Talking to my fellow baby boomers, I’m convinced that many of us don’t realize just how many years are ahead of us – or how important healthy aging really is.
Even if we understand, “in theory,” that we have at least 20-30 more years to live, we may not have fully internalized this fact. As a result, when it comes to bad habits, like smoking or drinking too much alcohol, many of us take the position that “the damage has been done, so why change now?”
The truth is this – life is looong. Making positive changes in your life today can make the difference between living a healthy active life well into your 80s or 90s on the one hand or watching your body and mind deteriorate on the other.
Here are 4 life-destroying habits that it is definitely worth kicking after 60.
Say Goodbye to Smoking
Ok, no surprises here. You already know the negative effects that smoking has on your body. What you may not be aware is that quitting smoking after 60 can add years to your life. In addition, according to the National Institute on Aging, giving up the habit in your later years can significantly reduce your risk of cancer, stroke and lung disease. Don’t wait. Get help to quit smoking and get ready for a healthier life after 60.
Drop the Excessive Drinking
Almost everyone enjoys the occasional glass or wine or beer. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, several studies show that drinking red wine, in moderation, can help to keep your heart healthy.
If you are having more than a portion of alcohol a day, you may be setting yourself up for problems down the road.
Most people think of alcoholism as being a young person’s problem. We like to think of “binge drinking” as something that occurs on college campuses. In truth, there are plenty of reasons that older adults need to be extra careful when it comes to consuming alcohol.
For starters, many of us have left the workforce and have more freedom to indulge ourselves. In addition, many people who experience loneliness or social isolation in their later years turn to alcohol to dull the pain.
If you think that you might be drinking too much alcohol, please take steps to reduce your consumption. Your body and brain will thank you.
It might seem strange to put “sitting” in the same list as “smoking,” and “drinking,” but, recent research has shown that it can be just as dangerous. According to the Mayo Clinic, too much sitting can significantly increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
There are plenty of ways to kick your sitting habit, but, my favorite is one of the simplest. I set an alarm on my phone to go off every hour. When the alarm goes off, I get up, swing my arms around for a minute and take a quick walk around the house. You will be amazed how your body feels with this simple lifestyle change.
Loneliness is a major issue for baby boomers and it is only going to get worse in the coming decades. In fact, loneliness can be as damaging to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
As I’ve written about before, loneliness is a complex issue. It can’t be fixed by telling people to “get out there and make friends.” At the same time, while loneliness can’t be solved by pushing people to be more social, it is also our own responsibility to build active and fulfilling social lives.
We can explore our passions, get a pet, build our self-esteem and get in great shape. As we develop ourselves, we will have more energy to face the world on our own terms – and this is the best way to beat loneliness.
Life after 60 can be whatever we want it to be. Now is the time to invest in ourselves and kick our bad habits.
Let’s support each other. Let’s get in the best shape of our lives. Let’s respect and honor our bodies and prepare for decades of healthy, active life.
What other bad habits do you think we should focus on breaking after 60? What positive step are you going to take this year to improve your health and mindset? Please join the discussion and “like” and share this article to keep the conversation going!