People often celebrate the idea of a long and happy life. While it’s wonderful to have as many years as possible to spend with loved ones, doctors increasingly distinguish lifespan from healthspan. Lifespan is the number of years of life. Healthspan is the amount of time you live free of serious illness or disease.
There are steps you can take to increase the length of your healthspan. It is never too late to start. In your 60s, you can make lifestyle choices that improve your chances of remaining active well into your 80s.
Increasing Healthspan of Life in Your 60s
According to the CDC, in 2020, a person at age 60 could expect to live, on average, for another 22.9 years. But the World Health Organization, in 2019, found the healthy life expectancy of a 60-year-old in the U.S. to be 16.4 years. WHO measures healthy life expectancy as the time before the start of serious illness. These include conditions like heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and type 2 diabetes.
People in their 60s can increase the number of healthy years ahead through healthy eating, physical activity, social connections, and regular doctor’s visits.
10 Things You Can Do in Your 60s to be Active in Your 80s
Aim for 30 minutes of exercise every day. Once a week, do something that raises your heart rate. Strength training with light weights also helps keep muscles robust and healthy.
2. Adopt Healthy Eating Habits
Make small changes toward healthy eating. Increase your fiber intake, fill your plate with vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, and fish. Drink lots of water. Reduce your intake of meat, dairy, and sugary foods.
3. Avoid Alcohol
Drink only small amounts of alcohol or none at all. A safe amount is 7 drinks a week and no more than one or two drinks per day. Examples of one drink are 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine.
4. Stop Smoking
No matter how long you have smoked, your health benefits when you give up the habit. If you have trouble quitting on your own, talk to your doctor. They can help you make a plan for a smoke-free future.
5. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Many older adults experience a slower metabolism. Exercise and healthy eating can help you to stay at a weight that supports your wellbeing as you get older.
6. Keep an Active Mind
Just as physical exercise helps the body, so does mental exercise keep the mind sharp. Learn new skills, change your routine, take a class, do puzzles, take up a musical instrument, or anything else that keeps you mentally engaged.
7. Nurture Social Relationships
There’s ample research to suggest that supportive relationships contribute to good health. As you approach retirement, you might experience less interaction with work colleagues. Make time for friends and family. Find other ways to become involved with the community, such as volunteering or joining a social activity group.
8. Get a Good Night’s Rest
Many people experience interrupted sleep as they grow older. Nevertheless, getting 7 to 8 hours of rest per night contributes to good health. If you have trouble staying asleep, ask your doctor for techniques to help you get the rest you need.
9. See Your Doctor Regularly
Preventive and supportive care contributes to good health through early intervention. Visit your doctor regularly to discuss your general health, recommended tests, vaccinations, medications, and lifestyle changes to improve your healthspan in your 60s.
10. Stay Positive
Having a positive outlook generally makes life more pleasant. Scientific research shows it can help you live longer as well. A 2019 study found people with positive outlooks lived on average 11 to 15 percent longer and had a greater chance of living past age 85.
What Health Risks Should You Be Aware of In Your 60s?
You may experience many physical and mental changes in your 60s. Some of these may put you at greater risk for serious health conditions.
- Weight gain due to slowing metabolism
- Joint aches due to loss of muscle mass and joint lubricating fluid, and wearing down of cartilage
- Rising incidences of heart disease among peers in your age group
- High blood pressure
- Higher risk of cancer diagnosis
- Dry skin, slower wound healing
- Dry mouth and dental issues
- Hearing loss, dry eyes, cataracts, glaucoma, loss of smell and taste
- Reduced bladder control
- Weakened immune system
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can reduce many of these risks and may prevent the onset of serious disease. This contributes to an increase in healthspan.
What Questions Should You Ask Your Doctor?
Good relationships with your doctor and primary care team are important to increase your healthspan as you enter life in your 60s. Some questions you may ask your doctor might include:
- What tests, screenings, or vaccinations do you recommend?
- Should I be on medication?
- Will a healthy lifestyle help me get off medication?
- Would natural supplements or vitamins help improve my health?
- Are there risks with a new exercise program?
- Should I stay away from any particular foods?
- How can I quit smoking?
Your doctor can help you develop a plan that takes into consideration your specific health conditions and concerns. Taking a fresh start toward health in your 60s can help you live well and remain active into your 80s.
Why Choose a Provider at Intermountain Health?
Intermountain Health is a leader in community-based care. At Intermountain Health, patients always come first. Our network of myGeneration Clinics are exclusively for people with Medicare Advantage. Our care model includes longer visits with your doctor, so you have the time you need to discuss a plan to increase your healthspan in your 60s and beyond. Request an appointment with us today.
*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis from a physician or qualified healthcare professional.