Good Habits to Prevent Aging Prematurely


(Editor’s note: Nancy Brown, writes for a monthly newsletter for the Hot Springs Country Senior Center in Wyoming. Brown is a retired nurse practitioner, who started her career in the neonatal ward, and then trained in dermatology.)

I bet all of you have thought of some good habits you have and then some bad habits that you have acquired.

Some of my good habits are, but not limited to: exercising regularly, seeing my doctor annually, and getting the recommended tests and immunizations done, seeing my eye doctor and dentist every six months and trying to have a positive attitude.

The bad habit list goes on and on and on: getting too little sleep, too much sun, not following the suggested food pyramid for eating and maybe drinking a beer occasionally.

AARP had an interesting article (“Good Habits that Might Age Your Prematurely”) that asked, “When does something healthy become unhealthy?” They asked experts about what healthy habits that they wished people would take breaks, especially as they age.

The five good habits that may become unhealthy:

1) Stay out of the sun.

2) Eating nutrition bars

3) Drinking water when you are thirsty

4) Walk every day for exercise

5) Wear supportive shoes

Why do these good habits become bad?

SUNLIGHT – has a number of positive effects including when we start the day, makes our body feel awake and energized and helps regulate our appetites. It has a big affect on our moods. But on average a person over 50 spends less than an hour a day in sunlight. RECOMMENDATION: get a minimum of 15 to 30 minutes of sunlight in the morning and then again in the evening.

NUTRITION BARS – sound healthy, but anyone who reads the ingredients can see that they are high in sugar content as are fruit juices, smoothies and breakfast cereals. Excess sugar is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. RECOMMENDATION: Read labels, if the grams of protein and fiber totaled together is higher than the total sugar, the bar is probably okay.

WATER – by the time you are thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated. About 70 percent of older adults maybe under hydrated. Being dehydrated can increase the risk for urinary tract infection, may increase the risk for diabetes, as well as colon and bladder cancer. RECOMMENDATION: Drink water so that you need to pee every two to three hours during the day – and alcohol, which causes dehydration does not count.

WALKING – as one ages, we lose muscle mass and joint mobility – unless you strength train. Walking is good, but we need to do other workouts. Most of us as we age are worried about falling or think we are too old to lift weights. RECOMMENDATION: Get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, which could include walking and water aerobics and at least two days a week of muscle building activities. To work on balance, walk backwards at least three times a week.

SHOES – wearing shoes all day deprives our feet of their chance to work. Our toes need to push into the ground to help maintain balance and our feet muscles need to contract to maintain to maintain balance and support. The more you wear shoes, the less your brain practices those skills. Nerves in our feet tend to lose sensitivity. RECOMMENDATION: Go barefoot at least 30 minutes a day.

Here are three anti-aging snacks:

  1. Almonds, which contain Vitamin E, and prevents cells from damage.
  2. Berries, which contain anthocyanins and are good for memory.
  3. Greek yogurt, which offers calcium and provides probiotics for the gut and protein to support muscles.
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One Response to Good Habits to Prevent Aging Prematurely

  1. Hi, Sue – Thanks for the “aging” piece! Caveat: Every time I hear about the wonders of almonds (which is often!) I want to mention that EACH almond grown requires 3.3 gallons of water. Worth it? (Not to me.)

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