salmon and avocado dinner
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Eat Healthy Fats

You already know that saturated fats are bad for your arteries and heart health. But they can also harm your concentration and memory. So cut down on the red meat, butter, and other such foods. Instead, add more fatty fish and fats from plants, like flaxseed and nuts. These healthy fats may have extra benefits for your heart and your brain. 

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woman and dog
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Fill Your Empty Nest

If your kids have moved out and your home feels empty, think about adopting a pet. People with cats and dogs seem to have lower cholesterol and less risk of heart disease. They also need fewer doctors' visits. We don't know why exactly pets seem to help. But at the very least, having a dog that needs walks is a great way to build in daily exercise. 

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man jogging
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Protect Your Joints

Getting older doesn't mean you have to give up your morning run. People used to think running would wreck their knees. But new research suggests it might actually strengthen them. It doesn't seem to raise your risk of arthritis either.

That said, if you have arthritis or damaged joints, running could be too much. But you can still benefit from exercise. It helps strengthen muscles, support your joints, and lessen pain. So choose low-impact activities like walking or biking instead.

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couple laughing in bed
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Rediscover Sex

As you get older, your sex life changes -- and there can be real benefits. You're more confident. You've been having sex for a while. You're so much better at it than you were when you were 22. Getting older can free you from hang-ups and constraints, especially if your kids have moved out and you have the house to yourself again.

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man playing guitar
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Keep Learning

Surprise yourself. Instead of sticking with what's familiar and comfortable, tackle something new. Go to out-of-the-ordinary places. Make new friends. Learn a musical instrument or a language. New experiences will build new pathways in your brain, keeping your mind healthy as you age. They'll also expand your options for finding excitement and happiness.

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banana
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Cut Sodium

Is your blood pressure higher than it used to be? That's not unusual. It tends to rise as we get older. Since sodium can drive your readings up, cut down on salt in your diet. The worst sources are premade and packaged foods. Bread and rolls can also have a lot of salt.

Want a natural remedy? Eat a banana -- the potassium will lessen the effect of sodium in your diet and keep your blood pressure lower.

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woman biking
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Slash Your Alzheimer's Risk

Want to keep your mind sharp as you get older? Get moving. Regular exercise in middle age can lower your risk of memory and thinking problems when you're older by almost half. Exercise boosts blood flow to your brain and helps new cells grow there. Just 30 minutes of walking, biking, or even gardening 5 days a week can make a difference.

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fitness app on iphone
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Track Yourself

Get a fuller picture of your health by trying a wearable fitness tracker, logging the food you eat onto a smartphone app, or using gadgets like a home blood pressure monitor. You'll learn new ways to improve your health and chart your progress.

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women jogging
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Make a New Start

So you didn't have the healthiest habits in your 30s and 40s. Maybe you ate too much and exercised too little. That's OK. The key is to do better now. Changing your lifestyle in your 60s and beyond -- exercising more and eating healthier -- can still make a big difference. You can lower your risk of heart problems, cancer, and bone fractures. It's not too late. You really can be healthier and more fit now than when you were 30.

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woman cutting vegetables
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Make Smarter Food Choices

As you get older, your metabolism slows down and you need fewer calories. So make the ones you get count. Choose foods packed with the nutrients you need. Eat dark leafy greens and colorful fruits and vegetables. Increase low-fat dairy to get calcium for bones. Fortified foods -- like cereals with vitamin B12 and milk with vitamin D -- can help, too. Cut down on empty calories from sugary drinks and sweets.

 

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tai chi class
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Stay on Balance

Having good balance is one of the best ways to prevent a fall -- and potentially serious injuries. Make these exercises part of your day. Stand on one foot or walk heel-to-toe -- as if you were walking on a beam. The gentle, dance-like movements of tai chi are another helpful option. Older people who stick with tai chi for 6 months can cut their risk of a fall in half.

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Build Strength

Aerobic exercise is important, but don't forget to build your muscles, too. One study on regular strength training in seniors found that it caused genetic changes in cells. The result: Older folks' muscles became more like those of people in their 20s.

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friends playing cards
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Get Social

Spend more time with friends or family. It can help keep your mind keen. Social people have sharper thinking and a much lower risk of memory problems as they age. Or try volunteering. It's linked with a lower risk of heart disease and a longer life. Don't wait until you retire to start. Studies show that the earlier you begin, the less likely you are to have health problems later.

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woman applying sunscreen
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Fend Off Wrinkles

Want your skin to defy the years? Use sunscreen every day: It really does prevent wrinkles. And it's not too late -- even people who didn't start using it until middle age still get a benefit. Choose a product with an SPF of 30 or higher. 

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alarm clock
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Sleep Sounder

You might need a little less sleep these days than you used to. That's normal. But if you're getting less than 7 hours a night, or feel worn out during the day, something's wrong. Insomnia isn't a normal part of getting older. Exercise more, drink less alcohol, and discuss your medications with your doctor. Seek treatment if you have an underlying problem like depression or anxiety; it can help you sleep soundly again.

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card for grandma
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Enjoy the Rewards of Age

Here's some good news: The older people get, the more content and satisfied they are. People in their 80s report being more satisfied than people in their 70s. So look forward to the future. It could be a time of great happiness. 

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 06/15/2016 Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on June 15, 2016

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REFERENCES:

Alzheimer's Association: "Stay Physically Active."
Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation: "Exercise Physical, Mental, and Mind/Body."'
American Heart Association: "Pets may reduce your risk of heart disease," "Potassium and High Blood Pressure," "The Salty Six."
Arthritis Foundation: "Exercise Reverses Aging in Muscle," "Benefits of Stationary Bicycling."
Caprariello, PA. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, February 2013.
CDC: "Exercise Based Interventions: Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance."
Chakravarty EF. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, August 2008.
Cleveland Clinic: "Stay Fit."
Corporation for National & Community Service: "The Health Benefits of Volunteering."
Geda YE. Archives of Neurology, January 2010.
Geriatric Mental Health Foundation: "Sleeping Well As We Age."
Harvard Medical School: "Social Networks and Memory Function."
HelpGuide.org: "Better Sex After 50," "Eating Well Over 50," "How to Improve Your Memory," "How to Sleep Well Over 50," "Staying Healthy Over 50," "The Therapeutic Benefits of Owning Pets."
Jeste D. "Association Between Older Age and More Successful Aging: Critical Role of Resilience and Depression," American Journal of Psychiatry, 2013.
National Institute on Aging: "Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging: Sample Exercises -- Balance."
New York-Presbyterian: "Message to the Elderly: It's Never Too Late to Prevent Illness."
NIH Senior Health: "Balance Problems: Causes and Prevention."
Nutrition.gov: "Questions to Ask Before Taking Vitamin and Mineral Supplements."
Skin Cancer Foundation: "Study: Regular Sunscreen Can Prevent Wrinkles."
UCSF: "Self Tracking May Become Key Element of Personalized Medicine."
UpToDate: "Drug Prescribing for Older Adults."
Urquhart DM, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, March 4 2011.
U.S. Preventative Services Task Force: "Vitamin D and Calcium Supplementation to Prevent Fractures."

Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on June 15, 2016

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.