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10 Tips to Improve Your Health as You Age
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Last updated November 30, 2017, originally published April 23, 2010
By Susan M. Callahan, Health Editor and Featured Columnist

We baby boomers are growing up. And getting older. The
generation that gave us the Beatles, rock-and-roll, draft card
burning, bra-burning and the slogan "never trust anyone over
30" is now well into middle age. Baby boomers are the 78 million
Americans born between 1946 and 1964. We're a pretty diverse
group, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Oprah, Cher,
Donald Trump, Dolly Parton and Barack Obama.  According to the
Census Bureau, about 2.8 million of the 78 million baby boomers  
turn 60 every year. How do we stay healthy as we age? Are there
any good tips for staying younger longer? For aging well? How
do you stay younger as you age? How do you look younger than
your age?

We drew the following tips from institutes on aging and medical
studies around the world. These 10 tips on healthy aging are
simple yet powerful:

Lose just 10 Pounds of Weight.  Often people believe that,
to obtain significant health benefits, you have to lose significant
amount of weight. But nothing could be further from the truth.  
Losing just 10 pounds can reduce the stress on your joints,
because walking exerts 5 pounds of pressure on your joints for
every extra pound you carry over your ideal weight. So, ease
those aching knees and lighten up your load, even a little.

Reduce Just One Source of Stress from Your Life. Stress is
as important a factor in elevating blood pressure as weight gain
and smoking.  
Stress kills. Common sources of stress which could
be reduced or eliminated include running late for appointments,
procrastination, reading negative news just before bedtime,
returning e-mails just before bedtime.  Of course some sources of
stress –bad relationships –cannot be eliminated quite this easily
but, if a relationship is causing you excessive aggravation, it can
have a devastating impact on your health. Get out. In addition to
becoming more conscious of stress, eating certain
foods can also
help you reduce stress. Fish with omega-3 fatty acids have been
found to help the body inblocking the release of stress hormones.

Keep Up Contacts with Friends. Studies consistently show
that emotional well-being is tied directly to the number and
quality of our social contacts. Returning those phone calls and
reciprocating those lunch dates can indeed lengthen or greatly
enhance the quality of your life. How many contacts do you need
daily to make a difference? It depends. Some studies show that
as few as 5 distinct contacts can boost the levels of serotonin (the
feel good hormone) in your body and decrease the risk of
depression as we age.
Fight isolation and stay healthy as you age.

Monitor Your Blood Pressure. Many doctors say that, if
they could have the ability to read only one statistic about a
person in order to know the most about their overall health, that
number would be their blood pressure. Why?

Blood travels thousands of miles within the body, going through
narrower and narrower channels until, at the end, just before red
blood cells pass from the blood into the organs, the openings
through which the individual red blood cells have to squeeze, are
about as tiny as the cells themselves. If your blood vessels are
too tight, the red blood cells can get stuck in the hole before they
make it through to the organs. As a result, the heart pushes out a
gush of pressure to PUSH the red blood cells through the tiny
vessels.  The smaller the last vessels,  the harder the heart has to
push. If your pipes are really tight, your heart has to really
HEAVE HO! Hence, your blood pressure ---the amount of HEAVE
HO—is high.

Think about  it. All through your body, the pressure is sky high,
just to get the red blood cells to the organs like your liver and
kidneys, so they can do their jobs. Now, which would you rather
have --- a system of normal, smooth functioning pipes with gentle
pushes from the heart from time to time. Or a full blown, 5 alarm
HEAVE HO system always set to the highest pressure gauge? Get
the picture. Turn down the pressure. Lose weight. Exercise.
Watch the processed, salty foods. And eat
foods that help you to
lower your blood pressure.

5.        Eat Your Veggies. Eat colorful veggies. They’re the ones
highest in nutrients. Go for the deep greens, the reddest reds, the
brilliant yellows and oranges. These are the vegetables richest in
the anti-oxidants which slow aging.

