Lifestyle factors, environmental factors and genetics all play a role in how women age – inside and out. Many individuals believe that they have little control over the aging process, but this simply is not the case – changing certain lifestyle factors can reduce the signs and effects of aging.
For example, a 2010 study conducted by the Institute of Aging and Health, revealed that women with less education, fewer doctor’s visits, high levels of sun exposure and large families under one roof are often perceived, in appearance, as older than women with more education, routine visits to the doctor, etc. Of course, these factors are linked to the appearance of age, not necessarily physical aging.
When it comes to physical aging, it is a common belief that at some point in our lives, it becomes acceptable to live with sleeplessness, depression, mood swings, fatigue or an inability to concentrate and remember. These symptoms should not be accepted as normal aging. In fact, these symptoms actually contribute to the aging process – aesthetically as well as physically. These symptoms are often the result of lifestyle and environmental factors in many cases, are very much under each individual’s control.
- Poor sleep is among the leading factors that contribute to aging – more and more studies are surfacing that low quantity and quality of sleep are high risk factors for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and general longevity of life. If you think about it, sleep deprivation is a known torture method. Lack of sleep deteriorates the ability to think clearly, lowers immune defenses, inhibits cell turnover – dulling the skin – and raising stress levels that can lead to weight gain or adrenal fatigue. Men and women should practice healthy sleep habits to ensure they get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night – and that is actually sleep time not just time spent in bed, attempting to fall asleep. Turn down the lights including bright TV screens, computers and iPads – exposure to light inhibits production of melatonin that regulates the sleep cycle – if possible, two hours prior to bed time is ideal. If an endless to-do list weighs on your mind, keep a notepad and pen by your bedside – you can write down menacing reminders and drift to sleep confident you will not forget by morning.
- A sedentary body and mind are top aging factors. Mental inactivity can contribute to conditions and diseases like dementia, Alzeheimer’s, general memory loss and stroke – even heart disease and diabetes. While the Sunday crossword can stimulate your brain, people who remain more mentally active such as going back to college, cultivating new hobbies, engaging in stimulating conversation and reading can often prevent or reduce the likelihood they will develop certain diseases and conditions. Consistent participation in activities that help you maintain control over your mind, like meditation, Yoga and visualization can help you train your mind to handle stress better. Poor stress management leads to increased secretion of hormones, like cortisol, that can do damage to the brain.
- Undoubtedly, you have heard the phrase, “what goes in, must come out.” Nowhere is that more true than the effects of your dietary toxins on aging – often sourced from the containers many people eat and drink from. High levels of BPA in plastic – most common in plastic water bottles – can contribute to aging as much as excess fat, sugar and sodium. BPA stands for bisphenol A – the highly toxic chemical used to make plastic water bottles, Tupperware and the lining of canned goods like soup and baby formula. High doses have been linked to hormone imbalances that contribute to a host of adverse health conditions and poor aging.
- Routine consumption of pharmaceutical grade supplements can help inhibit the aging process. Maintaining adequate levels of omega-3 through fish oil supplements, canola oil or sunflower seeds can improve your memory, heart function and the appearance of your skin. Supplementing vitamin D can aid in warding off depression, while supplementing magnesium, which can also be found in almonds and chocolate, will improve insulin function and fuel your energy.
- Depression is another multifaceted factor that contributes to aging. Individuals who are depressed often avoid social interaction, physical activity, sex and general self-care.
- Regular physical activity is vital to youthfulness, stress management and increased energy – this supplements your body with routine bouts of beta-endorphins that supply a youthful glow and fuel energy.
- Maintaining an active social life – especially a girls’/guys’ night out – can work wonders for your health and you will reap mega anti-aging benefits – thanks to the secretion of feel-good hormones and participation in scintillating conversation that stimulates the mind.
- Sex with a loving partner can harness youthfulness and blast stress. Sex, compliments from your lover and cuddling all raise hormones, like oxytocin that make you feel good, increase bonding and improves the security you feel in your relationship and about yourself.
- When you are depressed, often the first thing to go is dedicating effort to the little things that make you feel your best. Be sure to take time to relax and engage in activities that make you feel good – bubble baths, manicures, listening to your favorite CDs – making time for yourself is important to battling stress and depression that contribute to aging.