Remaining physically active as you age is important to slowing down the aging process. It helps keep you physically fit and at an ideal weight.
However, there's much more to aging than just being physically active. Maintaining the non-physical aspects of life are just as important.
Getting To The DNA Level
Every cell in the body contains strands known as telomeres. The longer these strands are, the stronger the bonds within the DNA strands are. As telomeres shorten, it destabilizes the bonds within the DNA strands. As the DNA breaks down, the aging process begins to progress, eventually leading to death.
The choices you make day to day can affect the length of these telomere strands. Poor choices can damage these strands. Good choices can help lengthen and revitalize them.
Regular exercise is one of the good choices that can lengthen and revitalize the telomere strands, but there are other aspects of life that you need to address.
Eating The Right Foods
Nutrition plays a big role in the length of the telomere strands.
Counting calories is essential. Over-consumption of calories causes the cells to work harder than needed, causing damage to the telomeres.
Even more critical, however, is the over-consumption of animal products. A building amount of evidence shows that consuming too many animal products reduces the length of telomere strands. Eating a plant-based diet has the opposite effect.
It is also important to have a diet rich in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Consuming moderate amounts of healthy fats also helps. An excellent way to eat healthy, wholesome foods is by following a diet like the Mediterranean Diet.
One study found that women who experienced high levels of stress on a daily basis had shortened telomeres that equated to the loss of 10 years of life.
This means that those women were at higher risk of developing age-related health issues at an earlier age.
Incorporating stress management techniques helps to prevent stress-related damage to the telomeres. These can include meditation and yoga.
Strong social networks can help individuals avoid toxic stress. As people age, they can become isolated and lack quality long-term social connections. This is even more prevalent when people are working long hours and have no time to build or reinforce the social connections they have.
Studies show that social isolation can cause shortened telomere lengths and, thus, a shortened life span.
Making socialization a priority can help strengthen the telomere strands you have and may even lengthen them over time.
Challenge Yourself Cognitively
As people age, their cognitive abilities start to diminish. Doing crossword puzzles and having lunch with friends is not enough to support strong mental function.
A number of studies have shown that taking on new activities that are cognitively demanding is essential for sustained memory function. Take a class. Learn a new skill. Connect with a new social group through a new hobby.
What Does This Mean For You?
If you want to fight all the indicators of aging, you need to take an approach that addresses all aspects of life. Get plenty of moderate exercise. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Manage your stress levels. Build a strong social network. Challenge your mind with new skills.