September is Healthy Aging Month – And that’s a celebration that Frownies wants to be a part of!
Frownies is here to support all women in feeling – and looking – their best as they age.
Obviously, aging is a natural process. Everyone wants to continuing living long, happy lives. And the goal isn’t just adding years onto our lives but making those years count by looking and feeling your best.
Frownies has rounded up the best ways to add years to your life AND life to your years!
Top 11 Ways to Promote Healthy Aging
1. Drink more water.
Hydration is key for healthy aging. Your body is majority water – up to 60% in fact!
You are probably familiar with the ‘8x8’ rule for water intake because it is catchy and easy to remember. Aim to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, hydrated adult women average about 91 ounces of water per day and hydrated adult men consume 125 ounces of water each day.
But getting the minimum amount of water is not as hard as you think. All fluids including water, juice, and coffee count towards hydration levels. Plus, approximately 20% of your daily water intake can come from your food, including fruits and vegetables.
Of course, there are many instances where you may need more water than the recommended daily minimum. These situations may include:
- Living in extremely hot or dry environments
- Elite athletes or physically demanding jobs
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
- Some medical conditions, check with your doctor
2. Get more sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between seven and 9 hours of sleep. The optimal amount will vary from person to person; however, the Centers for Disease Control reports that 1 in 3 adults is getting too little sleep.
Remember, sleep is when your body rests and repairs. Every organ system requires this sleep and rest in order to function optimally.
Poor sleep or too little sleep is attributed to a variety of negative health consequences including obesity, diabetes, and depression.
Are you unsure how much sleep you need for healthy aging? The best way to figure out how much sleep YOU need is by keeping track of your sleep patterns. This could be through your smartwatch or a simple sleep journal.
Track how much sleep you are getting. Then, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you feel rested?
- Do you wake up with energy?
- Are you able to maintain your energy throughout the day?
- Are you able to focus and be productive?
The answers can give you guidelines as to whether you are getting too little or just the right amount of sleep.
Take into consideration that you may need more sleep if you have existing health issues.
Also consider getting more sleep if you are extremely active throughout the day such as athletes or individuals with physically demanding jobs.
3. Move your body!
Exercise and movement are good for all aspects of healthy aging.
Of course, exercise is good for cardio-pulmonary health to maintain a healthy heart and lungs. But daily exercise is also linked to decreased incidence of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Daily movement helps maintain your flexibility, agility, and posture as you age. People who intentionally move their bodies tend to look younger versus people who don’t exercise each day.
Studies also show that increased physical activity throughout the day helps to promote better sleep at night. (Go back to check out why sleep is important for healthy aging as well!)
And exercise and movement is a vital component of stress reduction.
The World Health Organization suggests adults should get at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise most days per week.
But any amount of exercise is better than nothing! Step trackers and smartwatches are a fun way to make sure you are moving throughout the day.
Beyond exercise, all movement is important to healthy aging.
Sitting for eight hours a day or more, such as in a sedentary desk job, contributes to adverse health risks. However, being intentional about taking breaks to get up and move, using a standing desk, and taking walking meetings, will help fight the negative effects of sitting.
4. Lift weights
All physical activity is important, but weight training is just as important – maybe even more important – than cardiovascular exercise.
Weight training keeps muscles strong well into the later adult years.
In addition, there are many important reasons to lift weights.
Weight training also builds strong bones. Weight training has been linked to improved balance and decreased risk for falls in older adults.
Sometimes, people find beginning a weight-training routine intimidating, so find a local gym with a personal trainer that can set you up on a simple exercise program including weight lifting a few days per week.
5. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables
Your mother always told you to eat your vegetables. Turns out, she was right (as always)!
A wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables provides dozens of essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy into your later years.
Just on a day-to-day basis, the nutrients in fruits and vegetables build your immune system and help fight off illness.
And over the course of a lifetime, people who eat a healthy diet including fruits and vegetables are less likely to experience longterm health issues such as heart disease, metabolic disease, and digestive issues.
Fill half your meal plate with fruits and vegetables – especially vegetables!
Larger portions of fruits and vegetables also may help you maintain your ideal body composition. Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber that keep you full longer.
