Age Gracefully: The Top Tips From 23 New Books

Take advantage of this advice now to look and feel your best later.

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Forget Gender Roles

A healthy sex life keeps us young, but there's one common assumption that undermines sexual relationships: that male and female sexuality are different. They aren’t. Most men and women want the same things from sex: pleasure and closeness. Both men and women want to feel attractive, desired, graceful and sexually competent. In bed, both men and women are concerned about the same things: They hope their body “performs” right, they hope they don’t look, sound, or smell unattractive, and they hope they compare favorably to their partner’s previous lovers. Forget about understanding "male sexuality” or “female sexuality.” What you really want is to understand your partner and his or her sexuality. To do so, consult an expert: your partner.


Buy the book: Sexual Intelligence by Marty Klein, PhD


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Do Mindful Exercise

Schedule some yoga or Pilates into your schedule at least twice per week. These practices keep your spine, hips, and shoulders aligned, preventing the common shuffling gait and hunched shoulders so common in the elderly. An aligned spine enhances circulation to every organ in the body. Adverse changes in alignment often start in young adults, so it's imperative to get properly aligned at midlife!


Buy the book: The Wisdom of Menopause (Revised Edition) by Christiane Northrup, MD


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Protect Your Ears

As we get older, we all start to lose hearing. But most people don't realize just how much decreased hearing can impact their lives. Hearing loss makes you more likely to withdraw socially, which speeds aging. We now know that hearing loss can also lead to dementia. Protect your ears by turning down the sound on your mp3 player or wearing earplugs in especially noisy environment. Get a hearing test every year and buy a hearing aid at the first sign of hearing loss.


Buy the book: Is This Normal? by John Whyte, MD, MPH

Katja Govorushchenko

Harness Growth Hormone

Growth hormone remains a very important hormone long after we've stopped growing—regulating body composition, energy level, and mood—but by the time we reach age 30 or 40, our levels are half of what they were when we were teenagers. While growth hormone medications or supplements have been found to be harmful, there are a few healthy ways to boost your body's natural supply:


Eat healthy food, including protein
The more body fat you have, the lower your growth hormone levels. Conversely, as you lose fat, your growth hormone levels will surge, helping you lose more fat. Eating plenty of protein is critical in making the weight loss/growth hormone gain cycle work because it builds muscle.

Drink 8 glasses of water a day
Water is a major component of muscle and without enough of it, your muscles suffer.

Engage in physical activity
Intensive exercise can make growth hormone levels surge.

Get Enough Sleep
Growth hormone is released when you sleep. If you don't sleep well, you won't produce enough growth hormone.


Buy the book: Hormonal Balance, third edition by Scott Isaacs, MD, FACP, FACE


Avoid the Super Starch

Hidden in the average loaf of bread or bowl of pasta is a super starch called amylopectin A—a dangerous science project that looks like bread but isn’t. It’s in breakfast muffins and bagels, too, regardless of whether they’re made with whole wheat or white flour and is a known blood sugar booster. In fact two slices of whole wheat bread raises your blood sugar more than 2 tablespoons of table sugar. This FrankenWheat has just been on the market for the last 40 years or so, paralleling the rise of obesity and diabetes across the globe and the dramatic increase in celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. If we gave up this super starch, we would reduce not only obesity and diabetes, but cancers, heart attacks, depression, autoimmune disease as well irritable bowel and reflux.


Buy the book: The Blood Sugar Solution by Mark Hyman, MD


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Alter Your Breath

Great sex—which research shows may increase longevity—can be as natural as, well, breathing. That's because breath is the ultimate enhancer of sexual pleasure. Rapid breathing can increase arousal; slow, deep breathing can keep you on the edge of sexual pleasure; long, slow exhalations can boost your sexy self-confidence.


Buy the Book: V is for Vagina by Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, FACOG and Robin Westen


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Power Up Your Diet

The secret to a rock-hard body isn’t eating according to the USDA's Food Guide Plate—it’s eating large amounts of high-quality proteins throughout the day and limited amounts of complex carbohydrates and fats. Women need far more protein than you might think. A good range to shoot for is roughly 1 g of protein per pound of body weight. So a 140 pound woman would need to consume 16 to 22 oz (455 to 625 g) of protein per day, or roughly 5 oz/140 g per meal plus another 2 oz/ 55 g at each snack. It’s also critical to get at least 5 oz/140 g of that protein at breakfast (this would equal two whole eggs plus two whites or 1 to 2 scoops of whey protein powder mixed into a smoothie) to replenish your protein stores after fasting all night and keep your appetite in check throughout the day.


