“To age gracefully requires that we stop denying the fact of aging and learn and practice what we have to do to keep our bodies and minds in good working order through all phases of life.”

Andrew Weil, MD (2005. Health Aging.  New York: Alfred A.  Knopf, p. 6)

Keeping the Body in Good Working Order

Advice abounds in the media about how to lose weight, look younger, etc., etc.  Which advice is worthwhile?  Science supports the following practices for reducing your risk of physical problems.

  • Stop smoking
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Engage in physical activity (exercise) several days a week
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Increase intake of plant-based foods and whole grains
  • Decrease intake of processed foods, unhealthy fats, and sugars

Taken together these practices make up a healthy lifestyle.  It is never too late to start and benefit from these practices.

Keeping the Mind in Good Working Order

Keeping the body in good working order is one of the most important ways to help your mind.  In addition, it can be helpful to:

  • Maintain supportive relationships
  • Engage in meaningful activity — volunteering, working, hobbies
  • Keep the mind active, especially by learning new things
  • Learn to manage stress effectively
  • Get treatment for depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues

Depression and anxiety are less common among older adults than younger adults.  However, they are often overlooked or undiagnosed and untreated.  Fortunately, older adults seem to respond well to psychological treatments.

Recommended Readings

Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life From the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development.
By George Vaillant

Healthy Aging
by Andrew Weil, MD