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Future Proof Your Body: 13 Things To Do Now To Be Healthy in Later Life

Last updated on : November 29 2019

Portrait of healthy athletic middle aged man with fit body holding bottle of refreshing water, resting after workout

We all know that some kind of decline is inevitable as we age. Even though this process is entirely natural, we have a hard time accepting the fact. It makes us feel miserable and depressed about the things we can’t change.

Such an approach only wastes our precious energy. We could instead focus on developing healthy habits early on in our lives, and then enjoy reaping their benefits once we reach our golden age.

If we can’t change the very fact of aging, we can change the way aging will feel for us by remaining healthy and fit for many years to come.

Here are the 13 most important things you should know and apply, so that you can truly make the most out of your autumn years.

1. Pay Attention to What You Eat

A proper diet is central to our health and can help us improve our overall health. 

Alternatively, an unhealthy diet can have many adverse effects on our wellbeing, starting with teeth decay, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It’s also frequently linked to and being named a culprit behind heart disease, stroke, and cancer. The sooner you establish proper eating habits, the better your chances to avoid the risks associated with poor nutrition are. 

Some of the basic things you can do to start eating healthy:

  • Cut back on processed and red meat,
  • Eat more fish,
  • Have at least five servings of fruits and vegetables during a day,
  • Avoid trans-fats,
  • Choose your carbs wisely – consume whole-grain food and avoid refined grains,
  • Emphasize plant sources of protein, such as beans or nuts, and keep away from sources high in saturated fat,
  • Track your calorie intake.

Read more: Healthy Eating - How To Do It.

2. Watch Your Weight

When determining the health of your body, doctors use BMI as a screening tool and a good indicator of future health risks. If your score doesn’t fall within the optimal range, you’re considered having an increased risk of developing certain diseases. 

So what is body mass index? It is a diagnostic measurement used to access your weight relative to your height. Depending on your score, you can evaluate the risk of life-altering diseases caused by weight issues. Learn how to calculate your BMI and try to reduce your health risks with the right calorie intake.

3. Hydrate

But not only your food intake counts when it comes to your health - what you drink matters a great deal too. 

The substance you should be consuming more of is water. Our bodies consist of around 60% of water, but we’re continually losing it through our sweat and urine. We need to consume it in adequate amounts to prevent dehydration and its consequences, such as fatigue, frequent illness, constipation, and headaches.

Many studies show that drinking plenty of water can help you with weight loss – drinking 2 liters of water per day increases your energy expenditure for 96 calories. Also, consuming water half an hour before your meals make you feel full so that you will eat fewer calories. 

Other drinks, such as coffee, tea, and fruit juices should be consumed in moderation, while it’s best to stay away from sugary, fizzy drinks, and alcohol.

4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleeping is a basic human need, just like breathing, drinking, and eating. It is vital for maintaining our physical and mental wellbeing throughout our lives.

Our ability to function well while we’re awake pretty much depends on our sleep quality. Still, not only the hours we spend sleeping matter but also whether we’re sleeping at the right time, as well as if we’re getting adequate amounts of each type of sleep.

Sleep deficiency changes activity in some parts of your brain. A lack means you’ll be less capable of making decisions, solving problems, and controlling your emotions. Sleep deficiency also increases risk-taking behavior and depression.

The lack of sleep is detrimental to your body, too, as the risk for developing many diseases increases.

Try establishing a bedtime routine and getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Your body will learn this routine and stick to it even when facing challenges associated with aging, such as trouble falling and staying asleep.

5. Practice Stress Reduction

It’s never too late nor too early to learn how to deal with the stress in your life. 

Stress affects every system in your body, and can severely damage it. If you’re suffering from a migraine or a chronic pain in your lower back, stress may be the cause. 

The decline of your sex drive? Erectile dysfunction? Sterility? You know the answer.

The earlier you develop techniques for handling stress efficiently, the milder the consequences will be in the future.

Mindfulness, meditation, or deep breathing are just some of the techniques you can master and lead a happier and healthier life.

6. Quit Smoking

If you’re still among the smoking crowd, consider kicking the habit as soon as possible.

Smoking affects your heart, blood vessels, and circulation, and increases the risk of developing more than 50 severe health conditions,  which are either fatal or cause long-term damage to your health. Some of the diseases, such as lung cancer, are most commonly caused by smoking.

If you quit smoking now, you can repair some of the damage done. After five years of not smoking, the risk of heart disease in an ex-smoker will match the risk of a non-smoker, while for a stroke, it will take from two to four years. 

No matter the age you quit smoking, you will progressively cut your odds of dying from smoking-related cancer.

Breaking this kind of addiction can be very hard, but a strong reason should counterbalance your urge to light up. 

7. Look After Your Teeth

Your oral health plays a significant role in your overall health, as it may contribute to various diseases and conditions, such as:

  • Endocarditis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Pregnancy and birth complications
  • Pneumonia

Bacteria in our mouth and inflammation most often contribute to these diseases. 

