By: Alice Burron
I’m sure it’s not a shock to you when I tell you that all of us will age eventually, and if fortune will have it, grow old. But not all of us will age well, even though we all want to. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to unlock the body’s anti-aging powers and regenerate tissue, restore broken DNA and heal, inside and out.
Cultural studies from around the world have landed upon several lifestyle choices that have certainly influenced longevity and healthy aging, and surprisingly they don’t come in a bottle, a pill, or even with a cost. Here are 8 ways to slow the physical aging process and enjoy your life to its fullest!
Walk at least 3 to 5 days a week for 30 minutes. Any aerobic activity will do, but by simply walking you can build muscle, burn fat and improve your cardiovascular system. Although strolling is beneficial, to get the optimal benefit, work up to an intensity between 5-8 (on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most intense), or to keep it simple, try to break a sweat.
Eat wisely. First you hear eggs are bad for you, then later they’re good for you. As new information from research becomes available, try to focus on the take-home lesson all of these recommendations provide: eat in moderation, stay away from too much fat, especially saturated fat, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every day (4-6 servings) and eat up to 2 ounces of nuts daily. Enjoy less healthy foods, but in moderation, and eat a well-balance diet more often than not. Don’t overeat any food group, but instead aim to stay within the recommended Food and Nutrition Board guidelines of 10-35% protein, 45-60% carbohydrates, and 20-35% fat.
Keep your weight in the recommended range. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of chronic diseases associated with being overweight and obese. To calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index) and normal weight range, go to http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html.
Work your muscles. Starting as early as in our 30s we lose metabolically charged muscle, 3% up to 8% of muscle is lost every 10 years after 30. Muscle mitochondria (which provide energy to the muscle) slowly decline in number and efficiency, and fat starts to replace muscle tissue. This can make you feel sluggish and fatigued, and also leaves you more prone to injury from loss of strength, function and mobility. Often people become less likely to be active as a result. Lean tissue can also effect blood sugar, as it is more responsive to the hormone insulin, so by having more muscle you may decrease your chance of getting diabetes. Two full-body 20-30 minute workouts a week are all you need to stay strong and offset muscle loss with age. If you can do more, even better!
Manage how you react to stress. Stressful situations are a part of living. But if you don’t handle stress well, it can take a toll on the body, mentally and physically. Find techniques and strategies that help you respond better to difficult situations – no matter what kind.
Embrace spirituality. Scientific studies have identified a strong link between spirituality, or belief in a higher power, with longevity and increased hope in a positive outcome. Hope is an effective tool for managing stress; those with hope handle stress better.
Work your brain. Challenging the brain with new information or challenging activities keeps the mind engaged, restores brain function and efficiency, and regenerates lost function from neurological damage. Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, also benefiting brain function.
Socialize. Maintaining close social ties with family, friends and community has been a part of cultures across the world known for their longevity. Taking time to be with others is good for the body and the soul.
We can live a shorter life plagued with physically limiting ailments, or a longer, active one with few physical maladies. Research is proving that the choice is largely up to us.