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Wellness at every age: Your guide to healthy aging

Young woman taking selfie with family and friends

Despite what some may think, aging is normal and healthy. But it’s important to take the necessary steps along the way to ensure you’re taking care of your overall health in every season of adulthood. Our experts are here with their advice for staying physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy through the decades.

No matter what your age, stay in in touch with your doctor with regular checkups and annual screenings. Don’t delay care. Request an appointment with one of our VCU Health providers today.

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Your 20s and 30s

This is the time to establish healthy, life-long habits. What you do starting in your late teens going into your 20s and 30s sets the foundation for your health as you continue to age.

All skin types need protection from harmful UV rays. Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin 30 minutes before going outside, especially during 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun is most intense. Using sunscreen is vital to lowering your risk of skin cancer — the most common form of cancer in the U.S. Learn how to perform a skin self-evaluation.
Quitting tobacco can be challenging, but there are a lot of reasons to quit. Read what our experts at VCU Massey Cancer Center have to say. 
Sleep deprivation can have a huge impact on your overall health. Maintaining your sleep health, getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night, and setting good sleeping habits is an act of self-care. Additional exercise and nutrition don’t make up for lack of sleep. 
Make sure you're getting the daily recommended amount of nutrients and balancing calories, while enjoying a variety of healthful foods from all the food groups. Aim to make your plate ½ non-starchy vegetables, ¼ carbohydrates, and ¼ lean protein. 

This means getting routine STD screenings, getting an annual Pap test and pelvic exam (for women), getting the HPV vaccine before age 26, and using protection.

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. We recommend at least 2.5 hours of heart-pumping physical activity per week, or 30 minutes a day. 

 

Your 40s and 50s

As you enter those mid-life years, just remember — aches, pains, and a few wrinkles here and there are all part of healthy aging.

It's important to slow down and unwind. Too much stress can be harmful to your mental and physical wellbeing. Take a moment to practice mindfulness with our VCU Health Relaxation and Classical Relaxation playlists on Spotify. Classical and instrumental music have been shown to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure and decrease stress.

Alcohol abuse can have serious short- and long-term risks to your health. Before you take your next sip, remember that alcohol should be consumed in moderation. Know your limits.

The key to health is disease prevention. Our experts recommend women visiting their ob-gyn or midwife at least once a year for a well-woman visit, while men should begin regular colonoscopy screenings at age 45.

One of the best ways to stay healthy as you age is by making sure you're caught up on routine vaccinations. Vaccines are safe and effective and aren’t just for kids and teens. Vaccines and immunization recommendations change as you get older. You have the power to protect against COVID-19 and other serious diseases by getting vaccinated.

Physical activity will never go out of style. If you already have a set routine, switch it up with a mix of aerobics, muscles training, and stretching as your body adapts quickly and gets used to repeated movements.

 

Your 60s and beyond

Continue the same healthy habits from your earlier decades with a few additional recommendations.

Reduce your chances of getting heart disease by regularly checking your blood pressure and cholesterol, limiting alcohol intake, and lowering your stress levels. Keep your heart healthy with VCU Pauley Heart Center.

Focus on the positives and nurture relationships with those close to you. Practicing gratitude and staying connected with your friends and family is a great way to stay hopeful and bring some positivity when you’re feeling under the weather.

Even in retirement, mobility is an important part of living a healthy, relaxed life. Since we tend to lose muscle mass as we age, we suggest incorporating more strength and balance training into your workouts in these later decades. Strength and balance training will help lower your risk of falls and fractures.

 

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