What if you could look into a crystal ball and see yourself ten years from now? If you are on an unhealthy path; you might not like what you see. What if you could start today and help offset the effects of aging by changing your lifestyle? One of my favorite quotes, “We are our daily choices” really rings true when it comes to enjoying life in your golden years.
Take steps now to slow down the aging process by making better choices:
#1. REDUCE SUGAR– It’s the number one offender on the list – Sugar ages your skin and your body! Sugar increases inflammation in the body resulting in increased free radicals that can promote wrinkles and increased risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and more.
Per April Long with ELLE on Sugar and Aging
“The science is this: When you have sugar molecules in your system, they bombard the body’s cells like a meteor shower—glomming onto fats and proteins in a process known as glycation. This forms advanced glycation end products (commonly shortened, appropriately, to AGEs), which cause protein fibers to become stiff and malformed. Much of what is known about glycation’s ill effects comes from diabetes research: The connective-tissue damage and chronic inflammation resulting from diabetics’ sustained high blood sugar can lead to debilitating conditions, such as cataracts, Alzheimer’s, vascular tightening, and diseases of the pancreas and liver.
The proteins in skin most prone to glycation are the same ones that make a youthful complexion so plump and springy—collagen and elastin. When those proteins hook up with renegade sugars, they become discolored, weak, and less supple; this shows up on the skin’s surface as wrinkles, sagginess, and a loss of radiance. The presence of AGEs also makes the complexion more vulnerable to bad-news assailants such as UV light and cigarette smoke. As New York–based dermatologist Cheryl Karcher, MD, puts it: “Number one, the glucose makes the cells abnormal; and number two, it creates free radicals. So you get a double whammy when it comes to aging.”
#2. INCREASE YOUR ACTIVITY LEVEL Exercise is vital for healthy aging. Cardiovascular exercise can help you maintain a healthy brain and heart. While strength and flexibility training can help prevent joint issues and falls.
Furthermore, research suggests that exercise improves brain health due to increased blood flow to the brain. Additionally, this may help reduce the risk of age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s.
“Certain regions of the brain typically get smaller through the normal aging process, but individuals who were more physically fit (as determined by an exercise test of their aerobic capacity) had greater brain volume in areas related to memory. The higher the fitness level, the healthier the brain appeared. “In order to see an improvement in fitness levels, individuals need to exercise at a moderate to vigorous intensity,” Dougherty notes.
So how does exercise change the brain? Researchers have only theories for now, but they think it could be because exercise increases blood flow to the brain to help remove toxins, or releases hormones that help create new brain cells, Dougherty explains. Research has also shown that exercise can improve cognition in healthy individuals as well as those at risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia”
Exercise can help maintain healthy weight levels, improve heart health, and keep muscles strong and flexible as you age. Expanding waistlines can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and chronic back and knee issues. It’s clear that research supports the many benefits of a consistent exercise program to promote healthy aging
Aerobic exercise can help to improve your heart health and endurance and aid in weight loss. Strength training can improve muscle strength and endurance, make it easier to do daily activities, slow disease-related declines in muscle strength, and provide stability to joints. Flexibility exercises may help you to have an optimal range of motion about your joints, so they can function best, and stability exercises may help reduce the risk of falls.
Heart disease. Regular exercise can help improve your heart health. Recent studies have shown that interval training is often tolerated well in people with heart disease, and it can produce significant benefits.
Diabetes. Regular exercise can help insulin more effectively lower your blood sugar level. Physical activity also can help you control your weight and boost your energy.
Asthma. Often, exercise can help control the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.
Back pain. Regular low-impact aerobic activities can increase strength and endurance in your back and improve muscle function. Abdominal and back muscle exercises (core-strengthening exercises) may help reduce symptoms by strengthening the muscles around your spine.
Arthritis. Exercise can reduce pain, help maintain muscle strength in affected joints and reduce joint stiffness.
#3. LEARN SOMETHING NEW Research suggests that learning a new language or learning how to play a musical instrument can also help maintain brain health as we age. Along with retirement comes more time to pursue new interests and opportunities. Consider learning a second language, joining a book club, or learning to play a musical instrument. Join a senior group to promote continued social activities and engagement with others that have similar interests.
What happens in our brain?
Every time we learn something new, our brain changes in mysterious and quite substantial ways.
According to Muireann Irish, Associate Professor from Sydney University’s School of Psychology and Brain and Mind Centre, increasing attention is being directed towards understanding how learning new skills can bolster cognitive functioning — particularly as we age.
Ever heard the phrase ‘use it or lose it’?
“This is in recognition of the fact that the human brain in ‘plastic’, meaning it is capable of reorganising and forming new neural connections throughout life,” Irish told The Huffington Post Australia.
By taking on mentally challenging skills, we can potentially capitalise upon neuroplasticity to strengthen existing connections in the brain, or even forge new connections.
So there you go; just three simple steps to better aging. Start today with a small goal of becoming more aware of your daily sugar intake. Consider drinking your coffee black or switching from soda to water for just one of your meals.
Download an app that can track your daily sugar intake and begin to take a better look at your food choices. Take every opportunity to increase your activity level by taking the stairs and parking further from your destination.
Download an app to track your daily activity or consider buying an activity tracker. Set a daily step goal to help motivate you to move more throughout the day. Read my article Do You Need An Activity Tracker for more information and help to determine the right tracker for you. Consider researching new learning opportunities such as book clubs, an online college course, or learning to play a musical instrument.
You can improve your chances of staying healthy and living a better quality of life as you age. Why not start today by setting some goals and by taking one step at a time? Here I am below (not bad for age 57) I look at each passing year as an opportunity to get better with age 🙂