What do you consider to be healthy aging? Healthy aging has to include both components. Living longer and staying healthy. Staying healthy involves being free of debilitating diseases and functioning well, both physically and mentally.
Aging is inevitable, but the rate of aging is not.
As we grow older, we become physically less like our peers. This is not obvious in a group of young adults but the differences will be obvious in a group of 60 year old. Some will be energetic, in the epitome of health while others will be managing chronic diseases and frail looking. We need to start young to ensure that we age well.
Could you elaborate on living longer and staying healthy?
There are conditions that could strike us in our prime. Some of these like cancers, heart attacks and strokes are associated with mortality. We can avoid untimely death from heart attacks and strokes by minimising our risk factors. We have a higher chance to survive a cancer if we detect it early enough. Aging involves the decline in the body’s resiliency, in each individual cell’s ability to repair itself and regenerate. Due to the variety of cells in the body, the aging process will be marked by deterioration in both physical and mental function. We can stay healthy with certain dos and don’ts.
What are some tips from a medical point of view on healthy aging?
There are a few things we should and should not do to ensure that physically at least, we age well.
1. Establish a regular exercise routine. Exercise is an important cornerstone to healthy ageing.Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise activity a day. Do it daily if possible. Choose a variety of exercise activities addressing both aerobic fitness and muscle tone. Lastly, choose enjoyable activities so that we are more likely to make it a part of our life.
2. Eating right is important. A diet high in vegetables, fruits and fibre is preferable. Food containing cholesterol and saturated fats should be taken in smaller quantities as it contributes to heart diseases and strokes. Take as much salt out of your diet as possible as this often leads to hypertension. We want to live life and eat well. But eat well in moderation.
3. Don’t smoke, if you do, quit. Smoking ages physical appearance. Smoking is the primary cause of chronic obstructive lung disease. Living with a chronic cough, in a state of constant breathlessness is not healthy aging. Smoking increases the likelihood of heart diseases, strokes and certain cancers. Any of these will certainly diminish the chance of living an expected life expectancy.