Every day, researchers across the globe search for answers to diseases of aging, but you don’t have to be a scientist to get a leg up on the aging process.
In fact, said Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation physiologist Benjamin Miller, Ph.D., some of the best methods for preventing diseases of aging are simple: diet and exercise.
But getting people to follow them, said Miller, can prove difficult.
Want to age gracefully? Try these simple tips:
1. Stay active
Research shows even 30 minutes of exercise and light weight training daily not only helps you avoid packing on the pounds, it also lowers blood pressure, strengthens bones, improves mood and helps maintain muscle mass. And light weight training can improve balance, which can help you avoid falls and injuries.
“If you start exercising, even a little, it will make a big difference,” said Miller.
2. Stay engaged
Like exercise, staying mentally and socially active can have a slew of long-term brain benefits, as well.
Alzheimer’s is the fifth-leading cause of death in Americans over the age of 65. It is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60-80 percent of all cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
“Scientists increasingly believe it is wise to read, work puzzles, play games and socialize to help improve memory,” said OMRF Aging and Metabolism Research Program Chair Holly Van Remmen, Ph.D. “It keeps the brain healthy and perhaps delays the onset of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. So grab a good book or head out to a bingo night. It’ll be good for you.”
3. Stay moderate
When it comes to diet, moderation is key. Eating too much can have negative health implications from heart disease to type 2 diabetes and arthritis. But as people age, many find they eat too little.
“Over time, your body requires fewer calories, but it needs just as many nutrients,” said Van Remmen. And, she says, don’t skimp on protein. Adequate protein—45 grams of protein for women and 55 grams for men—helps your body maintain muscle mass even when your appetite wanes.
None of these tips are rocket science, said Miller. “Everyone has heard them, it’s just that many people don’t do them. Start now, whatever your age, and you’ll be glad you did.”