Exercising and developing healthy eating habits, along with eliminating tobacco use, are sound lifestyle advice for any human being but especially for people who are aging into their 40s, 50s, and beyond. Being physically active – every day – can help you stay independent as you age.

Dr. R. Osvaldo Navia

Regular exercise can help prevent or even provide relief from many common chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, depression, and arthritis. Your risk for these conditions can also be lowered by eating a nutrient-dense diet featuring plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods.

But at the core of any medical advice about aging is maintaining a healthy mental approach to life, according to R. Osvaldo Navia, MD, a geriatric physician at the WVU Medicine 65+ Clinic. “And one over-riding message I like to impart to seniors is the importance of staying positive.

“As we age, our problems sometimes seem overwhelming – the loss of friends or loved ones, health problems, and financial uncertainty are some common topics that most of us endure,” Dr. Navia said. “But the key is not to give in to despair and to maintain a positive outlook.”

It’s not easy to be upbeat all the time, but engaging in a variety of intellectually challenging activities, such as puzzles, learning a new language, trying out a new hobby, and even playing video games, helps. Keeping the mind stimulated often frees it from the types of worry and doubt that can creep in during idle moments.

“Another good habit is keeping up with your social life, possibly even seeking out new relationships through adult education, a book club, or a walking or running club,” Navia said. “Surround yourself with people you enjoy.”

Remember, how you spend your time has an impact on how you age. Studies suggest that those who are more intellectually and physically active, socially integrated, and relatively free from negative emotions all seem to age better cognitively.

The WVU Medicine 65+ Clinic is located in the Physician Office Center. Providers specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and disability in older adults.

Make an appointment: 855-WVU-CARE