Everyone Ages and Grows Older
Almost nobody wants to grow old, but signs of aging can make you look as if you are aging too fast.
Muscle loss in your 20s, crow’s feet in your 30s, age spots in your 40s, and joint pain in your 60s: Those are among the warning signs that you might be aging quickly.
On average, we live longer today. More of us are living into our 60s, 70s, and beyond than even a few decades ago. Researchers estimate that by 2050, about 22 percent of the entire population will be elderly people.
But you don’t want to just live longer; you want to live longer well. Tragically, that’s not always the case. Elderly people have twice as many disabilities and four times as many physical limitations as people younger than 60.
What Happens to Your Body As You Get Older
Certain things happen as you age that can create those disabilities and physical limitations. Among them:
Signs You’re Aging: Men Vs Women
These and other dysfunctions of aging impact almost everyone. Some impact men and women differently. Hormonal fluctuations, for instance, means your sex drive changes as you age.
For women, estrogen levels fluctuate with age. During menopause, vaginal tissue becomes drier and less flexible. As men age, testosterone levels drop. They may have more trouble maintaining an erection.
Aging also impacts the brain differently for men and women. Men who are overweight, have diabetes, or have had a stroke are more likely to have brain complications. Women are more likely to have brain problems if they regularly depended on others in the past and lack a strong social network.
Even how we cope with aging can differ. Overall, men don’t deal with new changes like women do. After 50, a woman’s rate of depression, anxiety, and suicide decrease as they develop coping skills, empathy, and patience.
All of these things can be frustrating, but perfectly normal as you get older. With aging, certain things are beyond your control. Maybe your parents or grandparents were obese or had diabetes, heart disease, or other illness.
The Health Changes with Age
Genetics isn’t fate. We’ve all known people who stayed lean, active, and happy as they grow older. They bypassed many of the health hurdles their friends, family, and significant others experienced.
Perhaps their parents or grandparents died young of cancer or heart disease, but these people stay determined to live their best life at any age. How did they do it, while other people their exact age became ill, suffered from disease, or even died prematurely?
You can’t change your genetics, but you have plenty of control over your diet and lifestyle to manage the aging process. It’s never too late to cultivate healthy habits to prevent or even reverse disease.
Consider muscle mass. After you hit 30, you can lose three to five percent of your muscle every decade. Between 30 and 80, you may lose 30 to 50 percent of your muscle mass and strength.
Sarcopenia, or muscle loss, can create weakness and less mobility, increasing your risk of falls and fractures. Once you hit 60, your fall risk increases 35 to 40 percent because of reduced muscle strength, balance, and flexibility.
As you lose muscle and other organs slow down with age, you might become less physically active. Inactivity decreases your ability to do everyday things. You’re less flexible, you have less muscle, you don’t have the physical strength you once did, you gain weight, and your overall body structure declines.
Those changes — the muscle and bone loss as well as hormonal fluctuations — can lead to weight gain and metabolic disorders including blood sugar imbalances. They eventually pave the path for type 2 diabetes and other problems.
Aging also makes you more prone to weight gain. After 30, your body fat percentage goes up steadily. Older people can have almost one third more fat compared to when they were younger, especially around the midsection.
Overall, men gain weight until about 55, when they begin to lose weight. Women usually gain weight until about 65, when they begin to lose weight.
But just because statistics show you gain weight, lose muscle mass, or otherwise become disabled as you grow older doesn’t mean you have to. You have a lot of say in how you feel and look as you age.
Everyone Ages… But You Don’t Have to Look Like It
You can increase age-related muscle mass and stay strong. But moving more period matters: Any physical activity is better than not moving. Eating the right foods, along with some lifestyle modifications including regular exercise, can go a long way toward aging healthily.
Even conditions such as wrinkles and other skin imperfections aren’t mandatory as you grow older. Many anti-wrinkling strategies are entirely within your control.
To maintain healthy skin as you age, manage your sun exposure, don’t smoke, eat well, and consume more fish and vegetables. You don’t need an expensive skincare regimen to have vibrant skin!
How do you know if you’re aging ahead of schedule? In other words, how can you age well? A Harvard study — which became the longest, most comprehensive look at aging ever — asked that question.
The study, which began in the 1930s, looked at over 800 men and women. Researchers followed them from adolescence into old age, observing what kept them healthy and happy.
These factors best-predicted longevity among these folks:
- Don’t smoke
- Develop good coping skills and a positive outlook
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Keep strong relationships
- Pursue education
That was the researchers’ formula for longevity in a nutshell. Coupled with some additional strategies, you can create a long, healthy, happy life.
Natural Ways to Age Gracefully and Feel Your Best
Interestingly, the Harvard longevity study found that stress may or may not impact aging. Instead, good coping skills and the right outlook helped minimize stress for these people.
Other studies, however, find that chronic stress can shorten the telomeres. When these protective caps at the end of your chromosomes shorten, they can accelerate premature aging. Longer telomeres, on the other hand, are a sign of longevity.
You can lengthen telomeres and reverse this damage. Studies show a healthy diet, exercise, stress management, and social engagement can lengthen telomeres and reverse aging.
Stress management doesn’t mean no stress. Some people handle stress well, finding effective strategies to find balance and peace even on the most hectic days. They find stress creates resiliency and a better ability to cope with whatever life throws at them.
Environmental toxins — the countless toxins we encounter everyday in cleaning products, cosmetics, food, and water — can also shorten telomere length, accelerating aging.
While you can’t avoid these toxins, you can reduce their impact by becoming mindful about products you eat, drink, clean, and groom with. Buy organic whenever possible. Drink filtered water. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a Guide to Healthy Cleaning and Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database to help find the healthiest products and reduce your exposure to toxins.
Healthy people who prioritize longevity also value sleep. Not getting sufficient sleep can make you age fast. One study found that a single night of partial sleep deprivation — that’s less than the seven hours recommended — can make cells age faster as an older adult. Over time, that can elevate your disease risk.
Your Anti-aging Guide
Based on the Harvard study, as well as other research about aging and longevity, these seven strategies provide an excellent guide to slow down aging and age healthily:
- Choose our Core or Advanced Plan.
- Find exercise you enjoy and do it regularly. If you’re concerned about muscle loss, add some weight resistance to your plan.
- Manage stress levels.
- Get at least eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night.
- Take supplements to get the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you might not get from food.
- Be aware where environmental toxins lurk and minimize them.
- Maintain an optimistic outlook about life and sustain quality relationships with others.