Staying healthy after 60 is critical for longevity. It takes a lot of courage to give up an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one — particularly for folks in senior years.
Most baby boomers approach retirement age unwilling to follow basic healthy lifestyle goals established by the American Heart Association, said
King’s basis is his university’s 2017 study comparing the healthy lifestyle rates of retired late-middle-aged adults with rates among those still working.
Kaiser Health News interviewed three other prominent experts on aging and health about how seniors can find the will to adopt healthier habits.
“People do financial planning for retirement, but what about retirement health planning?” King said.
Motivated seniors can begin by following KHN’s 10-step program:
1. Buy great sneakers
Purchase a pair of top-quality sneakers specifically designed for walking, said Carolyn Rosenblatt, founder of AgingParents.com, who started participating in triathlons at age 63 and continues to do them at age 70. Start by walking around the block. Expand that to 30-minute walks at least three times weekly — or set a goal to increase your walking distance 10 percent each week. And leave your sneakers by the front door.
2. Practice your balance
The best way to avoid falls is to retain a good sense of balance, said Rosenblatt. Practice standing on one leg with your eyes closed for at least 30 seconds.
3. Improve your breakfast
Stop eating the sweet roll with coffee. Consider substituting a home-blended smoothie with a banana, seasonal fruits, almond milk and protein powder or a protein patty without sugar. And cut out excess sugar in all your meals, said Rosenblatt. Replace soda with seltzer water.
4. De-stress wisely
Find ways to manage your stress that don’t involve food, alcohol or smoking. There are lots of meditation programs you can download on your phone and listen to for even 10 minutes, said Rosenblatt.
5. Practice resistance training
To keep your muscle mass from disappearing, do resistance training by lifting dumbbells or barbells or using weight machines, said Kay Van Norman, owner of Brilliant Aging, a consulting firm for healthier aging. “Your muscles are amazing, but if you don’t use them, you lose them,” she said.
6. Hit the floor
Aging adults need to regularly practice getting down on the floor and standing back up again. “If you don’t get down on the floor and back up, you won’t be able to do it after a while,” said Van Norman.
7. Challenge your speed
While it might not seem as if folks over 60 need to worry about exercise that involves speed and intensity, they do, said Van Norman. “Most people don’t even think about speed in order to stay healthy. But tennis players are doing that all the time. You need to do something to challenge your speed, not just your power.” That’s why sports like tennis can be terrific as you age, she said.
8. Believe in yourself
Faced with self-doubt and depression after several tragic, challenging events, Sharon Sultan Cutler, 71, turned to therapy to help her feel better about herself. “The first person you have to believe in is yourself,” said Sultan Cutler, an author. “People like to be around other people who believe in themselves.”
9. Tackle a
10. Embrace self-improvement
Some call this lifelong learning. Living a healthier lifestyle requires constant learning and self-improvement, said Sultan Cutler. Seek out local learning resources like community colleges, where classes are often steeply discounted for seniors, she said. “Self-improvement isn’t just physical. It’s mental, too.”
Follow these suggestions and you’re on your way to staying healthy after 60.
Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.