Brain
Now is the time to limit junk food and focus on a nutritious, balanced diet for healthy aging. "While we can never guarantee the prevention of dementia, we know that people who eat closer to the Mediterranean or MIND diets," says Jessica Caldwell. Ph.D. "Lower saturated fats, more fruits, and vegetables, fewer processed foods, for example – tend to have better cognitive or thinking outcomes as they age."
Don't Abuse Alcohol
"We have seen a significant growth in the number of people needing evaluation for liver transplants—at least here in our facility because our team does those evaluations," says Alёna A. Balasanova, MD, director of addiction psychiatry education and co-director of the addiction psychiatry consultation-liaison service at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. "You can absolutely develop liver disease and eventually end stage liver disease such that you need a transplant. Alcohol-related liver disease is a leading cause of a need for transplant," she added, noting that drinking large amounts can "also impact your heart. You can get cardiomyopathy and increased blood pressure, which then, of course, can increase your risk for having strokes."
Don't Become Increasingly Sedentary
Retirement is no excuse for a sedentary lifestyle—use the extra time on your hands for active new hobbies and regular exercise. "The fitter and more active you are, the longer you'll live and less heart disease you'll have," says cardiologist and fitness expert Dr. Aaron Baggish. "I tell people the first thing they can do is to be conscious of their choice to move or not to move. They should try to move whenever possible. Build activity into your day simply by deciding to take the stairs versus the elevator or walking through an airport instead of hopping on the moving walkway."
Smoking is terrible for your health—but it's never too late to quit. "The longer a person avoids any tobacco product, the healthier a person will get" says Katelin Hartigan, LMHC. "Improved health and decreased mortality occurs when people quit smoking even after age 60. Benefits of smoking cessation in older adults include reduced progression of respiratory disease and improvement in lung function. Older adults will see decreased cognitive impairment and prevention of dementia. Actually, there is a reduced risk of all major causes of death once you quit! An obvious benefit and one of the most important is improved safety, quality and length of life."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.
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