It’s not always fun to see your hair go gray or your skin get more wrinkly. Thankfully, there are ways to maintain your health and youthful appearance. Implementing these five tricks into your life will increase your energy and prevent chronic diseases.
AVOID CANNED FOODS
Like most Americans, you probably have some canned food in your pantry. But here’s a good reason to reconsider them: some cans contain the dangerous chemical BPA (bisphenol A), which is why you should limit or better yet, eliminate canned foods from your grocery list. BPA is considered a hormone disruptor and has been associated with numerous health conditions including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and reproductive issues.
In one study that tested nearly 200 food cans on grocery store shelves, two out of three tested positive for BPA. Those who ate just one canned food in the past day had roughly 24 percent higher concentrations of BPA in their urine versus those who hadn’t eaten canned food. That concentration of BPA increased by 54 percent with just two or more foods from cans. Another study found that eating canned soup and pasta resulted in higher BPA concentrations in urine than other foods, 229 percent for soup and 70 percent for pasta. Canned fruits and veggies, on the other hand, had 41 percent higher concentrations of BPA.
Researchers are still trying to determine the health consequences of BPA—and perhaps other chemicals that are replacing BPA, so don’t assume “BPA-free” means “healthy”—but it’s safe to say that the less canned food you eat, the better. Instead, opt for foods packaged in glass containers or fresh, unpackaged food as much as possible.
REAPPLY SUNSCREEN EVERY TWO HOURS
Putting sunscreen on in the morning is great, but you’re not done for the day. You need to reapply this powerful defense against aging every two hours. This advice might sound like it’s best reserved for those beach vacations or lazy days around a pool. While it applies there, too, it’s also something you should start doing every day, whether you’re going to the office or running your kids around.
Because sunscreen easily wears off and can be broken down by the sun, you need to reapply at least every two hours (although if you’ve just been swimming or sweating heavily, you’ll need to reapply immediately). Set a timer on your phone to remind you throughout the day and then stash sunscreen sticks or bottles in your purse, office drawer, and glove box (unless it’s too hot in your car, as the heat will cause sunscreen to break down more quickly) for reapplications.
If you start belting out tunes like there’s no tomorrow whenever you get in your car or shower, you’ll have many more tomorrows. That’s because singing makes you smile, and when you smile, you’re happier, and being happy can lead to a longer life. Singing was actually one of three activities Scandinavian researchers pinpointed as leading to a healthy, happy life (camping and dancing were the other two).
The benefits of singing are both physical and psychological. Surprisingly, singing counts as an aerobic activity, increasing oxygen in your blood and exercising all of the muscles in your upper body. Upshot? You could improve your breathing. On the mental side, it releases those feel-good hormones called endorphins that lift your mood and decrease stress, and because you’re mentally exercising your brain, so to speak, you might even create new neural pathways, leading to less age-related cognitive decline.
Bottom line? Sing whenever the spirit moves you (let’s hope it’s often). Earn bonus points if you do it with others, as studies show this can give you a greater sense of well-being and community.
RELIEVE ACHING MUSCLES WITH A FOAM ROLLER
You lose flexibility as you age, which makes moving tougher. While stretching is good, foam rolling is even better at keeping your muscles supple and young. A foam roller is a cylindrical-shaped tube that comes in various sizes. By lying on top of it and rolling it beneath you, you can massage your muscles, working deep into muscle tissue called fascia.
One of the main benefits of foam rolling is that you can reduce muscle soreness after exercising. Studies also show that foam rolling can increase the range of motion around the joints, reduce stiffness of the arteries, (even in healthy young adults), lower blood pressure, and reduce cellulite.
Foam rollers come in different firmness levels, so if you’re new to foam rolling, start with one that’s less firm. No matter what firmness you use, prepare to feel a little discomfort. It shouldn’t be painful, though, so back off if it is. As you roll, notice areas that feel particularly tight. Keep the roller in those places for a few seconds until you feel the tightness dissipate. Foam roll as often as you’d like, especially after you exercise or before going to bed. Place a roller by your bed so you remember to do it.
SPEND TIME IN GREEN SPACES EVERY DAY
Living near green space isn’t only a boon for your happiness, it’s also a life-promoting health booster. In recent years, as more people have moved into urban areas and new buildings have been constructed, the amount of green space in cities has dropped considerably. That’s not a good thing for health, as the data has conclusively pointed to green space as being good for mind, body, and spirit. Without exposure to green space, it’s possible you could become unhealthier.
What’s the magic behind green space? For starters, it provides motivation to get out and move, which is why studies have shown that people who live near parks have lower body mass indexes than people who don’t live by them. Folks are also more likely to meet recommended exercise guidelines and watch less TV when they live near green space. Depression, heart rate, and rates of violence drop while overall mental health and vitality improve. You might even gain a few years, as living near green space decreases the risk of death.
If you don’t live near a green space, get creative. For instance, seek out a local park and take a walk there, eat lunch outside if your office is located near trees, or hop on your bike and go in search of green areas.
And remember, age is just a number! Only you can decide what that number means, and know that age doesn’t have to define you. So, stop complaining about getting older and instead celebrate your age. View each birthday as a celebration and find a way to honor the years you’ve spent on this earth—and all the years you have yet to enjoy.