5 Golden Rules of Aging

What goes up but never goes down? Your age.

Over the weekend I went to a conference on aging. Yes, aging, like working with the aging population. One of the most interesting talks was about the 5 Golden Rules of Aging by Dr. Frank Yanowitz. It is more about how well you live, not how long you live.

#1: Practice a healthy lifestyle. Eat regular meals. Avoid binging by keeping your body sugar levels regular.

  • Always eat a healthy breakfast. A good start to your day can help you avoid burn-out and accidents. Dr. Yanowitz even said that people who eat breakfast live longer than those who don’t. (Who knew?)
  • Get enough sleep. For most, that is 7-8 hours a night. Lack of sleep can make your more stressed and less alert.
  • Do not smoke. If you are thinking about starting, don’t. Smoking carries the risk for a whole slew of cancers and other body ailments, as well as shaving years of your expected lifespan.
  • Exercise moderately. Either a structured workout with a mixture of aerobic, resistance and flexibility training would work, or just an increase in leisure time activity.
  • Maintain a normal weight. Normal for you. Calculate your BMI (body mass index) to determine the health weight for your body type.
  • Drink alcohol ONLY in moderation, if at all. What is moderation? 1-2 drinks a day.

#2: Undergo periodic health exams. Most personal health insurance plans will cover a one year physical, hearing and vision tests, cancer and cholesterol screenings and most immunizations. By constantly knowing what is going on with your body, you will be able to detect any abnormalities that could save your life. Also check your blood pressure at least once a year. More than one third of the population has high blood pressure that can lead to heart disease and/or a stroke.

#3: Use it or lose it: Exercise your mind. Stay up-to-date with current events, join book club, learn new things or even teach someone with your skills. Want to see if you have any memory loss? For one minute list every animal you can think of. Anything less than 12 means you have some memory loss.

#4: Maintain Social Relationships: Loneliness can shave years off your life. Try to maintain relationships with family. and friends. Or get active in the community by being on boards or volunteering. If you are old enough, you could be a foster grandparent to a local child without one. Also, many schools need tutors and mentors.

#5: Complete “advanced directives.” Get your affairs in order. Don’t leave it for your family to deal with.

Not on the list, but equally important? Don’t stress! And have a sense of humor. It goes a long way.