So I have been doing a bit of research on ageing, specifically on how we can “age well”. Did you know a woman living in the UK has an average life expectancy of 80! Yes 80. So why do my kids call me old at 45! Well back in the 1900’s life expectancy for a woman was 51. Since then modern advances in medicine and a better understanding of what ages us e.g. “Lifestyle choices” have meant we can all live a longer healthier life.
Saying that, in recent years advances in technology have led us to having a more sedate lifestyle. Jumping in a car instead of walking, hours spent watching TV, sedate jobs as manual jobs are being taken over my machines, computer games and smart phones. All these “technological advances” have made life so much easier but at the same time are having a negative impact on our lifestyles.
When I think back to my childhood I’d spend hours outside in the woods exploring, ride my bike everywhere and walk to and from school no matter what the weather…. Roll on 30 years and kids are spending hours on their phones, playing computer games or watching TV, they move about less as it is quicker and easier to jump in a car (and possibly safer too). I suspect this is going to impact on our youngsters in years to come. Will their life expectancy shorten? It’s a good question to ask.
So, I’m 45 but I feel like I’m still in my 20’s and I want to feel like this for many more years to come. From what I have been reading recently there is a lot we can do to help us live a longer and stronger life.
HOW CAN I HELP MYSELF TO AGE WELL
Ditch the junk food. Why? It is loaded with added fats, added sugar and preservatives. Eat wholesome, fresh and simple foods. Think vegetables, lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds, fruit etc. Basically, anything that hasn’t been processed. Vary your diet; don’t eat the same thing day in and day out. Our body needs vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats to work at its peak. Provide it with these things in the right balance and your body will work like a well-oiled machine.
Movement & Exercise
Get off your ass and move. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week, plus 2 strength training sessions (important for women as they age to preserve muscle and keep bones strong) and older people 50+ should be doing some balance and flexibility work too. Keeping your body strong will help you as you age, I am sure you agree you would want to be able to run around with your grandchildren and be fit enough to keep up with them. I am taking my Dad on a 4-day walk in June for his 70th! Since a quadruple heart bypass at 50 my Dad changed his lifestyle and started exercising more and eating healthier - as a result he can easily keep up with me!
Stress ages us; it affects our body at a cellular level (look up Telomeres and ageing). As cells divide in the body all the time the damage to the cells caused by stress gets passed on to the next cell and the next. So find a way to minimise or manage stress to stop this happening.
Exercise and meditation are great ways to deal with this.
During deep sleep Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is released and grows and repairs the body, adults require 7-9 hours of sleep, kids require more and the 65+ age group, require less. It makes sense – kids are growing more and the elderly are growing less. The hormones that govern appetite are also influenced by lack of sleep. Not getting enough sleep? Then the hormone, Leptin that governs satiety (feeling full) will be decreased and Ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates your appetite is increased. If you are trying to manage your weight, lack of sleep could be responsible for your lack of progress.
Relationships and Social Connections
Studies have shown being connected with people is good for our mental and physical health. Having a support system can help ward of depression and illness. Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression and being lonely can intensify this. Seek out meaningful, stress free relationships.
Make time for your friends and enjoy their company.
It is a privilege to age, not everyone gets this privilege so be happy, be healthy and make good choices. Laugh often, spend quality time with your friends, enjoy everything you do and be the best version of yourself you can possibly be.
Look after yourself now… not tomorrow... and not next week.