Occasional fashion disasters notwithstanding, we take pride in our originality. Nonetheless, we find that an old adage still rings true once in a while, and “you’re only as old as you think you are” is a phrase we find ourselves throwing around on a daily basis. Our bodies and minds are on a feedback loop—if you give in to feeling old then your body is quickly going to follow suit. But if you adopt the “50 is the new 40” (even better, 30!) way of thinking, then you’re likely to find your physique complying. In turn, if you treat your body well, then fears and negative feelings about aging tend to dissipate. So, where to start—your body or your brain? Take them both on, and you’ll have discovered the elusive secret of those enviable women who feel increasingly young and vibrant as they age.
Diet & Exercise
You knew we were going to start here, didn’t you. But it’s true—eat well, exercise regularly, get outdoors, and suddenly you’ll be sleeping better, meeting more challenges and taking years off your general outlook. Begin by eliminating as much as sugar, caffeine and alcohol from your diet as you can. These dietary bugbears are maligned for a reason—they sap your energy and throw off your daily rhythms.
Try for 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise at least three times per week. But also think about how physical activity figures into your whole lifestyle. Going to the gym is great, but getting outside into the fresh air and walking, raking leaves, playing golf, gardening or whatever you like to do out there is so important. Not to sound too woo-woo, but experiencing nature and remembering the relative size of our place in it is invigorating.
Stay Social & Get Involved
Time and again studies show that keeping up with friends and staying social is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health as you age. A robust social life has been shown to potentially improve cardiovascular health, and even to reduce the risk of cancer, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Mostly importantly, we think, our friends keep us engaged in the world. Staying involved in one another’s lives creates a sense of self-worth and maintains a supportive network that we can call on during tough times. If, like us, you’re no longer inclined to stay out dancing all night, then now’s a great time to start a book club, weekly tennis match or monthly dinner-party group that you can rely on for a good time and sense of social connection.
Making new friends and keeping up with the old ones is key, but so is getting involved in the greater social world—nothing feels better than a sense that you’re contributing to the betterment of others’ lives. Whether through a church, a charity or your kids’ school, putting yourself in a position to make a difference is a reminder of your brains, abilities and reasons for remaining young at heart.
Keep Up the Romance
Maintaining your connection to your partner goes a long way to keep both of you feeling young, vital, attractive and generally present in your lives. As we age some of us do experience sexual health concerns that only rarely have to affect our physical relationships. Talk to your doctor about any bodily changes that might be bothering you or affecting your sexual performance, but otherwise just get down to it and as often as you can.
In addition to sex, make sure to keep the romance alive—dates, gifts and sympathetic attention to one another’s needs and problems are so important for maintaining a connection. Knowing that our partners will be by our sides and involved in our physical and mental lives just as much as ever as we age is necessary to feeling healthy, relevant and needed.
There might not be a fountain of youth (or not yet—we’ve still got our fingers crossed), but if the wisdom of our years has taught us anything it’s that our general positive outlooks are as close to a magical age-reducing elixir as we can get. Staying active in all the ways is the best thing any of us can do to remain vibrant and engaged.