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Health: What to Expect in Your 60s

Plus, how to build strong muscles to keep you independent and energetic

What To Expect In Your 60s

THE LOWDOWN: You most likely have a good sex life and still enjoy a martini or two, but it's time to pay closer attention to what goes into your body, and to keep closer tabs on pill and supplement intake.



In Your 60s You ...

… still party too hard sometimes … One in 7 women and 1 in 4 men in their early 60s drink to excess at least once a year. The occasional splurge can be forgiven, but drinking that interferes with your relationships and your work can also double your risk for congestive heart failure.

… but carry the party into the bedroom. Over 50 percent of men and women in their 60s are sexually active, according to recent studies, and sexual satisfaction rises for women after their mid-60s.

You probably take a daily vitamin … Seventy-two percent of Americans 65 and older take dietary supplements — up from 62 percent in 2000, a 2016 study in JAMA showed. Most popular: vitamin D.

… but still need more calcium … Nine out of 10 people in their 60s skimp on dairy — the top source of bone-pampering calcium in the American diet.

… and should consider a B12 supplement. One in 3 people in their 60s have low levels of B12, a vitamin essential for producing red blood cells, maintaining healthy nerves, building DNA and more.

You need a blood sugar check … One in 4 Americans 65 and older have type 2 diabetes — the kind of high blood sugar spurred by excess belly fat, inactivity and aging.

… and should move more. Just 43 percent of people in their 60s get 30 minutes of exercise five times a week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. And just 1 in 5 exercise hard enough to break a sweat.

Plus:

You may be salt sensitive … The older you get, the more likely it is that eating salt will raise your blood pressure. Roughly 95 percent of men and 80 percent of women in their 60s consume at least 2,000 milligrams more salt per day than is healthy.

* You should get real about cancer screenings … Cancer deaths outstrip heart disease deaths by about 25 percent for people in their 60s. Get mammograms and colon cancer screenings regularly.

* You have a weaker immune system … Take advantage of one of the newer, supercharged flu vaccines for people 65 and older. They can increase protection by up to 24 percent over the standard vaccine.

… but can still improve your longevity. That is, if you quit smoking now. In a recent CDC study, among former smokers who quit in their 60s, the risk of dying was 23 percent lower than it was for current smokers.

Try This Now

Strong muscles help you stay independent and energetic. But aging depletes 20 percent of muscle mass by the time you're 60. The life-changing fix? Strength training. Try this.

Bring in experts. First, talk to your doctor about how much and what type of strength training are best for you. Then work with an instructor or trainer to learn proper form.

Aim for 2 sessions of 20 to 30 minutes each week. Research suggests that two are better than three for older adults. Be sure to leave two or three days for rest between each session.

Pick what you like. Options include resistance bands, barbells, exercise machines or simply moves that use your own weight.

Find the right weight for you. Choose weights or resistance bands that tire you out after eight to 12 repetitions. That's one set. Aim for two or three sets of each exercise.

Eat protein. Try eggs or yogurt at breakfast, three-bean chili or a chicken sandwich at lunch, fish for dinner, and a glass of milk or handful of nuts for a snack.

NEXT: What to expect from your health in your 70s.

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