7 Ways to Defy Your Age Inside and Out

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You have to hand it to humankind: we’re a tragicomical lot.

Despite the fact that more of us are growing older than at any time in history, we’re fighting harder than any previous generation to stay young. And, rather than approach this absurd paradox with anything resembling common sense, we turn en masse to Botox injections, anti-aging hormones, and a cosmetic surgery industry that promises to lift and contour just about any body part we can drag to the operating table.

As a result, a slew of Americans now look suspiciously like Batman’s “Joker,” and they’re collectively spending over $10 billion a year for the privilege. While cosmetic or reconstructive surgery undeniably has its place, there are much simpler – and possibly more effective – ways to defy the aging process:

1. Get some exercise. Regular physical activity not only keeps your weight down and helps you stay light on your feet; it tones the muscles that support your pelt. Breaking a sweat a few times a week also helps clear your pores, which can’t help but make your skin look more youthful.

2. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. You may have been a party animal once upon a time, but research shows that people who get adequate sleep have fewer health problems, including high blood pressure, musculoskeletal pain, and obesity. Besides, there’s nothing that will make you look older faster than a couple of handbags beneath your weary eyes.

3. Eat properly. Those preservatives they put in processed foods are designed to improve the foods’ shelf life, not yours. The saturated and trans fats, preservatives, sugars, and other oxidizing agents found in processed foods are tough on your skin as well as your insides. Limit your intake of animal proteins and eat more fruits and vegetables, which are packed with antioxidants and other phytochemicals that will keep you glowing all the way through.   

4. If you smoke, quit. In addition to subtracting years from your life, smoking adds years to your face. Gazing into the visage of a longtime smoker is like perusing a topography map of South Dakota’s badlands.

5. Don’t be a slave to the sun. Sunlight can be your friend, but it can be your skin’s worst enemy. Ten to 15 minutes of sun exposure each day will infuse your system with up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D, and that’s a good thing. But 10 to 15 minutes beneath el Sol is plenty; prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light breaks down the elastin in your skin, which eventually lets your skin sag and droop…and there’s no good way to compensate for the loss of your skin’s youthful stretch.

6. Unload some stress. Get a massage, meditate, or go for a run. If you can’t get a handle on stress, seek counseling. Chronic worry increases your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, and it shows on your exterior, too. People who are stressed tend to frown or scowl, which creates furrows that make them look older. (Ever notice how people with “laugh lines” look younger than those who wear their stress on their faces? If you’re going to get some facial wrinkles anyway, go for the ones that shout, “I’m still a kid!”)

7. Keep the romance in your life. People who are in love simply look and feel younger. According to scientists who are supposed to know such things, we make youth-preserving hormones when we touch our lovers. On a whim, pick up a card or a bouquet of flowers for your mate; go on a date at least once a month; take walks that are specifically designed to discuss your hopes and dreams, rather than your worries and fears. And leave your work behind when you come home.

None of these tips is earth-shaking, and none will suddenly erase those pesky “elevens” between your eyebrows. However, they’re all doable, they all confer long-term benefits, and they’re all safe and cheap.

Here's to your wellness,


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