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Senior Healthy Living -- A Guide to Living a Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy Living: Watching Your Weight, Eating Right, and Staying Active

Being overweight increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure (known medically as hypertension).
(Click BMI Calculator to find your ideal weight.)
To stay at a healthy weight, you need to balance the number of calories you eat with the number you burn off by your activities. You can get to your healthy weight and stay there by doing two things:
  • Eating right
  • Keeping active.
Eating Right
Eating the right foods and the right amounts can help you live a longer, healthier life. Many illnesses and conditions -- such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes -- can be prevented or controlled by eating right. A healthy diet also provides the vitamins and minerals you need. It is never too late to start eating right. Here are some helpful tips.
  • Eat a variety of heart-healthy foods, including:
    • Vegetables, especially dark-green leafy and deep-yellow vegetables, such as spinach or carrots, and legumes, such as lima beans or green peas
    • Fruits, such as melons, berries, and citrus fruits, or juices, such as orange or grapefruit
    • Meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and dried beans (for example, navy, kidney, or black), especially products low in fat, such as lean meat and poultry prepared without skin
    • Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, especially low-fat or fat-free dairy products
    • Grains, especially whole grains, such as oatmeal or whole-grain breads.
  • Limit calories and saturated fat. Foods high in saturated fat are high in calories, so they can cause weight gain. They also increase your cholesterol levels. Try to limit your consumption of the following:
    • High-fat dairy products, such as ice cream, butter, cheese, cream, and whole milk
    • Meats high in fat, such as bacon or chicken with the skin on
    • Palm and coconut oils and lard.
  • Unsaturated fats do not raise cholesterol levels. Foods with unsaturated fat include vegetable oils, fish, avocados, and many nuts.
  • Watch portion sizes.
  • Don't choose "super" or other oversized portions.
  • Be aware of how much you eat.
Keeping Active
There are many benefits to staying active. Physical activity can help prevent:
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoporosis (thinning bones)
  • Mental health problems, such as depression.
Physical activity also helps you stay at a healthy weight, reduce stress, sleep better, and feel better overall.
All kinds of physical activity, whether it is moderate or vigorous, will help you stay healthy. It's a good idea to aim for at least moderate activity -- such as brisk walking, raking leaves, or house cleaning -- for 30 minutes most days of the week. Generally, the more active you are, the healthier you will become.
If you have not been active, start slowly. Choose something that fits into your daily life. Suggestions include the following:
  • Choose an activity you like, or try a new one. Activities such as dancing, swimming, or biking can be fun.
  • Ask a friend to exercise with you, or join a group.
  • Make time in your day for physical activity.
  • If the weather is bad, try an exercise show on TV, watch an exercise tape, walk in the mall, or work around the house.
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