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Bodies change as we get older, requiring us to change and develop new habits to stay healthy.
Sleep, exercise and diet are a few areas that may need modifications.
A Swedish primary care doctor can help with ideas for maintaining your health as you age.
Men, let’s face it: If you haven’t done it by age 50, you’re probably not going to play centerfield for the Mariners, break four minutes in the mile or be named the sexiest man alive. And that’s OK. In fact, it’s better to accept it and move gracefully into the next stage of life than to imagine you can jump off the couch and school the kids on the nearest basketball court.
So, with your feet grounded in reality and your eye on a healthy future, consider these five habits you can adopt after turning 50.
Exercise regularly, not just sporadically
Stop imagining you’re like those professional athletes on TV: Get outside or hit the gym.
If you exercise occasionally, try to make it a daily routine. Make sure you’re doing a combination of aerobic and strength-building exercises. And don’t be discouraged if you can’t run as long or lift as much as you once did. The point is to build a healthy habit.
The National Institute for Aging recommends exercises that promote strength (chair dips, back leg raises), endurance (bicycling, using a treadmill), balance (Tai chi, heel-to-toe walking) and flexibility (thigh stretches, lower back stretches).
Get enough sleep
Don’t neglect your rest. It’s more important than you may think.
It’s commonly thought that people require less sleep as they age, but this is a myth. People need about the same amount of sleep when they’re older as they did when they were young, but their sleep patterns change. Most commonly, they have a harder time going to sleep and staying asleep than they once did.
Lots of things contribute to this, from medications to changes in circadian rhythms. Many are linked and can lead to problems. Hypertension, for example, contributes to snoring, which can cause obstructive sleep apnea, depression and heart failure.
If you’re not sleeping well, talk to your health care provider to see what you can do to change your patterns.
Take care of your skin
You have noticed already, perhaps, your formerly taut, smooth skin has acquired some character — wrinkles, age spots or bruises that take longer to heal. This is perfectly normal, but there are some things you should still be doing to take good care of your skin. For example:
- Use sunscreen.
- Take fewer baths or showers, and remember warm water is less drying than hot water.
- Check your skin regularly for growths that grow, are irregularly shaped or change color.
Eat a healthier diet
This is a tough one for those who still crave late-night pizza and the occasional adult beverage. But the fact is, your metabolism changes and your body develops different needs as it ages.
Easy ways to improve your diet might include:
- Season your foods with herbs and spices instead of salt.
- Add sliced fruits and vegetables to your meals.
- Drink three cups of skim or low-fat milk each day, or, if that’s a problem, try yogurt, hard cheese or lactose-free foods.
- Eat foods fortified with Vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals.
Drink plenty of water
Did you know that some people lose their sense of thirst as they get older? Nevertheless, their bodies still crave fluids.
To make up for this shift, consciously create routines to take in water during and between meals. Drink a full glass of water with medicine, for example, and take a drink of water before heading outside. Avoid sugary drinks. Remember, water restores your fluids without adding calories.
Getting Older with Grace and Health
Staying healthy as you age often requires modifying some behaviors and developing new habits. While change isn’t always easy, your family and future self will thank you for it.
Find a doctor
If you have questions about staying healthy as you age, contact the primary care department at Swedish. We can accommodate both in-person and virtual visits.
Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult a doctor virtually, you have options. Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory.
Join our Patient and Family Advisory Council.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.