Healthy Aging: 3 Lifestyle Habits for Optimal Well-Being

Healthy Aging: 3 Lifestyle Habits for Optimal Well-Being


Here’s how to live a happy — and vibrant — life.

With age comes the priceless rewards of hard-earned wisdom, increased emotional resilience, and a better understanding of life’s kaleidoscopic nuances. As Katie likes to say, “Aging is a gift,” and we agree: Getting older is celebration-worthy.

Taking proactive measures to stay healthy as you age — and remain a step or two ahead of unwanted surprises — can help ensure that you don’t miss out on important life events and milestones.

Just think about how many more years we’re living than our ancestors: In 1969, the average life expectancy in the U.S. was 66 years old. Today, that number’s jumped to 79; by 2060, it’s projected to rise to 85. So as lifespans lengthen — thanks to healthier habits and advancements in medical care, like antibiotics and vaccines — it’s crucial to ask the question: What’s the best way to age well?

“Small actions can make a big difference in your health,” explains Len Friedland, MD, vice president, and director of scientific affairs and public health for U.S. Vaccines at GSK. “As we age, our risk for health issues increases. By focusing on preventative health measures and preventing problems before they start, we can live longer and healthier lives.”

So where do you start?

3 Lifestyle Habits for Healthy Aging

Keep moving

Regular exercise has long been hailed as a fountain of youth, and science continues to uncover its benefits: Moving your body can lead to increased mobility and brain and memory function, and decreased risk for fatal heart failure. And because exercise increases feel-good chemicals like serotonin and endorphins, maintaining physical activity is also proven to improve your mental health.

Whether it’s walking around the block before your morning coffee or enrolling in a Zumba class at your gym, finding the type of exercise that gets you excited to put on your sneakers — and then sticking with it — is the key to enjoying a higher quality of life when you’re over 50. Commitment-wise, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends aiming for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and two days of strength training each week.

Be proactive

By being proactive about your health and checking in with healthcare professionals around you — be that at a doctor’s office, clinic or even your local pharmacy — you’re doing yourself a favor in more ways than one. Not only does being proactive allow you to keep tabs on your well-being, it gives you an opportunity to collect new information on ways to stay healthy as you age, such as personalized, year-round guidance on the vaccines that are best suited for your age and specific medical needs.

Staying on top of routine adult vaccination is more important now than ever before, as adult vaccination rates declined significantly in the U.S. during the pandemic. And even before Covid-19, adult immunization rates were lower than pediatric immunization rates. In fact, recent data published by Vaccine Track indicates that fewer Americans are staying up to date with their vaccines: 2022 saw a 14 percent dip in vaccination claims compared to those made in 2019. And the majority of vaccinations took place during flu season, already a particularly busy time for the healthcare system.

“For adults over 50, there’s often a lack of awareness about how the immune system declines with age,” explains Dr. Friedland. “It’s not just kids who need annual check-ups and to follow a vaccine schedule — vaccinations should be a regular and proactive part of maintaining your health as an adult. Keeping our immune system healthy and protected as we age is important, and vaccination to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases is a key ingredient to healthy aging.”

senior woman talking to her doctor
Source: Getty Images

While some vaccines, like the flu shot, are seasonal and need to be given during the fall and winter, others can be administered throughout the year to help ensure protection against diseases. As more vaccines get added to the adult immunization schedule, your doctor and pharmacist can work with you to figure out the ideal timing for each one, so the process feels manageable.

To find out which vaccines are recommended for your age, the CDC has a helpful adult immunization schedule.

GSK is working to make immunizations a year-round preventative-health priority. “We hope to change the way people think about when, where, and why to get vaccinated, especially in the adult population, where we see the biggest gaps in immunization rates,” says Dr. Friedland.

Stay hydrated

What if the key to slowing down the aging process is drinking more water? In a study published this year by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, scientists followed more than 15,000 people between the ages of 45 and 66 years old, for 25 years. The study discovered that those who drank less fluids had increased levels of sodium in their blood — and an increased risk of developing chronic diseases like dementia, stroke, and heart failure. On the contrary, those who stayed hydrated had actually slowed down their biological clock.

Boosting your water intake doesn’t have to be a challenge. One simple way to increase your hydration levels is to carry around what social media has jokingly dubbed an “emotional support water bottle”: a reusable (and even personalized) water bottle you can sip from throughout the day, as you work or do errands. And if plain water simply doesn’t do it for you, try infusing water with natural flavors like citrus, berries, mint, or cucumber. Recommended hydration levels can vary from person to person, so it’s important to talk with your doctor about how many glasses daily are right for you.

“Regardless of how you define healthy aging,” shares Dr. Friedland, “I always encourage people to identify what it means to them and take action to help prevent disease and create a healthy lifestyle.” And that’s a mission you can undertake at any age.

The information provided on this site isn’t intended as medical advice, and shouldn’t replace professional medical treatment. Consult your doctor with any serious health concerns.

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