The fountain of eternal youth may be nothing but a legend, but what if you could follow some easy steps to keep looking and feeling younger? Simple strategies can help keep your skin supple and your mind sharp, as well as decreasing the risk for chronic diseases. Here are seven ways to beat Father Time and maintain your youth on the inside AND the outside.
Keep Your Cells Clean and YoungExercising aids cells in cellular “autophagy,” a process in which cells clear out debris and junk and reuse it as fuel. If the cells struggle in the process, chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s are more likely.
And the slowing of autophagy is believed to contribute to aging. Although the exact interaction between autophagy and exercise isn’t clear, “autophagy affects metabolism and has wide-ranging health benefits in the body, and so does exercise,”
Walking Outdoors Adds Years to Your LifeThe health benefits of walking are numerous. This simple activity improves your life expectancy, wards off diseases and improves various markers of health. But did you know that simply walking in a green space can improve your longevity as well? Research looking at over 3000 senior citizens living in urban areas showed that five-year survival rates increased when they were able to walk in parks or tree-lined streets near where they lived.
If a stroll in a park or a short hike leaves you thirsting for more, a long weekend in nature—and away from cell phones and computers--has been found to boost problem solving and creative insight.
Get Your Zzz’s—But Don’t Overdo It!Stay sharp as you age by being well rested. New research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference last July showed that adequate sleep can reduce or prevent cognitive decline. Sleeping less than seven hours a day had a negative effect on the mind, but surprisingly enough, sleeping more than 9 hours a day was also problematic. The magic range was 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night—more or less than that could age you by two years.
Worried about getting wrinkles when you sleep? Just make sure to sleep on your back. As I’ve previously reported, this helps prevent “sleep lines” which are developed when you press your face into the pillow while sleeping on your side or belly.
Wear Sunglasses, No Matter What the WeatherYour skin may naturally begin to wrinkle as you age, but you can reduce the damage by slipping on some shades. “Sunglasses are a great defense against wrinkles since they help us not to squint. Wear them every day, no matter what the weather. Your eyes will thank you,”
But those $5 sunglasses from the gas station just won’t do. You want to wear sunglasses with ultraviolet (UV) protection to prevent premature wrinkles, since UV light is what breaks down connective tissue in the skin, causing sagging and other issues. Remember to keep your shades on even in the winter; UV rays are strongest in the summer, but are present all year round.
Avoid a Wrinkly “Cigarette Face”As if the lung cancer, heart disease and the myriad of other dangers associated with a tobacco habit aren’t bad enough, smoking cigarettes can also age your skin prematurely by damaging blood vessels, elastin and collagen. This makes your skin weaker and less elastic. Add to that the inevitable squinting and lip-puckering from smoking, and you’ve got a recipe for a pattern of wrinkles called “cigarette face.”
Quitting smoking will improve your breath, teeth and nails, make normal activities (such as taking the stairs or walking briskly to catch a bus) seem easier, so you’ll look and feel younger—and because much of the damage from smoking is reversible if you quit, you’ll likely live longer, too.
Get an Antioxidant BoostNot only are they nutritionally dense, but colorful fruits and vegetables deliver protective antioxidants to prevent free radical damage. This helps lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration and other diseases, as well as keeping your skin looking its best.
The best fruits and vegetables for a heavy dose of antioxidants are apples, pears, cherries, plums, pineapple, kiwi, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cranberries, avocados, artichokes, spinach, potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and red cabbage.
Slather on Sunscreen, Even in Fall and WinterJust like harmful UV rays from the sun can harm your eyes, they can also do a number on your skin. Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) all year round, and avoiding the sun when it’s at its brightest (between 10AM and 4PM) can help prevent wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer.
And don’t forget to wear sunscreen while you’re driving—or you’ll risk getting the shocking photo aging that caused one side of this man’s face to look decades older than the other, due to years of unprotected sun exposure while driving a truck.