Americans are now living longer than ever. Longer life, though, is not directly associated with good health. Studies by Census.gov reveal that having a longer life does not necessarily mean that you will have a longer period of good health. It makes it even more important to take steps to maintain good health as long as possible – increasing longevity and health at the same time.
Staying as healthy as possible for as long as possible will make life much more enjoyable in your senior years. Being able to be mobile certainly is more fun than being bound to a wheelchair. A good number of seniors – though not the majority – will experience more injuries than others and poor health in their senior years.
Working to try and stay healthy should begin as early as possible. Oftentimes, poor health in later years is the result of making poor choices when younger. Although science does not have all the answers yet – and may not for a long time – some proven things can help increase longevity.
Exercise and healthy eating need to be at the top of the list if you are serious about seeking to be healthy in your senior years. Both factors will help keep the extra weight off that can lead to health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Each of these diseases can lead to a shorter life.
Without exercise, you will likely experience weight gain, shortness of breath, and limited flexibility. Your immune system also becomes weaker, and your ability to keep your balance is diminished – which can lead to injury.
Studies have shown that even seniors that are already frail can benefit from exercise – especially exercises focused on strength training, balance, walking, and flexibility. From these exercises, the frail seniors gained two benefits: fewer of them became disabled, and if they became disabled, it was for a shorter period than those that did not exercise.
Reducing extra weight will also help you stay healthy longer. If you have a body mass index (BMI) of anything higher than 30, you are at risk for a shorter life. Remember that living longer and staying healthy generally will not happen by accident. You cannot have an inactive life and expect to stay healthy and live longer.
Having the genes of long-lived family members does not guarantee that you will have the same outcome. The opposite is also true. Genes only play a part – now thought to be about 30 percent – of the factors that help determine how long you will live.
Other factors can help ensure that you stay healthy longer and active. While healthy living is not a guarantee of a long life, it can make a big difference. You also want to avoid smoking and excessive drinking of alcohol. Treating health problems quickly as they arise is important, and so is following the doctor’s directions when they do. It includes maintaining control of blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels if they become a problem.
Brushing and flossing your teeth daily is another thing you must do to maintain good health. Ignoring this simple activity (or not doing it twice a day) can lead to gum disease – which can lead to many health problems.
Other factors are also important to help ensure greater longevity and health. You will want to be sure to keep your mind challenged, get enough vitamin D, and spend time with other people.