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Exercise, healthy eating can help seniors

Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, KY)


Dec. 30--Aging citizens looking to make a meaningful New Year's resolution may consider a health strategy that includes some of the following:

--Ingesting a reasonable amount of calories and not overeating.

--Keeping waist measurement no greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.

--Walking at least 10,000 steps a day.

--Consider certain supplements under a doctor's supervision.

--Eating a Mediterranean diet.

"Physical activity and healthy eating are keys to longevity," said Beth Cecil, a registered dietitian with Owensboro Health HealthPark.

Lifestyle factors are important for maintaining cognitive, psychological and physical health as people age, according to health officials. Under-eating slightly in the form of limited calorie intake is "probably beneficial in the long run," officials said.

Cecil said a 1,500-calorie intake for women and 1,800 for men is a general rule of thumb, but the number can be adjusted according to a person's height, weight, age and amount of physical activity in which the person engages.

Another health guideline is keeping one's waist circumference under control. Cecil said women should stay under 35 inches and men under 40 inches.

"If you have more fat in the belly, it can lead to metabolic syndrome," Cecil said. "It raises the risk of illness if you have more belly fat. You can face health problems like heart disease and diabetes because fat is layered among the organs, and your organs are more compacted."

Officials also recommend a Mediterranean diet because it is rich in vegetables, nuts, grains, olive oil, fish and shellfish but with only small amounts of red meat.

People can help their health by staying on the move with regular physical activity such as brisk walks of at least 30 minutes each day. A healthy adult should take more than 10,000 steps per day -- or walking more than 3 miles -- officials said. Fewer than 5,000 steps is considered a "sedentary" lifestyle.

Health experts also believe that taking certain supplements such as vitamin D and vitamin B12 can help boost long-term health, but people should check with their physicians first.

Vitamin D comes from sunshine and physicians are checking that more now, Cecil said.

"Maybe we're not spending as much time outside," she said.

Meanwhile, vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with neurological and blood diseases.

"If a person isn't eating a balanced diet, a general multivitamin is recommended," she said.

Rich Suwanski, 691-7315, or


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