We often admire people who look good for their age—what’s their secret? More than just aging gracefully, they’re aging healthily. These people practice certain habits that keep their body clean and new inside and out. The good news? These habits don’t take a miracle or a deal with the devil to cop – they’re simple enough for you to practice every day, and they’ll keep you looking fresh and young. Here are 7 habits of youthful-looking people:
1. Wake well
Michael Decker, Ph.D., a sleep specialist and associate professor at Case Western School of Nursing says it’s all about maintaining a regimented sleep-wake cycle. Avoid an erratic sleep schedule during the week & binge sleeping on the weekend – this gives you a feeling akin to jet lag and leaves you looking and feeling exhausted.
Instead, clock in enough hours to get a full cycle of high-quality sleep. It’s imperative that you reach a state of deep—dreamless sleep—where the body makes necessary repairs and resets itself, allowing you to feel renewed in the morning.
Make it a habit to wake at the same time every day so your body pulls out of the sleep cycle naturally. Even if you’ve slept enough hours, being inopportunely awakened by your alarm clock in the middle of deep sleep can still make you feel unrefreshed! Welcome sunlight as soon as you wake up to further stabilise your body clock.
2. Drink to your health
We often overlook water in favour of flavoured, caffeinated drinks like energy drinks, coffee, or soft drink. However, body cells need water to function optimally. Water is responsible for nourishing our cells and excreting waste products and toxins that encourage aging. When you’re hydrated, you feel more refreshed, you function more effectively, and your skin looks more supple and soft.
“The more hydrated you are, the more plump, subtle, and youthful your skin will appear,” Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, tells Reader’s Digest. To make sure you’re hydrated, down at least 8 glasses of water a day. If the taste of water is too bland for you, squeeze a lemon into your glass or bottle.
Don’t forget to hydrate skin from the outside too by using gentle soaps and cleansers, and moisturising after every wash.
3. Always exercise
The older you get, the more important it is for you to remain active. Exercising regularly helps you retain your youthful vigour. Because your muscles and bones are kept in top condition instead of wasting away, you’ll be able to maintain good posture and height. When you move, your joints won’t ache or feel stiff. You’ll spend less effort accomplishing tasks, which does wonders for self-esteem as well!
Exercise helps you retain a healthy metabolism. Your body generates adequate energy for your needs and doesn’t stockpile fat. Apart from keeping you looking fit and trim, this lowers your risk for heart disease, hypertension, and obesity.
And the icing on top of the cake – exercise supports blood flow, including blood flow to the face. The flush of blood under your cheeks nourishes your skin and gives it a young rosy glow.
4. Get a pet
If you have room in your life for more love, adopt a pet in need of a home and shave decades off your age. Walking dogs makes for excellent mandatory exercise – improving heart, blood vessel, bone and muscle function. Meanwhile, simply sitting and cuddling with your pet – be it dog, cat, rabbit, turtle, or even lizard – decreases cortisol levels as well, and increases the “bonding” hormone oxytocin.
Perhaps most significantly, finding security and purpose in the company of a living creature who will love you without judgment staves off loneliness and depression.
Plus, pets are so cute, they’re bound to keep you smiling and baby-talking like someone much younger!
5. Laugh, and often
Facial muscles are subject to gravity too – when you smile and laugh, the muscles pull your face up! In contrast, frowning and furrowing your brow gives you premature wrinkles and makes your features sag and drop.
On a deeper level, laughter lowers stress hormone levels. When you laugh, you basically tell your body that there’s nothing to be frightened of, and this signals a reduction in the release of cortisol from your adrenal glands. The more you laugh over time, the less you risk chronically high levels of stress hormones, avoiding effects like high blood pressure, anxiety, and increased heart rate.
Laughter also secretes feel good hormones like endorphins and serotonin, which raises mood in a joyful upward spiral to keep you laughing more and looking younger.
6. Stop when you’re full
We were taught to clean our plate at dinner despite huge, unrealistic servings. As growing kids, polishing off large meals was a necessity, but as adults with slowing metabolism, there is a disposition towards obesity. Not to mention, psychological effects, like feeling you have lack of self-control or that you don’t deserve to eat well.
The solution is to start meals with a small serving, then only adding more later (you’ll be surprised how much food you won’t actually want!). This will also teach you to be less wasteful, as eventually you’ll learn to only cook or order what you can realistically finish. Never pressure yourself to finish a plate when you feel full – you can always heat up your leftovers during your next meal.
If you’re the snacky type, switch to healthy, nutrient-dense snacks. Choose whole foods brimming with antioxidants (think berries and carrot sticks!) instead of chips and junk food. These are high satiety choices that can make you feel full faster and curb unhealthy snack cravings.
7. Rest when you’re tired
Some kinds of stress are avoidable. If you find yourself picking up too many calls after office hours or putting in too many weekend shifts, you might want to evaluate your work situation. Undue – and unpaid! – stress can leave you looking old and harried (not to mention grumpy!).
In this case, you might want to politely speak with your boss to clarify whether or not answering calls and responding to emails outside of work was a requirement in your job description. Sometimes a gentle reminder that you have a life too will be enough to dissuade them from bothering you outside your billable hours.
If this isn’t the case, however, carefully and politely speak to your boss about respecting your time away from the office. Set a boundary time for calls and emails after work; beyond that, be on call only for emergencies. Looking your best is only half the battle – the other half is feeling your best from getting enough rest and giving yourself the respect you deserve.