6. Eat healthy fats
In past years, fats in the diet have gotten a bad rep. Recently, mainstream thinking has adopted the reality that fats are essential to many of the normal bodily processes.
Fats are necessary for hormone production, including sex hormones and thyroid hormones.
In addition, our brains are made up of 70% fatty acids. This is why fatty fish, avocados, and olive oil are thought to be protective of brain tissue and brain function. A diet rich in healthy fats are essential to memory and learning.
But the right kind of fat is key. Most Standard American Diets have an abundance of trans fats. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “trans fats have no health benefits” and “there is no safe level of consumption.”
To get the right kind of healthy fats in your diet, skip the processed, fried, and fast foods. Opt for fatty fish such as salmon, nuts, seeds, cold-pressed oils such as olive oil, and avocado.
7. Take care of your largest organ – Your skin!
We have covered healthy aging in most of the organ systems through a healthy diet and exercise. And taking care of your largest organ – your skin – is just as important, although perhaps not as obvious.
There is a benefit to looking good on the outside. But there is more to it than that.
Because your skin is your largest organ, it is extremely important to consider what ingredients are in your skincare. The Netflix docu-series Toxic Beauty attempts to shed light on some ingredients and fragrances that may have adverse health affects when used over the lifetime.
Of course, do your own research on which ingredients you are willing to tolerate in your skincare and beauty routine.
To learn more about how all your skin cells are connected, click here.
Our brains were never meant to work 24-7. But in modern times we are constantly bombarded with lights and sounds.
How often do you sit in silence? Perhaps, never? Many people have music or television on even while they sleep, sending information to the brain every minute of every day.
Through the use of technology, and the limited exposure to natural sunlight, our natural sleep rhythms have been disrupted. Remember, sleep is when all our body systems are able to repair.
Scientists are now exploring how mediation can contribute to healthy aging. People who meditate may have lower incidence of depression and improved sleep quality.
Meditation takes practice! If you are finding it difficult to clear your mind to meditate, start with just a few minutes each day.
9. Spend time outside!
An often overlooked aspect of healthy aging is spending time outside.
Sunlight, specifically morning sun between 8 AM and 10 AM, helps to suppress melatonin production and regulate circadian rhythm to naturally improve sleep.
In addition, direct sunlight on the skin allows the body to produce vitamin D – an essential vitamin for the immune system. Read more about the benefits of vitamin D here.
Grounding, also known as earthing, is the practice of physically touching the earth’s surface – often through bare feet. Grounding is thought to allow the exchange of energy in the form of electrons from the earth to the human body.
Surprisingly, modern research supports the practice of grounding. A review of the research indicates that people who practice grounding reported decreased pain, better sleep, lower incidence of depression, and lower blood pressure.
Check off a few boxes on this healthy aging list by exercising outside in the sunshine in the morning. Studies suggest that 20 minutes a day outside is enough to gain a host of benefits for healthy aging.
10. Build a support system.
Building a support system can contribute to healthy aging in a few ways.
First, in younger and healthier years, participating in your community allows you to contribute to the greater good beyond yourself. Being a friend and helping others can give you a sense of purpose. It feels good to make others feel good!
Older adults benefit from a support system too. Older adults are more likely to continue participating in activities in their communities if they have friends and family for support. Continued participation keeps the body strong, the mind sharp, and the mood lifted versus being isolated at home alone.
A support system can be family and friends. But if you do not feel like this is an adequate support system for you, you can seek out a broader support system through religious affiliations or professional counseling.
11. Reduce stress.
It’s not just a myth that stress gives you gray hair. Stress does make you age faster!
When your body and mind are under stress, the stress hormone cortisol is released. Cortisol activates the body’s inflammation response.
Sustained inflammation over long periods of time is thought to be the main mechanism of aging in the body. This form of aging through inflammation has been dubbed “inflammaging.”
One of the best ways to lower cortisol and decrease inflammation in the body is through stress reduction and “self-care.”
Healthy Aging Month is the perfect time to explore new hobbies to lower your perceived stress.
Luckily, many of the items on this healthy aging list already contribute to stress reduction. Exercise, sleep, meditation, spending time in nature, and having a support system all are correlated to lower stress levels.