On Wednesday, Al Roker turned 60 and took the milestone in stride. Today, he’s celebrating by investing in his health and he’s not alone. According to a TODAY survey, 61 percent of people in their sixth decade of life say they are in good health.
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“By the time you hit 60 … you’re comfortable in your skin. In fact, most people my age are feeling pretty good,” Roker said.
The survey also found that 59 percent of people in their 60s see a doctor once a year, a habit that will help them feel good for years to come. To continue this good feeling, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News’ chief medical editor, introduced Roker to Dr. Tanya Benenson, chief medical officer at 30 Rock.
So what’s a newly minted 60-year-old to expect from the doctor?
“Some of the routine things that you might’ve seen before; so blood pressure, weight. You’ll likely have your blood done,” Benenson says. “What your doctor decides to do depends on you and your risk factors.”
Roker’s risk factors? A history of obesity and being an African-American man. African-American men are twice as likely as white men to have diabetes.
- Influenza. An annual flu shot is recommended for anyone 6 months and older. High dose shots have been approved for people over 65.
- Tetanus booster. They last for 10 years and many people forget they need one.
- Shingles. About one million people a year develop shingles, a resurgence of chicken pox, but half of them are over 60. Shingles cause extreme pain in one part of the body that turns into a rash.
Especially if the last one occurred a decade ago. A colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years for men and women beginning at age 50.
There is controversy over prostate cancer screening. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against PSA-based screening, but other methods such as digital rectal exam may be included.
Roker received one with TODAY host Matt Lauer on TV last November, so he’s safe from the exam (for now).
“Ready for 60. Yeah, baby,” Roker said.
While many think of 60 as a time to relax, exercise must remain essential. Yet, only one in four people over 65 admit to exercising on a regular basis.
Roker hopes to buck that trend and went to Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine specialist at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, for advice.
“The main thing is keeping your muscles strong. Strong muscles mean that your joints are seeing less loading force and it means a lot less aches and pains,” Metzl said.
Like others, Roker wondered what to focus on when working out.
“The thing I like to tell people is that the best kind of strengthening involves body weight and light weight,” Metzl said.
With the help of exercise physiologist Polly DeMille, Roker learned a few exercises.
“People who like going to the gym, that’s great. But if you just wanna do stuff at home, there’s plenty of ways to get stronger,” she said.
- Squats to work the lower body and hips
- Step-ups to strengthen legs
- Side-steps with rubber tubing to work the hips
- Marching on a stability ball for core strength and balance
- Foam roller. A few minutes with a foam roller can improve mobility.
- Modify any of the exercises, if they hurt. Just don't quit.
“Find a way. There’s always a way to strengthen muscles,” DeMille said.