Go Easy on the White Foods. Almost all white foods
(exception, okay, for cauliflower) are high in starch, which the
body can’t tell from sugar, and low in nutrients and fiber.  Fries,
white bread, potato chips should be treated like desserts.  It will
help you stave off diabetes.

Keep a Journal.  Keeping a journal of what you eat has
been shown to increase your chances of weight loss by 50%.

Do a Crossword Puzzle. Research has shown that doing
crossword puzzles help to stave off Alzheimer’s disease. Go figure.

Walk.  You don’t need to become a marathoner to improve
health. Walking just half an hour three times a week can lower
your blood sugar or help to keep it stabilized. Walking helps to
slow down aging. Read more here on the
health benefits of

Walking also has another benefit. It increases the flexibility of
your hip joints and spine, and thus decreases the likelihood that
you will fall.  

Have More Sex. Sex is not just a pleasure. It’s a necessity
for great health. Sex releases the feel good hormone of serotonin,
improves blood circulation and even can condition the heart.  
Studies have found that
men who continue to be sexually active
decrease their risk of prostate cancer. So save your heart by
sharing it.

Bonus Tip. Muscle keeps you younger. Studies have found
that the amount of
lean muscle mass you have actually helps you
heal faster from diseases and injuries. Unfortunately, starting at
age 30, we lose 1% of our lean muscle mass every year. You
should strive to engage in strength training at least twice a week
just to maintain your lean muscle mass.


Do the Sit and Stand Test.  Scientists have developed tests to
determine how frail the elderly are. One of the key tests is called
the " five times sit and stand" test. What this entails is sitting in a
chair (a straight-backed chair) about the height of a dinner table
chair, crossing your arms over your chest, and standing up. They
test how long it takes you to stand up 5 times. Those 60 to 65
years old should be able to stand up five times in less than 10

Another variation of this test measures how many times you can
stand up in 30 seconds.  In this 30-second version of the test,
you are considered "frail" if you can't do this more than 8 times.
Women between the ages of  60 to 64 years old should be able to
stand up between 12 and 17 times in 30 seconds.  Men between
the ages of 60 to 64 should be able to stand 14 to 19 times. By
the time women are 70, they should be able to stand 10 to 15
times and men should be able to stand 12 to 17.

In one study conducted in 2012 by doctors in the Municipal
Health Department of São Paolo, Brazil, over 81% of those over
the age of 70 could only stand up once or they couldn't stand up
a single time.

As the study concluded:"The majority of the elderly people
(77.3%) were 70 years of age or over, with predominance of
females (64.2%) and had a low score for the five-times sit-to-
stand test (81.4% scored 0 or 1); 55.3% of the elderly people
presented three or more frailty criteria.
A significant association
was found between lower-limb muscle strength and the variables
of age and number of frailty criteria

The morale of this story is that your lower body strength pretty
much determines whether you are frail. One of the best ways to
develop lower body strength is to do squats. If you have been
sedentary, start slowly, aiming for 3 sets of 8 squats twice a
week. Space your squats at least a day apart, so that if you do
your squats on Monday, you should skip Tuesday and do another
set on Wednesday.  After a month, increase your squats by a day,
doing them three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday
or Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

You can improve your leg strength pretty quickly by simply taking
the stairs more often. A 1996 study led by Dr. S. J. Benn of
McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada compared the
cardioprotective benefits of stair-climbing versus walking briskly
on level plane or weight lifting. They found that stair-climbing
was more strenuous, when comparable programs of exercise are
undertaken. As the study concluded "climbing only three to four
flights of stairs at a moderate pace (approximately 50-70 s) elicits
peak circulatory demands similar to, but at a much more rapid
rate of adjustment than, 10 minutes of horizontal walking at 2.5
mph intermittently carrying a 30-pound weight or 4 minutes of
walking up a moderately steep slope."

Before you start, do the five-times-sit-and-stand test to get a
baseline number for future comparison. Then, as you get stronger
with your squat program, test yourself again once a month at the
same time. You'll find that your sit-and-stand score will show
great improvement in about one to two months.

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