Staying young and fighting Father Time may seem like a battle, but keeping up with these healthy practices through the decades will help slow down the clock.
In Your 20s
Start Eating Right
The body is very forgiving when you are young, but now is the time to create good nutritional habits to set yourself up for a lifetime of good health. Put the junk food and energy drinks aside and look for whole foods. Get into the kitchen, save money and your health.
Fix Your Posture
Phones and computers can wreak havoc on posture. Pay attention now and save yourself from lower back, neck and shoulder injuries. Posture can impact your mental attitude as well as your career opportunities. Poor posture can be perceived as low self-esteem and low self-confidence. Incorporate more exercises that strengthen extension of the spine instead of your favorite crunches.
In Your 30s
Take Care of Your Mental & Emotional Health
Working long hours, managing a home and taking care of children and aging parents can leave little time for self-care. Whether setting aside time for meditation and silent walks or seeking counseling, finding ways and tools to deal with the stresses of daily life is critical to staying healthy.
Remember Strength Training
Now is when muscle and bone mass can begin to decline. Beginning in your 30s, you can lose three to five percent of muscle mass each decade. The good news is that studies show this is not an inevitability. If you stay active and remember to challenge your body with weight-bearing activities, you can maintain your muscle and bone mass.
In Your 40s
Listen to Your Gut
Hormonal shifts, stress and antibiotics can alter your intestinal health over the years. Supporting your intestinal health with probiotics as well as live fermented foods can help replenish the good flora in your gut and fend off autoimmune conditions caused by a leaky gut.
Emotionally, it is also a good reminder to pay attention and listen to your “gut” and what is important for your well-being versus what you think you “should do.”
Stop Saying Your Age
This may sound like a vanity issue, but it is a matter of changing mindsets. Societal beliefs on aging can infiltrate your psyche and feed into expected shifts with age. Few people feel the age they actually are, so why tell yourself you are older than you feel and feed into the beliefs?
In Your 50s
Don’t Help Accelerate the Clock
It’s never too late to stop or curb habits that you know are harming you. The body has an amazing ability to repair when given a good environment. Now is the time to address those harmful habits, whether it’s smoking, drinking or sitting. Yes, sitting is considered the “new smoking,” so start now, get up and move often.
Recovery time is critical at any age, so don’t ignore it. By not allowing the body and mind adequate recovery time, you will get diminishing returns and be more prone to injury. Don’t romanticize how quickly you recovered when you were younger, it probably wasn’t enough time anyway. Recovery isn’t slacking; it is just smart practice.
In Your 60s & 70s
Don’t Act Your Age
Your belief of what is possible or not possible will have a direct effect on your actions and your own chemistry. Putting self-limiting beliefs and societal views of what is “age appropriate” will create a self-fulfilling prophecy and stifle possibilities.
Set Future Goals
Learning a new language, going back to school and engaging in a new passion are just some ideas for goal setting. There is no time like the present and no reason not to continue to pursue things you love and discover new ones.
The Power of the Mindset
What and how you think about aging may be the more critical determinant of how you age. According to Dr. Mario Martinez, a clinical neuropsychologist who has studied healthy centenarians and supercentenarians (those over 110 years old), our personal beliefs on aging as well as societal messages can have a dramatic impact on our own biology.
Centenarians do not buy into societal and cultural ideas of what should or should not be expected as one gets older. Dr. Martinez asserts that these societal and self-imposed messages teach our nervous system, immune system and endocrine system to begin to break down. Expectations of decline are contributing to decline. Centenarians question these beliefs. They stay curious and continue to live fully and actively, following new pursuits and interests regardless of what society says.
Incorporating these practices and changing your beliefs about what it means to grow older can have a dramatic impact on your health. Growing older is different than aging. Dr. Martinez says, “Growing older is the passing of time; aging is what we do with the time based on cultural beliefs.” Question cultural beliefs and mindsets, keep moving, growing and doing to ensure vibrant years ahead.
6 Smart Practices at Any Age
1. Keep fit and stay active.
Staying active and fit provides cardiovascular benefits, preserves muscular and bone health, is a stress reliever and powerfully impacts brain health. Intense activity also releases the human growth hormone, which slows the aging process.
2. Drink water.
Chronic dehydration directly impacts every system in your body including your skin health, increasing wrinkling as well as skin conditions. Even slight dehydration will slow your metabolism and increase joint stiffness.
3. Eat organic whole foods.
Eating more fruits and vegetables while minimizing your exposure to pesticides, sulfites and preservatives in processed foods helps reduce the body’s inflammatory response and free radical damage.
4. Get quality sleep.
Few things have greater impact on healthy longevity than quality sleep. Sleep is the body’s prime time to repair, recover and detoxify. Mood, memory and metabolism are just a few things profoundly impacted by sleep or lack thereof.
5. Use the 80 percent rule.
Stopping before you are full and consuming less, but nutritionally dense, food can increase your lifespan.
6. Stay social.
Keeping strong social connections with friends who make you laugh is a steady rejuvenator for healthy longevity.
By Susan Bianchi, MS, Health & Wellness Coach