Healthy Aging

Mind over matter? How fit you think you are versus actual fitness

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

A study of over 60,000 people who were followed for as long as two decades found that people’s perceptions about their level of activity have a more significant effect on their longevity than their actual fitness.

More evidence that exercise helps keep your brain fit

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

A review of dozens of studies on the benefits of exercise on cognitive health concluded that, for those over 50, just about any form of activity is beneficial if performed regularly.

Super-agers: This special group of older adults suggests you can keep your brain young and spry

Matthew Solan
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

While some people seem genetically predisposed to retain mental sharpness in old age, there are things anyone can do that can help maintain cognitive ability, or perhaps improve it.

Run for your (long) life

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

A large, long-term study confirms that running decreases a person’s overall risk of death, and while the benefits from other forms of physical activity are not as significant, any activity is still better than none.

5 research-backed lessons on what makes a happy life

Robert John Waldinger, MD

A lifelong study of several hundred men is providing valuable information about how childhood circumstances and life choices influence happiness throughout a person’s life. For example, the sting of a difficult childhood need not derail a rewarding adult life.

Not just for women: Kegel exercises good for men too

Matthew Solan
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

Kegel exercises have long been considered “for women only,” but older men may be wise to reconsider this point of view. These simple and subtle pelvic floor exercises can can be performed while lying down, sitting, or standing and are known to help with some common unpleasantries that can come with age.

Personalized activity intelligence: A better way to track exercise?

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

Small devices and smart phone apps that are designed to track fitness activities don’t necessarily provide the most accurate information. A recent Norwegian study, involving thousands of participants, has led researchers to develop a more precise method for measuring cardiovascular activity on electronic devices. Personalized Activity Intelligence, or PAI, is a formula that converts your heart rate to a number of points, based on your age, gender, resting heart rate, and maximum heart rate.

What is prediabetes and why does it matter?

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

Considering the range and severity of health problems caused by diabetes, the focus on treating prediabetes in order to prevent it from becoming diabetes is sensible, and a large study found that it is possible. A healthy diet and adequate physical activity can help most people side step this condition. For some, medication is also necessary.

The power and prevalence of loneliness

Charlotte S. Yeh, MD
Charlotte S. Yeh, MD, Chief Medical Officer, AARP Services, Inc., Guest Contributor

In addition to the emotional toll felt by millions of older people, loneliness affects brain function and physical health as well. The simple connection of regular contact with others provides support and helps alleviate isolation. Older people experiencing loneliness also miss simple everyday moments, such as sharing a meal, holding hands, taking country walks, or going on holiday.

A healthy lifestyle may help you sidestep Alzheimer’s

Heidi Godman
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

By now it’s evident that healthy lifestyle habits have clear benefits, and evidence suggests that keeping Alzheimer’s disease at bay may eventually be added to the list. Data are strongest for regular exercise, a Mediterranean diet, and sufficient sleep as important ways to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Other lifestyle choices may help as well.