Aging creeps up on us like a quiet predator stalking its prey. It starts as early as our 20’s. Before we know it, one gray hair turns too many and that slight laugh line is now a deep crevice. Stopping the clock is beyond the realm of possibility; however, being aware of the natural age-related changes that will occur in our bodies will help. Knowing how to promote good health starting now, can slow the process and help you age gracefully and healthier.
Over time, your heart muscle decreases in efficiency and has to work a lot harder to pump blood throughout our bodies. Our blood vessels aren’t as elastic either and harden because of fatty deposits that accumulate over time, which can lead to high blood pressure and other problems.
What to do. We all know what we need to do on a daily basis as we’ve heard it time and again. Doing it is another thing. All it takes is activity daily like walking, swimming, biking, playing golf or dance aerobics. Eating healthy is important as well and including plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet. Instead of eating plain cereal, add fruit. Instead of eating a potato, add two veggies you love. Instead of fixing a sandwich on white bread, use 100% whole grain. It’s a simple change. If you smoke, you NEED to quit and don’t be too stubborn to ask your doctor to help you quit.
Your bones, joints and muscles
Our bones kind of shrink in size and thin out as we get older, making us susceptible to fractures and breaks. Muscles aren’t as flexible and lose their strength as well, which effects our coordination and balance.
What to do. We need calcium and vitamin D in our diets because it keeps our bones strong. Also, strength training twice a week (building muscle) increases bone density which will maintain flexibility and balance throughout your life. It’s never too late to start. If you hate lifting weights or going to a gym, use your body to build muscle by doing squats, pushups, leg lifts, and pull ups. You can also do isometric training right in your home.
Not drinking enough fluids, including fiber in your diet and a total lack of exercise can lead to constipation. Some medications will cause it as well like diuretics and iron supplements.
What to do.
You already know you should be drinking plenty of water throughout the day. You can use a fiber supplement daily as well. CVS pharmacy offers Easy Fiber which dissolves instantly is flavorless, grit-free, gluten and sugar free and inexpensive.
Our bladder and urinary tract
In our senior years, there is a possibility of losing control (urinary incontinence). If you’re overweight now, try to shed those extra pounds. Kegel exercises aren’t just for strengthening your pelvis for child birth. This is an exercise you should practice throughout your lifetime. Simply tighten your muscles as if you’re trying to stop from peeing. Doing it consciously every day, will keep those muscles strong.
As the number of cells (neurons) in the brain decreases, it will take longer to learn new things or remember familiar words or names. To stay as sharp as a tack, again physical activity and a healthy diet will help.
Eyes and ears
Our eyes produce lesser tears as we age. The retinas thin and the lenses gradually become less clear. Focusing becomes more difficult, sensitivity to glare and adapting to light becomes troublesome. Our hearing dims somewhat as well, having difficulty hearing higher frequencies or following a conversation in a crowded room.
What to do. Have your vision and hearing checked regularly, wear sunglasses when you're outdoors and use earplugs when you're around loud machinery or other loud noises.
Our mouth may dry and gums pull back (recede) from your teeth as we age. An extreme lack of saliva to wash away bacteria can make our teeth and gums vulnerable to decay and infection. Teeth may also darken slightly and become more brittle and easier to break.
What to do. Always brush your teeth twice a day and clean between your teeth using regular dental floss. Of course, regular visits to your dentist are essential as well.
The skin thins and becomes less elastic and more fragile. You may notice that you bruise more easily. Decreased production of natural oils may make your skin drier and more wrinkled. Age spots can occur, and small growths called skin tags are more common.
What to do. No one should bathe in hot water as it dries out the skin. Always moisturize in the morning and at night before you go to bed and use a mild soap to cleanse the skin. When you're outdoors, use sunscreen. This is a must. Smoking contributes to skin damage, such as wrinkling.
It's never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle. None of us can stop the aging process, but we can certainly minimize the impact by doing what’s right for our bodies now … today. The younger you begin, the younger you will look, act and feel when you reach that mature age.