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An action plan to feel great today and in the future.
It’s never too late to adopt healthy habits. In fact, starting when you’re young helps you thrive as you age, says Dilip Jeste, director of the Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Diego. Here are five habits you should cultivate now to stay healthy and happy throughout your life.
See also: 5 Tips to Age Better
Move for Strong Bones
Your bones are living tissue that are constantly renewed, and they grow stronger if you exercise and eat well, says Susan Brown, author of Better Bones, Better Body. Though some bone-density loss is natural, you can mitigate it by staying active through your lifetime. Weight-bearing exercise (such as jogging) as well as muscle-building exercises that include resistance against gravity (like these yoga poses) are important because the impact of weight on the bones sends them signals that trigger growth.
Fight Depression for a Healthy Brain
A long-term study from the University of California, San Francisco shows that depressed people (especially when depression hits late in life) are more likely to develop dementia. “People struggling with depression should not ignore their symptoms,” says study author Deborah Barnes, a psychiatry professor at UCSF. Medication, talk therapy, and exercise all have a good track record at combating depression.
Cultivate Heart-Healthy Optimism
Looking on the bright side may lower your risk of heart attack or stroke, according to research from the Harvard School of Public Health. Optimism may directly affect contributors to cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, or may simply encourage living a healthier lifestyle. Either way, says study author Julia Boehm, make staying happy a regular part of your self-care routine. “Spend time doing activities that bring you happiness, such as cultivating social relationships, expressing gratitude, and doing kind things for others.”
Eat Better Fats to Stay Sharp
Eating more monounsaturated fat (found in olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados) and less saturated fat (found in meat and butter) may protect your memory and cognitive skills as you age, according to a study of more than 6,000 older women from Harvard Medical School. Study author Olivia Okereke says poor cardiovascular health and chronic inflammation in the body (made worse by overconsumption of saturated fats) could be factors that trigger cognitive decline.
Eat Colors for Glowing Skin
For beautiful skin, eat more orange-red produce, such as tomatoes, squash, bell peppers, papaya, and carrots. Recent studies show that people with higher skin concentrations of carotenoids (a natural sunscreen) have fewer wrinkles and less evidence of sun damage. They also fight collagen-damaging enzymes, which proliferate with age.