Aging gracefully is all about staying young at heart. Of course, there are plenty of common sense things you can do now to reduce the signs of aging, such as staying hydrated, avoiding nicotine, and limiting alcohol intake. Stress is also a significant factor in aging, so daily meditation is a simple way to calm the mind. Mostly though, it comes down to attitude.
Here are 10 things you can do now to age gracefully:
1. Change Your Eating Habits. This doesn’t mean you need to go on a strict diet; it just means that it’s time to pay attention to what you’re putting into your body. For example, read labels at the grocery store to avoid unnecessary preservatives and added sodium and sugar often present in packaged foods. In addition, ultra-processed foods high in hydrogenated oils can speed up the aging of your cells, making your skin look older. This is due to the trans fats that cause inflammation in the body and contribute to the formation of wrinkles. For healthy eating habits, stick with nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, lean protein, flaxseeds, whole grains, and fruit high in Vitamin C. Also, cook with healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, which helps lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and certain types of cancer. Once you start eating right, you’ll look better and feel better on the inside, too.
2. Exercise 3-5 Days A Week. You lose muscle mass as you age, so it is essential to have some workout routine in place to rebuild your strength. The benefits of regular exercise are well known—it delays heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, stroke, and arthritis. Studies have also shown that working out regularly helps sharpen the brain plus decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety. You don’t have to do strenuous exercises to stay healthy; start simple with lower-impact activities that are easy on the joints. Your routine should include cardio, strength training, and exercises to improve flexibility, which helps maintain balance. Exercises ideal for middle-aged people include walking, dancing, swimming, cycling, strength training with weights, tennis, golf, pilates, and yoga.
3. Get At Least 7 Hours Of Sleep. There’s a reason a good night’s rest is called “beauty sleep.” While resting, blood flow increases in the skin and rebuilds collagen levels. Deep REM sleep repairs the tissue damage caused by harmful UV exposure and helps reduce wrinkles and age spots. Getting 7-8 hours of shut-eye also improves memory skills and concentration. Lack of sleep ( or too much) has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity, so be sure to get plenty of rest. Remember, if you FEEL tired, chances are you LOOK tired.
4. Maintain Social Connections: The best thing about social media for older people is the ability to stay connected to friends and family who may not be able to travel for regular visits. We learned the importance of social interaction during the first phase of Covid 19 when the world went into lockdown. The percentages of depression and anxiety spiked in older people unable to see their loved ones. Humans are social creatures who thrive on emotional and physical interaction with others to feel connected. Consistent socializing has multiple benefits: It helps reduce stress, improves mood, increases self-esteem and memory recall, and promotes a longer life span. Staying connected also reduces depression caused by loneliness and isolation. The best way to maintain relationships is to stay active in your community, host regular gatherings for friends and family, and join social groups with people who share your interests.
5. Pamper Your Skin Daily: Be vigilant about pampering your skin to maintain a youthful appearance. It only takes a few minutes to wash and moisturize your face twice daily and should be a part of your daily routine as much as brushing and flossing your teeth. Many moisturizers help prevent blotchiness, age spots, and wrinkling, often caused by dry, thinning skin. In addition, protecting your skin with a strong sunscreen is vital to avoid the harmful UVB rays that cause skin cancer.
6. Be Proactive With Your Health: Once you reach middle age, scheduling regular checkups with your physician becomes even more critical. This also includes visits with a dentist and dermatologist twice a year, plus annual mammograms, eye exams, blood work, and gynecological exams. After the age of 45, it is now recommended that you have your first colonoscopy. These preventative measures can save your life and give you peace of mind.
7. Do Something You Enjoy Every Day To Lower Stress: Whether it’s curling up with a good book, going for a swim, whipping up a batch of your favorite marinara sauce, or playing catch in the yard with your dog—do something you enjoy each day to decompress. Stress ages you, so do whatever is necessary to find your inner peace.
8. Keep A Positive Attitude: Studies suggest that people who maintain a positive outlook on aging live longer, happier lives. A positive attitude helps reduce the chances of chronic diseases and adds to your overall sense of self-worth. It takes roughly 43 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile, so as the famous saying goes, turn that frown upside down!
9. Stay Sexy: Sex has long been associated with the younger generation….but why should they have all the fun? Studies have shown that middle-aged people who maintain sexual intimacy in their relationships tend to be healthier, happier, and less stressed. Women, in particular, complain that they’re invisible in our youth-centric society, so it’s vital to find ways to feel desirable again. A lot of this comes from taking care of your appearance—whether it’s a new haircut, a bright shade of lipstick, or an outfit that shows off your curves—don’t be afraid to stand out (in a good way!). Too many women feed into the invisibility factor by wearing boring apparel, zero makeup, and skipping the hair salon for too many years. Remember, it’s all about attitude!
10. Try Something New: If you have a bucket list, now is the time to start checking off the items. Whether it’s ziplining, deep sea diving, or taking flying lessons, trying new experiences is good for you both physically and mentally. Challenge yourself in ways you never thought possible, and you will feel invigorated and years younger.
Author Bio: Marcia Kester Doyle is the author of Who Stole My Spandex? Life In The Hot Flash Lane and the voice behind the midlife blog, Menopausal Mother. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Independent, U.S.A. Today/Reviewed, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, AARP, Woman’s Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, and many others. You can find her at http://www. marciakesterdoyle.com