There’s no magical elixir you can drink or ageless skincare regimen you can follow that will stop Father Time in his tracks. Aging is a natural process everyone has to endure. While it can be filled with a variety of positives, such as gaining wisdom and experience, following a career path you love, building a family, and establishing an all-around successful life for yourself, it isn’t very kind to your health, says Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM, a member of our Medical Expert Board and a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. That’s why Dr. Bohl shares with us six little daily habits to age well that you can start doing ASAP.
As you age, your bones typically reduce in density and size, your risk of high blood pressure increases, your bladder muscles weaken, you may find it more challenging to multitask or remember things, and dealing with constipation might become a regular occurrence, the Mayo Clinic explains. After you hit 30, your supply of lean muscle also decreases anywhere from 3% to 5% every 10 years. That’s why it’s never too late to kickstart some routine healthy habits that promote healthy aging and even longevity.
“Even if you aren’t feeling the effects of age by 40 yet, it’s important to start making healthy lifestyle decisions, because the earlier you start, the better off you are for feeling well into older age,” Dr. Bohl explains. Read on to learn about Dr. Bohl’s six little daily habits to age well. And next up, be sure to check out the 6 Habits That Can Make Your Brain Younger.
Many diseases and health conditions such as hearing loss, osteoarthritis, cataracts, and dementia become more typical in older age, so it’s crucial to stay on top of your recommended health screenings. It’s also necessary to keep going for annual physicals so you can check in with your healthcare provider, inform them of any changes you’ve noticed in your health, and receive an exam. “If you have a family history of some diseases, it may be important to engage in additional screenings even before the age of 40,” Dr. Bohl adds.
The saying, “You are what you eat,” rings true. This may sound a bit cliché, but consuming a well-balanced, healthy diet is one of the most crucial habits you can develop in order to age gracefully.
“The diet plays a role in weight and also greatly impacts your risk of developing diseases like heart disease or cancer in the future,” Dr. Bohl explains. “The best diet is the one you’re most likely to stick to, but in general, a healthy diet should emphasize fruits and vegetables and lean proteins.”
Preparing healthy foods for yourself is only half of it. This tip also includes being mindful of everything you’re eating and drinking when dining at a restaurant, stopping at a café for a coffee break, or ordering takeout. It’s also important to drink alcohol in moderation and stay away from smoking.
Amid an always-hectic schedule, stress can sometimes be unavoidable. But establishing just the right hacks and methods that help calm your running mind is imperative.
“Managing stress is important for mental health, and conditions like depression could be more likely in older age,” Dr. Bohl says. “In order to age well, it’s important to find ways to address any mental health issues and keep stresses managed. Engaging in activities like meditation or mindfulness a few times a week can help. Staying social, such as talking to a friend on the phone every day or going on a walk with a friend a few times a week, is also an effective way to manage mental health.”
Being physically active is one of the best gifts you can give your body and health. It’s also one of the golden keys to aging well.
“Physical activity can help manage your weight and reduce the risk of developing many diseases in the future,” Dr. Bohl explains. “Figuring out a way to regularly schedule physical activity into your day or week will keep you motivated to stay on track.” For instance, you might plan to head to the gym every morning for five days each week or hit up the pickleball court with a friend one night a week.
Whenever you’re performing exercise, be mindful of your form, and make sure you’re using the proper equipment. Doing so can help lessen the amount of physical stress put on your body that can result in painful conditions, such as arthritis, down the road.
A good part of aging well depends on how you feel, but you also might want to consider your cosmetic goals. (Because they’re a key player in feeling your absolute best, too!) Dr. Bohl suggests, “Using a daily retinol or retinoid could help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. And using sunscreen every day can also keep skin looking younger into older age.”
Last but not least, make sure you’re giving your body the rest it needs and truly deserves. Getting sufficient sleep on a nightly basis is critical for both your physical and mental health now and down the road. It’s recommended that adults aged 18 and up get a minimum of seven hours of Z’s per night.
If you think your routine needs tweaking, it’s always a good idea to do a little wellness check and see where you can make improvements. For example, stick to the same bedtime and wake-up time each day, make sure you’re sleeping on the best, most supportive mattress for you, turn your sleeping oasis to a cool temperature, and keep your room as dark as it can be. Oh—and make sure you don’t indulge in any caffeinated beverages too late in the day, as that can wreak havoc on your sleep.