How to Slow Aging
Humans have been seeking a cure for aging for pretty much all of recorded history. As we all know, the cure still eludes us and likely always will. Aging is, quite simply, a necessary part of life.
Research has led us to a number of ideas of actions we can take that help slow down many of the more troubling aspects of aging though.
7 Tips to Slow Aging
Some of the effects of aging fall to the luck of genetics, and nothing you do can absolutely guarantee you’ll stay youthful and healthy for longer. What researchers can tell us is which activities and choices are most likely to result in people living longer and slowing some of the symptoms of aging.
- Calorie Restrictions
While research is ongoing, some scientists have found evidence that reducing caloric intake by about 30% can lengthen life span and increase resistance to age-related diseases. So far, most of the research done has focused on animals, but scientists have started to branch into trials on humans as well. Those trials haven’t produced conclusive results yet, but so far signs point to the diet being helpful for a number of age-related issues including blood pressure and cholesterol.
Counting calories has long been a part of a number of diets focused on weight loss, but it may be worth considering as well for those who hope to slow down the aging process and ward off some of the health problems that come with age.
Surely no one’s shocked to see this familiar tip on the list. Research has shown that exercise can slow the aging process all the way down to the cellular level. Strength training has been shown to reduce the rate of decline in muscle strength that seniors typically encounter, and reduce the symptoms of metabolic syndrome, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.
To be clear, these studies aren’t insisting that you get your daily cardio. They actually point toward more results with exercises that focus on strengthening various muscles. Things like water aerobics and yoga can help with aging more than turning to the treadmill every day.
- Quit smoking.
If tip #2 didn’t surprise you, then I’ll be shocked if this one does. We all know smoking is bad for our health, but a study from a couple of years ago that looked at the comparison between twins who smoked and those that didn’t showed how significantly it can effect the appearance of aging. Smoking makes the skin around your lips and eyes age faster.
But the effects on your appearance are (arguably) the least of it. Smoking puts you at higher risk for a long list of the illnesses that disproportionately affect seniors. From heart disease, to stroke, to high blood pressure, to pneumonia – if there’s something you want to avoid, smoking probably makes it more likely to happen.
If you want to look younger and push off the effects of health issues that often accompany aging, quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
- Wear sunscreen.
Like smoking, time in the sun can age your skin. That doesn’t mean you have to make like a vampire and stay inside during daytime hours if you want to avoid wrinkles. If you get into the habit of putting on sunscreen every time you go out, you can significantly reduce the effects the sun can have on your skin.
Many types of skin lotion offer SPF, so you can combine this habit with another habit that’s good for your skin with minimal effort. But if you do go that route, keep in mind that these offer a lower SPF than proper sunscreen, so without a high SPF product you’re best off avoiding the sun when it’s at its strongest, between 10am and 3pm.
Stress is a contributing factor in many of the top health problems people experience today. Between longer work hours, economic troubles, and fears tied to world events and climate change – our modern world suffers from a widespread plague of stress.
It’s easy to say, “reduce stress” in a list of tips, but much harder to help people figure out how to do so. Responsibilities and money problems don’t just evaporate when you decide you’re stressed out.
Meditation is one way to manage the stress you have, and it’s been shown to reduce the effects of aging (particularly when used alongside some of the other healthy habits mentioned here).
You can also try to implement a number of other stress-reducing activities: therapy, yoga, calming music. Anything that helps you to manage the overwhelm and anxiety of everyday life and give yourself a break.
Don’t see implementing these “breaks” into your life as an indulgence. Treat them as a necessary component to staying healthy.
- Stay socially active.
You know how we said earlier that quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to reduce the effects of aging? Some researchers have gone so far as to compare the effects of maintaining strong social ties throughout your life to those of quitting smoking.
Loneliness can have some pretty serious health consequences in seniors. Besides the effects that you might expect like depression, seniors without a strong social community have higher blood pressure, worse cognitive performance, a higher risk of Alzheimer’s, and a higher susceptibility to viruses like the flu.
It can be easy after retirement, especially as more colleagues and friends start to pass away, to let your social world fall away. If you want to slow the effects of aging, you should do the work of getting out there and creating new social ties and doing the necessary maintenance for those you already have.
- Get a pet.
First, we should warn that pets are work. You have to be prepared to feed them, get them to the vet when necessary, and do any walking or playing they need to stay healthy and entertained. If you’re up for that, the health effects of getting a pet can be significant.
Pet owners experience less anxiety and depression. They have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. And there’s a correlation between pet ownership and living longer. And most pet owners will tell you that their furry loved ones simply make their days better.
Most of the items on this list involve some effort, but all of them can pay off in helping you live a longer life with a slower onset of the effects of aging. We haven’t found a fountain of youth, but we’ve found these research-backed tips that get us part of the way there.