Tactics to slow down aging have taken centre stage in the popular press and online.
Most of us know and accept that we can’t prevent aging.
Aging is natural. There is no cure.
Despite marketing claims, no product or pill exists to stop the process of aging.
But lifestyle choices can help to slow down this process.
The Holy Grail — Top Recommendations to Slow Down Aging
Almost all readers can cite these recommendations without any prompts. In case you need a reminder, here they are again:
1. Stay Active
Every researcher lists regular physical activity as a key component for slowing the process of aging.
Recommendations for activity levels vary. Some claim that 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise is necessary; others recommend 20 minutes every two days or 2 to 3 hours per week.
Regardless of the amount of time spent, consistency is important. ‘Move it or lose it’ is a common phrase used to describe how essential it is to keep moving — every day, if possible.
Likewise, finding something that you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and stage of life can make a big difference in maintaining a program of physical activity. I no longer cross-country ski or ride my beautiful road bike since my hip replacement. No sport is worth risking a surgery for re-positioning.
Walking and/or swimming are commonly recommended as activities that place minimal stress to the body. I would add yoga and tai chi to that list. None of these activities require expensive equipment.
2. Reduce Stress
The next time you feel stressed remember this famous quote by George F. Burns, “If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And, if you didn’t ask me, I would say it anyway.”
Stress happens because of our reactions to life situations. We worry. We get anxious, We get frustrated. We get angry.
By learning relaxation techniques it’s possible to let go of unnecessary stress. Meditation, soothing music, prayer, exercise and breathing exercises are popular stress reduction techniques that help to reduce stress and/or control reaction to stress.
3. Sleep enough
Sleep is said to be the ‘great healer’. The body needs time to rest and repair itself. It’s important to practise good sleep hygiene and to get enough sleep. Seven to eight hours per night is recommended although some people manage well with less sleep.
Sleep is my favourite in this holy grail of anti-aging techniques. I so often compromised on sleep during my career that I refuse to compromise on sleep in my postworksavvy life.
When I force myself to get up early, I pay for it with a grumpy mood, lethargy and slowness throughout the day. It’s not worth wasting a day of retirement when a few extra minutes of sleep can make me feel cheerful and energetic.
Medical opinions as cited on various websites vary about how much alcohol consumption is safe. All agree that heavy drinking is out.
For people who use various medications for chronic conditions, no amount of alcohol can be taken due to interactions between alcohol and drugs.
There is considerable agreement that alcohol in moderation may have a beneficial effect on longevity. Some sites quote literature that claims that moderate drinking is associated with fewer heart attacks and less cardiac illness.
Moderation is usually defined as 1 to 2 drinks per day. Beneficial effects of alcohol seem to depend on regular moderate consumption and not saving up for 8 or 10 drinks at one time.
This advice helps me rationalize why wine with dinner is a habit worth keeping.
Medical experts have unequivocally linked smoking with cancer and reduced life span.
Even if you disregard the horrible things that cigarettes do inside of your body, its hard to ignore the fact that smoking makes you look older. Smokers tend to have more wrinkles and lines and who wants more of these?
Smoking also makes you smell bad as it lingers on clothing and furniture. UGH!!!
6. Maintain a healthy weight/eat a healthy diet
We know that ramping up on fruit and veggies, eating more fibre, and watching the amount of red meat consumption is recommended for children and adults of all ages.
As we grow older, paying more attention to diet gives a big payoff in terms of overall health.
We are what we eat. If we consume too much ice cream, bread, cake, cookies, or pasta, our bodies won’t look good or function optimally.
I remember a doctor telling me, years ago, that I could lose ten pounds just by imaging how uncomfortable it would be to wear a belt that contained 10 pounds of butter strapped to my body all day. That image helped me lose 10 pounds!
We know the basics of good nutrition. Besides eating a balanced diet, cook at home more often, eat local, and eat less.
Other advice on longevity that often appears on websites includes attending to social relationships, keeping a hopeful attitude, drinking enough water every day, and maintaining spiritual fitness. I’m not sure that drinking water and spiritual fitness were on the same list, but these behaviours are frequently cited as tactics to slow down aging.
You may have your own list of anti-aging techniques and your personal ranking of which deserve most attention. I invite you to send these to me through your comments.
Regardless, all of us want to slow down aging, guard health, and age gracefully. If we start early we’ll likely get the best results in terms of longevity — and the retirement happiness that goes with it.