by Caryne Heeks

Age is but a number

A list of things which you can do to look and feel younger

Avoid telltale signs of ageing
Look and feel younger

There may now be some credence to that saying "You're only as old as you feel." 'Metabolic age' is a new buzzword in the fields of health and fitness. Is it a fad, or is there something to this idea that you could be younger or older than your chronological age?

Metabolic age versus chronological age

What is metabolic age and how does it differ from chronological age? Chronological age is your age in calendar years. Metabolic age is a number that comes from comparing your Basal Metabolic Rate with the Basal Metabolic Rate average of your chronological age group. Depending on how you compare you are assigned a metabolic age number that can be lower or higher than your chronological age. A metabolic age number younger than your chronological age generally means that you are fitter and in better health than the average, the lower the age the better in shape you are. An older metabolic age points towards being less healthy and fit than your peers and if it’s much older than your chronological age, this should be considered a wake-up call.

Here are a few tips on how to look and feel younger

Get active more often

Not only is exercise essential for good heart health and for keeping off the weight gain that many of us experience as we get older, staying active is also important for good posture and skin. Improving your core strength and your body’s flexibility through exercises such as yoga and Pilates can help to improve postural problems and correct spine curvature. Exercise also increases blood flow to the skin, which helps to nourish skin cells.

Adopt the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet has long been renowned as one of the healthiest diets in the world. This healthy diet is rich in oily fish; a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to prevent cardiovascular disease, wrinkles and joint pain and which are beneficial for your brain and eyesight. It is also packed with antioxidant-rich fruit, veg and olive oil, which can help to protect against age-related illnesses and keep your skin wrinkle-free.

Think positively

Not only does positive thinking cut stress (which can increase your risk of heart disease and speed up cellular ageing) but a ground-breaking experiment by psychologist Ellen Langer studied the effects of positive thinking and found that when elderly participants were treated as physically capable and encouraged to think of themselves in this way, their bodies actually followed suit. Tests showed that the men showed remarkable improvement in many areas, including dexterity, speed of movement, memory, arthritis and blood pressure, and they even had better hearing and eyesight.

Pay attention to problem areas

Certain areas of our bodies – including our eyes, hands and neck – commonly begin to show signs of ageing before others. Moisturise your neck every time you apply your face cream and apply a separate eye cream to the sensitive under-eye area. To look after your hands, try washing with a gentle hand wash and applying hand lotion after every wash. You can also give your hands an overnight treatment by slathering them with olive oil and putting on some softening gloves before you go to sleep.

Reduce your sugar intake

Not only will reducing your sugar consumption help to improve your appearance by keeping off any excess weight, it can also help to reduce wrinkles. When blood sugar levels are high, a process called glycation occurs which damages the collagen in your skin, leading to wrinkles and sagging. 

Stop smoking

Not only does smoking increase your risk of many serious illnesses, including cancer and heart disease, it is also a major factor behind many common signs of ageing. Smoking can irritate the skin and deprive it of oxygen and nutrients, leading to wrinkles and dull skin. It can also increase the risk of many common eye conditions and double your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

Wear an SPF lotion every day

While certain amounts of sunshine are beneficial for your health and skin, too much sun exposure is a major cause of ageing skin and wrinkles, so make sure you wear an SPF of at least factor 15 when exposed to the sun for over 15 minutes at a time. Switch to a higher SPF in hotter climates and when the sun is at its strongest.

Get more sleep

Most of us lead busy lives, and this can mean that we cut back on our sleep. However, researchers believe that this could actually accelerate the speed with which we age. Ongoing sleep deprivation could exacerbate or speed up the onset of many age-related conditions such as memory loss, obesity and diabetes. To look and feel younger, try to implement a regular bedtime routine and make sure that you are getting enough sleep.

Take up a hobby

Research suggests that frequent participation in mentally stimulating actives can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, while separate studies show that the wider the range of relationships a person has, the less cognitive decline they will experience with ageing. To keep your brain young and healthy, try to take up a hobby that will both challenge your brain and ensure that you spend time with a wide range of people. Games such as chess or cards are good sociable activities that are beneficial for the brain, or you could consider doing some voluntary work or joining a book club, writing group, orchestra or language class to stay sociable and engage your brain. 

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