Why are some people youthful long after middle age? Why are some 50-year-olds able to hang out as equals, physically and mentally, with people who are in their 20s and 30s?
It isn’t a matter of age denial; it’s a technique of age prevention. Learning the basics of keeping age away comes down to some simple tips, according to Jim Walker, the Sports Science Director at the Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH), in Murray, Utah.
"You can’t stop aging, but you can slow it down," said Walker, who has a Ph.D. in physiology.
The internationally known scientist has a list of important tips that will help you stay more youthful. Here are his top 10:
1. As we age, we lose muscle mass. This also causes a loss in cardiac function, so your aerobic capacity goes down as well. A routine of physical activity, especially something that increases the heart rate and works up a sweat, will help slow down the loss of muscle mass.
2. A posture change is a common symptom of age; the torso bends forward. Because we spend so much time sitting, muscles that support the upper body weaken, so we sag forward at the hips. Instead, concentrate on walking with your pelvis out and shoulders back; that will make you look and feel younger.
3. Restore range of motion. If you have to stand on tiptoe to reach something in a cupboard that used to be easier to grab, work on stretching upward to restore your ability to reach into that cupboard.
4. Keep a sense of humor. Many boomers stop laughing as they age. Continue to see the funny side of life, to enjoy a good joke or a comedy. Don’t let the years make you too serious.
5. Stay away from fast food. Do your own cooking and enjoy the taste of home-cooked food. Sit down and eat your meals rather than gulping them down so you’re not just putting calories in your body. If you don’t have regular relaxed and nutritious meals, your hormonal system never gets to stabilize, so digestion becomes less than optimal.
6. Falls are one of the biggest causes of disability as we get older. Often, it’s because our balance has deteriorated. While physical activity helps maintain balance, you also can do regular balance-specific exercises, like standing on one leg, then the other; or closing your eyes and turning in a circle, trying to stop at the exact place you started.
7. Keep socializing. Being around people not only keeps your social skills sharp, it makes you better at communicating with others. Spending too much time alone, reading or watching TV, can become a habit that leads to isolation; which makes us grow older faster.
8. Stretch often. A lot of boomers don’t stretch, but it’s important for warding off a lot of issues, including muscle atrophy. Put together a 10-minute stretch routine and do it every evening before going to bed.
9. Learn something new every few months. Sign up for a community college course or research a new subject. This forces your brain to make new pathways, maintaining or even increasing your mental sharpness.
10. Don’t buy into the myth that getting older makes you useless. That belief leads to depression. Do things that make others see that age is not a barrier to competence. Run for local office. Volunteer to help out at cultural or sporting events. Be visible, so that everyone knows you’re a valuable member of your community.