Forever Young: Expert Tips for Aging Gracefully

Wish you knew as much about health back then as you do now? Here are 21 tips top experts would give their younger selves—that you can still benefit from today.

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Learn to laugh

“Laughter aids circulation, increases respiration, lowers blood pressure, stimulates digestion and takes away stress and negativity, says Oz Garcia, PhD, a celebrity nutritionist and author of Redesigning 50: The No-Plastic-Surgery Guide to 21st-Century Age Defiance. “A life without stress will last much longer.”

Katja Govorushchenko

Adjust your diet and exercise

"This is the time to deal with your changing metabolism,” says Lauren Streicher, MD, assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.“If you gain three pounds a year beginning at age 40, when you're 55 you’ll be up 45 pounds at a time when weight is tougher to lose."

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Fake it 'til you make it

“Ask yourself often, ‘What would the woman I want to be do?’” suggests Deni Carise, PhD, a drug addicted model turned chief clinical officer at Phoenix House, a non-profit substance abuse service organization. “This is a way of thinking I picked up when I first got sober, and it would have served me well long before that. It’s never too soon to think this way; your behavior shouldn’t be based on the emotions of the moment, but on the kind of person you want to be and what you want to accomplish in this world.”

Jason Verschoor

Never stop moving

“Find an interesting and engaging physical activity that you can do several times a week, and don’t be afraid to change it up as your lifestyle changes,” says Randi Ragan, a green living and holistic lifestyle expert and founder and owner of GreenBliss EcoSpa. “Try something new every few years—salsa dancing, rollerblading, tai chi, kickboxing—the mental coordination and different muscle flexibility required to learn new activities is good for the mind as well as the body.”

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Embrace your circumstances

“We obsess over how to change things, make them different, make them better," says Cynthia Pasquella, celebrity clinical nutritionist, holistic health practitioner and co-creator of SoCal Cleanse. "This stress takes a toll and breaks down our bodies, mentally and physically. Instead, trust that no matter what your current situation is, everything is perfect and just as it’s supposed to be, right here, right now. That's the ultimate anti-aging secret.”

Jacob Wackerhausen

Get adequate sunshine

“But not more than 20 minutes a day without protection,” says Garcia. "Sunshine is one of the best ways to obtain vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium and improves the immune system." Additionally, vitamin D helps increase levels of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin. During the winter or on days you’re stuck largely indoors, take a vitamin D supplement and eat vitamin D-fortified foods.

kristian sekulic

Exercise your brain every day

“Although it consumes less than 2 percent of your body's weight, it uses 20 percent of your body's energy,” says Jackie Keller, professional wellness coach and founder of NutriFit. “Take 10 minutes each day to do brain exercises like a crossword puzzle or a memorization game. This will help your mind stay young for as long as you live

Tom Hahn

Get consistent shuteye

“Sleep refreshes you like nothing else does— not only physically, but emotionally as well, says Keller.” Aim for at least 7 hours per night.

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Eat healthy fats

Simple changes in diet can make a huge difference in reducing the risk of memory loss as you age, says Majid Fotuhi, PhD, MD, a faculty member in neurology at Harvard Medical School and a neurology consultant at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital. “Consume 1,000 mg of omega-3 DHA daily through coldwater fatty fish, such as salmon. If you don't like fish, take a fish oil or algal-derived supplement or eat DHA-fortified foods.”

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Drink more water

“I know we always hear this but it really makes a difference,” says Cheri Botiz, national beauty director for Nordstrom. “Drinking water makes the skin look more refreshed, youthful and hydrated. It’s a must. If you need to fake it, use a hydrating mask to instantly refresh the skin.”

Krzysztof Szpil

Choose a euphemism

Stop using the word "stress," suggests Nicole DeBoom, Skirt Sports founder and CEO. “Just saying that word causes a physical reaction. Instead, retrain yourself to use the word ‘Excitement’ instead of ‘Stress’, as in ‘It's been a very EXCITING day!’ Just saying this phrase almost causes you to laugh out loud.”

