Healthy Aging for Dummies

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The Healthy Aging Mind—Aging Gracefully and Beating Depression - Jin Joo, M.A., M.D.

People with arthritis , high blood pressure , or diabetes can benefit from regular exercise. Heart disease , a problem for many older adults, may also be alleviated by exercise. Scientists have long known that regular exercise causes certain changes in the hearts of younger people. These changes, which include lowering resting heart rate and increasing stroke volume the amount of blood pumped with each heartbeat , make the heart a better pump. Evidence now suggests that people who begin exercise training in later life, for instance in their 60s and 70s, can also experience improved heart function.

In one study , researchers with the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging BLSA observed a decreased risk of a coronary event, like a heart attack, in older male BLSA participants who took part in high-intensity, leisure-time physical activities like lap swimming or running. In addition to benefits for the heart, studies show that exercise helps breathlessness and fatigue in older people.

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Endurance exercises —activities that increase your breathing and heart rate, such as dancing, walking, swimming, or bicycling—increase your stamina and improve the health of your lungs and circulatory system as well as your heart. There are many ways to be active. You can be active in short spurts throughout the day, or you can set aside specific times of the day or specific days of the week to exercise. Many physical activities, such as brisk walking or raking leaves, are free or low-cost and do not require special equipment.

Weight is a very complex issue. For older people, the health problems associated with obesity may take a back seat to problems associated with body composition fat-to-muscle ratio and location of fat hip or waist on the body. Many health problems are connected to being overweight or obese.

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People who are overweight or obese are at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke , some types of cancer , sleep apnea , and osteoarthritis. But data show that for older adults, thinner is not always healthier, either. In one study , researchers found that older adults who are thin a body-mass index or BMI of less than 19 have a higher mortality rate compared with those who are obese or of normal weight. In another study , women with low BMI had an increased risk of mortality.

Being, or becoming, thin as an older adult can be a symptom of disease or an indication of developing frailty. Those are possible reasons why some scientists think maintaining a higher BMI may not necessarily be bad as we age. Body-fat distribution, specifically waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio, can also be a serious problem for older adults.

We know that the "pear" shape, with body fat in peripheral areas such as the hips and thighs, is generally healthier than the "apple" shape, with fat around the waist.

Being apple-shaped can increase risk for heart disease and possibly breast cancer. With age, the pattern for body fat can shift from safer peripheral areas to the abdominal area of the body. BLSA researchers examined men and women over a 5-year period to observe body measurement changes. They found that men predominantly shifted in waist size, while women showed nearly equal changes in waist and hip measurements.

The men developed a more dangerous body-fat distribution, even though women carried more total body fat. This may help explain why men generally have a higher incidence of certain diseases and a shorter lifespan. So, is there a "normal" weight range or pattern for healthy aging? For older adults, one size does not fit all.

Although we have learned a lot about patterns of weight and aging, watching your weight as you age is very much an individual matter. Talk with your doctor about any weight concerns, including decisions to lose weight or any unexplained weight changes.

Surveys and statistical programs - Canadian Community Health Survey - Healthy Aging (CCHS)

Food has been shown to be an important part of how people age. In one study , scientists investigated how dietary patterns influenced changes in BMI and waist circumference, which are risk factors for many diseases. Scientists grouped participants into clusters based on which foods contributed to the greatest proportion of calories they consumed. Participants who had a "meat and potatoes" eating pattern had a greater annual increase in BMI, and participants in the "white-bread" pattern had a greater increase in waist circumference compared with those in the "healthy" cluster.

This same group had the smallest gains in BMI and waist circumference.

Scientists think there are likely many factors that contribute to the relationship between diet and changes in BMI and waist circumference. One factor may involve the glycemic index value sometimes called glycemic load of food. Brent Agin , Sharon Perkins. People are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about managing their health as they age.

Healthy Aging For Dummies

It covers tips and advice on choosing the ideal physician; starting an exercise program; learning to meditate; taking the right vitamins and herbs; dealing with or preventing heart disease, cancer, and dementia; replacing negative thinking with positive thinking; and building memory and learning skills. Brent Agin, MD, is a family physician in private practice and is also the medical director of a successful weight-loss clinic and laser medical spa. Permissions Request permission to reuse content from this site. Undetected location. NO YES.

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