6 Habits of People Who Age Well

Exercise, diet—even attitude—can be as important as genetics when it comes to growing old gracefully. Sure, growing older affects nearly every part of your body—including your hair, skin, heart, muscles, and more—but aging well may be as simple as adopting these (mostly) easy everyday habits.

1. Maintain a positive attitude.

You are what you think you are when it comes to aging. Seniors who think of age as a means to wisdom and overall satisfaction are more than 40 percent more likely to recover from a disability than those who see aging as synonymous with helplessness or uselessness, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association.

2. Eat Healthy

Nutrition plays a major role in how your body ages. The latest research shows that a low-glycemic diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is healthiest. One great example is the Mediterranean diet, rich in plant-based foods, whole grains, nuts, and red wine (in moderation!). It also involves eating fish twice each week and cutting back on salt. Research shows that this type of diet may help you age better by warding off heart attacks, strokes, and premature death.

To age well and live longer, it’s best to stick to a balanced diet that consists of about 2.5 cups of vegetables, 1.5 to two cups of fruit, six ounces of grains, three cups of dairy, and five ounces of protein each day.

3. Exercise regularly.

Staying active is a vital part of aging well. The average woman can lose 23 percent of her muscle mass between ages of 30 and 70. You lose muscle more rapidly as you age, but exercise—resistance workouts in particular—can increase mass and strength, even well into your 90s. Staying fit may also reduce age-related memory loss, according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. Plus, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for approximately 60 to 70 percent of all dementia cases, adding that increasing physical activity can decrease this statistic by 25 percent. That’s because exercise strengthens the hippo-campus, the region of the brain associated with learning.

4. Skincare routine.

Being a creature of habit can work in your favor—at least when it comes to your skin. Add eye cream to your skin care, if you don’t have a quality eye cream in your skin-care arsenal, you’re seriously missing out. Some of you may be struggling to get rid of puffiness and dark circles under and around your eyes. We created Swiss Zell Instant Eye Wrinkle Defense Cream for morning and evening ($125, swisszell.com).

5. Protect your skin from the sun.

Too much time in the sun can cause wrinkles, not to mention cancer. But wearing sunscreen can help prevent your skin’s aging. And while the sun’s UV rays do trigger vitamin D production, which is essential for bone health, that’s hardly a good reason to expose yourself. After a few minutes of sun, your skin stops making vitamin D…and starts making skin cancer. Most people get plenty of Vitamin D, but if you think you’re not, try eating more salmon or even eggs (also eat the yolk).

6. Get beauty sleep.

You probably know that you should snooze for seven to nine hours each night. But did you know that not sleeping enough may mean a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Plus, naps can improve memory and even help make up for missing nightly sleep. And it turns out that “beauty sleep” isn’t a myth. During sleep, your body releases a growth hormone that helps restore collagen and elastin, the essential building blocks of young, healthy skin. Recent studies have also shown a connection between insomnia and accelerated aging of the brain.

In other words, chronic lack of sleep adversely affects your brain’s function and speeds up the aging process.

DOES DRY SKIN CAUSE WRINKLES?

It’s a common belief of many since dry skin often appears more wrinkled. Good news: There’s no truth to the rumors. Dry skin—whether inherited or acquired doesn’t cause wrinkles. Ahead, we are sharing some of the facts straight on the connection between dry skin and wrinkles and some tips on how to keep signs of skin aging at bay!

WHAT’S THE CONNECTION BETWEEN DRY SKIN AND WRINKLES?

While dry skin doesn’t cause wrinkles, it certainly accentuates them. When skin is dehydrated or dry, issues like wrinkling, sagging, and flaking will appear more exaggerated. Contrarily, skin that’s hydrated can look plump, moist, and smooth, making wrinkles appear less pronounced. So, if you want your wrinkles to be less likely to catch public eye, apply moisturizer religiously. Not only can doing so help camouflage your wrinkles, your skin will look healthier and will be more hydrated because of it.

Important: Keep in mind that applying basic moisturizer to your skin is just a temporary way to make wrinkles appear less apparent. To help reduce their appearance over time, you’ll need an action plan that involves anti-aging formulas, lifestyle changes, and sometimes seek for professional intervention. Read more below!

SO, WHAT DOES CAUSE WRINKLES?

So if dry skin doesn’t cause wrinkles, what does? We’re glad you asked. Here are a few factors that can cause wrinkles to crop up on your complexion:

  1. Intrinsic Aging: As we age, our skin naturally loses moisture, breaks down collagen and elastin—two key components of skin that appears plump and youthful—and undergoes a slower rate of cellular turnover.
  2. UV Rays: One of the biggest reasons why wrinkles appear is due to unprotected exposure to UVA and UVB rays. You know the collagen and elastin we just spoke of? These damaging rays can get a head start on breaking them down, which speeds up the natural aging process and makes wrinkles and sagging more likely to appear prematurely.
  3. Smoking: Smoking can damage collagen and elastin, as well, leading to accelerated signs of aging like loose, sagging skin. You might not notice any harmful sides effects now, but the more you smoke—and the longer you smoke—the more skin wrinkling you’re likely to have down the line.
  4. Pollution: Air pollution is one of the leading causes of skin wrinkling, but many don’t take the proper precautions to protect themselves. Pollution—from city smog to second-hand smoke—causes free radicals to form which can latch onto collagen and break it down.
  5. Menopause:During menopause, many women experience a deficiency in their main estrogenic hormone, B-Estradiol, which can cause a break down in the supportive fat that lies beneath the skin’s surface. Thus, it’s possible to see sagging and a wrinkled appearance as a result of menopause.
  6. Repeated Facial Expressions:Frequent and exaggerated facial movements—think: squinting and frowning can lead to fine lines and wrinkles. Since skin loses its flexibility as it ages, the grooves that form as a result of these facial movements may no longer spring back in place.

HOW CAN YOU REDUCE THE APPEARANCE OF WRINKLES? 

As you can see, wrinkles are caused by a combination of factors some of which can be controlled and others that (unfortunately) can’t. While we can’t turn back the hands of time or make UV rays disappear altogether, there are steps we can take to help reduce premature skin aging and/or help reduce the appearance of any wrinkles already on our face.

  1. Quit Smoking: by cutting the habit, you’ll significantly reduce your chances of premature skin aging.
  2. Wear Sunscreen SPF: You can’t stop the sun from shining, but you can keep your skin protected from harmful rays that can wreak havoc. Wear broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher each and every day—even when it’s cloudy.
  3. Eat a Balanced Diet: Some nutrients that may benefit the skin include antioxidants, vitamins A, C, D, and E, omega-3-fatty acids, and certain proteins. It’s yet to be proven if there is, in fact, a definitive link between diet and wrinkles, but it never hurts to eat a well-balanced diet anyway, right?
  4. Look for Wrinkle-Fighting Formulas: In addition to antioxidants applied topically, reach for formulations boasting retinol—an anti-aging powerhouse—and/or hyaluronic acid. Whether it’s day cream, night cream, eye cream, or serum, these ingredients can help skin look suppler and less wrinkly.