Buy the book: The Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous Project by Esther Blum.


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Avoid Dinosaur Syndrome

As your weight goes up, the size and function of your brain goes down. Keep your weight in check to avoid developing a big body and little brain or you'll risk becoming extinct.


Buy the book: Use Your Brain to Change Your Age by Daniel Amen, MD


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Have More Sex

Getting busy stimulates hormones, like testosterone, to improve mood, memory, energy, libido, bone and muscle strength and decrease levels of fat. If you need a libido boost to get in the mood, start by shaking things up in the bedroom. Try taking a bath together, trading massages using warm oil, or get a little edgy with erotic literature, sex toys or a new location like atop the vibrating clothes dryer.
Buy the book: The Sex Drive Solution For Women by Jennifer Landa, MD


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Eat an Apple a Day

One large apple provides almost a quarter of your daily fiber needs. Fiber makes you feel fuller longer, turns off the hunger signal, and also cleans out your bodies like a powerful internal scrub brush. Researchers found that women who eat an apple before each meal experience significant weight loss. Those who eat one or more apples per day also have less risk of oral cancer, cancer of the voice box, breast cancer, and colon, kidney, and ovarian cancer, according to a German study.

Buy the book: The Lean (published on April 15, 2012) by Kathy Freston.  


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Make a Plan

We summarize our advice for healthy aging like this: Get organized (make a commitment). Eat less (if weight is a problem). Eat better (eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains). Move more (in any way you can). Get political (work to change the food environment to make it easier to do all the rest).
Buy the book: Why Calories Count by Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim


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Find a Younger Workout Pal

One of my favorite workout buddies is 20 years younger than me—and a world-champion collegiate ice hockey player. She’s in top shape and always pushing herself and, therefore, me. I can’t match her aerobic conditioning, but I can try to approach it—and it feels great. If you surround yourself with younger and more fit people, some of that will rub off and motivate you as well!
Buy the book: Your Body Beautiful by Dr. Jennifer Ashton with Christine Rojo.


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Exercise Regularly

People who exercise every day think faster, remember more, learn quicker, are more creative and are better problem solvers. They are least likely to develop memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s. They also have more energy, motivation and desire to learn. They are happier, more content with their lives and more optimistic. In short, they feel confident, energized and sexy. That’s because exercise improves blood flow to the brain, which means your noggin gets more of the oxygen and nutrients it needs.


Buy the book: Eat Your Way to Sexy by Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD


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Eat the Right Fat

While a lot has been written about omega-3 fatty acids in general, it is DHA specifically that turns on the genes to protect and even enhance the function of brain cells. It’s this specific gene pathway that codes for the actual growth of new brain cells, giving us a second chance when memory begins to fail. DHA is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, which is clearly beneficial when you consider the pivotal role inflammation plays in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. DHA is available from a variety of sources including fish and krill oils, but my preference is to use DHA derived from algae. This ensures that the product will not only be free of dangerous contaminants like mercury and PCBs, but also doesn’t threaten a nonrenewable resource.


Buy the book: Power Up Your Brain by David Perlmutter, MD, FACN and Alberto Villoldo, PhD


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Do Cardio Bursts

Burst-style cardio training involves performing an exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 to 60 seconds (think sprinting or running up stairs), then doing one to two minutes of active recovery like walking. By doing this in repetitive cycles for four to eight total minutes of “bursting”, you raise lactic acid, which in turn triggers the release of human growth hormone. This type of exercise is far more time efficient and produces far less oxidative stress (which accelerates the aging process) then endurance style training like jogging or cycling.

Buy the book: Six Weeks to Sleeveless & Sexy by JJ Virgin, CNS, CHFS


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Eat After 6 p.m.

It’s a myth that you shouldn’t eat after a certain time in the evening. Just give yourself at least 90 minutes before you plan to go to sleep. You need that time to digest so you can sleep comfortably. I like to think of this as the 70/30 Rule, which means you should eat 70 percent of your calories before dinnertime and 30 percent at dinner, whatever time that may be.


