HEALTHY AGING

     Minerals are essential to tissues, fluid balance, metabolic function, and organ systems. Major minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, chloride, and potassium. Calcium is mainly involved in maintaining the structure of bone and teeth. It is also involved in nerve conduction, muscle contraction, blood clothing, and cellular ionic balance. Chronic poor intake of calcium results in osteoporosis. Food sources for calcium include dairy products and fortified foods. Recommended daily intake of  calcium is 1200mg for men and women aged 51 and over. Phosphorus is also found in bones and teeth, is involved in energy transfer, enzymatic reactions, and cellular ionic balance. Phosphorus is found in dairy products, meat, grains, and soft drinks. Recommended daily intake of phosphorus for both men and women aged 51+ is 700 mg. Magnesium is also involved in the structure of bone and teeth. It also has a function in muscle contraction, energy metabolism, coenzymes, and cellular ionic balance. Food sources for magnesium are green leafy vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, milk, meat, and eggs. Recommended daily intake of magnesium for men over the age of 51 is 420mg and for women 320mg. Sodium is the main extracellular cation and is required in the maintenance of extracellular fluid volume and plasma volume. It also plays a role in membrane potential and active transport of nutrients. Food sources for sodium are salt and processed food. Daily recommendations for sodium are 1200mg for both males and females over 70. Potassium is the main intracellular cation. It is also involved in membrane potential and muscle contraction. Potassium can be found in fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products, tea and coffee. Daily recommendations for men over 70 is 2900mg and women over 70 is 2400mg. Chloride is involved in cellular ionic balance, membrane potential, and gastric hydrochloric acid. It is found mainly in salt and recommended daily intake for men and women over 70 is 1800mg [8,9,7].     
    

Not Smoking

     Smoking cessation has been shown to be beneficial even if it happens after the age of 60 as it will lead to improved pulmonary function. Smoking is harmful to almost all the organs of the body and it has a negative effect on overall health status. U.S. stats show that smoking is responsible for more than 30% of all cancer deaths. A number of withdrawal symptoms are usually accompanied by the cessation of smoking, which are nicotine craving, frustration, anxiety, irritation, restlessness, sleep disturbance, weight gain, and gastrointestinal symptoms [9,7].    

Exercise and Physical activity

     Regular physical activity is an important part in health promotion in the older population. It reduces risk of CHD, improves MSK functioning, promotes weight loss and control. Physical activity has physiological benefits some of which are increased HDL cholesterol, decreased myocardial oxygen demand, improved glucose tolerance with lowered plasma insulin levels, increase cardiovascular functional capacity, reducing hypertension. Exercise and physical activity in elderly people has a direct  benefit towards cardiovascular system and myocardial performance, increase cardiac muscle contractility, reduction in premature contractions, and increase in aerobic capacity, and reduction in systolic blood pressure. Other benefits of physical activity for older individuals are weight management, osteoporosis prevention, physiological well-being, avoidance of muscle weakness and functional capacity, reduced risk of fractures, and an increase in strength and gait speed [5,7].

     Physical activity for the elderly is an important step in improving strength and balance and one of the best ways to reduce the risk of slipping, tripping and falling. There are certain activities that can greatly benefit the elderly in the prevention of falls and overall health. Strengthening the leg muscles can be an important factor in reducing the chance of falling and improving balance. There are many exercises that can be performed to strengthen the leg muscles, however, it is also important to do exercises that are enjoyable at the same time so that older people have better motivations to perform them. One of this activities is brisk walking. This is a very simple activity that requires no equipment and can be done on a daily basis. Strength training that target specific leg muscles can also be done at home or at a gym if the patient prefers working with a group. One of this simple exercise is leg extensions, which can be done practically anywhere. This is done as follows: while in a sited position, the leg is straighten-out and held off the ground for 10 seconds or to patients tolerance. Then the procedure is repeated for the other leg. Once the strength grows, weights can be added to the ankles to increase the workout. Other activities that contribute to strength and balance among others are [4,5,6,7] :          

Swimming, which is excellent if the patient enjoys water.
-  Tai Chi, which is good for balance, strength, and flexibility. It is also beneficial for mental status,                    concentration, and calmness.
-  Yoga has also the same benefits as Tai Chi.
-  Dancing is always a great work-out for the mind and body.
-  Gardening

     Exercises can be done for 20 minutes at least for three days per week and some activities like walking or Tai Chi could be done on an every day basis. Furthermore, WHO’s recommendations with regards to physical activities of adults 65 and above are as follows [6]:

1) At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or at least 75            minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination        of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
2) Aerobic activity should be done in at least 10 minutes periods.
3) For additional benefits, activities should be increased to 300 minutes per week for moderate-intensity              activities and 150 minutes per week for vigorous-intensity activity per week, or a combination of these two.
4) Older adults with poor mobility should perform physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3       or more days a week.
5) Muscle-strengthening activities, involving major muscle groups, should be done 2 or more days a week.
6) When older adults are not able to perform physical activities due to health conditions, they should try to          stay active as much as their condition permits.
    

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