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Ways You're Ruining Your Body After 60, Say Experts

Bad habits can ruin your golden years.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Ideally, as retirement age approaches, we're able to spend less time on work and family responsibilities and turn more focus to enjoying life. But a key part of that equation is maintaining a focus on our health. A few bad habits can turn vital, enjoyable golden years into a period of chronic illness and physical challenge. These are the ones to avoid—the ways you might be ruining your body after age 60, according to experts. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Not Getting Enough Sleep

Couple In Bed With Wife Suffering From Insomnia
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Getting enough quality sleep is essential to health at every age, but it may be especially protective as we grow older. That's according to a study published recently in Nature Communications, which found that people over 50 who sleep less than six hours a night are 30% more likely to develop dementia in their later years. It's during sleep that essential body systems—particularly the brain and immune system—undergo important maintenance. For optimum health, experts recommend getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night. 

2

Drinking Too Much

drinking alcohol
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Drinking alcohol to excess can imperil your health whether you're 21 or 81, but over-imbibing carries special risks with age. Alcohol affects older people differently, which can lead to dangerous drug interactions or injury from accidents or falls. To stay healthy, drink moderately: No more than one alcoholic beverage per day for women, and two for men.

3

Being Lonely or Mentally Inactive

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Experts now consider social isolation to be an unhealthy epidemic, particularly among people over 60. Studies have found that being lonely can have negative health effects similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day and may increase older adults' risk of developing dementia by 50%. Doctors think that's because socializing keeps the brain active and reduces stress, thereby lowering the risk of everything from Alzheimer's to heart disease and cancer. Do everything you can to stay socially connected: Socialize regularly with friends and loved ones, join activity or support groups, or volunteer. 

4

Skipping Visits to the Dentist

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Maintaining good oral health with age isn't just about vanity. Studies have found that in older people, poor dental hygiene may be correlated with conditions like cancer, heart disease, and dementia. For example, research recently published in JAMDA: The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine found that the more teeth a person had lost, the greater their risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline. (For every tooth lost, a person had a 1.1% greater risk of developing dementia and a 1.4% greater risk of experiencing cognitive decline.) The culprit, experts say, may be inflammation, which can start in the mouth and affect a wide range of body systems. 

5

Not Exercising

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You probably knew this one was coming. Experts recommend that adults of any age get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Unfortunately, only about 20% of us regularly do so. Regular exercise is especially important after age 60. Not only does it slash the risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity, dementia and other serious health conditions, studies have found that it can literally keep your body young. Key to that is resistance exercise (experts recommend two sessions a week), which builds bone density and muscle mass, two vital factors that age takes away from us. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
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