Aging is a fact of life, but how quickly we age is not just a function of genetic disposition. How we choose to live, as much as who we are, can determine how we age and whether we will live a longer and healthier life.
Aging factors that tend to accelerate the aging process-factors that we can control-include:
- Lack of regular exercise
- Poor dietary habits
- Failing to consume an optimal level of vitamins and nutrients
- Being overweight
- Failing to get enough sleep
- Failing to drink sufficient amounts of water
- Exposure to excessive amounts of stress
- Exposure to toxins
- Engaging in unhealthy habits (smoking, excessive drinking)
To increase your odds of living longer and living a better quality of life as you age, take control of your life and counter the factors that contribute to premature aging by adopting the following nine steps to a healthier life.
Exercise Regularly - Regular exercise and physical activity are key factors in maintaining health. Particularly with older adults, regular physical activity increases the chances of continuing to be able to do the things we enjoy and to remain independent. Studies show that regular exercise can benefit people with arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and diabetes. And exercise doesn’t have to be intense; find the right level of physical activity for you and do it regularly.
Adopt a Healthy Diet – Consuming a lower calorie diet rich in nutrients and fiber but low in fat and sugar is a key factor in maintaining a healthy weight and enhancing your quality of life. Eat a nutritious breakfast every day. Avoid sodas and drink lots of water. Eat lean foods low in fat and sugar and get lots of fiber and protein. Enjoy healthy snacks between meals.
Supplement Your Diet with Essential Vitamins, Minerals and Nutrients – As a consequence of current food processing techniques and mineral deficient soil, many of us are not getting the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients essential to optimal health. And an optimal dose of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients decrease the risk of chronic degenerative diseases linked to nutritional deficiencies. The combination of a healthy diet with daily supplements provides the best opportunity for optimal nutrition and health.
Maintain a Healthy Weight – Being overweight may put you at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, some types of cancer, arthritis, and other chronic diseases. If you don’t know it already, you should know your BMI, or Body Mass Index, which measures your weight relative to your height. You should strive to maintain a BMI below 25, which is generally considered healthy. If your BMI is above 25, you may be considered overweight or even obese, conditions that increase your risk of health problems. Although we cannot control all of the factors that lead to weight gain, regular exercise and a healthy diet are key factors in maintaining a healthy weight.
Get the Proper Amount of Sleep – Adequate sleep in an essential factor in our well-being. Cell regeneration and cell growth occur primarily during periods of rest. Certain hormones critical to the proper functioning of the body are produced only during certain phases of deep sleep. If you have problems sleeping, or getting the proper amount of sleep, address them.
Drink Lots of Water - It is no secret that water is a key essential to life. What is less well known is that most of us don’t drink enough water on a daily basis. Every system in your body depends on water. Water flushes toxins out of vital organs, helps to carry nutrients to your cells, and provides fluids essential to bodily functions. Water also has no calories and is sugar free. How much water you should drink varies depending on a number of factors, including your health, how much you exercise, and where you live. But make sure you drink enough water every day.
Avoid Stress – Stress is a natural reaction to external factors, but failing to deal with excessive amounts of stress can lead to stomach disorders, shortness of breath, back pain, headaches and insomnia and, indirectly an increased risk of chronic degenerative disease that can lead to premature aging. The best approach to coping with stress, in addition to exercising stress management skills, is to exercise regularly, eat properly, and obtain proper amounts of sleep.
Reduce Exposure to Toxins – Exposure to toxins and chemicals in today’s world is unavoidable, but you can reduce your exposure to unhealthy levels of toxins and maintain a healthy lifestyle that supports the body’s natural ability to cleanse itself of toxins. Eating the right foods, particularly organic foods, avoiding excessive amounts of processed foods, and drinking purified water can help to reduce the amount of toxins your body takes in. And exercising regularly, staying hydrated, and getting the proper amount of sleep will help your body cleanse itself of toxins and chemicals harmful to your health.
Don’t Smoke; Only Consume Alcohol in Moderation - Smoking not only contributes to increased risk of chronic, life shortening degenerative diseases such as heart related illnesses, stroke, and cancer, but also is a key factor in premature aging and is associated with shorter lifespans. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, stop.
Research indicates that excessive alcohol consumption can lead not only to an increased risk of degenerative disease that may shorten your lifespan, but also to an increased risk of premature aging, where the symptoms of aging appear earlier than normal or where the symptoms of aging are more pronounced than would otherwise be the case. If you drink, drink in moderation.
Aging Factors have a cumulative effect
Research shows that aging is due to the cumulative effect of a number of aging factors; no single factor is the sole or even primary factor in how we age and how long we will live. Accordingly, there is no single product or magic bullet that can guarantee longer life. But you can-and should-take steps to increase your odds of living longer and healthier by taking charge of your life and following the nine steps summarized above.
Here’s a quick video on “What’s Aging You”: