exercise

9 ways to act now, be awesome at 80

Nov. 13, 2012 at 12:01 PM ET

The Washington Post / Getty Images file /

By Brian Dalek

Men’s Health

Not only do you want to avoid your kids putting you in a home at 70, but you’ll also you want to kick their butts at a game of HORSE like you do now. It’s not that hard to be so kickass when you’re old, says a new British study.

Researchers looked at 5,100 healthy British men and women from ages 42 to 63 to see how healthy they were after a 16-year follow-up. Participants engaging in four healthy lifestyle behaviors—particularly (surprise!) never smoking, drinking alcohol moderately, being physically active for at least 2½ hours a week, and eating fruits and vegetables daily—had 3.3 times greater odds of successfully aging compared to participants who engaged in no healthy lifestyle behaviors.

What’s considered “successfully aging?” You had to have good physical, mental, and lung health and be free of disability and chronic diseases like coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. If you want to be able to play hoops or skydive with your grandkids in 40 years, try these simple tips now so you’re sharp and functional well into retirement.

End your workout with a sweat-soaked shirt

A high-intensity workout could cut your risk of metabolic syndrome—a combination of risk factors related to cardiovascular disease—by 35 to 50 percent. Also, a new study in Neurology shows that older people who still did heavy exercise, were competitive in sports, or just walked several times a week protected their brains’ white matter from shrinkage.

Bring a pillow to work

Don’t think of sleep as years taken away from your life. One 2011 study found that napping helped manage blood pressure in mentally stressed individuals. Catnaps could also make you smarter. A 2010 study showed that an afternoon nap helped college students retain information throughout the day, essentially keeping the part of your brain storing short-term memory refreshed. If you’re not getting enough shuteye at night, follow these 7 Steps to a Good Night’s Sleep.

Eat like the Greeks

A 2011 review from Italy and Greece found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet full of foods like vegetables, legumes, whole grains, olive oil, and fruit reduced their risk of conditions like insulin resistance and high blood pressure. Other studies have linked the diet to decreased risk of erectile dysfunction. Here’s how to add the diet into your regular routine.

Finally ask her to move in

A BYU study showed that happily married adults scored four points lower on 24-hour blood pressure test than single adults. Think about the other lifestyle changes you make when somebody is living with you: less risky behavior and somebody to tell you to see a damn doctor already.

Start a caffeine habit

A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at almost half a million people on their coffee and tea consumption. After a 10.5-year follow-up, researchers found that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee drinkers had a decreased risk of colon cancer, and decaffeinated coffee drinkers also had a lower risk of rectal cancer.

Throw away your office chair

Sitting all day at work is taking away from the gains you’re getting from that midday workout, according to a recent British Medical Journal study. Researchers say sitting all day is almost as harmful as smoking. We’ve touted the benefits of not sitting too much at work for years. Even if you haven’t built a stand-up desk (here’s how), get up more often by refreshing your water bottle every hour or stand when you’re on the phone.

Slow your cells’ aging

The cells of people with high omega-3 levels age more slowly, according to research from the University of California at San Francisco. People with diets rich in omega-3 foods like salmon and mackerel had longer telomeres, which are strands of DNA that have links to longevity. The fatty acids have also been shown to help your brain function better throughout life.

Find Om in the office

A 2012 study in PLoS ONE of nearly 3,000 people from Finland showed that work-related exhaustion was linked to the acceleration of biological aging, specifically shortening your telomeres. Luckily, we recently rounded up the 15 Best Ways to Beat Job Stress.

Oil your joints like the Tinman

The easiest way to avoid arthritis: Cut your flab. One study found that 32 percent of overweight adults and 43 percent of obese adults have arthritis. Basic exercises like running and weight lifting help prevent inflammation and lubricate the joints. (That is, unless you’re coming off a joint injury.) If you’re joints are fine, torch fat with our 82-Day Speed Shred DVD series.

Additional reporting by Nina Burleigh, Maria Masters, Cassie Shortsleeve, Cindy Cuzma, Geordie Brackin

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