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It may seem like it takes too much time or effort to take better care of yourself on top of everything else you have to do. But it’s worth it. The payoff is being healthier, feeling better and enjoying life more. And that will make it easier to take care of all those things that you need to do, and want to do.
Research shows that the effort pays off. A recent long-term study found that sticking with certain healthy habits can add over 10 years to your life and help you avoid serious illness, like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
The study found that these five habits had the most impact:
The first step is to see what you’re already doing well and what areas could use some more attention. We know a lot of the things we should be doing to be healthy, but having convenient reminders can help us keep track.
Take a look at the healthy living by age checklists provided by the U.S. Office on Women’s Health. The lists show you the healthy things to do regularly as you go through your life, questions to ask your doctor, and any tests, screenings or vaccinations you may need at different ages. There’s a checklist for each decade, starting with the 20s and continuing through to the 90s.
Exercise is critical to staying healthy and having a better quality of life as you age. Regular activity helps you:
But getting regular exercise doesn’t just help your body. It also supports emotional and mental health. The National Institute on Aging says physical activity can help:
Be sure to set reasonable expectations and start with small increases in activity. Find out what four categories of exercise to do, and get tips on how to work more movement into your day.
Think you’re too old to start being more active? Learn how older adults can safely be more active and what kinds of activity are most helpful.
If you’re just starting to be active or increasing your activity level, talk to your doctor first to make sure your plan is safe for you.
Getting a yearly physical exam and regular health screenings is another important part of staying healthy for life. If you can’t remember the last time you saw your doctor, it’s been too long. You may be behind on important health screenings and vaccinations.
Seeing your doctor at least once a year means:
Building new habits is hard, but even small changes can improve your health. Think about what you can do to get started on a journey toward better health. Taking the time to take better care of yourself is worth the effort. It will pay off for the rest of your life.
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