Commitment + Clinical Leadership = Better Outcomes
6 Ways to Stay Healthy As You Age
You’ve probably seen countless advertisements on TV, the internet, and in magazines about “looking younger.”
But healthy aging isn’t all about trying to reverse the clock – how you feel both physically and mentally play a role in your overall health as you age.
While there is no way to prevent aging, there are steps that you can take to help your body age gracefully. Here are 6 tips how you can stay healthy while aging.
Eat a Healthy Diet
What you eat has a direct link to how your body ages. Food directly impacts your bodily functions, from helping your body build cells to powering your brain, which can affect your body’s overall health.
A review published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that telomeres, which are DNA-protein structures that help protect your DNA by providing stability and preventing DNA damage, are shortened with age.
The study discovered that healthy diets resulted in longer telomere length, such as the Alternate Mediterranean Diet resulting in cells being 4.5 years younger. They also found that sodas contributed to 4.6 fewer years and 4 fewer years in processed meats for telomere length, which is comparable to other activities that age the cells such as smoking, which can be up to 4.6 years.1
Another way your diet impacts how you age is certain foods can affect the amount of collagen your body produces. Collagen is a protein that helps you build muscles, hydrate your skin, and strengthen tendons and ligaments. Collagen also plays a role in hair health, preventing aches and pain, and protecting against brittle bones.2
Our bodies naturally produce less collagen as we age, but eating the right diet can help your body create collagen by providing it with the proper amino acid building blocks. Some foods that have been found to promote collagen growth include chicken, fish, foods with vitamin C such as citrus fruits, berries, and leafy greens.3
Take Care of Your Skin
Your skin is the biggest organ in your body, and having healthy skin can help you age gracefully. After all, your skin helps protects your body by keeping bacteria out, regulating your temperature, and acting as the first barrier against infections.
Some ways you can protect your skin as you age include:
- Use Sunscreen. The rays from the sun can damage your skin by putting you at risk for sunburns and other skin-related problems. It is recommended that you use sunscreen with a sun protectant factor (SPF) of 15 every 2 hours. This will protect your skin for 150 minutes of exposure to the sun.4
- Cleanse your skin. It is important that you wash your skin regularly by showering at least two or three times a week according to some dermatologists. Keeping your skin clean is important to preventing acne, skin infections, and oil build-up. It is also important to avoid using products that will irritate the skin as you clean it such as fragranced products.5
- Don’t Smoke. Smoking ages your skin because it causes premature wrinkling as well as a gray appearance. Smoking also impacts your body’s collagen levels because smoke breaks down an enzyme in your body that promotes collagen growth. Many middle aged smokers have as many wrinkles as nonsmokers who are 60 and older.6
Exercising is another way to stay healthy as you age. Exercise has been proven to help strengthen your body as well as protects your muscles from weakening over time. Regular exercise, at least 30 to 60 minutes a day, can help your body stay fit and healthy over a lifetime.
One way exercise helps you as you age is because it builds a good foundation for bone structure and prevents osteoporosis, a condition that causes brittle bones and impairs mobility over time. It is estimated that approximately 10 million people ages 50 and older have osteoporosis, with most of them being women.7
According to Hopkins Medicine, a few exercises to protect your body from brittle bones include:8
- Resistance training. Exercising with weights, an elastic band, or swimming in the pool are great options for strengthening your bones.
- Weighted Exercises. Weight-bearing exercises such as running, tennis, hiking, and dance all help strengthen your bones by carrying your weight against gravity.
Another reason why exercise is important to your health is because it can influence your skeletal muscles. It is estimated approximately 10% of your skeletal muscle mass can be lost by 50 years old, and muscle strength is estimated to decline by 2-4% a year after ages 50-60.9 Exercise can help promote muscle mass and improve muscle strength, which can help protect your muscles from atrophying.
Get Enough Sleep
Experts generally recommend getting 7-9 hours of sleep at night. Sleep helps your body consolidate memories and gives your body with the energy it needs for the next day.
Your body’s internal clock is dependent upon the circadian rhythm, which helps you know when to wake up and eat. The circadian rhythm also helps your body release hormones that help with your daily functions. However, many older adults have insufficient exposure to daylight as well as a decrease in melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep at night, which affects sleep quality.10
One study found that sleep deprivation can biologically age older adults, even after just one night of missed rest. The researchers believe that missing sleep activates certain pathways that promote biologically aging, which causes the cells to age after a night of missed rest.11
It’s important to get enough sleep at night to stay healthy and give your body the energy it needs as you age. Some ways to get better sleep include:12
- Reduce exposure to blue light before bedtime
- Sleep in a quiet, comfortable environment
- Don’t drink caffeine before bedtime
- Exercise daily
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time
You’ve probably heard the saying that stress causes gray hairs, but it’s actually true that too much stress can cause you to age. A study found that melanocytes, which help give our hair its colors, are suppressed when we are stressed.13
Stress can cause wrinkles on your face because it changes the proteins that promote elasticity in your skin cells. Stress can also weaken your immune system, which can lead to imbalances on your skin that can cause skin conditions such as rashes, eczema, and psoriasis.14
Reducing stress is how you can age gracefully over the years. Some ideas to help reduce the amount of stress in your daily life include:15
- Find the source of your stress. Is it your job, a family situation, or something that you’re worried about? Understanding the source of your stress is the first step in identifying ways to reducing it and solving the problems that come along with it.
