Aging is something that happens to all of us–whether we like it or not. The Earth keeps on spinning around the sun, and with new each pass we notice things we’d really rather not–wrinkles, grey hairs, creaky joints–that remind us we’re not spring chickens anymore. But with age also comes wisdom and experience and often a feeling of being more comfortable, and happy, in our own skin.
No matter how old you are, there are lots of things that can make you feel just as good–maybe even better–than you did in your youth. Here are 13 of our coaches’ favorite ways to feel young at heart.
- Do something you love. “As we age, we often get stuck in the have-to-do and should-do traps that don’t leave time for the things we really enjoy,” says Coach Cassie. “I especially like to encourage movement. Moving your body can release endorphins so you get a youthful hit of hormones. Whatever you do, make it fun–Youtube dance videos, walks with a friend or at-home workouts where you use your kids (or grandkids) as weights!”
- Prep a meal with your children or grandchildren. Coach Lauren says, “Seeing kids explore and learn about food in a fun, hands-on way can bring great joy to everyone involved!”
- Reduce inflammation. Inflammation, a risk factor for most chronic illnesses, ages the body. Coach Eden suggests eating lots of colorful fruits and veggies, which are packed with free radical-blasting antioxidants, plus foods with omega-3 fat (i.e. salmon, sardines, walnuts, flax and chia seeds). It’s also a good idea to limit sugar, refined carbohydrates (i.e. cookies, chips and other processed snacks), trans fats (i.e. deep-fried foods), anything with “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients list and processed meats (i.e. hot dogs, bacon, sausage, etc.).
- Get up and dance! “Don’t think about it–just move to your favorite music,” says Coach Marcella. “It can make you feel like you’re celebrating your body and life itself!” In a study from the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, dancing and endurance training were both shown to help slow age-related decline. Dancing also showed improved balance, memory and learning. So what are you waiting for? Slip on your salsa shoes and move those hips!
- Write a letter. Apologizing or giving thanks for something someone did that you haven’t acknowledged before can mean the world to them. It can also release you from guilt and shame. The idea is to write a letter with honesty and compassion and with no expectation of receiving a response. Reaching out can feel tremendously liberating and courageous.
- Try resistance training. Did you know that after age 30, we lose 3-5% of our muscle mass with each passing decade? “This can leave us feeling weak with poor postural and core strength,” says Coach Shandy. “With proper guidance and instruction, a weight lifting class at your local gym or sessions with a trainer can gradually increase and help you maintain your muscle strength and stamina.”
- Hang out with your pets. Be present with them and see the world through their eyes:. Notice the way they run, how they’re curious about the scents and sights around them. When you play with them, watch how they experience joy. It can be contagious!
- Get involved in your community. Many of us find ourselves staring at our phones and computers more than ever before. “Get involved with an animal rescue organization, senior center or charity event to connect with others who share the same interests and sense of generosity you do,” Coach Marcella says. “It will help increase your faith in humanity and remind you of all that you have and how every day counts. Age becomes completely irrelevant when you’re in service to others.”
- Learn a new language. “Cómo estás?” That’s Spanish for “How are you?” A study from Spain’s University of Pampeu Fabra revealed that people who speak more than one language are better at observing their surroundings. Having to make sense of and assimilate new patterns boosts brain power and improves memory. Learning a language can prolong the effects of dementia, according to many studies. It also helps you connect with people from other cultures.
- Watch an animated film with friends and family. The nostalgia of sitting in the family room with your popcorn and string cheese and loved ones close can make you feel like a kid again.
- Eat the rainbow. Want your youthful glow back? Pick foods packed with antioxidants, healthy fats and essential nutrients. Eating fruits and veggies, researchers have concluded, is the safest way to combat fine lines and give your complexion a healthy boost. Be sure to add these top anti-aging foods to your meals: red bell pepper, watercress, avocado, papaya, blueberries, nuts, broccoli, spinach, pomegranate seeds and sweet potatoes.
- Create a scrapbook. Reminiscing over old photos or keepsakes can help you relive your life’s highlights and fondest memories. Coach Shandy suggests spending time thinking of ways to create new memories.
- Make sleep a priority. Sleep deprivation can make you feel (and look) older, says Coach Eden. While sometimes easier said than done, prioritizing a good night’s sleep goes a long way toward helping your body and mind feel refreshed and energized. Sleep–both quantity and quality–affects your memory, mood, hormones, weight, immunity, agility, how your body reacts to stress, hunger and digestion (just to name a few).
Yes Health is a low-cost, weight loss and diabetes-prevention program committed to helping everyone live healthier, happier lives.