If you’re in your 20’s or 30’s, you may not have given much thought to how you’ll feel when you’re in your 60’s or 70’s. Many of us like to live in the moment, but sometimes, it’s wise to give the future a thought. This is especially true when it comes to your health. The decisions you make and the steps you take now could have a major bearing on your health in later life. It’s never too early to start future-proofing your health. Here are some tips to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
Exercise is so important. It’s hard to put into words just how beneficial being active is for both your body and mind. If you take a second to do a quick search on the health benefits of exercise, you’ll be greeted with hundreds of pages of results. The truth is that we tend to obsess about exercise when talking about weight loss, but moving around and getting your heart pumping does a lot more than burning calories.
Exercise is proven to reduce the risk of illnesses that can affect you at any time of life, but it’s particularly beneficial for protecting the body and mind from conditions that tend to be more prevalent in later life. Regular exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, dementia, osteoporosis and depression, most of which are more common in people aged over 50. You may not think that your daily workout could save your life, but it could make a massive difference to your life expectancy. Research suggests that frequent physical activity reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 35 percent, type 2 diabetes by 50 percent and depression and dementia by up to 30 percent.
Current guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This covers any kind of activity that raises your heart rate, so don’t worry about spending hours in the gym every week. You don’t necessarily have to pump iron or run for miles to be active. Walking the dog every day, cycling to work and even doing the household chores can increase your activity levels. If you have a sedentary job, try and find time to exercise outside of work and take regular breaks throughout the day. If you’ve tried to fall in love with the gym but failed, try different activities and hopefully, you’ll come across something you find fun. Go trampolining, join a soccer or hockey team, take some friends to dance classes or take up boxing, spinning, Pilates or tennis.
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Protecting your senses
As you age, you may notice that you struggle to see as well as you did before or you find it hard to keep track in conversations because you can’t hear properly. It’s very common for our senses to fade as part of the aging process. While it’s not always possible to prevent age-related sight or hearing loss, it is sometimes possible to delay the process. Take good care of your senses now, and don’t take them for granted. Always ensure that you listen to music at a suitable level and avoid cranking up the volume when you’ve got earphones in. Protect your eyes from the sun and go for regular examinations. If you notice any changes in your vision or you’re straining to see the TV or read a book, see an optician as soon as possible. Your vision may deteriorate if you ignore potential warning signs and hope for the best. It’s particularly important to seek advice if you have double or blurred vision or you’ve noticed significant changes in your sight.
Keeping your brain active
Studies show that people who keep their brains active are less likely to experience memory loss and cognitive decline, symptoms that are linked to dementia. Dementia is one of the most common causes of death in the US. It requires careful management and treatment provided by trained health professionals working in the community or at specially designed clinics and care centers. There are details of services found here available online, or you can find out more about treatment facilities and options from your doctor. Symptoms of dementia include struggling to remember people’s names and dates, finding it hard to concentrate and becoming confused. Although it tends to affect people over the age of 60, it is possible to experience symptoms much earlier in life. This is known as early-onset dementia. It may not be possible to prevent dementia, but keeping your brain in shape could help to delay the onset of symptoms.
There are lots of ways you can train your brain and try and maintain brain activity. Doing puzzles is a great idea, as it challenges your brain and makes you think. You can buy puzzle books or play games on your phone or a tablet or laptop. Search for apps or games that require you to solve problems and think quickly. It can also really help to take on challenges such as learning a language or taking classes. You can also enjoy the benefits of socializing at the same time if you invite friends over or get together to play cards or board games or you enjoy playing games with your kids, relatives or your other half.
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Taking care of your smile
Most of us regard our smile as one of our most important and attractive physical features. It’s really important to take good care of your teeth and gums to enjoy a healthy looking smile for as long as possible, but good oral health isn’t just about the aesthetic of your smile. Studies show that taking care of your teeth and gums can also improve your general health. Researchers have identified a link between poor oral health and an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and rheumatoid arthritis. There is also evidence to suggest that oral disease can exacerbate symptoms of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and lung conditions, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and pneumonia.
The good news is that most dental issues are preventable, and it only takes a few minutes a day to make a positive difference. Focus on oral hygiene and clean your teeth for at least two minutes every morning and evening. Angle your brush head to clean the gum line and use floss or interdental brushes to clean between the teeth. Dentists also recommend check-ups every 6-12 months. Your diet also has an impact on your oral health, so take care to monitor your sugar consumption, and avoid snacking. When you eat, bacteria in the mouth produce acids, which weaken your enamel. If you graze all day, your enamel will never have a chance to recover, and your risk of decay and gum disease will increase.
Getting enough sleep
You may think that you can cope with sleepless nights when you’re young and energetic, but a lack of sleep can have long-lasting consequences. You often hear people bandying phrases like ‘sleeping is cheating’ around when you’re young and sprightly, but missing out on sleep can soon catch up with you. Your body needs sleep for numerous reasons. When you’re dozing, important processes are taking place in the body, and this enables you to prepare for the day ahead. If you’re not getting enough rest, your body and mind will suffer. It’s never too early to adopt healthy sleeping habits. Follow a routine, which enables you to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and try not to stray too far from it. If you have trouble sleeping, and you’ve tried everything, see your doctor. There are treatments and self-help therapies out there that could help you to improve your sleep patterns.
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You may not think there’s anything wrong with surviving on takeouts or following every meal with a doughnut, a chocolate bar or a tub of ice cream now, but your diet can play a significant role in the aging process. When you get older, it’s common to find that you gain weight faster and your metabolism slows. Your body also needs nutrients, and if your diet doesn’t provide them, you may start to become more aware of the effects. Eating well can reduce the risk of obesity and related complications, as well as lowering the risk of premature death. Make an effort to follow a healthy eating plan, which contains foods that have nutritional value. There’s nothing wrong with the odd cake or slice of pizza, but focus on your health at all times. Try and hit your 5-a-day target every day, choose whole grains whenever possible, and keep an eye on how much sugar, saturated fat and salt you consume. If you’re keen to improve your diet, ask your doctor for advice. You can also use the Internet to search for simple, healthy recipes.
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If you’re young and fit, you may not worry too much about your health, but it’s never too early to start taking care of yourself. The decisions you make now could have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing when you get older. It’s also worth noting that although some conditions are more common in older people, this doesn’t always mean that younger people are immune. There’s no harm in trying to future-proof your health, even if you’re only a spring chicken.