Be a healthy senior citizen

Useful tips to help you stay healthy throughout your lifespan and in your senior years.

As senior citizens, we need to take control of our health and do the best we can so we can stay around. Grandbabies and great-grandbabies gain much from knowing us, and I for one want to live to meet and know them.

There are four basic things we can do to increase our health and well-being: eat well, be active, manage our weight and keep our foods safe. Michigan State University Extension recommends we all take these steps to take to gain control of our health:

1. Eat well.

  • Use the USDA’s MyPlate as a guide to your food choices daily.
  • Choose a wide variety of foods every day, including whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Eat many different colors every week.
  • Limit fat and sugar in your diet. Not sure how to succeed at this? Try a lower fat milk, eventually getting down to skim. Take skin and fat from chicken before cooking. Check the labels when purchasing cheese and dairy products, and buy low fat varieties. Choose liquid oils that are high in unsaturated fats.

2. Be physically active.

  • Consult with your physician before starting any new physical regimen, especially if you have been sedentary for a year or more, are over age 65 or have heart trouble, high blood pressure, chest pain, diabetes or dizziness.
  • Start slow, especially if you haven’t been active within the last year.
  • Try to participate in activity most days of the week for at least 30 minutes. You can break the time into smaller segments, 10 minutes three times a day.
  • Try something new – swimming, biking, tennis, yoga, golf, stretch or strength-based exercises. Walking is a simple place to start and can be done anywhere, with just walking shoes as equipment.
  • Always start your activity with a warm up and some stretching.
  • Keep track each time of how long the activity lasts.

3. Manage your weight.

  • If you eat well and become physically active, you will be able to manage your weight easier.
  • Research shows that losing even 5-10 pounds can help decrease blood pressure and reduce the risk the risk of serious illnesses. Joint pain can also become less with weight loss.

4. Stay food safe. Senior citizens are at risk of food borne illness, so:

  • Cook foods thoroughly. Use a meat thermometer to be sure it gets to the minimum internal temperatures.
  • Avoid cross contamination. Make sure to keep meat and meat juices separate from ready-to-eat food, beginning at the store and ending with food preparation.
  • Chill your foods. Keep food out of the temperature danger zone and make sure your refrigerator is set to 41 degrees or lower and your freezer is 0 degrees or less.
  • Clean. Keep your kitchen utensils, surfaces and cutting boards clean and sanitized.

If you would like more information about food safety or nutrition, contact your local MSU Extension office or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3463). 

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