To protect your oral and overall health, practice good oral hygiene daily. This practice means brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, and using mouthwash to remove any remaining particles. Also, schedule regular dental check-ups, and contact your dentist as soon as a problem occurs.

8. Do Regular Health Checks

While you are aging, it is a good idea to make the most out of your doctor’s appointments. With regular check-ups and routine tests, you can identify some health issues early enough to put them under control.

Start with taking a yearly physical exam, with complete blood work. Even this little step may be enough to prevent certain diseases from occurring, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. You will be able to react timely and make some corrections in your behavior.

Regular check-ups with your gynecologist or urologist are a must, too. Cervical cancer takes away the lives of approximately 300,000 women every year. The best way to fight this disease is prevention, and to reduce the risks of developing it, make sure you get a yearly Pap smear.  

To reduce the risk of testicular, kidney or bladder cancer, men should also see their urologist whenever they notice changes in the urinary stream, blood, or swelling.

9. Keep Moving

No matter how old you are, being active is essential both for your physical and mental wellbeing.

 A general recommendation for adults and persons older than 65 is to have at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or at least 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise throughout the week. The muscle-strengthening training is recommended too, at least two days a week. 

If you want to experience more significant health benefits from physical activity, double the amounts of exercise.

Some of the health benefits you will gain are:

  • Reduced risk of stroke or heart attack,
  • Lower rates of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer
  • Better bone density and muscle strength,
  • Preventing and delaying certain diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes and heart diseases,
  • Reduced risk of developing dementia,
  • Reduced risk of hip or vertebral fracture,
  • Reduced anxiety and depression.

Whether you’re fond of running, weight lifting or yoga, try finding the right workout plan for yourself that can help you achieve your fitness and health goals.

10. Keep Your Gut Healthy

As you grow older, you’ll tend to experience more bloating and indigestion. The stomach becomes less capable of digesting versatile foods, especially if you’ve been under a lot of stress, or have a long history of antibiotics use. 

Numerous studies show the importance of our gut to our overall health, including links between the stomach and a sound immune system, mood, autoimmune diseases, mental health, skin conditions, cancer, and more.

Our digestive tract is home for 300 to 500 different species of bacteria. While some of the microorganisms can be harmful, good gut bacteria are beneficial for our health.

An unhealthy gut manifests itself in many different ways. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Upset stomach: gases, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea
  • Sugar cravings
  • Unintentional changes in your weight
  • Skin irritation
  • Constant fatigue and sleep disturbances
  • Food intolerance

If you notice some of these symptoms, talk about them with your GP, and take necessary measures to improve your gut health.

11. Be Social

Loneliness and social isolation are a massive risk for our physical and mental wellbeing. These factors are known to increase the risk of higher blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimers’ disease, obesity, and more.

A study shows that teens that enjoy closer relationships have a lower risk of developing depression and anxiety later in their life. We observe the same benefits in older adults- seniors that are socially active and prioritize social goals have higher life satisfaction.

 If you notice that your social circles are shrinking and that you lack meaningful interactions with other people, there are some activities you can take to prevent social isolation now and at an older age:

  • Join an interest group in your community, such as in a choir
  • Volunteer for the cause that you find valuable
  • Take walks in your neighborhood and greet people you meet.
  • Play a group sport, cards, and board games with others
  • Join a support group if there are any difficulties you’re experiencing
  • Attend religious services
  • Adopt a pet
  • Catch up with your friends and family, invite them over for a walk or a cup of coffee
  • Make new connections using social media.
  • Find a friend to exercise with

Make sure the way of socializing you choose is enjoyable to you so that you’ll feel the need to do it often.

12. Establish a Skincare Routine

A good skincare routine will not only protect your skin from wrinkles and other signs of aging but can also protect your overall health. 

In addition to regularly caring for your skin with a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer, make sure you use sunscreen daily, too. During warmer days, cover all the areas that are exposed to the sun and with the adequate SPF.

Even though it may not seem that way, the winter sun can be damaging to your skin too. During cold and cloudy days, SPF 15 on your face can protect you from developing skin cancer.

13. Take Care of Your Joints

When you’ve reached 40, your joints will start showing signs of aging. After all, they had been in extensive use for quite a while now, so, typically, you will notice some wear and tear. Heavy and high-impact training can also leave a trace on your joints. Here are some necessary steps to properly care for them:

  • Watch your weight - every extra pound adds extra pressure
  • Be active and exercise.
  • Build your muscles
  • Strengthen your core
  • Have a good posture
  • Use supplements, such as glucosamine and collagen
  • Have a proper intake of vitamin D

Summary

Make use of the recommendations given above as they can make a significant difference in the quality of your life, now and later on. Bear in mind that these recommendations are general and that you should consult your GP if you’re having any specific health issues.

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