Have you ever decided to make a healthy lifestyle change but quickly given up, telling yourself that it’s too late to learn new habits? It’s time to take charge and not let your age stop you, because there’s surprisingly not that much difference between an 18-year-old brain and a 100-year-old brain, says Argye Hills, MD director of the cerebrovascular division at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Take that as inspiration that you’re never too old to adopt new healthful habits. The rewards: In the Johns Hopkins-led Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, which tracked more than 6,000 people ages 44 to 84 for over seven years, those who made good-for-you changes like quitting smoking, following a Healthier Diet, getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight decreased their risk of death in the time period by 80 percent. The following changes not only keep you healthy, they can help slow down the aging process, inside and out.
Exercise lowers your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers, and that powerful effect leads to something experts call “compression of morbidity.” It essentially means you stay healthy longer in your late years, as compared with someone who spends the final five or 10 years of life battling chronic illness.
“Exercise is also one of the best things you can do to help prevent dementia and other cognitive changes,” says Hillis. Once you’re cleared by your doctor, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.
Dehydration is the cause of many symptoms: Mild to moderate dehydration is likely to cause: Dry Mouth, Sleepiness, Thirst, Decreased Urine, No wet diapers for 3 hours for infants, Few or no Tears when crying, Dry Skin, Headache, Constipation and Dizziness or lightheadedness. Severe dehydration symptoms range from: Extreme Thirst, Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children, Irritability and Confusion in adults, Very dry Mouth, Very dry Skin, Mucous Membranes, Little to No urine and urine will be darker what little is produced, Sunken eyes, Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn’t “bounce back” when pinched into a fold, Low Blood Pressure, Rapid Heartbeat, Rapid Breathing, No tears when crying Fever, and in most serious cases, Delirium or Unconsciousness. Dehydration is no joke at any age.
Improve Your Diet
There are all sorts of plans out there to help you lose weight, but it’s not only about dropping pounds. Hillis recommends a Mediterranean-style diet for anyone hoping to avoid dementia as well as minimize other health risks. It’s high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and fish, and low in meat, sugar and processed foods—all to help your cells function better.
Get Quality Sleep
Lack of sleep impacts your memory, emotions, weight and even your appearance. The older you get, the harder it can be to fall and stay asleep, but you still need the same amount of hours.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, most sleep problems are a result of snoring, medication side effects and underlying medical conditions, such as acid reflux, depression and prostate problems. Addressing those issues with your doctor is a good start. You can also enjoy more satisfying sleep by creating a calming space, dedicating enough time for sleep and practicing relaxation techniques.
In as little as 24 hours of stopping smoking, there is a decrease in heart attacks. As for longer-term benefits, Johns Hopkins researchers, in conjunction with scientists from other centers, have found that quitting decreased middle-aged smokers’ risk of dying early by almost half.
Exercise can help you combat smoking cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Schedule fitness for the time of day you’re most likely to want a cigarette and soon you may be craving a walk or bike ride instead of a smoke. Still struggling on your own? Ask your doctor about smoking-cessation programs and aids.
Challenge Your Brain
Whether it’s learning a language or driving a new route to work, your brain loves tackling fresh tasks. Make it a goal to keep learning as you age.