Healthy aging, tests and lifestyle tips

Healthy aging, tests and lifestyle tips
Healthy aging, tests and lifestyle tips

Growing older as healthily as possible: who wouldn’t sign up for that? In an ideal world, every person over 50 would have an annual check-up, but in the meantime there are a number of measurements to gauge your health and take action if necessary.

Not everyone ages the same way. We all know examples of spry nineties, but also of young sixties who are already completely exhausted. That partly has to do with our genes, and you can indeed be unlucky or lucky, but there is no need to be fatalistic. For example, our life expectancy is determined for about 25% by what we inherited, while the remaining three quarters are the result of lifestyle choices and our environment. In other words: by responding to this you can prevent a lot of damage. It is important to know that you can improve this at any age, even if you have smoked for years, eaten unhealthy and hardly exercised.

Know your numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar

Cardiologists have been insisting for some time that everyone should know at least three body values: your blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol. You can easily measure this yourself. You can improve these three parameters through your diet and exercise.

Blood pressure. Hypertension causes premature wear and tear of all organs throughout the body. In the long term, it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, but also of vascular dementia, reduced vision and kidney problems.

A good blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. From 140/90 there is increased blood pressure.

You can measure your blood pressure at your doctor’s office or at home with your own device. There are also smart wearables such as watches and rings that display blood pressure values. They may not always be accurate, but they certainly provide a good indication. In the case of obesity, 10% weight loss already reduces the risk, as does quitting smoking, exercising more and being careful with processed food and alcohol.

Blood sugar levels. An estimated one in three people with type 2 diabetes is not aware of this, which can lead to serious complications in the long term. The diagnosis is made on the basis of two measurements taken by the doctor. Self-tests with a finger prick are not always reliable.

Guideline values: with a fasting blood sample < 126 mg/dl. Between 100 and 125 mg/dl there is prediabetes.

Cholesterol. You will also not feel anything from increased cholesterol, while it increases the risk of arteriosclerosis and a heart attack. Your doctor can check this with a blood test. The ideal values ​​vary depending on your personal situation, which determines your risk.

For those who are at moderate to low risk, a target value of LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) < 100 mg/dl applies.

Hearing test

If you are often bothered by background noise, high tones sometimes disappear or others notice that you have often not heard something, then a hearing test is a good idea. You can do this for free at most hearing centers or you can take an online test, such as If there are any problems, you can go to the ENT doctor. Addressing hearing loss in a timely manner is also crucial to prevent dementia and cognitive decline.

Eye test

Anyone who has no complaints or risk factors should take the following guidelines into account for an eye check:

• 40-54 years: every 4 years

• 55-64: every 3 years

• 65+: every 2 years.

Risk factors for more checks include diabetes and glaucoma in close relatives.

Dental health, also for your heart

An annual preventive check is recommended for everyone. Even if you wear a dental prosthesis or experience no complaints. Gingivitis is often painless, but can eventually damage the jawbone. In addition to tooth loss, this can cause heart disease and arthritis.

Realistic tips and tricks

Proteins for your muscle mass As we get older, we appear to be more likely to have protein deficiency. Proteins play an important role in building and maintaining muscle mass. Muscle cells are continuously created and broken down, but that process becomes somewhat out of balance with age, which increases the risk of muscle loss. However, it is still perfectly possible to maintain your muscle mass through a combination of strength training (see below) and sufficient protein intake. Proteins can be found in meat, dairy and fish (animal proteins) as well as in legumes or nuts (vegetable).

Cardio but also strength. The level of physical activity in our country is particularly low among women over 60, even though they can make a lot of profit from it. It is important that you ensure exercise that increases the heart rate (cardio) by brisk walking, climbing stairs, cycling, swimming… and by strength training. Training for half an hour two to three times a week can yield significant muscle gains within three months. A nice starter is the ‘5 minute kitchen workout’ by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee (YouTube: 5 minutes kitchen workout).

Balance: Brush your teeth on one leg. We brush our teeth twice a day for a few minutes and by doing this on one leg each time, you train your balance system at the same time. By persevering, you will notice after a while that this skill also strengthens your balance in other situations.

Read more? Wies Verbeek, A bit of fun growing older. Uitgeverij Ambo|Anthos isbn 9789026360091.

More tips? Check

How useful are preventive DNA tests?

Today we are bombarded with all kinds of online tests. Not everything is equally reliable or meaningful. For example, DNA tests that promise you personal advice about your health risks seem very attractive, but in practice scientists strongly advise against them. This is because these commercial tests only look at a few genes, while most conditions are much more complex. So just be patient.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Healthy aging tests lifestyle tips


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