You have probably seen the headlines triumphantly claiming “50 is the new 30.” Many of the biggest names in entertainment have celebrated their 50th birthdays with nary a gray hair or wrinkle to show. It seems age is nothing more than a number these days, and more people than ever are committed to staying healthy and active for as long as possible.
September is Healthy Aging Month, and whether you are facing a milestone birthday or you are well past retirement age, you can make lifestyle changes to support healthy aging. To help you make choices (or changes) that support your well-being, we’ve compiled some of the best tips and tricks from our team of accomplished orthopedic providers.
What You Can Do Today to Support Healthy Aging for Years to Come
Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your overall well-being and ensure healthy aging. Not only do regular workouts—which can be as simple as a brisk 30- minute walk several times a week—reduce your risk of chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, but they also help maintain muscle mass.
Keeping your muscles healthy with exercise will help prevent age-related decline in strength, and even help you live longer. Start with short periods of physical activity throughout the day, and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts to get the most benefits from exercise.
2. Get Enough Calcium
Both men and women are at risk for osteoporosis, a disease that causes a loss of bone mass and increases the risk of fractures. Everyone loses some bone mass with age, but you can support bone strength and help prevent osteoporosis by getting enough calcium.
Ideally, you should get most of your daily recommendation (1200 mg for women over age 50 and men over age 71) from healthy foods like leafy greens, broccoli, salmon, and low-fat dairy products, but talk to your doctor about taking supplements if you are not getting enough of the mineral from food
3. Quit Smoking and Reduce Alcohol Consumption
By now, you know smoking is bad for your health. Even if you have smoked for years, quitting can improve your overall health and support healthy aging. Both smoking and excessive drinking (one drink per day for women and two for men) are linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis and other health issues.
Staying flexible is important to avoiding problems with your back and spine as you age. Maintaining a full range of motion can also help you avoid injury if you slip and fall. Gentle yoga is a good way to improve your flexibility and strength while also relaxing and reducing stress. Tai chi is also beneficial for strengthening muscles while increasing flexibility.
5. Get Outside
Heading outside for some fresh air and sunshine can boost your mood and support bone strength and health. Exposure to sunlight helps your body produce vitamin D, which supports calcium absorption. In addition to helping prevent osteoporosis, vitamin D may also help support brain health and reduce the risk for certain cancers and multiple sclerosis.
Spending time outdoors can also help you get enough sleep. Research indicates spending time outdoors helps people sleep better, have more regular sleep rhythms, and reduce the risk of depression.
6. Keep Your Doctor’s Appointments
Seeing your healthcare providers for regular checkups is critical to healthy aging. Screening for chronic diseases like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer can detect potential issues early and increase the chance of successful treatment.
Seeing a doctor any time you have pain, an injury, or signs and symptoms of an illness also supports healthy aging. Do not ignore a feeling that something is not quite right, as that can worsen health issues. Orthopedic concerns in particular can often be managed without surgery if they are treated early. The longer you put off seeing a doctor, the more likely you will need more extensive or invasive treatment.
Get Support for Healthy Aging at EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region
If you have joint pain, concerns about osteoporosis, or any other orthopedic concern, schedule an appointment with one of our providers today. Or, call us any time at (919) 220-5255. We are here to support you at every age and help you stay as healthy and active as possible.