4 Ways to Stay Active as You Age

You've got an exciting, active life to live.

January 12, 2018
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Look past all the "miracle" anti-aging creams, the gimmicky products designed to hide flabby skin, and other superficial signs of getting older. Forget the stereotype that old age means sitting in a decrepit retirement home with tubes, pills, and lots of nurses. Research has taken aging beyond the shallow and sad and steered it in a whole new direction, toward happiness.

"Old age, in a sense has been cancelled," says Aske Juul Lassen, PhD, from the University of Copenhagen's Center for Healthy Aging. "Today, we are all expected to live active, healthy lives until the day we die—in good health—at the age of 90."

More: 9 Natural Ways to Slow Down Aging

Importantly, the ways we might achieve this lofty goal are becoming more and more accessible. Try these 4 suggestions for keeping your body moving and your happiness quotient high, no matter what your age is.

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Participate in active activities

"Active" doesn't just mean exercise (though we'll get to that later). Lassen's research has discovered that activities that wouldn't necessarily be classified as "healthy" can still have positive benefits. Lassen calls these kinds of activities "active aging."

"Many said that they would lie in their graves already, if they had not engaged in this billiards community", said Lessen. "The benefits were primarily regarding quality of life, but at the same time, playing for so many hours is also physical exercise. They walk around and they stretch their bodies." In fact, he points out that the game immerses people in a social community, distracts them from illness, and offers more physical exertion than more sedentary activities, and this exertion can be endured for long periods because the game allows for rests. "Not very many old people can endure physical activity that lasts five hours, but billiards enables these men to spread their physical activity out throughout the day."

More: 3 Ways to Be Healthier—Without Diet or Exercise

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Exercise

The inclusion of other kinds of activities is not to diminish the importance of exercise. Staying physically fit is the hallmark of healthy aging. By boosting your production of mitochondria (the parts of your cells that give you energy and protect against cell damage), exercise keeps you going. Literally! Researchers have found that running five to 10 minutes a day can increase your life expectancy.

More: Your Exercise Prescription to Restart Your DNA

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Eat well

While eating healthyunprocessed food in general will help keep your body happy at any age, nutrition becomes even more important for keeping your body moving as you age. While joint pain and arthritis are common aging ailments, your food can be a powerful cure. Consider seasoning dishes with turmeric, a spice that research has found to improve osteoarthritis pain and stiffness.

More: 50 Foods You Should Never Eat

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Maintain a healthy sex life

"Healthy sexuality is a part of healthy aging," says Linda Waite, PhD, professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, and director of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. She points out that it's not only a unique form of social connection, but it's also a form of exercise. If the idea of a sexually active senior seems as mythical as a unicorn, it shouldn't. Sixty-two percent of women and 84 percent of men between the ages of 57 and 64 reported having sex within the last year. Plus, research has found that sex can make you live longer (and enjoy your life as you do!).

More: 5 Ways to Keep Your Sex Drive High As You Get Older

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