They say when you start getting older, younger women with their fresh and wrinkleless skin stare at you from magazine headlines and make you feel self-conscious about your body. While wrinkles, dark circles, and sagging are not uncommon, there is more to aging.
What we must realize is that aging is natural: we shouldn’t fight it.
However, we can implement healthy habits in our everyday lives to start taking better care of ourselves in order to age more gracefully.
With a couple of easy tricks such as boosting your brain power, smoothing your skin and decreasing the stress in your life, you will learn to love your body no matter your age.
1. Show your skin some love
They say our skin is our body’s largest organ.
Having said that, our skin shows signs of aging more than any other part of our body.
So if we can take good care of our skin, perhaps aging won’t seem so bad after all.
And what’s the number one thing that harms our skin?
The Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD, Jennifer Landa, M.D, says, “The most important preventive measure you can take against the Sun is to build up your antioxidant levels and maintain adequate levels of vitamins A, C, D, and E.”
She also recommends never leaving the house without a thick layer of sunscreen on.
And that’s not the only way to look after your skin.
According to Dr Perricone, one great way to give your skin more radiance is to use alpha-lipoic acid.
This antioxidant works wonders at reducing fine lines, improving skin texture and tightening pores.
Moreover, statistics show that alpha-lipoic acid is 400 times more powerful than vitamins A, C and E as it is both potent and versatile.
So be kind to your skin: wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outside, schedule yourself in for yearly skin cancer screenings, read the labels and stick to gentle products in your anti-aging skincare routine.
2. Get off the couch and exercise
Besides the obvious reasons for losing weight or staying fit, regular exercise lowers the risk of heart diseases and cancer and helps retain mobility longer.
And that’s not all – with everyday exercises, you will see how your sleep, skin, and mood improve, and you’ll start thinking more clearly too.
Gary Small, M.D., who is the director of the UCLA Center of Aging, states, that “Walking for just 10 minutes a day lowers your risk of Alzheimer’s by 40 per cent.”
He also goes on to say that “Physical conditioning reduces stress and anxiety, which wipe out your memory bank.” So you can see there is a strong link between physical exercise and maintaining a healthy functioning brain.
So much so, that the Department of Health & Human Services recommend adults to do:
- 2.5 to 5 hours per week of moderate-intensity exercise, and 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, or a combination of the two.
- Muscle-strengthening activities of moderate-intensity or higher, that involve all major muscle groups, two or more days per week.
Having said that, it’s essential to keep your body’s limits in mind and not push yourself too hard.
As we age, we should focus on exercises that include balance training in addition to aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises.
So as you embark upon the road of aging gracefully, make sure to get yourself off that couch, stay active and keep exercising.
3. Be mindful about your diet
Eating healthfully is key to gaining a clearer mindset and feeling more comfortable in our own skin, no matter our age.
Our bodies are our machines and by feeding them with the right fuel, we’re much more likely to age gracefully.
So what are some of the essential components that we should include in our diet?
a. More whole foods
Load up on veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and low-fat dairy.
Studies show that this diet can increase your life expectancy and protect you against heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
b. More fat
But only the healthy kind! Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in salmon, walnuts, and seeds, stabilize your mood, maintain bone strength, and help prevent visible signs of aging by reducing inflammation in the body.
You should also try and avoid using solid fats for cooking and use oils instead. Processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats are a big “NO,” but chances are if you’re reading this, you’re already well aware of that!
Another crucial ingredient to watch out for is salt. Keeping your salt intake to a minimum is key to aging gracefully.
After all, having a high blood pressure will soon take its toll on your body.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to your nutritional intake.
By calculating the nutritional information of your recipes and every meal you eat, you’ll have more control over what you put into your body.
Online nutrition calculators, such as RecipeIQ, help make the process easy and smooth.
Even if you’re using a recipe from your favourite cookbook, you can take a picture and still gain access to the information from your phone.
4. Take care of your mental health
Do you know what else can help you live and age well?
Being happy and keeping your stress levels down.
For that, you have to get in touch with your unconscious mind and be at peace with yourself.
First of all, one of the things that make you feel disconnected is when you’re not honest with yourself.
Here comes the critical step of accepting your age.
Think about it: aging is inevitable; there is nothing any of us can do about it.
Statistics show that if you learn to embrace it and maintain a positive attitude, you will live longer and learn to love the body you’ve been blessed with.
The next important factor when it comes to your mental health is spending quality time with friends and loved ones.
It turns out, having a strong social network and nurturing meaningful relationships can improve your mental well-being and longevity.
In fact, those relationships don’t have to be limited to human connections alone.
Having a pet can lower stress and blood pressure, reduce loneliness, and put you in a better mood.
So if you don’t already have one, it may be time to bring a furry friend into your family.
Last but not least, give yourself a break from time to time. If you’re the hard-working type, remember that stress causes physical changes in the body that can accelerate aging.
Let’s take a look at why.
Adrenaline and cortisol, the two hormones connected to stress, cause your blood pressure to rise and your heart to beat faster.
Chronic doses of the two hormones can harm your physical and emotional health.
Herbert Benson, M.D., author of The Relaxation Response, says, “Sixty to 90 per cent of all doctors’ visits each year are related to anxiety, depression, obsessive anger and hostility, insomnia, high blood pressure and heart attacks – all problems caused by stress.”
Learning when and how to take a break is key. Whether it is going outside for 10 minutes and standing by yourself, watching a relaxing short video or meditating – find what calms you down.
Aging gracefully doesn’t come easy
Yes, it takes hard work, concentration, and a lot of self-care.
But in the end, it’s all worth it. If you want to feel great about yourself as you age, start by taking care of your body and loving who you are.
Follow a healthy diet and count your nutritional intake.
Make sure to exercise but don’t push yourself too hard.
Give your skin and your mind some love.
And most importantly, visit the doctors regularly: it never hurts to get to know your body better.