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Longevity To-Dos for Your 50s

Get Started Today for 50 More Years of Great Health

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Updated October 15, 2007

50 is a great age -- a perfect time to start focusing on longevity. Use this decade to proactively address any health issues you have and create a foundation for 50 more years of good health. From attitude to eating habits, there is a great deal you can do to improve your health and even reverse some of the damage already done. Use this list as inspiration -- just pick one or two things at a time and get started.

1. Start a Healthy Lifestyle

Developing a healthy lifestyle can add up to 11 years to your life. Researchers looked at people 45 and over and found that three factors could add up to 11-12 more years of life. People who stopped smoking, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and increased their exercise lived longer. This was true even if they started these habits in their 50s and beyond, so start adding years to your life today.

2. Loose the Weight

Think there's no point to losing weight in your 50s? Think the damage has already been done? You are far from right. Losing weight and establishing a healthy lifestyle now can do wonders for your health -- especially for your heart. So don't use your age as an excuse -- get to work on your weight now. You'll feel better and may even live longer.

3. Screenings for Your 50s

From cancer to heart disease, doctors can catch things early and take action -- but they can only do it if you give them a chance. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and be sure to follow up on all the screenings recommended. Sure, screenings aren't fun, but they save lives.

4. Exercise - For Your Whole Body and Mind

Exercise is an utterly fantastic thing for your body. Not only does it help build muscles and keep the weight off, it improves your heart's health, keeps your mind sharp, helps maintain your balance and can even help maintain your sex life. Find out all the reasons to exercise several times a week (or more).

5. Think Positively About Aging

Having a positive attitude toward aging can actually add years to your life. In fact, researchers found that a good attitude about aging could add 7.5 years to your life. That's an incredible number. Why the big effect? No one knows for sure -- there could be a link between positive thinking and stress. Researchers also think that people with a positive attitude may make changes in behaviors that lead to a longer life.

6. Antioxidants are Anti-Aging

What makes antioxidants so great? They are what protect plants from the incredible damage of the sun. What happens is that plants are exposed to UV radiation all day long. That causes damage to the cells. To keep from getting "fried" by all this radiation, plants have developed high concentrations of antioxidants. When you eat plants, your body can use these same antioxidants to prevent damage to its own cells. It's fantastic. Find out which plants have the highest concentrations of antioxidants, and eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for the best effect.

7. Stay Energized

Being more active helps you live longer -- and not just because of exercise. Researchers examined the calorie expenditure of 300 people and found that those who expended the most calories in a day had a 32% reduced in the risk of death. Keeping yourself active can do wonders for longevity. So hide the remote (and the couch), walk as much as you can and do whatever possible to keep active throughout your day.

8. Learn New Things

Your brain loves learning. The more new things it tries to understand and the more connections it tries to make, the better it functions. Shake up your routine by learning new things. Change what you read and give your brain something to think about other than your daily routine. Besides being interested, engaging your brain may reduce your risk for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of age-related dementia -- not to mention, it'll make you more interesting.

9. Keep Your Heart Young

Keeping your heart young involves two main things: keeping your blood pressure down and keeping your arteries clean. You can monitor your progress by getting your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly. Heart aging is complex, and heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. Understanding heart aging and taking action are critical steps to longevity.

10. Smile

Believe it or not, forcing a smile on your face can literally change your mood. Your brain receives signals from your face and thinks "Hey, we're smiling, something good must be happening." Pretty soon your mood actually improves. Smiling can be a great way to reduce stress. So make your 50s your smile decade and be happier and less stressed.

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