Jamie Neely, DC
With the growing number of baby boomers entering their golden years, interest in antiaging is at an all-time high. Although we may not be able to stop the aging process, healthy aging can help minimize the effects of time by optimizing our health along the way.
With the growing number of baby boomers entering their golden years, interest in antiaging is at an all-time high. Popular magazines and movies feature young, robust men and super-slim women.
Thanks to personal stylists and plastic surgery, sixty-year-old actors can alter the obvious external effects of aging altogether. But cosmetic antiaging procedures don’t make us healthier or help us to act younger.
Although we may not be able to stop the aging process, healthy aging can help minimize the effects of time by optimizing our health along the way.
Don’t Worry–be Healthy
Mental attitude and emotional stress have been shown to have the greatest impact on our health. The complete hormonal and nutritional makeup of our bodies changes under prolonged periods of stress. For example, cortisol, also known as the stress hormone is released in response to stress.
Although important to the body’s response to acute stress, as in the body’s “fight or flight” reaction, chronic stress can result in too much cortisol in our systems. In turn, this can lead to health concerns, such as weight gain around the central abdominal area.
According to Yale University scientist Elissa Epel, PhD, too much central body fat causes a heightened risk of diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
One of the great ironies of nature is that the more we worry about looking and being younger, the more this stress actually speeds up aging and robs us of our strength and beauty.
Although we lose muscle mass as we age, loss of flexibility caused by stress and lack of activity is far more limiting. When we are less flexible, it takes more energy to move our bodies, fatigue sets in sooner, and our muscles are more vulnerable to injury.
A regular routine that includes stretching, strength exercise, and active movements to maintain our range of motion will go a long way toward minimizing the muscle tension that accumulates with stress.
Beware of Stress Responses
We also need to be aware of how stress drives our behaviours. Because stress is uncomfortable, we are often tempted to respond by doing things that bring us comfort but that are ultimately unhealthy. When worried, we tend to eat high-calorie, low-nutrition comfort foods; we smoke, drink, and/or become less active. These behaviours sap energy and accelerate the wear and tear on the body.
Acknowledge the Rewards of Aging
While we experience a loss of physical power as we age, we also tend to gain inner strength, knowledge, and experience. Healthy aging expert Dr. Andrew Weil states that “the most damaging perception out there is that the worth of human life diminishes with aging,” reminding us that with aging comes “its own rewards.”
Most of us would like to look and feel like we did when we were twenty (perhaps not the hairstyles), but few would want to trade a return to youth for all the life experiences gained over the years. Celebrate your life, love who you are, be healthy, and age gracefully!