None of us are particularly keen on the idea of getting old. But as unpleasant as it may be, it’s inevitable. And while you can’t turn the clock back on aging, you can certainly slow the process down with a few smart choices along the way.
From what you put on your skin to the foods you eat to how well you manage your stress, you can age gracefully and enjoy old age.
So, what are the secrets to aging gracefully? Here’s how you can ensure that the best is yet to come.
Do brain aerobics
Contrary to popular belief, mental decline is not inevitable as you get older. By regularly engaging in mentally engaging activities like meditation, journaling, blogging, chess, and puzzles, you can slow (and even reverse) age-related mental decline.
While it’s true that a lifetime of good mental habits pays off, it’s never too late to start. Even people in their 70s and 80s can see dramatic improvements with brain aerobics, which is why aged care centers like Kew Gardens encourage their residents to participate in these activities.
Exercise in nature
It’s a no-brainer that exercising is a great way to slow aging. It helps reduce your stress levels and keeps you physically fit. But did you know where you exercise also makes a difference?
For example, trees produce phytoncides that help decrease blood pressure, reduce stress, and boost immunity. Similarly, the microbes in forest soil reduce depression and contribute to your microbiome’s health.
All it takes is a 15-minute walk in nature to reap the benefits of outdoor exercise. But if you’re really keen on improving your health, researchers have found that a weekend in the woods will improve your immunity for up to a month. So make sure you try that.
Shed a bit of weight
You’ll be surprised to know that small changes in your body weight can go a long way in decreasing several health risks. In fact, studies show that losing just 5 percent of your total body weight can significantly reduce your risk of diabetes and heart diseases. It can also help improve metabolic function in your liver, fat, and muscle tissue.
So, say you weigh 200 lbs right now. Losing only 10 lbs will lead to major health benefits. And the reason why it’s best to start with a five percent weight loss goal is that it’s easier to stick to.
Here are some ways you can lose weight.
Get enough sleep
One of the best things you can do to age like fine wine is to get enough sleep.
Coupled with the stresses of today’s life, constant sleep deprivation can lead to fatigue and premature aging of body cells.
Here’s why a good night sleep is an integral part of aging gracefully:
- It reduces stress and anxiety
- It lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke
- It reduces the risk of obesity
- It improves focus and concentration
And here are some ways to improve the quality of your sleep:
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening
- Avoid gadgets that emit blue light before bed time
- Sleep for 8 hours each night. This number might change with age and your overall health condition but is a good target to pursue.
Perhaps the easiest way to age gracefully is to put a lid on all that stress. Be it work, relationships, money, or simply day-to-day matters, stress is an inevitable part of our lives. While you can’t completely avoid it, you can manage it well and reduce the harm that it does.
If your usual coping mechanism includes smoking, drinking, and other unhealthy ways, you should prepare for a difficult old age.
But if you want to enjoy old age, you should use healthy ways for coping with stress. Eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, exercise, maintain good dental hygiene, and use preventative medicine to combat stress.
Keep your emotional habits healthy by practicing gratitude, self-care, keeping your perspective, and learning to let go.
Watch what you eat and drink
You are what you eat. A balanced diet is essential for optimal health, energy, and disease prevention. Here’s what a healthy diet looks like:
- A ton of fruits and vegetables
- No saturated fat
- Oily fish
- Small portions of lean meat and low-diary
If you don’t know where to start, here are a few easy meal prep ideas for a healthy, balanced diet.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, which can lead to fatigue and confusion. Tea, coffee, and fruit juice are all great to help you stay hydrated. However, steer clear of fizzy drinks.
If you’re a fan of alcohol, try to limit it to two days per week to give your liver time to recover from its toxic effects. Better still, avoid booze altogether. Remember, liver dysfunction can significantly disrupt your old age, and excessive alcohol consumption is bound to make your liver fail.
As you get old, the skin’s structural fiber — collagen — starts breaking down. And overexposure to the sun accelerates this process.
Although sunlight is important for your daily dose of vitamin D, it can also cause skin cancer. Plus, 90 percent of our dark spots, wrinkles, and sagging are due to sun exposure, which is why you should develop the habit of using a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
It’s also a good idea to wear a hat and wide-rimmed sunglasses before stepping out to protect your skin.
Pro tip: Keep a moisturizer on you at all times and apply it generously to keep your skin supple and maintain its elasticity. It’s best if you can get one that has SPF as well.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to take care of your skin, so you can age gracefully.