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We asked and you answered.Here’s the secret to healthy aging

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Building strength and staying active are tips for healthy aging, as NPR readers share.

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In the 1960s and 1970s, 2000 year old manis a hit comedy show starring Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks. Brooks plays a 2,000-year-old man who is apparently in excellent health, while modern-day Renner asks him questions, including whether he’s willing to share his secrets. longevity.

“The most important thing is I never touch fried food,” Brooks responded in an early recordingAlso, “never run for the bus; there’s always another bus,” and eat lots of nectarines.

good! Whether you are 2000 or 20, we are all getting older and we all have wisdom and experiences to share.

That’s why NPR is asking our listeners and readers Share their secrets to health and longevityAs part of our new series, How to Thrive as You AgeTo date, we have received more than 1,000 responses from readers and listeners aged 16 to 103.

Here are some of our favorites, edited for clarity and brevity.

To get the latest information on our special projects on longevity, How to Thrive as You Age, Sign up for NPR Health, a newsletter covering the science of healthy living. Click here to subscribe.

Make friends across generations

“I am surrounded by friends who are older than me; living a young, fulfilling life,” writes Emma Aulenback, 26, lives in Massachusetts“During my AmeriCorps year, I lived with a 75-year-old woman who constantly inspired me to go out and have adventures … whether it was running a marathon, joining a dating app or skydiving,” said Orenbach, who also has Friends about ten years her senior who lived outside the dictates of marriage, children and careers. “They helped me realize that there is no such thing as ‘being left behind,’” Orenback wrote. “The only ‘milestone’ in life is what you decide is valuable.”

Deborah Davis, 73, Santa Fe, N.M. Says she also benefits from intergenerational relationships. “Like my Uncle Donald always told me, surround yourself with young people – their energy will keep you young. Oh my god, he wasn’t kidding!” she wrote.

It’s never too late to set new goals

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Connie Morris, 71, of Somerset, Massachusetts. For the first time, I set a goal of walking 5 kilometers. She started walking every day and was soon walking 3 miles at a time. “Then I started trying to run,” Morris wrote. “I made steady progress and ran a 5K with my son on St. Patrick’s Day.”

Morris is already working toward her next goal: paddleboarding. “I realize now that some of the limitations of aging are simply immobility,” she writes. “You can still get in shape and build muscle. About six months ago, I decided I didn’t like my saggy butt. I’ve been doing squats, and I’m happy to report: I have my butt again.”

Try these VR fitness apps and games Stay in shape this year.

To stay active, keep adapting

While some of our listeners and readers are still running marathons and climbing mountains into their 70s and 80s, a common trend has emerged: a focus on changing exercise regimes to accommodate our changing bodies.

Swimming has always been people’s preferred sport Cody Brady, 73, of Austin, Texas; But after a heart attack 10 years ago, she gave up freestyle and switched to a more gentle style. “As I get older, I feel comfortable adjusting to myself. I don’t expect to swim faster, improve my time or push my limits. I’m just happy to be able to move and enjoy what I do,” Brady said.

Jackie Buehring, 78, of Naperville, Illinois; When it comes to fitness, listen to your body. “If you go to class, shovel snow, or do anything else out of the ordinary and end up with muscle pain, you’ve discovered a muscle that needs regular exercise. Figure out how to do that,” Bolling writes.

When it comes to staying active, Dennis Junt, 68, Seattlehas this simple advice: “Try to do everything in moderation, except sex. Do more of it.”

take a look at our Tips for enjoying sex as you age.

Put your mental health first

“When I started focusing on my mental health first, I experienced the biggest and most dramatic changes in achieving a healthier life,” writes Margarita Tavarez, 46, Puerto Rican“Once I started taking care of myself emotionally, I started looking at exercise, weight training, exercise, and nutrition as opportunities to relieve anxiety, depression, and trauma, all of which are factors that accelerate aging.”

Tedecia Wint, 42, Brooklyn, NY; She believes taking care of her own mental health is an investment in her children’s future. “I want to be a positive part of children’s lives for as long as possible,” Winter wrote. “I’ve been in therapy for the last year to deal with these issues.” What I now know is chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, which stems from various childhood traumas, and I have begun a journey to practice Buddhism – chanting is a Enlightenment,” she said.

Start work-life balance early

Several millennial readers share tips for achieving the elusive goal of work-life balance.

for Jules Overfelt, 31, of Lansing, Michigan.…starting in the morning. “I wake up two hours before work and it’s one of my most revered daily rituals. Making coffee, feeding the cats, listening to music and reading a book is worth going to bed. Early… …I recommend that people start their day with responsibilities Try finding little things to do in the morning before. Even enjoying the joy of making coffee (the smell of the grounds, the warmth of the cup) can help remind you that you can experience so much more than just work.”

