Giving up smoking and bad habits can improve senior’s health

April 24th, 2009 - 5:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 24 (IANS) Previous smokers easily outpaced current smokers in physical activity, suggesting that giving up such bad habits can positively impact a senior’s health later in life.
These findings were based on a study of more than 2,000 seniors who were current smokers, past smokers and had never smoked.

All three groups were compared to show a link between smoking and the speed at which participants walked.

Eliminating bad habits such as poor food choices and lack of exercise - which can lead to weight gain or poor muscle condition - has been an ongoing struggle for seniors.

According to Alison Moore, member, American Geriatrics Society (AGS), the most important part of successfully changing bad habits is to go into the transformation with a positive attitude.

Moore offers the following suggestions to help older adults conquer some of the more common bad habits. For example bad food choices: Excess weight can cause multiple health problems and complications, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Substituting good carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, wheat bread, brown rice) for bad carbohydrates (white potatoes, white bread, white rice) and adding lean proteins, while limiting foods with high fat and sugar contents, will help seniors maintain a healthy weight.

Smoking and drinking: Smoking and excessive alcohol intake is proven to have negative health effects on a person at any age, but seniors who smoke and drink regularly increase their chances of more advanced medical problems.

The effects of many medications are altered when mixed with alcohol, which can pose serious health risks, especially for seniors taking multiple medications.

There are a variety of activities seniors can do to keep their minds focused and sharp, including word puzzles, interactive games, joining a book club or participating in other social and volunteer activities, said an AGS release.

Lack of exercise: Keeping physically active is integral to keeping the heart, mind and bones healthy. For some seniors, physical restrictions make exercise a challenge, but there are still small ways to incorporate physical activity into a daily routine, such as parking further away from the store to get in a short walk.

These findings will be presented during the American Geriatrics Society’s Annual Meeting between April 29 and May 3 in Chicago.

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