We all know we should wear sunscreen, drink lots of water, stop smoking, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol, but plenty of other factors can impact the aging process. Here are six tips to help you age beautifully, and three things you should stop doing right now.
Meditation sounds "woo woo," but it basically means engaging in contemplation or reflection. This mental exercise involves closing out the outside world, turning inward, and breathing deeply. Meditation not only calms and centers you, it has many health benefits, including reducing stress and increasing concentration. Evidence shows it might even help combat age-related cognitive decline. Try it for 10 minutes a day.
The cliche "you're only as old as you feel" is an old saying because it's true. Research shows that having positive self-perceptions about the benefits of getting older can create a self-fulfilling prophecy by helping someone stay mentally, physically, and psychologically younger. Obtain and maintain an optimistic outlook by spending time with positive people, not comparing yourself to others, accepting that nothing in life is permanent, finding the silver-lining, reframing your thoughts, writing in a gratitude journal, and helping others.
Loneliness kills. Studies show friends and relatives can help you live longer. So keep up with your social circle if you already have one, or find a new social circle by joining clubs or doing activities that interest you.
Aerobic exercise helps with cardiorespiratory health by delivering oxygen to the rest of the body. The myriad health benefits include weight control, mood-boosting effects, strong bones and muscles, and better sleep. According to the American Heart Association, "exercising and losing weight can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, reduce blood pressure, and help reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke."
But you don't have to go to the gym and start pumping iron. Try stretching, yoga (great for posture and flexibility), Tai Chi, golf, swimming, water aerobics, or going for a daily walk. Regularly raising your heart rate helps you age beautifully by encouraging blood flow to the skin that helps give you a healthy glow. While you're at it, exercise your brain, too!
Soak up some sun and get that Vitamin D! According to WebMD, the "sunshine vitamin" helps maintain a healthy immune system, regulates cell growth, promotes calcium absorption, and protects against certain types of cancer. You can get your daily dose (recommended 400-800 IU) from eggs, fatty fish, or 20 minutes in the sun. Vitamin D helps you age beautifully because it plays a role in the regulation of aging tissue, like your skin.
Self-care for the win! Have you had the same hairstyle for decades? It may be time for a change. Get out of your style rut and get a haircut! Artfully placed bangs and intentionally designed length can help you look younger. As we age, the density of our hair decreases. A shorter cut will thicken and give body to thinning hair. Highlights or coloring can bulk it up, too. Or just embrace the gray!
According to WebMD, mounting evidence suggests that "clinical depression takes a serious toll on physical health." And, that major depression can complicate recovery from stroke or heart attack. Along with sadness and being uninterested in activities, change in sleep patterns can be signs of depression. Of course, lack of sleep can cause symptoms of depression, too, so it's kind of a chicken and egg situation. Other symptoms of insomnia include daytime fatigue, memory loss, and irritability. If you're experiencing symptoms of depression or insomnia, tell your doctor. Treatment for depression includes psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of both. Treatment for insomnia starts with exercise and meditation. Better Health While Aging suggests trying other treatments like Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) before popping sleeping pills.
"Diet" is an ugly word...let's call it "eating healthfully" instead. Nutrition plays a major role in how your body ages. As you age, you need even more nutrients. According to Healthline.com,
"Aging is linked to changes that can make you prone to deficiencies in calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, magnesium, and several other important nutrients." Both the Mediterranean Diet and the Anti-Inflammatory Diet are great for adults of any age, but so is a healthy combo of whole foods. Fill up on fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean protein, and nuts and avoid fatty meats, butter, sugar, salt, and packaged foods. WebMD says, "Many studies have found that this diet can help you live longer and protects against heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's disease. Researchers believe one way it works is by physically changing parts of your chromosomes linked to age-related diseases." Plus "good fats" like the omega-3 fatty acids that are found in avocados, olive oil, walnuts, salmon, and tuna help protect your skin, making you look younger.
Seniors receive annual wellness visits through Medicare. In addition to regular visits to the physician for health monitoring, be sure to see the dentist every six months. Medications can cause dry mouth, and dry mouth can cause cavities. Additionally, according to Mouthhealthy.org, "many mouth infections can be linked to serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. So seniors should see the dentist regularly." Everyone should have an annual eye exam, but seniors especially need to be screened for changes to their vision to help prevent falls. Your optometrist will also screen for age-related eye diseases like glaucoma and cataracts.