Healthy Aging—At Any Age!
You started aging the moment you were born. You aged as you laughed your first laugh, took your first step, rode your first bike, went on your first date and started your first job. You are even aging as you read this article. Every moment of every day, you age a little bit more.
The tendency is to think of aging as something only older people need to worry about. But aging isn’t just a concern for people in their older years—it’s something everyone should start thinking about now, whether they’re 25 or 85.
If you’re looking to support healthy aging, I suggest starting with your heart, since it is the basis of total health. Cardiovascular health is the number one health concern for both men and women, and research shows heart health can be impacted as early as infancy. A healthy heart begins with the endothelium, the “production house” of Nitric Oxide (NO); when your endothelium is healthy, NO production is at its peak. Healthy NO levels support healthy blood pressure levels, among other benefits. And perhaps most important to our discussion is that NO is also a crucially important compound in the body and helps keep blood vessels young, elastic and healthy. A great lifestyle—a good diet rich in endothelial-supportive nutrients, regular exercise, plenty of sleep and rest, and reduced stress levels—is necessary for endothelial health. And a healthy endothelium supports total wellness both now and as you get older.
Here’s what you need to know about healthy aging at any age.
20s and 30s: Build the habits
The younger you start caring for your heart, the better. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, you have more time to build healthy habits so that, when you get to your 60s, you’ll reap the benefits. Of course, you get to see the advantages of a healthy lifestyle now, too: increased energy, healthy weight, better mood and enhanced sex life, among other advantages.
Since heart health becomes a concern as early as the first decade of life, the choices you make in your 20s and 30s build up each day, month, year and decade—until, before you know it, you’re seeing the results of a life well lived. Similarly, less-than-healthy choices compound; it doesn’t work to say “I’ll get healthy when I’m older.” Yes, you can get healthier at any age, but the best place to start is in your youth, by living a great lifestyle that targets endothelial health. Each small step you take adds up to a long, healthy life.
40s and 50s: Make great gains
Middle age can be a wonderful season of life, especially if you choose to trade unhealthy habits for healthy ones. If you’re in your 40s or 50s, you still have the flexibility to change your lifestyle and make great gains in improving your quality of life as you age. No matter what your choices have been in the past, you can decide today to lead a healthy lifestyle and, over time, you’ll see the benefits.
Your cardiovascular system has the amazing ability to become well. Habits of the past do not have to become the habits of the future. If you start now, you’ll have over a decade or two of healthy living as you move into your older years—and chances are you might even feel more vital than you did when you were younger!
60s and older: Healthy aging
If you’re in your 60s and beyond, you still have an opportunity to support healthy aging and vitality. However, you can take action to live a healthy life by making significant changes in your eating and exercise habits. Start by walking each day, and increase the time and intensity as you improve your health. You may not have decades of health behind you, but you do have the opportunity for a healthy future.
In fact, findings published just last month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggest that people in their older age who participate in sustained physical activity can improve overall health. The researchers also noted that “significant health benefits were even seen among participants who became physically active relatively late in life.” And pairing exercise with other good lifestyle choices can result in exciting improvements in overall health.
I went through my own personal health transformation in my 60s, and I can do more today at 72 than I did in my 40s. It’s an incredible feeling to know I took control of my health and am now making lifestyle choices to support cardiovascular wellness. My story isn’t an isolated example—there are many, many others who have become healthier in their older years. You can do the same.
Your longevity begins today. The choices you make now will impact your quality of life in the future. Consider each day an opportunity to age into vitality.