10 Essential New Year’s Resolutions That Can Help Battle Aging
A New Year means new possibilities, big changes, and a renewed commitment to our well-being. But a new year also makes us painfully aware of our age. While aging isn’t itself a bad thing, maintaining deleterious habits most certainly is. Here are nine ways to recommit to your body and mind in 2014 and slow down the march of time in the process.
The aesthetic benefits of weight loss need no explanation, but the real harm of obesity lies in its effects on your mental well-being. A study published in the American Academy of Neurology’s journal, Neurology, followed 6,401 participants of varying physical health over the course of 10 years. The study found that those who were obese registered a 22.5% faster cognitive decline than normal weight participants. That means that exercise won’t just help your confidence, but your thought processes as well.
Drink More Water
The appeal of pop and other sugary beverages can be hard to resist, but drinking nature’s beverage has myriad health benefits. In addition to common wisdom that adequate hydration can help reduce acne and cleanse the body of toxins, properly supplying your skin with water is vital to its healthy appearance. While not the magic bullet most hope, taking care of your body by drinking enough water is an excellent way to look, and feel, younger.
While certainly not the easiest resolution on the list, the consequences of not quitting can be dramatic, and plainly visible. A study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery examined 79 twins between the ages of 18 and 78, in order to better visually represent the effects of smoking on facial age. When judges were asked to determine which twin looked older, those who had smoked for more than 5 years were chosen 63% of the time. The study not only demonstrates the importance of quitting, but the importance of quitting now.
For some of us, stress is a way of life, keeping us sharp and alert. However, the results of stress on aging merit a cup of tea or two in the evening. In a study published in PLoS ONE, those with an over-abundance of work stress were observed to have shorter telomeres. When these telomeres shorten, cells can become damaged and die, accelerating the aging process.
Cut Back on Alcohol
A glass of wine can help with our stress level, but overdoing it can have particularly damaging effects on our body’s ability to detoxify itself. According to an interview with Dr. David Colbert of the New York Dermatology group published in the Huffington Post, alcohol is a hepatoxin, a toxin that specifically damages the liver. Since the liver is the organ that helps cleanse our bodies, this can lead to a buildup of toxins and advanced aging. A glass of champagne at your birthday party won’t harm you permanently, but take care to imbibe in moderation.
The world doesn’t sleep, so why should we? But, as it turns out, this mentality can harm our mental age in the long run. Researchers at the University College London Medical School in Great Britain gathered 5,000 participants of both genders, aged 35 to 55, and tracked their cognitive performance and sleeping habits. After a five-year period, those who reduced their sleeping baseline scored lower on the cognitive performance tests than those who increased their sleep regimen. So while your favorite TV show may air at 11PM, consider using the DVR for your health’s sake.
Go Back to School
Homework, as it turns out, may not be as bad as we thought in our formative years. A study published in GeroPsych: The Journal of Gerontopsychology and Geriatric Psychiatry examined the memory performance of those who did not attend continuing education in their advanced years, and those who did. The study of 82 participants found that memory functioning, as well as emotional well-being of those who sought continuing education were significantly improved in comparison with the control group. Pursuing your interests in 2014 could be exactly what keeps you sharp in the years to come.
Altruism may be the best medicine, a 2010 study has discovered. Volunteering helps generate positive emotions, which can, according to the research, reduce the risk of heart attack. Following 1,739 adult participants, the 10-year study gauged the negativity of their reactions to situations on a 5-point scale. Even after controlling for depression, the results unveiled that the risk of heart attack for each 1-point increase on the 5-point scale increased by 22%. A positive outlook can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, which is good for your body and your age.
Sometimes the best way to beat aging is to simply pick up the phone and get in touch with friends and family. According data acquired by the Chinese Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study, found that the elderly’s participation in social activities, including chess, Mahjong, or card games, has a positive correlation with episodic memory, pointing to a possible causal relationship between social activity and cognitive function. So avoid becoming a shut-in and visit with your loved ones. It may lead to better mental performance as you age.
We all desire to live long, happy lives, and making that dream a reality starts this year. From staying mentally active to proper hydration, 2014 presents a bevy of possibilities to help halt the aging process, and enrich our existence well into the future. Make a positive change for yourself and start looking, and feeling, younger, starting today.