Anti-aging, as a term, or concept, is thrown around very easily these days.
It can be used as an adjective, like “This hemorrhoid cream is amazing, it has anti-aging effects if applied to the face.”
This describes retin-A, a prescription hemorrhoid cream that was found to reduce puffiness and wrinkles in the face. The cream itself does not have anti-aging properties, it just makes one appear younger by temporarily reducing wrinkles.
It can also be used as a concept, in that eating healthy and exercising has anti-aging effects on the body. Leading a healthy lifestyle slows down the aging process.
You have to do maintenance on your car, teeth, house, lawn, etc. If you don’t do any maintenance, then things will only get progressively worse. If you let your lawn grow for 3 months, then you are going to have to spend hours of maintenance to get it back in order. At least with a lawn, you can be assured that you can get it back to how it was before you neglected it.
Unfortunately, where our bodies are concerned, if health issues are left unchecked, they can reach a point of no return. This is what happens with osteo-arthritis. It takes years to come on and progress. It slowly gets worse over time until an affected joint becomes arthritic. Once a joint becomes arthritic, you cannot get rid of that arthritis. You can slow the progression of the arthritis down and decrease the symptoms associated with the arthritic joint, but you can’t get rid of the arthritis.
Once you have osteo-arthritis, or diabetes, or heart disease, (or any of the other chronic illnesses), your life will never be the same again. Injuries affect us long term as well. Once you have an injury, that part of your body will never be the same again. You will always be structurally a little less stable after an injury in that area, and more susceptible to forming arthritis in that joint.
It may not seem like a big deal if one joint is less stable than other areas. This lack of stability creates imbalance that builds up over time to cause increased wear and tear which leads to osteo-arthritis.
A study concluded that the primary cause of traumatic spinal injury in those over age 65 is from falling. It used to be from car accidents. Well, okay, that is an interesting statistic, but what does that mean to me, you may be thinking?
If you extrapolate this study one step further, the leading cause of falling in those over age 65 is from a lack of hip mobility. This lack of hip mobility builds up over time. It comes from years of not stretching and which allows the muscles in the hips, legs, and low back to get tighter and tighter until they permanently loose range of motion. If you sit at a desk for work, which most people do now, it will be compounded and progress quicker.
These are all reasons why how you are treating your body now will have drastic influences on how you feel in the future. Everything is tied in together.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself that can help to determine how fast you are aging.
Do you eat healthy? Eating badly will cause your body to age prematurely and break down faster.
Eating processed foods and food-like substances, fast foods and other bad for you foods will cause your body to break down and cause you to age quickly. Processed foods and other bad for you foods produce free radicals in your body. Free radicals are negatively charged particles that attach themselves to other molecules and cells throughout the body. These free radicals then disrupt the cells or molecules and cause them to break down. Thus causing your body to break down on a microscopic level, which eventually translates into your body breaking down on a larger level.
Artificial sweeteners will also cause you to age prematurely through contributing to the breakdown of your body. Aspartame is converted to formaldehyde in our bodies. Formaldehyde is a horribly toxic and carcinogenic substance that is used to preserve dead bodies.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are chock full of anti-oxidants. Fish is full of heart healthy fats. Olive oil is full of anti-inflammatory properties. Berries are a great source of anti-oxidants and vitamins. Eating these foods regularly throughout the day will keep you healthy and feeling better for a long time. As a rule of thumb I recommend eating some fruit or vegetable with every meal.
Do you smoke? Scientists are now looking at our lives as being made up of micro-lives. Each micro life is 15 minutes. Each cigarette you smoke will shorten your lifespan by 1 micro life, or 15 minutes. Smoking will also worsen any health issue that may be lurking. Smoking causes cancer and will cause your body to breakdown and age quickly.
Do you exercise consistently? Exercising is one of the most important factors for aging gracefully, comfortably, and slowly. Exercise will allow you to stay active. It will give you the best chance possible of being able to live on your own as you age. It will give you the best chance possible of being able to still do the activities that you love to do, as you get older.
Proper exercise will keep your joints and muscles strong and loose. Proper exercise will maintain the integrity of your joints, which will preserve them and keep them stable for years to come.
It is more important to be consistent with exercise, rather than going hard and being intense. Go easy on your body when exercising, especially the older you get. The older we all get, the slower we will recover from injuries and insults to our bodies, no matter how small or large the injury.
If you do high impact, high intensity exercising with heavy weights, your joints will break down quickly, thus leaving your joints susceptible to becoming arthritic.
High impact exercise systems such as P90x, Crossfit, Insanity, etc, all have high rates of injury. Of those who participate in high impact exercise systems, 75% will sustain an injury that is bad enough that they have to take time off of exercising and even work.
As we get older, we won’t recover from those injuries the same way we did when we were younger. It will take us longer to heal from injuries, and once we heal, we’re never the same again. The more you are injured, the less you can exercise and take care of yourself. Do an exercise system that doesn’t hurt you. Perform exercises that don’t have a high rate of injury. Exercise smarter, rather than harder.
The world isn’t going to go easy on you, so you need to be easy on yourself. The world isn’t easy on your body, so you need to be. Be kind to your body. Do easy on the body exercises that are easy to maintain. Perform exercises that you can do consistently, to get the most out of exercise.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Plan accordingly. One way to think about it is to think of your body sustainably. Can you sustain the exercise program that you are doing now? Can you still see yourself doing it in 5 to 10 years from now? If it is too hard and rigorous to keep up, then switch to something that you can maintain and keep up with.
You will only gain the benefits from exercising, while consistently exercising. Once you stop exercising for more than 1 to 2 months, you’ve lost most of the benefits from exercise such as: better endurance, stronger and more stable muscles and joints, less pain from the more stable joints, lower chances of heart disease and high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
If you exercise hard for a few months, then injure yourself and have to stop, then start back up again a few months later, then injure yourself again and stop again and so on and so on, you will not get many benefits from exercising.
If you were to do low impact and low intensity exercising, you could stick with those exercises indefinitely, thus giving those exercises a chance to strengthen your body and stabilize painful and irritated joints, over time.
Don’t believe the hype about anti-aging products. Most of the products just cover up the aging process, temporarily helping you to appear younger. But many of these products can actually do harm, and will do nothing to improve your overall health.
If you want to look and feel younger, then there is no miracle pill or hidden celebrity secret. The secret is healthy eating and exercise. Just make sure to eat the proper foods, and exercise in the right way.
Healthy eating and exercising doesn’t have to take over your life. Eat intelligently, and exercise intelligently to slow down the aging process. This is the Pain Free Way.
Here are a few other articles that I wrote about the Mediterranean Lifestyle, healthy eating and how it reduces the aging process: