What will keep you young? Yesterday, I stumbled upon a quote that struck a chord with me: ‘Most injuries in old age are caused by the fact that we think we are still young’. This made me chuckle, as I recalled many occasions when I attempted to keep pace with my 13-year-old in various TikTok dances, enthusiastically attempting Megan Thee Stallion knee routines, only to find myself in recovery mode for several days afterwards!
Aging is a natural part of life, and it’s something we all go through. However, staying youthful is a goal many of us aspire to achieve. While we can’t stop the clock, there are several things you can do to keep you young and keep your mind and body active and vibrant. In this blog, we’ll explore 7 practices that can help keep you young and enjoy life to the fullest.
I often get complimented on my youthful appearance, and many exclaim incredulously that I have a thirty-something-old child. I usually coyly accept the compliments with some version of the fact that I have good genes or that I am lucky. Whereas good genetics and the luck of the draw have some part to play, I must admit that since my 40s, I have engaged in some key practices that may have helped keep the youthful glow. Have a read and see if these could work to keep you young.
1. Stay Physically Active
One of the most effective ways to maintain youthfulness is to stay physically active. Regular exercise not only keeps your body in shape but also has many mental and emotional benefits. Engaging in activities like walking, jogging, swimming, or yoga can improve your cardiovascular health, boost your energy levels, and enhance your mood. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week to keep your body in the best condition.
I have recently started walking as a core part of my physical routine, having spent many years running as my go-to. Recent knee trouble has knocked out my marathon ambitions. I have also incorporated strength training into my weekly exercise and am feeling much stronger and fitter as a result. I hope to return to running, but for now, I am enjoying my morning walks.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for both physical and mental well-being. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats provides your body with the necessary nutrients to function at its best. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, for example, are known to support brain health and can help keep cognitive function as you age. Additionally, staying hydrated is crucial, as proper hydration can help keep youthful skin and overall vitality.
Nutrition is undeniably the biggest influencer on how we feel. When I consume greasy, starchy foods, it leaves me feeling sluggish for days. I have incorporated fasting into my eating routine. I recognise that may not be suitable for everyone, but it has been effective for me in managing my calorie intake. By practicing mindful eating within my designated eating window, I’ve noticed a significant boost in my energy levels and mood throughout the day.
3. Take care of your skin
Maintaining healthy skin becomes even more crucial as the signs of ageing become more apparent. A solid skincare routine can make a significant difference and keep you young. Gentle cleansing and hydration are key, so choose a moisturizer rich in antioxidants and hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture and plump the skin. Incorporate good quality sunscreen into your daily regimen to protect against further sun damage and age spots.
I’ve been lucky to have naturally good skin, but my skincare game changed after I watched a video featuring Angela Bassett, where she attributed her youthful look to sunscreen. I use a combination of retinol (but be careful with this as it’s easy to burn), vitamin C, and sunscreen in my daily skincare regimen, and it’s transformed my complexion from dull to radiant. Growing up in Africa, I’ve always sought shade to protect my skin from the sun (those who know the savanna sun will understand), but now I also make sure to wear a hat for added sun protection. My favourite skincare product is Olay Regenerist Multisculpting Cream. It has all the protection without the hefty price tag. Let me know below what works for you!
4. Keep Learning
The saying “You’re never too old to learn” holds true. Engaging in lifelong learning is a powerful way to keep your mind sharp and youthful. Whether it’s picking up a new language, learning to play a musical instrument, or exploring a new hobby, continuous learning stimulates your brain and promotes cognitive flexibility. It also helps you stay curious and open to new experiences, which are traits often associated with youthfulness.
I must admit kids can be a big factor in helping keep you young. Life is constantly evolving with new technology, changing ideologies, and a fast-paced world that can leave you feeling like a dinosaur. However, having these young ones around has kept me on my toes and made me eager to learn. I also make it a point to read regularly, which not only broadens my knowledge but also helps me stay current with new ideas and trends.
5. Foster Social Connections
Maintaining strong social connections is vital for staying young at heart. Loneliness and isolation can have negative effects on both your physical and mental health. Make an effort to nurture your relationships with family and friends and seek opportunities to meet new people and build connections. Engaging in social activities, volunteering, or joining clubs and groups that align with your interests can help you stay socially active and vibrant.
I’m what you might call an extroverted introvert. Forming connections in new social circles can be a bit challenging for me, and I tend to take my time when making new friends. However, I absolutely adore hosting gatherings and bringing people together. As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed that building deep and meaningful relationships can be more difficult, but I’ve also discovered that being open to hobbies and getting involved in local activities can lead to connections that have a lasting impact.
6. Prioritize Mental Health and Stress Management
Chronic stress can accelerate the ageing process and take a toll on your overall well-being. To stay young, it’s crucial to prioritize mental health and develop effective stress management techniques. Meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, and hobbies that promote relaxation (like gardening or painting) can all help reduce stress and promote a sense of inner peace. Seeking professional help when needed is also a crucial step in supporting mental health.
It’s clear that stress can really take a toll on your youthful appearance. Just look at world leaders, comparing their appearance at the start of their term to when they step down – stress can age you faster than anything else. I must admit I tend to be a worrier, a trait I inherited from my mother. However, I’ve set up daily routines and have the incredible support of my hubby during stressful times. Corny as this sounds, I owe finding inner peace to Oprah, who introduced me to the benefits of journaling and practising gratitude in my 30s.
7. Bonus: Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
HRT can bring some great benefits, especially for women going through menopause. It’s a game-changer for dealing with annoying menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and dryness down there. HRT can also help keep your bones strong, reducing the risk of fractures. There’s even a chance it might improve your heart health. Plus, it can make your skin look better and more hydrated. But remember, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, as HRT has some risks too. So, always chat with your doctor to see if it’s right for you based on your health and needs.
HRT was a game changer for me after 50. I can’t categorically say that it is what keeps me youthful, but I definitely needed it when I started with insomnia, hot flashes, and mood swings. I tried natural remedies first, but these did not work for me. Some friends, however, have been lucky enough to find relief in more herbal interventions. You always have to go with what works for you.
While we can’t stop the ageing process, we can take proactive steps to stay young at heart and mind and these 7 practices will help. By staying physically active, following a healthy diet, taking care of your skin, engaging in lifelong learning, fostering social connections, and prioritizing mental health and stress management, you can enhance your overall quality of life and maintain a youthful outlook.
At various stages in your life, you can also talk to your healthcare provider and see if some interventions can help ease some symptoms that come with age. HRT was that intervention that helped me, but you need to find what works for you. Remember that age is just a number, and the key to staying young lies in how you approach life and take care of your physical and mental well-being. So, embrace these practices, and let your youthful spirit shine through the years.