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Over 65? Reduce Risk of Chronic Disease

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Even if you haven’t been proactive about your health in the past, diet and exercise can reduce the risk of chronic disease and disability in your future.

That’s the word from Richard Rivlin, MD, an expert on cancer prevention and control through nutrition and director of the Anne Fisher Nutrition Center, Strang Cancer Research Laboratory and Department of Medicine at Cornell’s Weill Medical College.  He reviewed the medical literature for a symposium called “Keeping the Young-Elderly Healthy” and found encouraging results for this age group if they want to take action to increase longevity, health and quality of life. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 86, No.5, 1572S-1576S, November 2007.)

The most important challenge, Dr. Rivlin says, is to address the changes that occur in body composition and metabolism as you age. Older people tend to accumulate body fat and lose lean muscle tissue and bone, developing lower metabolic rates and gaining weight. And with weight gain comes greater risk of many diseases associated with age.

Diet and exercise can improve body composition in healthy older people by reducing fat mass and increasing muscle and bone mass, restoring higher metabolic rates.

And, for men and women over 65, calcium and vitamin D supplements can slow the rate of bone loss and reduce nonvertebral fractures, if they’re taken for three years or longer.

Other important findings from Dr. Rivlin:

•    Following nutrition and lifestyle guidelines for cancer prevention (lowering calorie intake, eating plenty of fruits and veggies and exercising) reduces risk for developing cancer by one-third to one-half.

•    Improving your cholesterol profile, if you’re over 65 and have coronary artery disease, can decrease your risk of a heart attack by as much as 45%!

•    Reducing high blood pressure through improved diet and exercise has more impact on the elderly than any other age group, potentially preventing 20% of coronary heart disease in men and 30% in women.

The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: Even if you have never been proactive about wellness and disease prevention, it is not too late! People in their 60s and 70s who are willing to change their lifestyles do reap the benefits, according to Dr. Rivlin. He believes that diseases like diabetes and pulmonary disease can also be avoided by late life interventions – though the earlier, the better.

QUICK TIP: Experiencing the benefits of exercise could be easier than you think. While the general recommendation is for about 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a day, a recent study showed that just 10 minutes a day may be all it takes to see measurable improvements in your health. Learn More.

Written exclusively for Stop Aging Now, the authority on anti-aging research, anti-aging nutrition, and anti-aging supplements.


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Article updated on: January 15th, 2008

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  1. [...] Still think you don’t have time to exercise? You may want to think again. Based on his findings, Alford recommends that healthy adults aim for 150 minutes a week (or 30 minutes 5 times a week) of moderate intensity physical activity (like brisk walking). People who engage in more vigorous exercise (like jogging) should aim for 20 minutes 3 times a week. He also recommends that healthy adults try to engage in resistance-training twice per week. And he says that it’s never too late to start! No matter what your age or current activity level, you can benefit by starting to exercise regularly. [...]

  2. [...] sourced foods provide considerable protection against many of the leading chronic diseases that take the lives of millions worldwide each year. Researchers are able to demonstrate the [...]