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New Year, New Goal to Get Healthy

Experts offer tips on keeping that get-fit resolution

MONDAY, Jan. 1, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Have trouble sticking to that annual "get healthy" resolution every New Year? Experts at the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) offer advice to help older Americans stay with the program in 2007.

To begin, schedule 15 minutes a day for the next four days to plan how you're going to get started. You can boost your motivation by getting a friend involved or by starting a club at your community center or place of worship.

Here are 10 tips for active, healthy aging:

  • Buy a good pair of shoes. Comfortable, well-fitting shoes are essential. Foot pain is not a normal part of aging, says the American Podiatric Medical Association.
  • Play games to keep your brain sharp. There are many different kinds of games -- such as trivia, memory and math -- and skill levels to suit all kinds of people. Games can also be a fun way to spend time with others.
  • Go for walks, which will help improve lower body strength, maintain mobility and help prevent cognitive decline. Start easy and gradually increase your speed and distance. If you rely on a cane, walker or wheelchair, you can ask a friend to join you for outings.
  • Do balance exercises to help you with everyday activities, such as reaching into cupboards. Good balance also helps prevent falls. Many exercise classes for older adults include balance training.
  • Get your eyes checked. A study published this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that nearly all vision impairment in a large group of people older than 60 years could be improved with corrective lenses.
  • Increase your physical activity. This can include yard and house work, walking to the store, or playing ball with the neighbor children. Make a weekly walking date with a friend, join a wellness center, community center, or a health club with programs geared to your interests and needs.
  • Nurture relationships with family, friends and neighbors. These kinds of social connections are good for your emotional well-being.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Laugh a lot. Laughing increases circulation, immune system defenses and mental function.
  • Get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, make a few changes such as: skipping daytime naps; adopting a nighttime routine; starting a regular exercise program. Changing habits does more to improve sleep than taking medications.

You don't have to do all these things at once, the ICAA said. Start trying them over the next few months.

More information

The U.S. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has more about healthy aging.

SOURCE: International Council on Active Aging, news release, December 2006
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