Not too old to change your health
No matter your age, you can make changes so you have a healthier future.
Changing a lifelong habit is hard; some say even impossible. But your hard work pays off when your new habit reduces your risk of illness, such as heart disease. Changes like eating healthy, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, drinking in moderation and not smoking improve your chances for a healthy future.
It’s never too late to get healthy. In a study published by the American Heart Association, researchers saw improved heart health of adults, even older adults, who added healthy behaviors to their lives. These results come as a surprise even to some doctors who think it’s almost impossible for older adults to start a new health habit.
How many of these healthy behaviors do you have?
- I eat a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
- I exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
- I weigh within my doctor’s recommended guidelines.
- I drink in moderation (two drinks for men and one drink for women a day).
- I don’t use tobacco products.
Are you doing all five? If you are, great! The Michigan Department of Community Health reports that less than five percent of Michigan adults practice all these behaviors. The rest of us have work to do! If you are ready to add one healthy habit into your life, Michigan State University Extension recommends the following tips to help you start.
- Eat a healthy diet by filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables. This change is a small step toward eating a healthy diet. The MyPlate website has a lot of great tips to help you with this goal.
- Start walking. You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. Walking is cheap and can be done at home. Start slowly and work your way up to 30 minutes a day. Just walking around the living room during commercial breaks can help you form an exercise habit. Remember to check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
- How much we eat and exercise effects how much we weigh. Over two-thirds of Michigan adults weigh more than they should. Excess weight puts you at risk for many diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. When you add healthy eating and exercise to your list of habits, it will be easier to maintain a healthy weight.
- Heavy drinking increases your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, cancer and mental health problems. Heavy drinking can be a hard habit to break, especially if you drink when socializing with friends and family. See your doctor if you need help with cutting down on drinking. There are also organizations, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, that can help you achieve your goal.
- The health risks of smoking are well-known. There are many over-the-counter and prescription drugs that can increase your chances of quitting. The Michigan Department of Community Health also has a tobacco quit line to help you.
You can change no matter what your age! It does take time to form a habit, so don’t give up. Keep practicing the healthy habits you already have, but start new habits so you have a healthier future!