Make your sport social, make your social life active

Victoria Summers, 64, of El Dorado Hills, California.Found a way to combine two keys to longevity – exercise and friendship – and had a lot of fun doing it.

“I started The Bodacious Biking Babes, a women’s cycling club, 23 years ago and we’re still going strong,” Summers wrote. “My husband and I square dance together every week, ride tandem bikes together, and attend couples’ parties.” Empty Wagon’. Nest’ Club Together. During COVID I organized an informal group of neighborhood ladies to play pickleball and get together weekly in the spring and summer to laugh and exercise. Not every neighbor can play though , but they come here to talk and build camaraderie,” she said.

Get creative with your vegetables!

Many of our readers have suggested diet tips that focus on eating less junk food and more fruits and vegetables.

Sarah M., 39, of Portland, Oregon. writes that regular deliveries of fresh, local produce from a CSA (Farm Share Membership) have “dramatically changed the way we eat in our home.”

“Right now dinner in my house consists of what we call a ‘veggie bowl,’ which is basically I just preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, toss the best vegetables for roasting with a little oil, salt and pepper, and roast them until browned. And delicious.” She put it on top of the salad greens. “A variety of vegetables in one meal,” she added.

The advice here is Get more fiber in your diet, and How to eat less meat.

Continue to participate in psychological challenges and creative projects

Many people write in articles about engaging in activities that can keep your mind sharp and avoid cognitive decline.

“Find your passion!” wrote Edith Edmunds, 98, of Halifax, Virginia. Her profession is sewing. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve found joy in quilting and making clothes. My mind was racing with how to make each project with my fabrics,” Edmonds said.

Creativity is the driving force for progress Claire Russell, 83, of Shoreline, Washington.“What sustains me, what gets me out of bed in the morning, and what keeps me awake at night is the satisfaction of making things: the adrenaline rush that comes with ideas for drawing, painting, making, cooking and gardening. Motto: I’ve never met I’ve been to colors I didn’t like,” Russell wrote.

Karen Maslowski, 72, of Cincinnati, Ohio.Practice “brain stretchers” like word games and Sudoku every day. Her 94-year-old mother loves them too. “She plays word games every day and her mind is sharp. It challenges her thinking,” Maslowski said.

No matter your age, sleep and rest are essential

For much of her teenage years and twenties, Bri Obied, 31, from Oxford, UK Obed wrote that she had difficulty falling and staying asleep, and as a result she was often sick, even suffering from mononucleosis twice. When she finally found a way to get quality sleep, she said it made all the difference. “Sleeping does make me feel good.” “Like a young person. It strengthens my immune system and makes me more resistant to stress,” she said.

for Jack Applewhite, 72, Austin, Texas…, reducing your coffee intake can lead to much better sleep quality. He wrote that he and his wife also enjoy cozy naps with one or two dogs.

Focus on things that give you purpose

Some readers wrote that they were still working or volunteering part-time into their 70s.Some people, e.g. Susan Goldsmith, 74, of Pasadena, California. Go back to school and learn a new skill. She studied music at a local community college and played tenor in the college wind band.

Keep busy, advice Tom Sklebar, 71, Wisconsin. He and his partner began volunteering at nonprofits after they retired. He also recommends coaching. “You take a lifetime of knowledge and skills and pass them on to the next generation.”

Flo Hunt, 71, of Queensbury, N.Y. It is also recommended to work, even if it is only a few hours a week. “It allows you to connect with people. Older people tend to isolate themselves. This can lead to cognitive decline.” Hobbies are also important, she said. She is a published author and is currently working on the second book in the Sherlock Holmes trilogy.

Mindset is very important

“My biggest secret weapon about aging is my beliefs/attitudes,” says Mindy Coleman, 48, Asheville, NC “I believe enjoyment is inevitable, so I’d better enjoy it while I can. Embrace it. Lean on it. Roll with it. Observe the changes and view them as a full life cycle of life and experience,” Coleman wrote road.

“As a child, I would lament to my father that I didn’t want to grow old,” writes Calla Grove, Madison, Wis., 36. No doubt he would have looked me in the eye and simply replied, “It’s better than the alternative.” Grove said this sentiment has stuck with her. “Every time I feel my bones getting older or notice new gray hair growing on me, I am immediately grateful for the opportunity to experience it. Aging is truly a privilege, but not everyone gets to experience it,” she explain.

“I’ve read that as we age, people often feel like they no longer exist in a youth-centered society,” writes Judith Henry, 70, Tampa, Florida. “My solution is to do something nice for someone (it doesn’t have to be big) and watch how your invisibility cloak starts to shrink.”

Acceptance is a way of life Mandisa Hughes, 46, of New Orleans, Louisiana.“I love my… sentences. I am strong, I am priceless, I am sacred, I am protected, I am prosperous, I am powerful and most of all I am grateful!” she wrote.

This story also appeared in the February 11 issue of NPR Health Communications. Edited by Carmel Wroth.

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