Aging can be an intimidating part of life. Not only is there an unreasonable expectation to look young and wrinkle-free, but nothing quite prepares you for the changes your body undergoes as time progresses. Metabolism shifts, joints can begin to ache, and even taste can change making a good diet and exercise regimen difficult to maintain. If you find yourself in a downward spiral, struggling as aging effects start to take over, here are 7 lifestyle hacks that can help make aging a smoother, healthier process.
1. Drink Up…
Water, that is. Staying hydrated is one of the most important factors in staying healthy and leading an active lifestyle. Our bodies are 60% water, so it is essential to maintain a good water intake so that digestion, circulation, nutrient transportation, and body temperature are maintained at optimal levels. Be sure to carry water with you if you are working or exercising outdoors and make sure your diet consists of plenty of fruits and vegetables with high water content. You can also add fresh fruits to your water container to mix up the flavor without adding extra calories. Last tip: drinking adequate water can help prevent you from having sunken in eyes and will help you retain skin elasticity, making you look and feel younger than ever!
2. Forget the Processed Foods, Go Fresh!
It’s easy to get pulled in by the flashy food advertisements screaming “Gluten-Free/Non GMO/Organic/Healthy”. All of these things are good and beneficial, but it’s best to skip the processed aisle and go for the outer edges of the grocery store, containing all the fresh fruits and vegetables. There are ten brain healthy food groups that you should try to fit in your diet that include: nuts, berries, green leafy vegetables, fresh veggies, whole grains, fish poultry, olive oil and wine. The unhealthy food groups on the other hand consist of hard cheese, butter or stick margarine, pastries/sweets, red meats, and fried food. By comparison, it seems there are a lot more foods that you can have than what you can’t. Try some innovative recipes that incorporate your favorite fresh foods and treat yourself every now and then with some dark chocolate or your favorite fruit. Not only will these foods help you maintain a healthy weight, but it will provide benefits for your brain that will keep you quick-witted and mentally fit!
3. Pack on the Weight(s)
Not all exercises are equal. As you age, and joint pain becomes more of a debilitating factor, exercises that include running and jumping can become increasingly difficult and damaging. Therefore, strength training becomes even more important as a type of exercise that can have incredible anti-aging effects. You can do exercises that use your own body weight, or you can venture out to utilizing external weight, either way strength training for at least 30 minutes a day can strengthen muscles around your bones and increase bone density – helping you stave off conditions such as osteoporosis. Incorporating strength training into your lifestyle allows your body to burn calories while you are at a resting state, making it easier to stay at a healthy weight while increasing energy levels, reducing risk of energy, strengthening heart and bones, and potentially preventing disease. Not to mention the muscle tone you can achieve will keep you looking fit and feeling better than you have in years.
4. Power of Protein
If you plan on incorporating strength training into your lifestyle, then you will definitely need to make sure to eat your protein! This doesn’t mean you have to eat all the meat you can muster. You can find protein in almost every category of the healthy food groups. Kale is a surprising source of protein and fiber, beans and nuts can also substitute for a meat during a meal, and Greek yogurt contains high levels of protein as well as calcium which is great for maintaining bone density. If none of these ways entice you into eating more protein, start your day off with a yummy protein shake that can help kickstart your day and keep you on track. Protein is important in maintaining muscle, but it also benefits your hair, skin, hormones and connective tissue – all of which play a major role in maintaining outward appearance and vitality.
5. Eat to Your Own Beat
It’s important to note that healthy living is not only about watching what kind of food you’re eating but being sure to decrease your food intake during each meal. As we age, our metabolism starts to gradually slow down making it harder to burn off the food we eat. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to details like portion size and meal quantity. This shouldn’t mean you go hungry or be adamant about portion control. Rather it should translate into measuring out your portions, using smaller containers for serving food, and choosing to set aside leftovers when you’re full. Also, it’s important to take into consideration how active you are daily and adjust your eating accordingly. Remember this isn’t about restriction; it’s about adjusting your intake to match your changes in metabolism. This will help you keep the extra weight off and leave you feeling like you can burn off calories like you did in your 20’s!
6. Get to Bed
How is sleep related to health and exercise, you ask? Although it may seem like an irrelevant activity, sleep is crucial to a healthy lifestyle and it can prevent the effects of aging. Not getting enough sleep is directly related to increased risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes and it also accelerates the aging of the brain. Therefore, adults should aim to get 7-9 hrs of sleep each night, and while that may seem unattainable for the average individual with work and family, there are practical ways to ensure you have a successful night’s sleep. First, you should aim to practice good sleep hygiene by limiting daytime naps to 30 minutes or less and to hold off on caffeinated drinks or nicotine close to bedtime. Additionally, you should aim to limit unnatural light exposure like computer and phone use before bed while also maintaining a regular routine so that your relaxed and ready for sleep. These simple practices can enhance your sleeping experience so that you can wake up feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to conquer the day!
7. Redefine Aging
We have made aging out to be the bad guy when it doesn’t have to be! Aging is what you make it. It doesn’t have to be wrinkle-less and perfect, but it can be a time filled with vitality, strength and health. It’s important for every individual to choose the path that best suits their physical, mental, and emotional needs and to do so under the supervision of their doctor. Don’t let aging scare or intimidate you into slipping into a lifestyle that isn’t satisfying. It is possible to eat well, exercise and rest to the point of feeling that ageless vitality again.