How to Age Well: 5 Tips to Make it Happen
So, do you want to look your age? This topic can get pretty dicey as we push through the decades. I have one friend that says she’s earned her wrinkles and intentionally sports her gray hairs. No more hair coloring for her (we’ll see if that lasts)! I think it’s certainly a personal decision. I also think that if we implement diet and lifestyle strategies that make us look a bit younger than our real age, we might reap some very positive health benefits. After all, our health has to be our top priority as we get older. Better health usually means a better quality of life. We want to be able to enjoy our second 50 years, right? The following aging tips are science backed, and not that hard to implement.
My top 5 tips for how to age well
Wear sunscreen every day
This is a huge point and it’s never too late to start. Anti-aging dermatology procedures are pricey. They are almost all self-pay. If you can protect your skin early in life, it will help your appearance in your second 50 years. When I was in graduate school, I had a strange rash that brought me to the dermatologist. She told me at that point to never go in the sun again. I followed her advice (for the most part), and now that I have a Medicare card, I am so glad I did. Wrinkle removal is expensive and time consuming, prevention is much easier. The health benefit: lessened skin cancer risk. On a vanity scale, this was one of the best anti-aging tips anyone every suggested to me.
How to age well includes exercise
Cardio. We all know we should be moving our bodies more, right? For some, it is easier said than done. Lots of us have knees that hurt, but even for osteoarthritis, the current recommendations are to push through discomfort. Most health experts on this subject suggest the importance of bodily movement without a ton of sitting around. Options for lessening joint stress while working out with cardio include using a stationary bike and an elliptical. If you are able to move, you really should be sure to do so.
Resistance. And, on the exercise topic, don’t forget resistance type exercises. These exercises, using free weights or equipment, promote muscle strength. Progressive weight training in the older population can either help to manage or even prevent chronic and debilitating disease. It can mitigate risk for cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Appropriate strengthening of the back and abdomen can prevent debilitating back pain and improve core body strength.
Thoughts on body composition
Lastly, all exercise will help improve body composition. Body composition is the proportion of muscle, fat, bone, and other tissues that make up a person’s weigh-in weight on a scale. Having a favorable body composition (the right amount of body fat) usually has significant positive health implications. More muscle retained in the aging process translates to being able to eat more! Muscle is metabolically active, so it needs fuel. If you can eat more because you need more calories, think about how much easier it will be to manage your weight. That weight management can be a significant factor in preventing diabetes, heart disease, and even some types of cancer.
After counseling thousands upon thousands of clients over my career, it never ceases to amaze me how much younger the exercising crowd looks in middle and later life. Exercise really does seem to be the fountain of youth for both the interior and exterior of your body!
Manage your weight
Just like those that exercise, people that are at an appropriate body weight always seem to look younger. For women in particular, weight gain seems to happen easily during menopause when our estrogen levels decline. A common “sign” of middle age in both women and men is the increased fat in the abdominal area-known as visceral fat. This fat pouch does not need to happen with a healthy eating plan matched to energy requirements and limited in alcohol. Losing this abdominal fat will lessen inflammation and decrease risk for diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. Utilizing the suggested cardio and resistance exercise, along with a healthy diet will go a very long way in helping with weight management.
Sleep enough to age well
It can be difficult to get enough sleep. It seems like each decade brings its own sleep issues. I know of so many seniors that will fall asleep, but then cannot stay asleep. Getting up at 3:00 AM is not ideal, and many of us already did that when we raised our kids. Tips are to not overstimulate your brain before bed. Get off the iPad or phone if it is too stimulating before nodding off. Try to set a routine and stick to it most of the time. Discuss sleep issues with your physician. Lastly, a little melatonin may be helpful. I generally recommend 3-5 mg about 30 minutes before bedtime. We make less as we age, so this supplement makes sense. The health benefit: you just feel so much better after a good sleep, it’s like magic!
Eat healthy to age well
Don’t give up on a healthy eating plan. Consult with a nutritional professional if you are totally confused about what you should be eating to maintain or improve your health. There is just so much information out there that is often incorrect or not correct for you as an individual. Most nutrition health care providers would suggest a diet high in fruits, vegetables, with the appropriate amounts of whole grains and lean protein. A diet rich in colored fruits and vegetables will also help preserve your vision as you age. Some supplements might be in order as well, depending up your individual circumstances. For thoughts on those supplements: 5 Dietary Supplements for Baby Boomers!
If you haven’t implemented these self care aging tips yet, it’s never too old to start. For those of you in your second 50 years, what else can you add?