Daniela Jovanovska-Hristovska

Care for your hair

“Thinning hair not only prematurely ages one's appearance, but it can do a number on your self confidence, too,” says Robert Leonard, DO, founder and chief surgeon at Leonard Hair Transplant Associates.  “At the very first signs of thinning hair, I should have treated it with Propecia, Rogaine Foam, and/or low level laser therapy to have nipped it in the bud before it became problematic.” Thinning hair and hair loss is a progressive condition, says Leonard. Most women (and men) won’t notice that it’s happening until 50 percent of their hair is gone. “Treating it early to stop progression is very important."

AdamGregor

Wear sunscreen

“If you're not into sun protection, don't bother with anti-aging treatments,” says Neal Schultz, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist.“Sunscreen must be worn 365 days a year—the aging UVA rays are constant all year and the same all day long and cause damage even on cloudy days.” And don't forget about your hands, says Mitchell Chasin, MD, medical director of Reflections Center in New Jersey. “Sun-spotted hands can be a telltale sign of aging, so make sure to slather them with sunscreen as well.”

Suprijono Suharjoto

Find your core nutrients

“Just as we all need core nutrients like vitamin A, B or D to stay healthy and vibrant, we also have a unique set of emotional or spiritual ‘core nutrients’ that we need in order to feel fulfilled, balanced and joyful,” says Tara Sophia Mohr, an expert on women's leadership and well-being.  “Perhaps your core nutrients are community, time outdoors, and music. Whatever they are, write down a list of five or six that bring you the most fulfillment and energy. Then, every month, set aside some time to reflect and see if you are getting enough of them.”

Bart Sadowski

Let it all go

“Don’t get worked up about things that you can’t control,” says Robert G. Marx, MD, professor of orthopedic surgery and professor of public health at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and director of the Foster Center for Clinical Outcome Research and attending orthopedic surgeon at The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. “Stress has been shown to cause disease, so if you have no control over a situation, don’t let it get to you. Focus on things that you do have control over.”

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Watch out for the "shoulds"

“One of the greatest drains on our youthful energy and vitality is the internal taskmaster, the voice of ‘shoulds’,” says Mohr. “Pay attention to thoughts that include the word ‘should,’ such as ‘I should lose ten pounds’ or ‘I should do the dishes.’ Question that voice. Is what it is saying really helping you live a more vital, enjoyable life? Change your should thoughts to ‘I want to’ or ‘I choose to’ or drop them entirely."

Tolga Sipahi

Develop good skin habits

“Follow a skin-care regimen that includes products with active ingredients—such as anti-oxidants, peptides and perhaps a retinol—to cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize and, of course, protect your skin,”says  Ava Shamban, MD, author of Heal Your Skin.

PLAINVIEW

Avoid yo-yo dieting

“Losing and gaining weight repeatedly can leave your skin saggy and make you look old beyond your years,” says Chasin.

karen roach

Learn to breathe

“Do this correctly by using your abdominal muscles and the ones between your ribs to squeeze more air out of your lungs as you exhale,” says James P. Nicolai, MD, medical director of the Andrew Weil, MD Integrative Wellness Program at Miraval Resort & Spa. “By moving more air out, you bring more air in. Allowing your breath to be fuller, deeper and more even helps you to manage stress, optimize immunity and access spontaneous healing in your body.”

Bill Noll

Eat a rainbow

A diet filled with colorful fruits and vegetables offers you an array of antioxidants and phytochemicals that can boost the immune system and promote healthy aging,” says Nicolai. “ Make eating fun by painting a full palette of colors on your plate every day.”

James McQuillan

Do high-intensity interval training

A study found that doing a number of short bursts of intense exercise with short recovery breaks in between burned more subcutaneous fat compared to endurance training over longer periods of time where more calories were burned,” says Nicolai. “Efficiency is key when it comes to exercise: Do it shorter but more intense."

 

Next: Editors' Picks: 12 Activities That Keep Us Young

 

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Myles Dumas
First Published October 13, 2011

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