Secrets of People Who Never Appear to Age
Do you know over-55 folks who seem to have bathed in the Fountain of Youth? Turns out that people who are aging with energy share a few smart habits. Here’s how you can follow suit.
When you get older, it’s time to slow down, ease up, and break out the recliner to take a rest, right? Not for a certain group of age-defying late-middle-agers. We all know people like this who could ease up (the kids have moved out; they’re retired or close to it) but seem to have zero intention to do so. Nope, they’re out there traveling the world, hiking with the grandkids, remodeling their homes, learning new cuisines. Their to-do lists are long, and slowing down is not on them. We would all do well to adopt the habits of these never-aging go-getters. What are their secrets? Listen up.
They set goals. Ambition is important at any age, but when you’re older, it becomes even more essential. “Goals keep people energized and give them a reason to get out of bed every day,” says Judy Gaman, a health and wellness expert at Executive Medicine of Texas and coauthor of Age to Perfection: How to Thrive to 100, Happy, Healthy, and Wise. Decide you’re going to finish reading a book series, walk a 5-K, or place among the top three teams in a doubles tennis tournament.
They get plenty of activity. And we’re not talking about just working out at the gym. For these folks, movement built into the day is the rule. They walk when they could drive, take the stairs rather than the elevator, and meet friends for active outings.
They eat their antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect your body from the harmful effects of free radicals—unstable molecules that can damage cells, accelerating aging. Foods that are high in antioxidants include colorful fruits and vegetables (particularly berries, avocados, and dark-green leafy veggies like spinach and kale), red and pinto beans, pecans and pistachios, and many spices.
They get plenty of protein. Every day your body breaks down just a little bit. Protein is necessary for all your cells to replicate and build themselves back up. Never-agers include plenty of lean meats, beans, legumes, almond butter, and eggs on their daily plates.
They take up new hobbies. The more you keep those synapses firing, the more nimble your brain will be. No matter what age they are, the young at heart sign up for Italian cooking classes, take up the violin, and faithfully do the Sunday crossword puzzles to keep their brains from shrinking.
They have a healthy dose of friends. As life changes, it becomes tougher to keep relationships. But people who make a point of keeping old connections—and making new ones—have more of a purpose in life. Don’t know where to start? Launch a book club or ask if your local religious organization has a group you can join. Or volunteer at a local soup kitchen. When you support others, you get what experts call a “helper’s high,” or a profound sense of well-being and optimism.
They don’t stress over the little things. Over time, chronic stress causes inflammation, which ages you and leads to just about every disease we know, says Gaman. Those who are young at heart don’t fret about issues that don’t truly matter, like petty fights with neighbors or relatives. Before you work yourself into a tizzy, ask yourself: Will this matter in an hour, a day, a week? Try to separate minor annoyances from truly stressful events.