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50+: Live Better, Longer

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Healthy Living Is the Real Fountain of Youth

While there's no magic bullet to guarantee aging beautifully, you can take simple steps to keep you looking and feeling younger.

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Medications can certainly help but they're not the whole story. Exercise plays a big role, too --"medicate with movement," as Peeke puts it. "The heart is a muscle. If you don't use it, you lose it." Research suggests taking a brisk 30-minute walk every day could cut your risk of heart disease in half. It'll also help trim your waistline. 

4. Sleep and Beauty 

There's a reason it's called "beauty sleep." While you sleep, your skin regenerates faster than while you're awake. Sleep also regulates hormones that control appetite, which is why people who don't get enough shut-eye are more likely to be overweight. How do you make sure you're getting your recommended seven to eight hours of zzzs? Make bedtime a soothing time. Turn off the TV. Play relaxing music. Read a book. "Do something that allows your mind to unwind," says Peeke. Keep your bedroom cool and dry so you're more comfortable while you sleep.  

5. Be a Sexy Senior 

Having a healthy sex life isn't just good for your libido. It also can relieve stress, help you sleep better, and might even make you live longer. 

"The brain is the great erotic organ," Legato says. If you think sex is going to be dull, it will be, so think about sex -- and your partner -- in new and fresh ways. Plan a getaway and try new tricks to rekindle the flames of romance. If vaginal dryness is getting in the way of intimacy, use a water-soluble lubricant, which will make sex more fun for both of you. Don't have a partner? Have sex with the person you love most -- you! "Masturbation is fantastic and it works perfectly fine," says Peeke. 

6. Maintain Your Memory 

Your brain isn't a muscle, but it can still benefit from a good workout. "It's called mental aerobics," Peeke says. Doing sudoku puzzles, learning a new language, or going to a museum with friends all can be part of your cognitive fitness program. Just as you alternate between cardio and strength training when you exercise your body, mix up your mental routine. 

"Build your brain reserve by challenging it and having it do things it's not used to doing," says Marie Savard, MD, an internist specializing in women's health and author of Ask Dr. Marie: Straight Talk and Reassuring Answers to Your Most Private Questions. In other words, if you work with numbers all day, do crossword puzzles at night. If you're normally right-handed, try eating with your left hand for a few days. 

While you're exercising your mind, don't forget to work out your body. Aerobic exercise boosts blood flow to parts of the brain that keep your memory sharp. Research finds that working out just three times a week could cut your risk of Alzheimer's by up to 40%. 

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