You are never too old to become younger! A famous Danish Twin Registry study proved that only about 25 percent of what determines your longevity is based on our genes. The rest is up to you – you have the power to increase your own chances of living a longer, healthier and happier. With the following 7 ways to reverse the aging process naturally, you can effectively slow down your biological clock, combat the visible signs of aging, and as reduce the effects of age-related ailments.
1. Keep an active mind
Retaining a good memory and a sharp mind is a vital part of staying youthful. While completing crossword and Sudoku puzzles may be good mental exercises, your brain needs to be continually challenged with new activities that require different ways of reasoning and problem solving. When you challenge and stimulate your brain in this way, it builds connections between neurons and maintains individual brain cells.
To protect and improve your memory and cognitive powers, try learning something new; take up a new hobby or volunteer job, learn to dance or play a musical instrument. While you’re at it, break routines where your mind usually switches to auto-pilot by brushing your teeth with your other hand, or driving a different route home.
2. Get social
Human beings are innately social animals. And research proves it. Studies have discovered that social isolation increases the risk of dementia by 65 percent, while loneliness impacts more negatively on your health than excessive smoking, alcoholism, or being obese.
On the other hand, if you maintain social relationships you’re 50 percent more likely to live longer than someone who is socially isolated. That’s because being socially active boosts your immune system, gives you a sense of belonging and connection, and keeps you mentally engaged.
Friends are also likely to keep you on track mentally and physically. They ensure you’re taking good care of yourself. A good friend will listen to your problems, and help you deal with stress which can reduce the risk of depression. Staying social will enrich your life in many ways as you grow older, so keep those connections strong.
3. Eliminate stress
How you respond to stress can have a major impact on your health. If you’re constantly worrying or dealing with stress day- in, day-out, it can impact your life expectancy.
Feeling stressed or threatened releases the cortisol hormone to prepare your body for ‘fight or flight’ response. Chronic stress and too much cortisol impacts on your body in various ways, including lowering the immune system, affecting cardiovascular health, and increasing the risk of early death.
Learning how to cope with life’s ups and downs can lower your stress levels and in turn help you live longer. Relax with activities like yoga, meditating, listening to music or deep breathing. Get physical with exercise to work off your frustrations or use techniques like journaling to ‘let it out’.
4. Work up a sweat
It’s no surprise that the better shape you’re in physically, the more likely you’ll enjoy a healthier and longer life. In fact, studies indicate that for every hour of exercise you can expect a two-hour increase in longevity, making exercise well worth the effort.
Recent research advances this finding further by saying partner or team sports intensify the benefits and add more years to your life than if you were exercising alone. For all-round longevity benefits, a mixture of cardio (running), resistance (weights), as well as flexibility and balance (yoga) is optimal.
5. Have regular medical check-ups
When it comes to your health, prevention is always better than a cure. Early detection enables effective treatment and a longer, better quality of life, particularly cancers as well as heart and respiratory diseases. For women in the U.S., heart disease specifically is the number one killer, so check-ups should include tests for heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Meanwhile, for men lowering the risk of stroke, heart attack, or Alzheimer’s disease could mean checking and restoring testosterone to normal levels. In recent studies, researchers discovered men with low testosterone levels had higher mortality rates than men with higher or normal testosterone levels.
6. Snooze your way to youthfulness
Deep, restful sleep has many health benefits; it helps you combat stress, maintain a healthy weight, and keeps your energy levels high.
Research has shown that if you don’t sleep enough – or even too much – your risk of death significantly increases. Less than seven hours of sleep negatively impacts your cardiovascular, endocrine, immune and nervous systems – not to mention your temper!
To maximize the benefits, create a routine so you are able to go to bed and get up at roughly the same time throughout the week. This allows your body clock to regulate your hormones and you’ll feel more alert in the mornings.
And for optimum sleep? Lower the lights and switch off your technology and screens before heading to bed. This will give you the chance to fully chill out, disconnect, and unwind.
7. Eat for longevity
Like exercise, a nutritious diet is an essential building block for a longer, satisfying life.
Including antioxidants in your diet, for example, is universally acknowledged as a way to stay young and prevent degenerative diseases. Foods rich in antioxidants like blueberries, spinach, beetroot, kale, and dark chocolate also give your skin that youthful glow by protecting its elastin and collagen from harmful free radicals.
Diets like the Mediterranean or Blue Zone diet, meanwhile, are associated with slowing down the aging process. These eating plans are mostly plant-based, include healthy oils, and good sources of protein and fat and avoid salt and sugar.
To further leverage your healthy diet, eat until you’re 80 percent full and consume the lightest meal later in the day.
Final Thoughts: Live a longer, healthier life
Quality sleep, exercising, eliminating stress, a nutritious diet, socializing and keeping an active mind are all elements proven to support a long and happy life. Best of all, they’re all factors within your control that can you can improve upon right now. Your life is in your hands, so it’s time to grab hold!