Lifestyle changes can improve overall health as we age

(KOMO file photo)

Lifestyle has a lot to do with how we age – both physically and mentally.

Regular exercise is important because it's good for your entire body, including your heart and your brain.

"You don't have to run a marathon, just exercising like walking every day is good for your heart and your brain,” said Jullie Gray with Aging Wisdom.

Good nutrition is also important. The Mediterranean Diet – which is high in fresh fruits and veggies, beans, nuts, whole grains and olive oil – has been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease and many other illnesses.

Staying socially engaged is also critical. Loneliness and isolation can lead to inactivity and depression.

"There's a lot of research out there that says that if you reduce stress it's good for your health,” Gray said. “It actually makes you feel more like you want to exercise, that you want to eat better, that you want to get together with your friends. So it all goes together."

Bottom line: You can't change your genes, but you change what you do. And that can result in better overall health as you reel in the years.

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