Healthy aging: Start now to make the best of your golden years

Make the best of your golden years

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  • | 9:31 a.m. September 5, 2012
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
  • Opinion
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People of all ages should adopt a healthy lifestyle including a balanced, nutritious diet and regular exercise. As we age, however, committing to healthy living is more important than ever in order to enjoy all that the golden years have to offer.

Watching your weight is the single best thing you can do for your health, self-esteem and appearance as you age. Many people find that watching their weight becomes harder with time. This is because beginning around age 20, the metabolism tends to slow about 2 percent with each decade, reducing caloric needs. Women at midlife are especially vulnerable to putting on weight around their hips, stomachs and thighs – the unhealthiest spots to accumulate fat. Lack of exercise tends to accelerate changes in body composition, which means less muscle mass and more body fat.

The metabolic slowdown associated with aging is just one reason why being active is so important as we get older. Not only does exercise help with weight maintenance, but it can also help battle the loss of bone strength, which can lead to fractures.

Being overweight can carry severe consequences for aging adults. Obesity is a major risk factor for early death. Weight around the abdomen poses a particularly strong risk of cardiovascular disease, and heart attacks are the nation’s leading cause of death – even among women. Cardiovascular disease also creates a much higher risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, high-blood pressure and other life-threatening conditions.

The weight and health issues associated with aging can be daunting; however, when precautions are taken, many of the health risks associated with aging can be managed. Here are a few tips to put you on the right track to healthy aging:

• Have a positive mental attitude: It’s never too late to get serious about your health! Aging should mean you become more focused on staying healthy.

• Eat high-fiber fruits, vegetables and whole grains: This will help with digestive issues that can occur as the body ages.

• Make an effort to eat healthy food that tastes and looks good: The number of taste buds decreases beginning at about age 40 to 50 in women and at 50 to 60 in men. Just because you don’t taste everything as you used to doesn’t mean you should skimp on a well-balanced diet.

• Make time for exercise you enjoy: This will make you want to exercise more often. Walking is a great form of exercise for people who are older and just starting a fitness regimen.

• Eat foods that boost your metabolism: Some foods that will help kick-start your metabolism are green tea, yogurt and spinach, to name a few.

Healthy aging is a very attainable goal when you take control of your health and make wise decisions regarding diet and exercise. Enjoy your golden years to the fullest by committing to a healthy lifestyle today.

Dr. Rene Cruz, a board-certified internal medicine physician practicing in Central Florida for more than a decade, has helped more than 400 patients since 2008 at his medical weight loss center, Greater Orlando Medical Weight Loss, near Winter Park. Contact him at [email protected]