I gave up trying to be Peter Pan when I was 13. That’s when I thought that I never wanted to hit the “old age” of 20. By the time I was 16, I couldn’t wait to be an adult so that no one could tell me what to do. Little did I know at the time that no matter what age you are, someone is telling you what to do! And now, I just want to live a healthy life as long as I can. If you’re like me, you may look into ways (or want to) to slow down your body’s aging process.
Starting out with a healthy lifestyle in your teens and twenties is the most beneficial way to slow down the process and to help prevent chronic disease later in life. But regardless of your age, it’s never too late to start making healthier choices.
I got a genetics test done last year. I wanted to know what I was predisposed to that my family couldn’t remember. And now I know everything so that I can be proactive about it. There were some surprises in there. It’s actually when I first found out I couldn’t handle dairy. Who knew a genetics test could tell you that? I am super proactive now, which is why I have become so much healthier… within reason. I don’t see the point of living forever if it makes me unhappy along the way!
There are many things you may do that can age your body and other things that can slow down the process. Some of them are obvious, but you need to do all of these to keep yourself at optimal health.
- Your DNA
- Your immune system and how it fights against illness and disease
- Your heart health
- Your blood pressure
- How well your lungs work
- How well your kidneys work
- Your cholesterol levels
- Oral health and the prevention of gum disease
With some healthy lifestyle changes, you can improve your ability to slow down or moderate the aging process. Here are some tips to get you started.
Learn about your family’s health history. Ask your relatives to see if you’re at increased risk for any chronic illnesses or if there were things that popped up in the family that were out of the ordinary. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about it. It will help you take specific preventive steps.
Keep your mind sharp and active. Once you’re out of school, it’s important to continue to learn new skills, find new interests, try difficult mind teasers or read challenging books.
Maintain a healthy weight. Make sure your body mass index (BMI) is in a good range. You can check your BMI online at the National Institute of Health. While calculating your BMI isn’t an exact science, you can use it as a gauge. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider to help determine a healthy weight for your body structure, height, and weight.
Eat a healthy diet. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins from nutritious sources like lean meats, seafood, nuts, and beans. Avoid sugar including drinks with it added and dessert. Reduce your intake of refined grains like white bread and white pasta, and fats that are solid at room temperature, such as butter. Check the US and Canadian food guides for tips on eating a balanced and healthy diet.
Reduce your salt intake. Sodium increases your blood pressure, which makes your heart work more.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, or a minimum of 2 1/2 hours each week. Do strength training at least twice a week, and cardio at least two to three times a week to keep your heart healthy and your lungs functioning.
Don’t smoke and try to avoid second-and smoke. If you do smoke, quit. If you need a resource, I wrote Kicking the habit. One smoke-free day at a time. Smoking is one of the things I’m not super proud of, but I am for quitting. It’s HARD.
Don’t abuse drugs, and limit your alcohol intake. You shouldn’t consume more than one drink a day for women and one to two drinks a day for men.
See your dentist regularly. Floss once a day, and brush at least twice daily. Eat an apple a day and use mouthwash.
Making lifestyle changes are just a part of the puzzle. Ensure you see your doctor or healthcare provider regularly to get screened for diseases or chronic illness, and to get recommendations to maintain and improve your health.
Do you have any other tips?