How to age well
Aging is inevitable. Your chronological or actual age, however, need not be equal to your biological age. Simply put, your chronological age is the actual number of years you have been living. On the other hand, your biological age is the physiological or functional age that considers various factors such as lifestyle, nutrition, health condition, and genetics in relation to your actual age.
A healthy individual can have a younger biological age compared to his or her actual age, while an unhealthy person can have an older biological age due to the gradual accumulation of damage in body cells and tissue, as well as decline in physical function ability.
The goal in pursuing longevity is not to arrest the process of aging but to be able to function optimally that is tantamount to a biological age that is younger than your actual age. A 65-year-old woman can possibly have a biological age of 21! Pursuing longevity must also be simultaneous with quality life. After all, living up to a hundred years old while bedridden and senile isn’t exactly the ideal life goal.
You don’t need to wait until retirement to begin taking care of yourself. You can pursue longevity now. Think of it as investing in your mind and body so that when you reach the advanced years, you will reap the rewards of your health investment.
Here is your recipe for longevity.
First and most important, quit smoking and don’t replace it with alternatives either. Tobacco and e-cigarette both contain harmful chemicals that speed up aging. Ever wonder why smokers look older than their actual age? It is because these over 4,000 chemicals destroy the skin’s building blocks, collagen, and elastin. They are responsible for keeping the skin supple, elastic, and young looking. Smoking also decreases oxygenation in the body, which damages the lungs, heart, brain, and basically the entire body. If you are struggling to quit smoking, it is best to seek the advice of a health professional.
Pursuing longevity must also be simultaneous with quality life. After all, living up to a hundred years old while bedridden and senile isn’t exactly the ideal life goal.
Secondly, have a regular physical activity that includes strength training, flexibility exercise, and cardio or aerobic exercise. We tend to lose muscle mass rapidly beyond 60 years of age. That is one of the reasons sedentary individuals are weak and prone to injuries like fractures during the advanced years. Weight bearing exercises promotes stronger bones and development of muscle mass. Think of this as putting money into your savings account. When you exercise, you are “depositing” muscle mass and bone mass in your body to ensure that you are healthy and strong. In addition, exercise will strengthen pelvic floor muscles. This will prevent urinary incontinence or involuntary urination, which may occur as we get older.
Thirdly, adapt a plant-based way of eating. That means majority of your food consumption must come from whole foods and plant sources. For meat lovers, you can still have fish, lean cuts of meat preferably white meat in smaller portions. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds provide phytochemicals or plant chemicals that are potent antioxidants. These phytochemicals decrease inflammation in the body that is related to aging. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals that damage cells leading to rapid aging.
Lastly, have a positive outlook in life and always have hope that things will get better. Depression is real in late adulthood. It is important to have a strong spiritual foundation and social support to help cope with changes in the later years. Begin to build meaningful relationships. Learn to channel negativity into something more positive and productive. Engage in activities that will enhance your mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Appreciate music and art. Take time to pray and meditate, read books, and engage in conversations. Most of all, never forget to laugh and live simply.
September celebrates the Healthy Aging Month. Let us remember to care for our elderly, as well as, prepare for a healthier advanced years in advance!