Longevity is nice but how good is it if you look and feel like hell.
If you are basking in the glorious fast metabolism and flawless complexion that accompany your 20s, you probably aren’t too concerned with the aging process just yet. But even though you may be tempted to forego regular exercise and a healthy diet in favor of relying on the perks of youth, now is actually the prime time to prevent the signs of aging for years to come. Starting those healthy habits now will give you the foundation for a strong, healthy, and beautiful body for the rest of your life.
So what exactly should you be doing to reap the benefits of youth for years to come? It all comes down to self-care: exercise, proper nutrition, and stress management.
For many guys and women too hair loss due to male/female pattern baldness (Alopecia) is going to be an issue. In general, for guys look at your Grandfather on your Mom’s side of the family. If he was bald you have a much higher probability of going bald than other men, but it is not the only factor.
- Involutional Alopecia is a natural condition in which the hair gradually thins with age. More hair follicles go into the resting phase, and the remaining hairs become shorter and fewer in number.
- Androgenic Alopecia is a genetic condition that can affect both men and women. Men with this condition, called male pattern baldness, can begin suffering hair loss as early as their teens or early 20s. It’s characterized by a receding hairline and gradual disappearance of hair from the crown and frontal scalp. Women with this condition, called female pattern baldness, don’t experience noticeable thinning until their 40s or later. Women experience a general thinning over the entire scalp, with the most extensive hair loss at the crown.
- Alopecia Areata often starts suddenly and causes patchy hair loss in children and young adults. This condition may result in complete baldness (alopecia totalis). But in about 90% of people with the condition, the hair returns within a few years.
- Alopecia Universalis causes all body hair to fall out, including the eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic hair.
However, not all is lost for those who experience some form of pattern baldness. Today there are treatments including Propecia(Finasteride), Rogaine(minoxidil) and a host of supplements (Shameless Plug Alert! Checkout our Line of Hair Support Products Here) to help slow or prevent hair loss. The catch is you need to start before you lose your hair, which generally means you need to start now. Taking action early means you greatly increase your chance of holding onto your locks far longer than what you would otherwise.
Regular exercise as far as anti-aging is concerned means far more than walking on the treadmill a few times a week while watching The Real Housewives. Lifting weights will not only create a shapely physique; it will also increase peak bone mass and cardiovascular health, develop a foundation for strength as you age, and detoxify your system. Not to mention you will be stoking your metabolic fire – exercise is the best way to increase your metabolism and starting now will increase your metabolism early on.
Reaching a high peak bone mass in your 20s will set you up for long-term bone health. Why should you care about bone health? Well, you know how people joke about older people stepping off a curb and breaking their hip? That can happen if you develop osteoporosis, a result of low bone density. The kicker is that you can only continue to grow bone mass until about age 30, so taking care of that now will help prevent bone-related scares later in life.
Weight-bearing exercises like resistance training, running, hiking, and playing tennis (i.e. anything that requires your body to move against gravity) put stress on your bones and cause them to adapt by increasing in density. This is especially important for women because the couple years following menopause they experience a dramatic decrease in bone density, meaning the mass you build up in your 20s will dictate how strong your bones are for the more fragile years of your life.
In addition, a study conducted beginning in the 1980s have shown that being more physically fit in your 20s led to a lower risk of heart disease and cardiovascular disease-related deaths 25 years later (1). In fact, for every minute more that participants were able to run on a treadmill during a stress test, their likelihood for cardiovascular disease decreased by 15%. Bing conscious of cardiovascular health from a younger age will prevent your heart from working harder earlier, reducing the risk of an enlarged heart and high blood pressure or cholesterol.
An added bonus of exercise? Sweat! Sweating is your body’s natural way of flushing out toxins. Trade in those weekend juice cleanses for a heavy circuit training session and sweat out excess salt, cholesterol, alcohol, and other substances that can clog your body. Just make sure to shower after – this can clog your pores and lead to acne or other irritation.
If you read the intro article to this segment, you probably already know that what you eat can have a giant impact on the way your body ages. But in your 20s, it is so much more than that. You are building the habits that will likely follow you for the rest of your life. Probably for the first time you are doing the grocery shopping and cooking for yourself. Whether you came from a home where you ate vegan your whole life or never saw food that wasn’t ordered from a take-out menu, you have the opportunity to take control of your nutrition intake.
So start loading that plate with as many fruits and veggies as you can – more variety means a wider range of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Start avoiding added sugars now which have been shown to increase the risk of numerous diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. Make sure you are eating enough protein from lean sources like fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, and low-fat yogurt to fuel your muscle building workouts.
Unfortunately most of our bad nutrition habits develop as a result of our overly busy lifestyles that make convenience a necessity. Try to prep your meals ahead so you aren’t forced to choose between fast food and the convenience store, but if you do find yourself needing to grab a quick snack, opt for fresh fruit, salad with oil-based dressing, walnuts or almonds, or even beef jerky. These all contain filling nutrients – fiber, protein, and healthy fats – that will tide you over until you can get a proper meal. It’s not that you can’t enjoy treats now and then, but why grab a fast food burger and fries when you can save that for a great meal out at the new restaurant down the street or a glass or two of your favorite wine?
We live in a busy time – work can reach you pretty much 24/7 via email, there’s mounting pressure to outperform yourself and others every day, social media continually expands into our lives, and there is so much television out there it’s hard to keep up with all the shows and movies we want to watch. All of this can really start to get to you if you don’t take serious steps to manage the stress it causes in both mental and physical ways. Stress causes you to age prematurely, so it’s time to adopt some steps into your daily routine to keep your hair thick and your skin youthful.
First and foremost, make sure you are getting adequate sleep – that’s at least 7-9 hours per night. Sleep is how your body recovers and repairs itself from the day and gives your brain a chance to process all the events and information you’ve come across. Make sure you turn off your phone, television, computer, and other devices at least 30 minutes before you plan to fall asleep. The light these emit trigger your body’s wake response and can also prevent your mind from winding down enough to fall asleep.
Next, find a way to work in some form of relaxation for your brain, whether it’s yoga, meditation, or even a long, leisurely walk. The key is to find which technique works best for you to calm your mind. There are numerous studies showing the benefits of meditation (or similar practices) on your stress levels, so start figuring out what works best for you to center yourself and let your mind take a break.
Make sure you are taking a rest day. Exercise is incredibly important, but resting is almost equally as crucial. We are so used to go go go that we don’t take time to give our bodies the rest they need. During this time your muscles are able to build and recover properly from the week’s exercise. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a whole day laying on the couch, but maybe use this day to work on your yoga or meditation practice.
Finally, it is essential to get an annual physical and establish a relationship with a physician. Going to the doctor and monitoring your general health can prevent much distress down the road. Today, early detection of most diseases, and I’m not just talking cancer here, can be the difference between a cheap therapy to remove a mole versus a death sentence. Not only will you help to prevent the big issues, but knowing what condition your body is in can help you to make the changes you need to live an awesome life. Think about how much more time and energy you will have if being chronically tired or having a constant cold were reversed. Many insurance plans cover an annual physical 100% and there is no excuse for not going. If you don’t have health insurance you may be surprised on how affordable getting a physical can be. Most doctors accept cash visits and often do it a discount to published rates.
Now you have some techniques to not only preserve your youth for as long as possible, but when you begin implementing them you will be setting yourself up to enjoy a youthful existence for many years to come. Let us know how you are going to stick it to father time and share your tips for anti-aging in the comments below.