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Over 65? Here's What to Quit Doing Now

According to the UK's Office for National Statistics, people between the ages of 65 and 79 are claiming the highest levels of happiness and life satisfaction. "People are no longer 'old' at 65 and are quite rightly savoring their 60s and 70s," says Dr. Paul McLaren. "Many in their 60s are reinventing themselves—exploring their interests and dedicating their energies to fulfilling projects which fascinate and thrill them. From their perspective, every day is a gift. We could learn a great deal from this." Being over 65 means putting extra focus on your health—and cutting out these five bad habits, pronto. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Smoking

Man breaking up a cigarette

Not only are people over 65 more at risk of getting COVID-19, but smoking can make a bad situation significantly worse."We are seeing worse cases of COVID-19 in smokers," says Panagis Galiatsatos, M.D., M.H.S. "Your lungs, which are at the forefront of your immune system, are interacting with the environment with every breath. When you inhale cigarette smoke, germs, or allergens, your lungs can get irritated, and that irritation unleashes the immune system to fight that irritation. A coronavirus infection on top of that means that your symptom response is going to be amplified."

2

Sitting All Day

Grey haired senior male seats on couch in living room.

Adults over the age of 60 spend approximately nine hours a day being sedentary—and it may increase the risk of disability from "sitting disease." "Older adults should be as physically active as possible," says Dorothy Dunlop, professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "We know that moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, is good for your health, and being sedentary is bad for your health. People should find opportunities to replace some of their sitting time with light activity. It's a low-cost strategy for good health."

3

Letting Friendships Fade Away

Sad mature woman looking out of window.

Loneliness is a growing epidemic amongst older adults, according to the AARP. The consequences of isolation are not only concerning for mental and emotional health, but for physical health as well. "Lacking social connection carries a risk that is comparable, and in many cases, exceeds that of other well-accepted risk factors, including smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day, obesity, physical inactivity, and air pollution," says Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, professor of psychology at Brigham Young University. "As we encounter potentially stressful events in our lives, if we know we've got people we can count on or turn to, we may be less likely to even perceive it as stressful, because we know we can handle it. But also, let's say we're already in the throes of some kind of stressful event—our relationships can also help us cope with it and buffer that reaction to the stress."

4

Eating Unhealthy Food

Woman reaching for chip and holding soda in processed junk food array on table with popcorn

A healthy, balanced diet is incredibly important for good health and longevity over the age of 60. With its focus on fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, and heart-healthy olive oil, the Mediterranean diet has been proven to encourage healthy aging. "When people think of the Mediterranean diet, they think of a heart-healthy diet," says Dr. Timothy Harlan, editor-in-chief of Health Meets Food: the Culinary Medicine Curriculum. "But really, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to prevent Alzheimer's disease, macular degeneration, and cancer as well."

5

Ignoring Brain Health

Affectionate middle-aged couple relaxing on a sofa together at home laughing at something on a tablet computer, natural and spontaneous

Over 65? It's incredibly important to keep your brain active and young by learning new skills and trying new things. "Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them," advises Harvard Health. "Many people have jobs that keep them mentally active. Pursuing a hobby, learning a new skill, volunteering, or mentoring are additional ways to keep your mind sharp … The more senses you use in learning something, the more of your brain that will be involved in retaining the memory." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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