Keith Mcniven talks us through slowing the ageing process naturally. Like the wicked queen from the book Snow White, you squint into the mirror searching for new wrinkles, lumps and bumps, fearful of getting older. Ageing is a fact of life, but it’s a lot more than how you look in the mirror. And with these 5 healthy ways to slow down the ageing process, you might not need to resort to trickery and magic to reverse the years.
1) Lower your biological age. Forget the number that adorned your birthday card this year, your biological age is a far better predictor of physical and cognitive functioning and even facial ageing. You might be 20, 30 or 40 but that number doesn’t determine how healthy your body is and how it’s ageing, your biological age does. And whilst a lot of how you age biologically comes down to your genes, a huge part is how you’ve treated your body. Two big factors that contribute to your biological age are smoking and obesity, and if you are in the bracket of either your biological age may well be higher than your chronological age. Quitting smoking and losing weight will be vital to helping you to slow the ageing process.
2) Build muscle mass. 30 is a huge birthday milestone but it’s also a major ageing milestone because that’s the age when your body starts to lose muscle. In fact, from the ages of 30-80 you could lose up to 50% of muscle mass. That’s a huge amount of muscle to lose and it’ll impact hugely on how you age biologically because muscle burns more calories (so less muscle means you’ll be more likely to put on weight) and it also means you won’t have the strength that you used to have to perform everyday tasks. Counteract this natural loss of muscle mass with a strength training programme to build new muscle and keep you feeling young.
3) Manage stress. Stress can weaken immunity, and make you more susceptible to all kinds of illnesses and diseases, which can be incredibly ageing for your body and also your mental and emotional wellbeing. People tend to think of stress relieving exercise as anything calm, so things like Tai Chi or yoga, but you can actually get stress relief from any type of exercise at all. Exercise releases feel good chemicals like serotonin and endorphins into your system, helping you to feel better and manage stress more effectively. So, if yoga isn’t your thing, give another type of exercise a try, minimise the impact stress has on you, and slow the ageing process.
4) Keep your heart healthy. If you were able to see right into your heart, what would you see? You’d see thickening walls, hardening arteries and a heart having to work harder than ever just to keep your blood pumping. Sadly, we can’t see the state our hearts are in as we age, and often the only indication that something is wrong is high blood pressure, or potentially heart disease and stroke. Do you heart a favour and avoid it ageing prematurely by committing not only to exercise, but to regular exercise. Your maximum heart rate decreases as you age so cardiovascular exercise is particularly beneficial. Aim to train 3-4 times a week.
- Eat for health. Those endless takeaways and missed meals just aren’t going to cut it as you get older. The food you eat is essential for nourishing your body and giving it the nutrients it needs as you age. Take counteracting muscle loss as an example, if you’re trying to build new muscle then extra protein is essential. A healthy anti-ageing diet should contain 7 components: protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water with each one contributing significantly to helping you to look and feel younger. As another example, eating enough fibre can help to lower your cholesterol, reduce inflammation (linked to arthritis and other diseases) and control your weight because eating fibre rich foods help you to stay fuller for longer. When you start to see food as one of the ways to slow the ageing process, it can help you to make much better choices. Who needs takeaways anyway?