When it comes to growing old gracefully, exercise, diet — even attitude — can be as critical as genetics. “Old age,” as once said by Bette Davis, “is no place for sissies.” But that doesn’t mean you need chicken out. Yes, getting older affects almost every part of your body — including your hair, eyes, heart, muscles, and more — but even ageing can be as simple as following these (mostly) effective daily habits
Hold optimistic outlook.
When it comes to age you are what you think you are. According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, seniors who think of ageing as a means to maturity and general happiness are more likely to rebound from a disability than those who see ageing as associated with helplessness or uselessness.
Watch what you eat …
Health is a major part of how the body ages. “Recent evidence indicates that a low-glycemic diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein is healthiest,” says Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, Healthcare Transition Physician Coordinator at Kaiser Permanente Primary Care.
The Mediterranean diet, rich in plant-based ingredients, whole grains, nuts and red wine (in moderation!) is one perfect example. It also involves eating fish twice a week, and raising salt. Data suggests that this form of diet, according to Harvard Medical School, will help you age healthier by warding off heart disease, strokes and premature death. An additional bonus: Benabio claims foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, salmon, and flaxseed, help your skin develop the essential oils it needs to support itself, which can make your skin appear healthier.
Conversely, sugary, carbohydrate-heavy, and fatty foods — think, popcorn, soda, and white bread — can exacerbate the ageing process, Benabio claims. “And go for whole grains and natural sweeteners while shopping or eating out,” he says.
… Or what you eat.
According to the NIH, overeating will lead to reduced life expectancy, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. To mature well and live longer, it is better to adhere to a nutritious diet consisting of around 2.5 cups of vegetables, 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit, 6 ounces of grains, 3 cups of meat and 5 ounces of protein per day.
Work out daily.
Staying healthy is an integral aspect of well ageing. The average woman at the National Academy of Sports Medicine will lose 23 per cent of her muscle mass between the ages of 30 and 70, says Fabio Comana, a faculty professor. You lose muscle faster as you age, but exercise — particularly resistance workouts — can increase mass and strength, even well into your nineties, says Comana.
Staying fit can also reduce memory deficits associated with age, according to a report published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. However, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for about 60 to 70 percent of all cases of dementia, says Comana, noting that growing physical exercise will decrease this figure by 25 percent. This is because exercise stimulates the hippocampus, the brain area associated with learning.
Feel a member of society.
Friends and family will help you continue to live longer. According to a report released in the journal PLoS Medicine, those of those with close social links have been found to have a 50 per cent greater chance of surviving longer than those with weak or inadequate connexions.
Cover your skin from sunshine.
Too much time in the sun will cause wrinkles, to say nothing of cancer. But wearing a sunscreen can help to prevent ageing of your skin. And while UV rays from the sun cause the development of vitamin D, which is essential to bone health, it’s hardly a good excuse to expose yourself.
“Here are the facts,” Benabio says. “After a few minutes of sunlight, the skin starts producing vitamin D … and begins to cause skin cancer.” Most people get enough of vitamin D, so if you don’t think so, consider eating more salmon or even more eggs (do not miss the yolk).
Sleep up a lot.
You already know that according to the National Sleep Foundation, you should snooze seven to nine hours each night. Yet you know not sleeping enough could mean an elevated risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Naps can even boost recall, and also even make up for missed Zzs at night.
And it turns out “sleeping beauty” isn’t a legend. Your body produces a growth hormone during sleep, which helps regenerate collagen and elastin, the basic building blocks of fresh, healthy skin, Benabio said.
Recent studies have revealed a correlation between insomnia and accelerated brain ageing, Benabio says. In other words, prolonged sleep deprivation negatively impacts the activity of the brain, which accelerates the ageing cycle. “Too many of us view sleep as privilege, rather than need,” Benabio says. “If I could inspire people this year to make a positive improvement, it would be easier to sleep.”