Buy the book: Eating Free by Manuel Villacorta, RD, MS, CSSD


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Drink Your Nutrients

By indulging in a simple, delicious smoothie (even just once a day) that’s loaded with vibrant produce, you can get tons of valuable vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in just one sitting. Try this recipe:


Baby Be Happy



1 cup spinach

1 cup sweet peas

3 carrots, peeled

2 cups red raspberry tea



1. Combine spinach, peas, carrots, and 1 cup of tea in a blender, and blend until thoroughly combined.

2. Add remaining tea as needed while blending until desired consistency is achieved.


Buy the book:What Color is Your Smoothie? (F+W Media, March 2012) by Britt Allen Brandon, CFNS, CPT, with Nicole Cormier, RD, LDN


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Focus On Your Arms

We may not feel our age, but our upper arms are often the first to give it up! Combat jiggle, cellulite, and lack of tone with one single exercise: the kettlebell swing. With every swing, you tighten and sculpt your arms. Here’s how to do it:

1. Stand in front of the kettlebell and get a good grip on the handle with both hands.

2. Hinge at the hips and “hike” the kettlebell back and up behind you.

3. Stand up and swing the bell to hip level, keeping your arm straight.

4. Hinge back and down while reaching and pushing the bell behind you.

5. Stand up and swing the bell forward again.

6. Repeat 8-10 times total.

7. End by bending your knees, letting the bell swing behind you and then land out in front as you softly place it back on the ground.


Buy the book: The Swing! by Tracy Reifkind

Avoid Stimulants

Sugar and caffeine rev energy almost immediately, but that vigor tends to retreat almost as quickly as it came. Stimulation is a bad substitute for nourishment because it taxes the adrenal glands, prompting the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Elevated cortisol is linked to inflammation, weakened cellular tissue, lower immune response, increased risk of disease, body tissue degeneration, reduced sleep quality, and the accumulation of body fat. Instead, sustain vitality with nutrient-dense, whole foods—not just by supplementing your diet with them, but by basing your diet on them.

Buy the book: Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier


Exercise 150 Minutes a Week

Getting out and moving—even in as little as 10-minute increments—will help control your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and stress levels. And, because our hearts tend to become stiffer and less able to relax between heartbeats as we age, exercise will also help keep the muscles of the heart young. Exercise is truly an anti-aging prescription!


Buy the book: Smart at Heart by Malissa Wood, MD and Dimity McDowell

Blazej Lyjak

Strengthen Large Muscles

This simple exercise works major calorie-burning muscles: your quads and core.


Thigh Dancing
What you’ll need: a mat or carpet under your knees
1. Sit on your heels in a kneeling position. Your knees should be a few inches apart. Lift your but a few inches off your heels. Keep your torso upright with your hands on your hips. This is your starting position.

2. Keeping your butt off your heels, shake your hips first right, then left. This is a small, controlled movement rather than a loose shake—you want to use your obliques to lift your hips up toward your shoulders rather than swinging them wildly from side to side.


3. Bring your arms above your head and start to alternate pulling each elbow down—first one, then the other—as you shake your hips. By actively engaging your obliques, you’re helping to whittle your waistline!


Buy the book: The Physique 57 Solution by Tanya Becker and Jennifer Maanavi

The Physique 57 Solution

Eat Chocolate

Lots of chefs mentioned this to me while I was researching my book and I was more than happy to take them up on the suggestion. Dark chocolate has less fat than milk chocolate, antioxidants, and probably some other benefits yet to be discovered. But I eat it because I believe that, even if you're dieting, life is meant to be sweet. A square of chocolate at the end of the day is the perfect treat. Since I'm going to eat only a little every day, I buy the really good stuff. Don't even bother with candy bars at the checkout counter. Pick a chocolate like you would choose a beautiful piece of fruit or a wine you're going to enjoy with friends. Then share. Or don't. But enjoy.


By the book: Smart Chefs Stay Slim by Allison Adato


Have Music on Hand

Music is a universal motivator. It boosts your spirit, puts a pep in your step and can dramatically increase your energy level. Music motivates us to do more and push harder. If you have a smartphone or mp3 player, download a killer playlist. There are certain songs that no matter what you’re doing or how you’re feeling, you can’t help but get up and move. Make sure those are on your list!


Buy the book: PUSH by Chalene Johnson


Next: Forever Young: Expert Tips for Aging Gracefully


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First Published Wed, 2012-03-07 10:35

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