At some point, we all become acquainted with the signs of aging. Wrinkles, sagging skin, stiff joints, high blood pressure, shorter memory…the list goes on. Aging is often viewed as a detriment to our health. It’s not a disease, rather a natural part of life that everyone should embrace. Habits make or break our health—not age.
Maintain a healthy mind and body well into your later years by practicing a few simple daily wellness habits.
Radiant and youthful skin
Years of outdoor fun can have some less-than-desirable cosmetic effects. Skin left unprotected from UV rays will slowly develop dark spots, sagging, fine lines and wrinkles. In some cases, sun damage could even lead to serious skin conditions. Maintain the health and beauty of your skin with these anti-aging tips:
- Stay hydrated: This tip may sound too good to be true, but it really is that simple! Proper hydration firms up the skin and restores elasticity, resulting in a smoother complexion. Everyone has a different recommended water intake, so ask your doctor how many glasses you should drink each day.
- Wear sunscreen: The only way to protect your skin from the sun is by wearing sunscreen. Apply it every single day, even when you step outside for only a few minutes. A sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher will block UV rays and reduce your risk for skin diseases. Pair with a daily moisturizer to minimize the appearance of wrinkles.
- Quit smoking: To people who’ve been smoking for decades, quitting may seem like an impossible feat. However, it’s never too late to make smart choices for your health. Tobacco products damage almost every organ in the body, and the skin is no exception. Additionally, if you don’t smoke but you drink, try to limit your alcohol consumption to one drink per night.
A healthy heart
As we get older, the arteries stiffen and become clogged with fatty deposits. This is a natural part of the aging process, but that doesn’t mean we should let it happen! Too much plaque buildup can severely damage the cardiovascular system. Follow these tips for a healthy heart:
- Reduce sodium intake: The narrowing of the arteries can raise blood pressure to abnormally high levels. A low-sodium diet can help clear gunk out of these major blood vessels and return blood pressure back to normal. Lower your sodium intake by cutting out processed and pre-packaged foods.
- Practice good oral care: Oddly enough, there’s a link between your heart and teeth! Dentists can detect the early stages of heart disease by assessing your oral health. Practicing good dental hygiene will preserve those pearly whites, reduce bacteria and keep your heart in shape. Brush at least twice daily, floss every day and stick to regular checkups and cleanings.
- Eat more whole foods: A healthy heart is all about eating the right foods. You don’t have to go on a strict diet, but you should be cognizant of what you put in your body. Avoid highly processed foods that are packed with salt, sugar and fat. Buy fresh produce, low-fat dairy and lean sources of protein.
Proper cognitive function
Our minds won’t always be as sharp as they once were! It’s perfectly normal to become a tad forgetful as we age. But for some, cognitive decline goes beyond mere forgetfulness. A lack of mental stimulation can increase the risk of degenerative brain diseases. Here are a few simple habits that improve cognitive function:
- Set a consistent sleep schedule: Everyone needs good sleep, but it’s absolutely crucial in the later stages of life. A consistent seven to eight hours every night can improve focus and memory retention. Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day, even on the weekends. This will help your body establish a normal circadian rhythm, which makes it easier to fall and stay asleep.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is the act of being present in the moment. It can keep you mentally sharp and delay the progression of degenerative brain diseases. Popular ways to practice mindfulness include yoga, meditation, deep breathing, journaling and walking outside in nature.
- Exercise on a regular basis: It’s no secret that exercise provides many mental and physical health benefits. Moderately vigorous exercise improves blood flow to the brain, giving it more oxygen for proper cognitive function. Older adults should incorporate a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises.
Besides taking care of your body, the most important thing for you to do is shift your perspective on the aging process. It’s completely natural and signals a new, exciting chapter of your life. Healthy aging is less about holding onto the “golden days” and more about cultivating the best version of yourself moving forward. The best is yet to come!