10 Ways to Age Well for $0
Aging isn't easy — I'll be the first person to admit that — and to make matters worse, it also isn't cheap. To keep the years off your face and body like your favorite celebrities, you have to shell out a substantial amount of cash for trainers, nutritionists, supplements, surgeons, makeup, and more.
Or do you?
Certainly there are plenty of quick fixes you can buy to make you look and feel better, but there are also ways to retain your youth and keep a healthy body, mind, and spirit for free. Take a look.
1. Get enough rest
You hear all the time how getting enough sleep is essential to your well-being. It's also critical to preserving your youth; as studies suggest that sleep deprivation is linked to aging skin. A good night's sleep is so powerful, in fact, that scientists from a UC Berkeley study found that deep sleep patterns can help prevent mental and physical disorders as you get older.
On the surface, says Sleep Train sleep and wellness expert Parinaz Samimi, "Recent studies demonstrated a correlation between inadequate sleep and accelerated aging of the skin where sleep-deprived participants displayed fine lines, uneven skin pigmentation, and diminished skin elasticity. For the sake of aging gracefully and not wasting thousands of dollars on products that don't work, investing in at least seven hours of shut eye could make all the difference — in your skin and your wallet." (See also: 3 Ways Good Sleep Makes You Wealthier)
2. Sleep on your back
Despite that about 41 percent of the population prefers the fetal position when sleeping (because, duh, it's the most comfortable), sleeping on your back is the best way to go if you want to keep your face tight.
"If you sleep on your face or your side, you will be more likely to get positional wrinkles that become harder and harder to get rid of over time," according to Dr. Lara Devgan, a New York City-based board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon. "In my plastic surgery practice, I can always tell which side of the face a person sleeps on because that side has more volume loss, deeper furrows, and poorer skin quality."
3. Sleep in the buff
Google the benefits of sleeping naked and you'll find plenty of results that'll have you slipping out of your skivvies before you sink into bed tonight. For instance, crawling under the covers nude helps decrease cortisol, increase hormone growth and balance melatonin — because your body is able to cool off more efficiently when disrobed — which leads to healthier, more restorative sleep and is proven to reduce anxiety, stress, and food cravings. So let it all out.
4. Talk with your hands and voice, not your face
I personally love people with faces full of expression, but all that grinning and wide-eyed wonder will eventually show on your skin.
"Minimizing gratuitous use of facial expressions, like frowning, furrowing the brows, and scrunching up the nose, will help keep years off your face," Dr. Devgan says. "Wrinkles and deep facial furrows are caused by repeated use of facial muscles, so a serene and placid resting expression are great ways to keep the years off your face."
I imagine it's difficult to train yourself not to express yourself with your eyes if that's part of your personality, and in that case, you should just accept your fate as a wrinkly old person who has told a million fantastic and enthusiastic stories.
5. Exercise regularly
You don't need a gym membership to get in a good workout (the world around you can be your fitness center), and studies have suggested that exercise helps slow the aging of skin, among other health benefits, like increasing your libido, making your heart more efficient, and improving blood flow. If you need more motivation to break a sweat without paying a membership fee, go for a jog outside, download a free exercise app, or try free videos on YouTube. (See also: 7 Online Workout Videos for Free or Cheap)
6. Avoid smoking
It costs zero dollars to abstain from smoking, which is an awesome thing since not smoking can't kill you. There are so many negative effects of puffing on cigs regularly, the most visible of which include loose skin under the eyes, uneven skin tone from oxygen deprivation, deep lines around the lips, age spots, damaged teeth and gums, stained fingers, hair loss (smoking can accelerate this genetic defect), and a greater risk of psoriasis. (See also: Here's How Rich You'd Be If You Stopped Smoking)
7. Seek the shade
Sun exposure is responsible for most of the visible aging on your skin, so it's important to limit yourself without the use of sunscreen. That costs money, of course, so in the spirit of this zero-dollar goal, I also recommend wearing hats and eyewear, sitting in the shade, and using umbrellas while at the beach.
8. Decrease sugar consumption
Sugar is my weakness. Well, one of them. And I try my darndest to limit my candy and cake intake because I don't want to be unhealthy. I'm not gettin' any younger, after all.
"Sugar can be considered to be the scourge of our declining health, contributing to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and, yes, even accelerated aging," Samimi explains. "More often than not, people are encouraged to quit sugar for the purpose of whittling their waistline, unaware of the effects it has on our skin. Over-consuming sugar can result in wrinkles, damaging the collagen and elastin fibers that contribute to our skin's firmness and elasticity. The British Journal of Dermatology demonstrated an increase in wrinkles and sagging skin, which became evident in people age 35 who consumed more than the recommended amount of sugar."
On a more positive note, it's never too late to make healthy changes. It may not undo the damage, but you'll slow down the progression.
9. Treat your hands and neck the way you treat your face
We all have grooming routines with our products of choice, but you can use those products in areas you might be neglecting.
"The neck and backs of the hands tend to show age much faster than the rest of the body, so treating these areas with your skin creams and SPFs is a helpful way to mitigate that effect," Dr. Devgan says.
10. Keep your mind sharp
I thought that playing brain games contributed to mental sharpness (and they do, though they target very specific cognitive abilities), but your best bet for keeping your mind in tiptop shape for the long haul requires social interaction, learning a new language, and visits to "intellectually invigorating places" like museums and cultural centers, according to Dr. Karen Li, head of Concordia University. Lucky for us, all of this is mostly available for free no matter where you live.
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