Nutrition and physical activity are a big part of “staying healthy” during the later years.  

However, additional factors come into play when you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle and reduce health care costs.

Live in a smoke-free environment. If you smoke or live with someone who does, explore ways to stop smoking. You will reduce your health risks in several ways.  

Foods will taste better, too. Check out http://www.smokefree.gov/ for resources for quitting.

Take up hobbies and activities that interest you.  

Research indicates that to engage in social and productive activities you enjoy also may help maintain your well-being.  

A number of early studies found that people who are involved in hobbies and other social leisure pursuits may be at a lower risk for (and less likely to develop) some health problems, including dementia.  

They might even live longer.  Think of some social and productive activities you can be a part of, such as:

• Becoming a Master Wellness Volunteer with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

• Volunteering at a library, hospital or other community health facility

• Joining a senior center

• Playing cards and other games with friends/family

• Traveling with a group of older adults, maybe a retiree group

• Visiting family and friends

• Gardening in your backyard or at a community park

• Singing in a choral group

• Forming or joining a book club

• Going dancing

• Taking a group exercise class

• Learning to play a musical instrument

Be physically active.  

As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health.  

It may prevent many of the health issues that develop with age.  

It also helps muscles grow stronger so day-to-day activities can be maintained without becoming dependent on others.  

Not being physically active can be harmful, no matter what your age or health condition.  

Keep in mind that some physical activity is better than none.  

The more physically active you are, the greater the health benefits.  Remember to always check with your doctor before beginning any new program/routine.

If you are physically fit, have no limiting health conditions, and are 65 years and older, these guidelines have been established for your age group:

Older adults need at least:

• 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (e.g. brisk walking) ever week and

• Muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

Now is the time to take stock of your healthy living habits.  

Do something to improve those habits you can control.  

Make one or two improvements at a time and develop a plan for following through.

Rita Hodges is the Ellis County Extension Agent-Family & Consumer Sciences Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Contact Rita at 972-825-5175 or rmhodges@ag.tamu.edu.