6 Tips for Aging Gracefully

By The Rex MD Editorial Team

March 18, 2021

Aging is just part of life; it's unavoidable, but there's room for variation in the way in which you age.

There are two ways you can think about aging: chronological aging and biological aging. Chronological aging is unavoidable - it's simply the amount of time you've been alive. Biological aging, on the other hand, is a look into how well your body has handled the external stressors of the environment throughout your life. 

You've most likely met people in advanced age that simply seem youthful; they're energetic, vivacious, and maybe you even underestimated their age. In this situation, their biological age is younger than their chronological age. This is the ideal in aging gracefully – and the opposite is most certainly possible and something to be avoided. 

To turn the clock back and give your body a younger biological age, you need to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of yourself. Here are six tips to age gracefully. 

Regular Exercise

Exercise can be a polarizing subject, or more precisely, the enjoyment of exercise. For some, the word exercise invokes a sense of dread and distaste, while others get excited just thinking about it. While these two points of view differ, the benefits of exercise are irrefutable.

Our evolutionary history has typically included physical activity. Hunting and gathering food is no small task, and early humans were required to use their bodies actively on a daily basis. Even as humans moved into agriculture and into the early modern era, most people were still in some form of manual labor on a daily basis. It wasn’t until recent history that people have spent more time leading a sedentary lifestyle than active. Unfortunately, the human body is not well adapted to a sedentary life, and these conditions can bring about many different problems within the body and essentially accelerate biological aging. 

To counteract this, implementing routine exercise is important to let your body work as intended and maintain muscle strength. In fact, a Dallas study conducted in 1966 observed the physiological impacts of being bed ridden in addition to the effects of exercise. The study found that many different biomarkers indicative of aging decreased when participants exercised and increased when bed-ridden. Since then, countless other studies have provided irrefutable evidence that exercise is important in living a long and fruitful life. 

Healthy Food and Substance Intake

The things you put into your body have a direct impact on your physiological wellbeing. Fueling your body with high-quality and nutritious food is analogous to filling up a sports car with top-tier racing fuel. Consuming processed and preservative-filled foods is like unfiltered, low-quality fuel into that same car. While it may run okay initially, if you keep filling up with the poor quality cheap stuff, you're on your way to running sub-optimally and eventually failure at some point.

While you're not literally a sports car, there are many takeaways that can be gained through this analogy. Eating a healthy and nutritious diet is a key component to aging well. Your body is constantly repairing and carrying out chemical processes. To operate efficiently, your body needs nutrients and vitamins obtained through the diet to carry out these processes. 

When you fuel your body with the nutrition it needs, you're giving it the best shot at aging gracefully. When you consume excessive amounts of alcohol, non nutritious food, and smoke cigarettes, for example, you're holding your body back from proper function. In fact these items can cause a slew of problems, including erectile dysfunction

Having a great, healthy diet is the best way that you can age gracefully and avoid lifestyle associated conditions. Whether you're young or old, it's never too late to turn around your diet. Give your body the nutrition it deserves and make implementing a healthy diet into your life a priority. 

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is an incredibly important and often overlooked component of health. When people think about how they can improve their health, getting enough sleep typically is not the first thing people think of. Most people first think about improving their diet or getting exercise. In fact, in today's modern "always-on" lifestyle, some people have developed the notion that “sleep is for the weak" - this is completely untrue. In fact a lack of sleep is more likely to make you weak, suppress your immune response, and sap your energy due to its drastic inhibition of the immune system. Without the ability to properly fight off foreign invaders you're much more likely to get sick. 

In addition to its role in proper immune function, getting enough sleep is linked to a better overall wellbeing. The benefits of this include better overall energy level, a healthy hormonal balance, improvements in cognitive abilities, and much more. According to the CDC, you should aim for seven or more hours of quality sleep per night. 

This can be easier said than done as going to sleep and staying to sleep is a constant struggle for some people. The best way that you can facilitate good sleep is to create great sleep habits, like setting a consistent bedtime and wake time. Cutting back on screen time in the hour before bed, and making sure your routine is consistent can give you better sleep...which can help you to age more gracefully. 

Reduce Stress

While stress may seem like an entirely mental entity, in reality the body physically reacts to stress by secreting stress hormones that initiate, slow, or stop processes throughout the body. These processes include slowing digestion, increasing heart rate, increasing respiration, and suppressing immune functions. These alterations are ideal for situations in which a stressor requires an immediate response like when you're in imminent danger. 

While the stress response is helpful in certain situations that require a flight or fight response, chronic stress is detrimental to your health and can accelerate aging. Stress hormones interact with many different tissues and cells within the body. When constantly bombarded with stress hormones, these tissues face negative consequences leading to premature failures or issues.

While it would be nice to avoid stress entirely, it really isn’t a feasible option. To promote healthy aging you should find a stress management method that works for you to manage your stress in a healthy way. Finding an effective way to deal with a stressor– like mindfulness, exercise, or a fun outlet – can reduce stress hormones and allow your body to function as it should to avoid premature aging. 

Annual Check-Ups

One of the ongoing struggles in public health is the lack of consistent preventative care and public acceptance of seeking routine medical checkups. Many people do not seek care until an issue presents itself. The problem is that by the time an issue presents itself, it may be too late to treat or cure. 

Taking a preventative approach and setting up routine visits with your doctor is a great way to ensure that your body is in its ideal shape. If anything does raise a red flag during these routine checkups, there are typically more ways to tackle the issue because it was caught early on. 

The 2019/2020 COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult to get into the healthcare setting, if you don’t absolutely have to. Reducing exposure is a critical component of getting past the pandemic, which is why the emerging branch of healthcare known as telemedicine has become a go-to in giving people the ability to seek medical expertise from the comfort and safety of their home.

Take Care of Yourself and Your Complexion

Typically, men that look good in their later years are those that take care of themselves in their younger years too. Good skin and hair care, along with general wellbeing, are ways in which men can age better. Many men forgo self-care routines as social pressures and traditional machismo can make these activities seem like they dampen your manliness. In reality, self care routines can make you give you a more youthful appearance and can give you the confidence boost you need to age better. 

Hair care and skin care, are great examples. One situation many men face is male pattern baldness and thinning of hair. While there is nothing inherently wrong with these conditions, they can be outward indicators of aging and can make you look older than you feel. Finasteride is an oral medication that can help with male pattern hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia in the medical world. The FDA first approved finasteride in 1992, and since this approval it's been used by thousands of men to promote thicker hair growth in addition to preventing further thinning. Another outwardly apparent indicator of aging are skin blemishes like dark spots and wrinkles. When trying to feel and stay youthful, it is important that you take care of your skin. Your skin takes the brunt of environmental damage from the outside world. It's constantly bombarded by radiation, dryness, and physical abrasions. A quality moisturizer and regular sun protection are easy ways you can help yourself to age gracefully. Taking care of your skin through a skin care routine and the use of sunscreen can give your skin the support it needs to function and look its best. 

Aging gracefully is all about ensuring your body is at peak performance and health. With a little extra work and some awareness of health Dos and Don'ts, you can be on your way to supporting graceful aging for your mind and body.

Sources

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.119.041046

https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/androgenetic-alopecia/

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2012/020788s020s021s023lbl.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/

https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7400286/

https://www.publichealth.org/public-awareness/preventive-care-schedule/


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Disclaimer : This article is for information only and should not be considered medical advice. Always speak with your doctor about your health and the benefits or risks of any treatment or intervention. This information should not be relied on as a substitute for professional medical advice.