Growing old is something that will, hopefully, happen to all of us. When you’re young you may not think about how the things that you do on a day to day basis affect your body, but you should! Late nights, sunbeds and rowdy parties may seem like things that you are getting away with in your teens and early 20’s, but they are damaging your body in ways that you might not notice when you are still young. If you want to age gracefully, you should start taking care of yourself now.
Top Tips for Aging Gracefully
It is important to get some sun exposure in order to get sufficient Vitamin D, however, it is possible to get too much of a good thing. Sunlight includes UV-A and UV-B rays, which can age the skin and may cause skin cancer. If you want to keep your skin looking youthful and healthy, then stay away from tanning beds and wear sunscreen whenever you are out in the sun.1
The idea of needing to use sunscreen is becoming common knowledge, but what a lot of people forget is that they need to protect more than just their face and arms. Be sure to protect your hands as well, as they are one of the areas that tend to show signs of aging more quickly than elsewhere.
Get Plenty of Exercise
The government recommends that people get a minimum of 150-300 minutes of exercise per week, including two days of resistance training as well as some cardiovascular exercise.2 That is the bare minimum for general health. If you want to stay in your best possible shape as you get older then it is worth finding a form of exercise that you enjoy and doing it regularly. Studies show that your metabolism slows down with age. However, studies also show that women who remain active following the menopause are able to slow down or even stop the muscle loss which is what often causes that slowdown.3
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There is no need to resign yourself to becoming soft and frail as you get older. By staying active you can fight many of the effects of time.
Regular exercise, especially exercise that trains the core muscles, can improve your posture and your balance and help you to look better, feel more alert, and protect you from falls and injuries too.
Enjoy a Varied Diet
Our skin, hair, and nails can provide health care experts with a clear idea of what we eat. Diet plays a major role in our overall health and appearance. If you are currently the kind of person who goes on a health kick, or yo-yo diets throughout the year, then you should start thinking about changing your outlook when it comes to food. Going on restrictive diets to lose weight and then returning to the eating habits that made you gain the weight that you wanted to lose in the first place is not healthy, or even sustainable.4
It makes much more sense to learn about nutrition, learn about sensible portion sizes, and find a way of eating that will keep you at a healthy weight for the rest of your life while also giving you all of the nutrients that you need. This means proteins and healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You don’t have to swear off donuts or pizza for the rest of your life. You can enjoy those foods in moderation as a part of a healthy diet, eating other foods to promote satiety so you do not feel tempted to over-indulge.5 Once you learn what a healthy diet looks like you will find that food is no longer a source of stress and you will enjoy being in control of your body.
Practice Self Care
Positive thinking and healthy coping mechanisms can greatly improve your mental health and impact on your physical health too. Feeling stressed out causes the body to produce cortisol, which can have several negative effects on the body in the long term6, including making you more likely to build up abdominal fat. Having a lot of visceral fat (the fat under your abdominal muscles, rather than under the skin) increases your risk of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic conditions.7 Stress can also increase your blood pressure.
Find ways to manage your time better, to make ‘me time’, and to relax and unwind. Try yoga, meditation, or pampering yourself with essential oils that can help to reduce stress and anxiety.8 Learn to say ‘no’ when you are too busy or if you do not want to do something.
Learning to take care of yourself and to stop worrying what others think about you is one of the biggest steps towards growing up and becoming a mature and confident adult.
Stay Current But Timeless
Aging gracefully means walking that fine line between being stuck in the past and looking like someone who is trying too hard to remain youthful. You may have something that is your signature style, but just because it worked for you in the past doesn’t mean it works for you now. Bright shades of makeup can look good on young skin but may be too stark as you get older. Toning the shade down but staying within the same broad color could be a good move if you want to hold on to the look for longer.
Cutting your hair is another good idea. Long hair looks good with youthful skin, but it can add years to you as you start getting older, and this becomes more apparent if your hair is becoming thinner or less healthy looking with age.9 Shorter hair frames your face differently and draws the eye upwards instead of down, which can make you look much younger.
When it comes to clothing, a simple wardrobe is best. Choose clothing that fits you well and has a few timeless pieces that are neutral colors. These are things that will never go out of fashion. If you want to update your wardrobe with current pieces from a fashion store you can do so without wasting money.
Make Sleep a Priority
Sleep is something that often gets neglected. So many of us toss and turn all night and then depend on caffeine to get us through the day. That is not sustainable, and it is bad for our health, as well as bad for our appearance. Getting rid of those dark circles under your eyes can take years off your appearance, and it could add years to your life too.
Most people need 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.10 It is often repeated that older people need less sleep, but that isn’t really true; even over 65’s need at least seven hours of sleep for optimal health. It is common for older people to find it harder to sleep through the night, but napping during the day is a good way to make sure that you are getting enough sleep, especially once you reach retirement age.
If you struggle to sleep at night, try cutting down on the caffeine and eating your biggest meal of the day earlier in the afternoon. Practice good sleep hygiene and try to go to bed at roughly the same time every day, even on weekends. It may seem boring to go to bed early if you don’t have work the following day, but it’s a good idea because it will mean that you feel much more alert the following day. What’s the point of staying up late only to live a little if it means snoozing through the following day?
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