Staying healthy can reduce your risk for certain illnesses, extend your lifespan, and also help you save money on medical bills. No matter how old you are, doing so involves eating a diet filled with healthful foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean proteins, and whole grains, while limiting foods with excess salt and sugar. It also includes getting at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.
There are several ways you can accomplish this — and more — to remain healthy at every age.
It’s important to help children develop healthy habits early, particularly when it comes to nutrition and exercise. Eat together as a family as often as possible, and incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables in your children’s meals (even if you have to sneak them in). Serve water or low-fat milk as their primary beverages.
Children can also stay fit with plenty of active play time. Get the whole family moving with walks, bike rides, hiking, living room dance parties, or doing chores together. Meanwhile, boost their eyes, brains, and mental health by limiting screen time to two hours per day.
To keep kids illness-protected, talk to your doctor about recommended vaccinations for each age during their regular physicals.
By their teenage years, kids make many decisions for themselves, but you can still continue to offer guidance by keeping healthy foods on hand for much-needed snacking.
When it comes to exercise, they need at least 60 minutes of it a day. If your teen doesn’t enjoy sports or have regular gym class, help them find other ways to get active, such as taking walks or trying fun classes like karate, dance, or boxing.
As they grow older, teens also start to experiment with different lifestyles. Encourage your teen to avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as fad dieting, smoking, drinking alcohol, using drugs, and participating in unprotected sex.
Your 20s can be a challenging time to focus on wellness, thanks to college studies, career building, and an active social life. It’s all the more reason to keep eating healthy foods and finding a regular exercise routine — even if that means dancing at the club.
You’re also likely no longer under an adult’s supervision, so establish wellness on your own. Focusing on a healthy sleep schedule, for example, will help your long-term health.
Above all, find a general physician you like, and begin scheduling an annual physical. If you’ve become sexually active, these appointments can provide screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.
30s, 40s, and 50s
It’s not easy to focus on your health when family and career responsibilities increase but doing so will help you maintain wellness later in life.
Taking walks — even for 10 minutes — will be one good way to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of future serious health conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease.
Now that you’re firmly of legal drinking age, also keep an eye on your alcohol consumption. Many health complications are connected to heavy — or even moderate — drinking. Limiting alcohol now can help you in the long run.
If you can do nothing else, continue going for annual physicals. “During these visits,” explains Isabel Soles Talbert, Clinical Director at YourTown Health, “your doctor will discuss any screenings you need, such as tests for diabetes or high blood pressure, as well as recommended cancer screenings. These appointments are a really important time to check in and monitor several health factors.”
Issues like joint pain can develop in mature adults, but staying active in safe ways is a great way to avoid stiffness. When it comes to diet, eating healthily will also keep your immune system working well.
Continue seeing your doctor for routine physicals, too. The screenings you need may change as you age, which is why a regular consultation with your doctor will help you navigate what’s necessary. You may, for example, need more extensive vision and dental care as things wear down naturally over time.
No matter how old you are, guarding against skin cancer is one more way to sustain a long and healthy life.