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Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle

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Ask your doctor about ways you can improve your diet and physical activity to help prevent disease. Following are just a few tips. Be sure to consult your doctor and other health professionals for more information.

Eating Right

Eating the right foods and the right amounts of foods can help you live a longer, healthier life. Research has proven that many illnesses-such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure-can be prevented or controlled by eating right. Getting the nutrients you need, such as calcium and iron, and keeping your weight under control can help. Try to balance the calories you get from food with the calories you use through physical activity (select for more information about physical activity). It is never too late to start eating right. Here are some helpful tips.

Eat a variety of foods, especially:

  • Vegetables. Choose dark-green leafy and deep-yellow vegetables.
  • Fruits. Choose citrus fruits or juices, melons, and berries.
  • Dry beans (such as red beans, navy beans, and soybeans), lentils, chickpeas, and peanuts.
  • Whole grains, such as wheat, rice, oats, corn, and barley.
  • Whole grain breads and cereals.

Eat foods low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, especially:

  • Fish.
  • Poultry prepared without skin; lean meat.
  • Low-fat dairy products.

Weight Control

Weighing too much or too little can lead to health problems. After age 45, many people gain too much weight. You can control your weight by eating healthy foods and being physically active. For more information, select the next section, "Physical Activity."

Ask your health care professional:

  • What is a healthy weight for me?
  • What are some ways I can control my weight?
  • Keep track of your weight. Use your personal prevention chart.

Physical Activity

Research shows that physical activity can help prevent at least six diseases: heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity (excess weight), diabetes, osteoporosis, and mental disorders, such as depression. Physical activity also will help you feel better and stay at a healthy weight. Research suggests that brisk walking can be just as good for you as an activity such as jogging. Try to do a total of 30 minutes of constant physical activity, such as fast walking, most days of the week.

Before you start being physically active:

  • Talk with your doctor about ways to get started.
  • Choose something that fits into your daily life, such as walking, gardening, raking leaves, or even washing windows.
  • Choose an activity you like, such as dancing or swimming.
  • Try a new activity, like biking.
  • Ask a friend to start with you, or join a group.

Don't quit:

  • Make time for physical activity, start slowly, and keep at it.
  • If the weather is bad, try an exercise show on TV, watch an exercise tape in your home, walk in the mall, or work around the house.

 

Regular check-ups to help prevent complicated health problems

Ask your doctor about check-ups, tests and shots you need to help prevent disease. Following are just a few tips. Be sure to consult your doctor and other health professionals for more information.

Hearing care

Hearing loss increases after the age of 50. How can you tell if you have a hearing problem? You may have to strain to hear a normal conversation. Or you may find yourself turning up the volume of the TV and radio so loud that others complain.

Talk to your doctor or nurse about your hearing. They may suggest a hearing test. Hearing aids can often help you hear better.

Glaucoma

After age 45, glaucoma becomes more common than it is earlier in life. It is a disease that can lead to problems seeing and even to loss of vision. Early treatment-with medicine, surgery, or both-can prevent or delay the serious vision problems caused by glaucoma.

You are more likely to get glaucoma, and you should see an eye doctor for a glaucoma test, if you:

  • Have diabetes.
  • Have a family history of glaucoma.
  • Are over age 65.
  • Are over age 40 and African American.

Ask your doctor: How often do I need to have my eyes checked?

Keep track of when you need your next eye doctor appointment. Use your personal prevention chart ( PDF file for all charts, 26 KB).


 

Shot to prevent diseases

Adults need shots to prevent serious diseases. You should ask your doctor or other health care provider which shots are right for you.

Influenza (flu) shots

Everyone over age 65 needs this every year.

You may need flu shots before age 65 if you:

  • Have lung, heart, or kidney disease.
  • Have diabetes.
  • Have AIDS or are infected with HIV.
  • Have cancer.
  • Are a health care worker.

Keep track of the shots you receive. Use the shot charts (PDF file for all charts, 26 KB).

Pneumococcal (pneumonia) shot

  • Everyone needs this once at about age 65. If you have diseases of the lung, heart, or kidney; diabetes; HIV; or cancer, you may need this shot before age 65.
  • Keep track of the shots you receive. Use the shot charts (PDF file for all charts, 26 KB).

Tetanus-diphtheria shot

  • Everyone needs this every 10 years.
  • Keep track of the shots you receive. Use the shot charts (PDF file for all charts, 26 KB).

Hepatitis B shots

Discuss with your doctor whether you need hepatitis B shots.

Generally, you should receive hepatitis B shots if you:

  • Or your partner have had other sexual partners within the last 6 months.
  • Are a male and have had sex with another male.
  • Have had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) within the last 6 months.
  • Have injected illegal drugs.
  • Are a health care worker who is often exposed to blood or blood products.
  • Had blood transfusions between 1978 and 1985.

If you are traveling outside the United States, discuss with your doctor whether you need hepatitis B shots.

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