In a survey conducted by Pew Research Center, nearly 70 percent of adults in America said they want to live to see 100. But true longevity is about aging the right way. The goal is to optimize your energy levels; stay active, mobile, and strong; and enjoy your life to the fullest.
All it takes is a little common sense and the application of proven methods. Keeping an eye on certain indicators will help you combat the results of aging.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This certainly pertains to aging, as well. Aging well means slowing the decline of your physical and mental health.
Get Better with Age
You know you’re on the right track if you’re maintaining muscle mass, a good A1C score, strong cognitive function, and a healthy weight. Muscle mass peaks for most adults in their late 30s and then gradually declines with each passing year. Known as sarcopenia, this natural loss of muscle mass happens quickly, especially if you’re inactive. Besides helping you move, your muscles protect against metabolic and hormonal decline, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
The quality of your blood work can also be a telltale sign of how well you’re aging. The A1C test, in particular, can assess how much glucose enters your bloodstream. Because this test shows a person’s average glucose over a 12-week span, it tells a lot about your chances of getting diabetes, as well as your risks of premature aging and other chronic diseases.
Many people face cognitive problems as they age, and in severe cases, the complications can be life-threatening. In fact, while most disease death rates have declined over the years, the mortality rate for Alzheimer’s disease continues to rise. Ask your doctor to routinely test for dementia and Alzheimer’s to avoid it sneaking up on you in later years.
While you’re diligently watching for signs that you’re aging well, be sure to prioritize your physical fitness. Obesity increases your risk of developing serious chronic health issues, and it can raise your risk of premature death from those issues. Maintaining a healthy weight can help you remain confident and healthy well into your golden years.
4 Ways to Get Back on Track
If you’re not meeting some or all of the above criteria for aging well, don’t worry yet. It’s not too late to get back on track and improve your longevity with these four steps:
Countless studies show that exercise promotes longevity, and strength training is the most effective method. Strength training increases muscle mass and improves mobility, balance, and bone mass. Plus, gaining muscle through resistance helps you stay lean and produces more antioxidants to counter the free radicals that cause aging.
You don’t have to stick exclusively to strength training exercises, but if they aren’t already a part of your routine, be sure to add them to slow the signs of aging.
2. Eat nutrient-dense foods.
High-quality proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats protect your cells and minimize inflammation, which is absolutely essential for longevity. Grass-fed proteins are high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats that help you maintain muscle mass, lose body fat, improve immune function, and detoxify your body.
Eat more vegetables to obtain the key antioxidants that support brain health and cognitive function; they also protect mitochondria to slow cellular aging. The high amounts of fiber in vegetables can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and certain forms of cancer.
3. Limit exposure to environmental chemicals.
From personal care products to food additives and pollution, chemicals are everywhere. These toxins can alter your hormone levels and cause serious cellular damage to your body and organs, leading to premature aging and increasing your risk of chronic illness.
Protect yourself and limit exposure to these chemicals by using natural personal care and cleaning products. And pay close attention to the quality and number of additives in the foods you consume.
Lowering your stress has countless anti-aging benefits, such as reducing body fat, lowering blood pressure, and improving your overall cardiovascular health. Some people respond well to yoga, while others may prefer an outdoors activity such as hiking.
The key is to find the calming method that works best for you. If an activity other people swear by doesn’t relax you, it won’t alleviate any of your stress. Don’t worry about everyone else; find what takes your mind away from the daily grind, and do it several times per week to moderate your stress.
Age isn’t just a number; it’s a measurement of how well you’ve preserved your body. The key to a good life isn’t just living a long one. Living a full life means remaining healthy, strong, and vibrant for as long as possible.