U.S. News Twitter Chat: Healthy Aging

Leading experts will discuss how to stave off age-related diseases and stay healthier for longer

Healthy Aging Twitter chat

Next Wednesday, U.S. News Health & Wellness will host a Twitter chat on healthy aging with the Mayo Clinic, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and other experts. We'll discuss a range of topics, including how to stave off age-related chronic diseases, the importance of exercise, how people can improve their health span and how frailty impacts the aging population. Here's what you need to know.

Who: @USNewsHealth, @MayoClinic, @EinsteinMed and other leading experts.

What: A live Twitter chat on healthy aging. Join the conversation by using the hashtag #HealthyAging.

Where: http://tweetchat.com/room/healthyaging

When: Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 1 p.m. EST.

Why: We don't necessarily want to live to 90 if we feel 90. Living to 90 and feeling 70 is more like it. That's the difference between health span and life span: life span refers to how long we live, while health span is how long we live with the best possible health.

During a #HealthyAging chat on Oct. 23, U.S. News Health & Wellness will partner with the Mayo Clinic, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and other leading experts to talk about how to stay healthy for the maximum number of years and how to stave-off age-related diseases such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's. Age is the greatest risk factor for these conditions, but your 65th birthday doesn't have to double as a disease welcoming party. There are plenty of preventative steps people can take as they grow older.

Consider, for example, exercise. "We're exercise evangelists, because when you look at the strategies to improve health span in individuals and increase the period of vigor and productivity in our later years, exercise clearly plays a very powerful role," says Nathan LeBrasseur, director of the Healthy Aging and Independent Living Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic. Nearly 60 percent of older people without disabilities are either insufficiently active or overtly inactive, according to the clinic. "That's quite concerning in terms of increasing the risk for a battery of age-related problems," LeBrasseur says. Mayo Clinic research suggests that exercise can, for example, improve cognitive function. Physical activity helps increase the volume of the hippocampus, a region in the brain that shrinks by about 1 percent per year. Exercise can increase its volume by about 2 percent per year, helping improve memory.

During Wednesday's chat, aging experts will touch on how much physical activity is necessary – and what kind – in addition to other ways to increase your health span.