Healthy Aging - Topic Overview
What is healthy aging?
Getting older is a natural
part of life. How you will feel as you get older depends on many things,
including what health problems run in your family and the choices you make. If
you take good care of your body and learn positive ways to deal with
stress now, you can slow down or even prevent problems
that often come with getting older.
It's never too early or too
late to change bad habits and start good ones. No matter when you start, a
healthy lifestyle can make a difference in how you feel and what you can do.
What determines how healthy you will be as you get older?
The changes you'll go through as you get older depend on a
number of things. One is your family history (genetics). If your family members
have diseases or ongoing (chronic) health problems like high blood pressure or
diabetes, then you may have a greater chance of having those problems yourself.
But just because your risk is higher, it doesn't mean you will definitely have
the same problems. In fact, the lifestyle choices you make can help reduce your
chances of getting illnesses that run in your family. And even if you do get a
family illness, choosing to be physically active, to eat healthy foods, and to learn
how to deal with stress can keep the illness from destroying your ability to
enjoy your golden years.
What kinds of changes should you expect as you age?
Changes as you get older are usually gradual. Certain physical changes
are common. Your metabolism (how fast your body can burn calories) slows over
time, which means that your body needs less food energy than before. How much and how well you sleep will likely change. Most
people start needing reading glasses around age 40, and many have some
hearing loss later in life. Starting in your 50s, bone aging increases. Also
starting around age 50, you may notice changes in sexual function—it's normal
to have a slower sexual response.
Most vital organs gradually
become less efficient with age. The kidneys are less able to keep enough water
in your body. And the heart can start to show signs of wear and tear. So as you get older, it's
important to be physically active, drink plenty of water, and choose healthy
foods. Doing these things will help your body work well for a longer period of
What do you need to do to feel your best as you age?
One of the most important things you can do for your health at any age is
to be physically active. Physical activity keeps your body strong, and it helps
with how you feel. People who stay active are less likely to get depressed.
Physical activity can be anything from walking to gardening to working out at
the gym. The important thing is to be active almost every day. No matter what
your age or condition, there is a type of physical activity that's right for
you. Always ask your doctor whether it is safe for you to start a physical