There are many great things to strive for in life: a loving family, a nice home, a good community. But one thing occasionally overlooked is the continued quality of life throughout life. Here, physiological age is pitted against chronological age, while our bodies struggle to maintain youth as the time goes by.
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Physiological age refers to “how ‘old’ your body is” while chronological age refers to the number of years you’ve been alive. We’ve all seen someone who is 30, but looks as if they are 40; likewise, we’ve seen someone who is 50, but looks as if they are 40. The difference between these two scenarios is lifestyle. That is to say that, depending on how you live your life, how you choose diet, and how you treat your body can have a major effect on how long you live.
So, what can we do to maintain our healthy vigor and strong body?
Number 1. Sleep
This one should be a no brainer. How many times have you heard you should get at least 8 hours of sleep? Well, I’m here to tell you there is wisdom in the many. Getting 8 hours of sleep a night provides the brain and body ample time for cell recovery. In fact, during sleep, the brain repairs parts of itself that affect decision making and memory. Want to be sharp at work or in the morning? Get some rest.
Number 2. Diet
Yes, yes, yes. Another sermon for the preacher to give to the choir. But seriously, this is important. You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the average US diet is out proportioned in fat and carbohydrates. Nearly 30-35 percent of our caloric intake comes from fat – that’s double what some doctors recommend. Furthermore, we get only 40-45 percent daily caloric intake from carbs, which is both too low and from a bad source: refined carbohydrates.
Solution? Start a “diet” with low fat, high fiber, and protein and fiber from vegetables. I “quote” the word ‘diet' because you shouldn’t look at it like you’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle. Instead, look at this not as a diet, but rather as a necessity for longevity. A healthy diet doesn't have to be expensive either – cheap, healthy, and organic eating is possible. Reduce your risk for cancer, reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, change your eating habits. Your children will thank you.
Number 3. Exercise
Again, this should be obvious. Exercise helps strengthen bones, maintain fat cells, and decrease blood pressure, and it just overall helps you feel good. Stretching when you wake up will help you feel limber throughout the day too. Doing 5-10 minutes of stretching and 15-20 pushups both in the morning and the night can make a world of a difference. Even try yoga with the kids! Don’t worry, you don’t need to be Rambo. Just be healthy.
Number 4. Do not Smoke
Want to be convinced? Go to thetruth.com. Allow me to regurgitate; lung cancer is the major killer between men and women, chemicals in tobacco contains cancer causing carcinogens, and tobacco use contributes to a cancer that kills more than most others combined. “Why should you smoke” is the real question, not why you shouldn’t.
Number 5. Moderate Alcohol Consumption
Everything is bad in excess and alcohol is no exception. Besides the risk associated with drunk driving, too much alcohol can decrease the amount of calcium in your bones, increase your risk for cancers of the mouth, through, liver, and breast, and can impair nutrient absorption. It’s a diuretic, meaning it will increase your chances of osteoporosis, and it is a depressant, meaning it will make you feel worse.
Although – and don’t get too excited – moderate consumption (<1 drink a day) is relatively non-consequential and drinking red wine 5 days out of the week seems to have a beneficial effect.
Number 6. Control Stress
Kids have to be picked up at 3:00 then dropped off by 4:30. Report is due at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Dinner has to be ready at 6… Whoa, whoa, whoa, control that stress there buddy. It’s true: controlling stress can be a key to longevity and increased life expectancy. It is also a contributing factor to heart disease and stroke.
All of our life’s stressors – be it work, family, school, or exercise – compound and add to stress and anxiety. It is controlling stress, then, that is key. Do some deep breathing, drink some tea, and remind yourself of the little things. Excuse my French, but shit happens. Dealing with it calmly and collectively is the goal. So don’t worry! With an application of all of the above, you’ll be feeling younger in no time.