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Never Too Late
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says avoidable behaviors like cigarette use, poor diet and lack of exercise are the underlying cause of half of the deaths in the United States. A new study finds it's never too late to gain health benefits by knocking off such bad habits.
During a five-year study, researchers tested the walking speeds of 2,000 people who either smoke, were smokers, or had never smoked. Current smokers walked more slowly than those who had stopped. The findings will be presented next week at the American Geriatrics Society's Annual Meeting.
The results suggest that even at an older age, changing bad habits such as smoking can positively impact a senior's health later in life. Study leader Alison Moore of the American Geriatrics Society this week suggested five bad habits that should be halted if you wish to live longer.
Lack of ExerciseSlide 2 of 11
Lack of Exercise
Keeping physically active is integral to keeping the heart, mind and bones healthy. For some seniors, physical restrictions make exercise a challenge, but there are still small ways to incorporate physical activity into a daily routine, such as parking further away from the store to get in a short walk. And, programs such as yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi can help with balance and weight loss and can be adapted to all levels of physical ability, Moore said.
While it's not yet clear what role exercise plays in weight loss, it is soundly proven to pack a host of health benefits, including helping to keep the mind sharp. [Read: Bad Habits and Why We Can't Stop]Slide 3 of 11
Messing Up MedicationsSlide 4 of 11
Messing Up Medications
The majority of seniors are on multiple medications and sometimes find it difficult or too bothersome to remember when and which medications to take each day. As a result, some seniors "adjust" their daily medication routine without talking to their physicians, Moore notes. To help keep medications organized and alleviate frustration, seniors should use weekly or monthly pill boxes and have a family member or friend help them fill pill boxes on a regular basis or make a color coded chart to help keep track of their pills and the times they need to be taken, she said.Slide 5 of 11
Couch Potato SyndromeSlide 6 of 11
Couch Potato Syndrome
As people age, they often slow down and feel like they can't do as much as they did when they were young. While physical activity sometimes becomes restricted due to health ailments, that doesn't mean the brain needs to slow down. There are a variety of activities seniors can do to keep their minds focused and sharp, including word puzzles, interactive games, joining a book club or participating in other social and volunteer activities, Moore said.Slide 7 of 11
Smoking and DrinkingSlide 8 of 11