Healthy Aging

Katie Couric
Katie's Take

Katie's Take

We've heard of being "older and wiser," but how about "older and happier?"

A recent USA Today survey suggests that the golden years are getting even brighter for many Americans as senior citizens enjoy longer, healthier lives than in past generations.

In fact, since the start of the 20th Century we've added 30 full years to our life expectancy.  But how good those years will be depends on a number of important factors.

Dr. Linda Fried, Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, calls it the "third age."  After retirement many people can potentially have years, perhaps even decades, left to live.

To ensure those are quality years, she points to some key factors we need to consider.  Of course a healthy diet is important, and so is a healthy lifestyle that includes moderate exercise, which can include walking and strength training.

But a healthy mind is just as integral, and Dr. Fried says it is important for senior citizens to stay engaged in the world around them.  After retirement it's necessary to be able to wake up in the morning and have something meaningful and enjoyable to do, like a class, volunteer work or a hobby.

These activities also help you stay socially active, another key component to a good "third age."

And if a healthy attitude is part of the equation, it seems a lot more of us are well on our way.