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What to Expect in Your 60s

The good, the bad and the ugly. Plus advice on feeling happy, sexy and pain-free

Motivate Your Metabolism

The Good News: While metabolism typically slows up to 5 percent per decade, that doesn't mean you have to gain weight in your 60s. Just stay active and cut calories if needed, says Alice Lichtenstein, D.Sc., director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging.

The Not-So-Good News: In your 60s you may secrete less hydrochloric acid, which decreases the availability of vitamin B12, says Lichtenstein. Ask your doctor whether you need a B12 supplement (optimal dose: 2.4 mcg daily).

What's Up With That? Your stomach empties more slowly, which can increase the risk of reflux. And the slowing of digested material through the large intestine can trigger constipation. The easy fix? Fiber and water. Adding fiber to your diet may also help protect against colon polyps. Almost half of those over 60 have colon polyps that may develop into cancer.

What's Ahead: Older adults get dehydrated easily. So it's important to drink even when you're not thirsty.

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Inactivity is a more common risk factor for heart disease than obesity is. — Photo by Craig Cutler

Keep Your Heart Strong

The Good News: An older heart can pump about the same volume of blood with each beat as a younger one can.

The Not-So-Good News: Heart disease accounts for more than 20 percent of all deaths among men and women ages 65 to 74. But thanks to advances in the treatment of this disease, the death rate from heart disease declined 27.8 percent from 1997 to 2007, according to the American Heart Association. One way to improve your odds? Keep moving. Just 150 minutes of moderately intense activity a week lowers your chance of developing coronary artery disease by 14 percent, compared with people who are not physically active.

What's Up With That? A skipped beat or a racing heart could be atrial fibrillation, a type of heart arrhythmia that becomes more common with age. Since it can increase the risk of stroke, mention it to your doctor.

What's Ahead: The incidence of heart disease rises with age: It's the leading cause of death for people 75 to 84.

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