Defy Your Age in 7 Easy Steps
Here are seven simple habits that can add up to a lifetime of youthful health.
1. Protect your eyesight
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Canada for people over 50.
Defy it: Getting enough vitamin D slashed the odds of developing AMD by 59 percent in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology in 2011. Aim for at least 600 IUs a day from fish, fortified milk and cereals or supplements, say researchers.
2. Preserve your memory
After age 65, one in 11 Canadians will develop dementia, which destroys the ability to focus on tasks and remember information.
Defy it: You're five times less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease if you add baked or broiled fatty fish (think salmon) to your diet on a weekly basis, say doctors at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
3. Help your hearing
More than half of Canadians experience some hearing loss after age 65. Hearing loss is largely preventable, since it's often the result of noise damage.
Defy it: Use foam earplugs for noisy chores such as mowing the lawn or working with loud tools. Lower the volume on your MP3 player. And avoid secondhand smoke; New York University researchers studying teens found that those exposed to secondhand smoke had higher rates of hearing loss. Toxins in smoke may affect blood flow in the vessels in the ear.
4. Regain muscle mass
Sedentary adults over 50 lose almost half a pound of muscle strength a year. Worse, muscle loss can start even earlier in adulthood without strengthening exercises.
Defy it: Doing just 18 to 20 weeks of progressive resistance training, which increases the amount of weight or frequency of workouts over time, will add almost 2.5 pounds of lean muscle and increase overall strength by 25 to 30 percent, according to a review of studies by University of Michigan exercise researchers. Try squats, modified pushups or yoga to begin.
5. Guard your heart
Heart disease risk rises with age thanks in part to factors such as high blood pressure and lack of exercise.
Defy it: You need to log 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise a week to lower the risk of heart disease. If you want to feel like a kid again, try playing like one. Kids playing active games, such as Wii Boxing for 20 minutes, burn as much energy as walking a mile at a brisk pace, according to exercise scientists at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
6. Stave off achy joints
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, damages joint cartilage, causing chronic pain. The condition can strike at any age but usually develops after 45.
Defy it: Set a goal to lose five pounds, which is akin to relieving a 20-pound load on the joints. Start by cutting portion sizes by just 10 percent (don't fill your dinner plate so high) or drinking calorie-free drinks such as water and tea, suggests Pam Piotrowski, a registered dietitian in Milton, Ont.
7. Strengthen your bones
After age 50, one in four women and one in eight men will develop osteoporosis, a disease that leads to bone loss and boosts the risk of broken bones.
Defy it: Researchers at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center found that drinking four to six cups of green tea per day and incorporating tai chi into a fitness regimen may improve bone loss in a six-month period.