Diet, Exercise and Lifestyle Choices are Key to Healthy Aging

Natalie Herrera, PA-C, Cucamonga Valley Medical Group

By Natalie Herrera, PA-C

Life expectancy has increased dramatically in the United States over the past century. This means more of us will live longer and should plan to optimize our health in each decade of life. Let’s review what we can do to age healthfully and how CVMG can work with you to decrease your health risks.

Diet and Exercise

The foundation of a healthy lifestyle at any age includes a balanced diet consisting of lean protein (plant or animal source), fruits and vegetables. Processed foods should be limited due to high content of trans fats, sodium and sugar which can derail our efforts to prevent heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity most days of the week. This should be paired with resistance training as appropriate to preserve bone density, balance, and coordination. Studies have shown that a regular exercise plan also improves cognitive function and decreases our risk for falls.

Lifestyle Choices

Smoking is detrimental to our health at any age but is especially dangerous if continued in the long term. Quitting smoking dramatically reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and chronic lung disease. It’s never too late to quit!

Wear sunblock. While daily sun exposure in the early morning or evening hours is beneficial, too much sunlight can damage our skin and increase the risk of skin cancer. Regular skin checks in our office are especially important if you or your family members have a history of skin cancer.

Bone Health

Bone density decreases as we age. To mitigate this we recommend adults over age 65 at risk for osteoporosis consume 1200mg calcium daily, along with 800IU vitamin D. This may be from dietary or supplemental sources. Being physically active also helps to improve bone density. Our providers recommend undergoing regular bone density scans to screen for osteoporosis or thinning of the bones.

Immunizations and Check-Ups

You’re probably familiar with the annual flu shot, and now COVID-19 boosters. Did you know that adults over 65 should also be vaccinated for shingles, pneumonia, and tetanus? Remember that as we age, we are more susceptible to illness. Even the common cold can have a greater impact, especially if you have chronic disease. For this reason, we recommend all adults over age 65 follow CDC guidelines for vaccines and adhere to all recommendations aimed at the prevention of communicable diseases.

Similarly, your annual checkup in our office will include more studies for cancer screening, based on your risk. Colon cancer screening begins after age 45, options for screening can be discussed at your next visit. Smokers should be screened for lung cancer and aneurysms. Prostate cancer screening is done with a simple blood test, while breast and female reproductive cancer screening requires an exam.

Mental Health 

As we age our social and living situations may change. We may be lonelier than previously in life as family, loved ones and friends pass away. Regular social interaction is integral to maintaining health and wellness into our later decades. Stay in touch with friends and family, learn a new skill or join an exercise group to stay active. Staying involved with your community will not only sharpen cognitive skills, it also helps balance mood and prevents depression.

Aging is unavoidable, but good health and vitality are possible well into the late decades of life. If you’re turning 65 or older, you’re joining the fastest growing age group in the United States. There are more resources available now to help us not only live longer, but happier and healthier than ever before.

We look forward to discussing any questions you have about how to reduce the risk of chronic disease, maintain independence and stay current with preventive health measures. Call us at 909.429.2864.