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Getting older is inevitable. While you can’t control your age, you can slow the declines that come with aging by making smart choices along the way. From the foods you eat and how you exercise to your friendships and retirement goals — it all influences how fast or slow your body ages. And the good news is that it’s never too late to get started.

There’s no question that eating well is important for your health. Even little changes in your diet can lower the risk of developing diseases that often afflict people as they get older. As you age it’s even more important to know what a healthy plate looks like, pay attention to nutrition labels and follow recommended serving sizes. Eating the right nutrients — like lean protein, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products — is a key to a healthy diet that can also help you shed a few pounds.

As you adjust your diet, be sure to work in exercise to help build strength and reduce the risk of falling and frailty as you age. Fitness experts recommend 150 minutes of exercise per week. Don’t look at that as an absolute, but consider it a target. If you haven’t been exercising, start slow and build toward your goal.

The benefits of exercise go beyond physical health; it’s also a great way to reduce stress. Physical exercise is important for circulating oxygen to all tissues, which is good for the brain and helps to reduce the stress in your life.

And don’t forget to exercise your brain. Explore a new hobby, take a class online, read, investigate learning opportunities for retirees at area colleges, play games with the grandchildren. There are many ways to keep the brain engaged, which can help to fight off dementia.

Having an active social life also plays a role in healthy aging. If family is far away, spend time with your neighbors, join a club or retirement group, seek out church groups or volunteer in the community. Being more social will help to fend off depression and loneliness.

Your healthcare provider is another vital resource as you age. Make it a priority to get to your routine appointments and be sure to listen to what your provider has to say. He or she can provide valuable information and guidance and play a major role in the healthy aging process.

Finally, it probably goes without saying — if you’re a smoker, talk to your healthcare professional about ways to quit. Even quitting late in life can have a significant, positive impact on your health.

Many aspects of health are related. It makes sense, then, that we need a combination of strategies to stay vibrant. Even if your current lifestyle isn’t what is should be — or what you would like it to be — it’s not too late to make some changes toward healthy aging.

Dr. Jon Simmons is a primary care physician at Bellin Health Marinette.