- Make time for hobbies. Hobbies are a great way to depressurize and reduce the amount of stress that you experience during the day. It has also been found that creative outlets such as songwriting, art, and music can improve your wellbeing and relieve stress.
- Meditate. Meditation techniques can help reduce stress by helping you practice breathing techniques that can lower your heartrate and help you reflect on your day. Try meditating in a quiet room for ten minutes to see if it can help lessen the amount of stress you have after a long day.
- Talk to someone. If you find that your stress is controlling your life, you might need to consider talking to a close family member or friend about your problems. Having someone listen to your problems can help you identify ways to solve the source of your stress and give you a new perspective.
Spend Time with Loved Ones
Humans are social by nature, and spending time with loved ones is another way to stay healthy as you age. Having a strong connection to family members and loved ones can help you stay involved and keep a positive mindset.
The National Institute on Aging has found throughout numerous studies that socially isolated individuals have a higher risk of depression, heart disease, and dementia. They estimate that 1 in 4 adults over the age of 65 are socially isolated, and that it’s important older adults are able to connect to their loved ones throughout their lives.16
Plan to spend time with your family and loved ones frequently in order to maintain a healthy outlook on life. Some ideas you can spend more time with loved ones include:
- Attending family events
- Having family movie nights
- Planning fun family activities to do in the evening
- Have family dinner nights
- Prepare for family traditions together
- Read books together
- Call loved ones who live far away frequently
- Volunteer together
- Find fun hobbies to do in the community
Stay Healthy For a Lifetime!
Nobody can stop the aging process, but living a healthy lifestyle can help you feel great mentally and physically throughout your lifetime. Start taking steps today to continue to stay healthy as you age!
Here at Saber Healthcare, we serve residents who are in many different stages of life. Our programs are designed to give professional care to the residents we serve while helping them achieve their goals. To learn more about our company and the services we offer, click here.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- Cindy W Leung, Teresa T Fung, Claire T McEvoy, Jue Lin, Elissa S Epel, Diet Quality Indices and Leukocyte Telomere Length Among Healthy US Adults: Data From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2002, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 187, Issue 10, October 2018, Pages 2192–2201, https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwy124
- “How Collagen Impacts Your Body.” Saber Healthcare Group. 20 August 2021. Accessed 14 September 2021. Link: https://www.saberhealth.com/news/blog/collagen-health-benefits
- Garone, Sarah. Marengo, Katherine, ed. “13 Foods That Help Your Body Produce Collagen.” Red Ventures Company, Healthline Media. 26 February 2019. Accessed 14 September 2021. Link: https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/collagen-food-boost#why-diet-matters
- “What is SPF Sunscreen?” Badger Balm. Accessed 14 September 2021. Link: https://www.badgerbalm.com/pages/what-is-spf-sunscreen-sun-protection-factor
- Higuera, Valencia. Stephens, Carissa, ed. “How Often Should You Shower?” Red Ventures Company, Healthline Media. 29 January 2019. Accessed 14 September 2021. Link: https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/how-often-should-you-shower#takeaway
- “Smoking’s Effect on the Skin: How Smoking Ages You.” Tobacco Free Life. Accessed 14 September 2021. Link: https://tobaccofreelife.org/resources/smoking-effect-skin/
- “Osteoporosis Workshop.” Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health.gov. Accessed 14 September 2021. Link: https://health.gov/healthypeople/about/workgroups/osteoporosis-workgroup
- Moseley, Kendall Ford. “What You Can Do Now to Prevent Osteoporosis.” John Hopkins University, John Hopkins Medicine. Accessed 14 September 2021. Link: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/osteoporosis/what-you-can-do-now-to-prevent-osteoporosis
- Distefano, Giovanna, and Bret H Goodpaster. “Effects of Exercise and Aging on Skeletal Muscle.” Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine vol. 8,3 a029785. 1 Mar. 2018, doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a029785. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5830901/
- Newsom, Rob. DeBanto, John. “Aging and Sleep.” Onecare Media, Sleep Foundation. 23 October 2020. 14 September 2021. Link: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/aging-and-sleep
- Celmer, Lynn. “Partial sleep deprivation linked to biological aging in older adults.” American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 10 June 2015. Accessed 14 September 2021. Link: https://aasm.org/partial-sleep-deprivation-linked-to-biological-aging-in-older-adults/
- “Tired? 6 Ways to Get More Rest at Night.” Saber Healthcare Group. 22 November 2020. Accessed 14 September 2021. Link: https://www.saberhealth.com/news/blog/get-better-sleep
- Zhang, Bing et al. “Hyperactivation of sympathetic nerves drives depletion of melanocyte stem cells.” Nature vol. 577,7792 (2020): 676-681. doi:10.1038/s41586-020-1935-3. Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31969699/
- Yetman, Daniel. Sullivan, Debra, ed. “What Are the Effects of Stress on Your Face?” Red Ventures, Healthline Media. 25 June 2020. Accessed 14 September 2021. Link: https://www.healthline.com/health/stress-on-face
- “How to Manage Stress and Relax More.” Saber Healthcare Group. 2 December 2020. Accessed 14 September 2021. Link: https://www.saberhealth.com/news/blog/manage-stress
- “Social Isolation and Loneliness Outreach Toolkit.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Aging. Accessed 14 September 2021. Link: https://www.nia.nih.gov/ctctoolkit