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Tips for Aging Well

Armen Hareyan's picture

Since aging is so complex, it's unlikely that one pill or procedure can slow the process.

Wrinkles, gray hair and bifocals. Past a certain age, evidence of aging is all too obvious. But so far, no single theory explains how or why aging occurs.

Researchers generally view aging as many processes or factors that interact and influence each other, including cellular wear and tear; DNA damage; hormone changes; immune system changes; and free radicals (unstable oxygen molecules).

Since aging is so complex, it's unlikely that one pill or procedure can slow the process. Researchers are studying antioxidants, hormone replacement, calorie-restricted diets and other antiaging therapies. Until more is known, your best bet for a long and healthy life is to focus on lifestyle strategies.

The January issue of Mayo Clinic Women's Health Source offers tips for aging well.

  • Eat well: Numerous studies indicate that a healthy diet can help you live longer and better. Eat foods that have lots of essential nutrients in proportion to their calories - whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits and legumes.

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  • Keep physically active: Aim for 30 minutes or more of exercise most days of the week. Benefits include weight control, improved blood circulation, increased muscle mass, greater flexibility, more endurance and improved balance.

  • Use sun protection: Sun exposure is responsible for much of the skin damage associated with aging and is the major risk factor for skin cancer.

  • Limit alcohol: More than one drink a day for women can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, some cancers and liver and pancreatic diseases. Alcohol can weaken your immune system, affect your cognitive abilities and increase your risk of falling.

  • Avoid tobacco use: Smoking is linked to various cancers, as well as to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and lung disease.

  • Stay socially connected and intellectually curious: Having strong ties to family and friends can buffer or reduce some health-related effects of aging and stress. Exercising your brain with classes, hobbies, reading and other mind-challenging activities can help you better maintain your memory.

  • Get regular medical exams and preventive health screenings: Many diseases that can affect your health are highly treatable when detected early.