Oops: 9 Mistakes That Are Aging You
7. Aging Error: Bad Form
According to the national Institutes of health, people typically lose about 1 centimeter of stature every 10 years after age 40. rounding of the upper back, lower back pain and a forward head position are the most typical age-related posture concerns seen by Dana Davis, a certified teacher of the Balance Posture Method in her practice at Sonoma Body Balance in California. Sitting, standing and bending incorrectly don’t just add years to your appearance but take a physical toll, too. “When we sit or stand with our bones misaligned, our muscles work overtime and it weakens our joints,” Davis says. “good posture helps you look healthy, stay strong and flexible, eliminate or avoid pain, increase energy, be more relaxed and maintain mobility.”
Youth Boosters: When seated, sit on your sitz bones (the bony part of your butt that you feel when you sit on a firm surface), Davis advises. When standing, draw your chin in to look at your ankles, let your weight move back into your heels, take each shoulder back and down, and back your head up without lifting your chin too high—and for bending, bow from your hip joints, not your waist, she says. “alignment problems are far more common in industrialized Western countries from sitting hunched over computers and desks,” adds Christiane Northrup, M.D., an OB-GYN in Yarmouth, Maine, and author of The Wisdom of Menopause (Bantam), so she suggests clasping your hands behind your back, lengthening your arms and stretching hands downward, and opening your chest forward and breathing deeply to reset posture every hour.
8. Aging Error: Skimping on Sex
Getting busy contributes to greater happiness, a stronger immune system, good circulation and caloric burn and can even help you live up to eight years longer, according to one study. Some researchers say sex also boosts the production of human growth hormone, which improves muscle tone and makes you look younger and more fit, notes Ashton. Jennifer Berman, M.D., director of Berman Women’s Wellness Center in Los Angeles, adds that the chemicals released during sex reduce stress and improve energy, well-being and mood. “Sexual health is a critical component to general health and wellness,” says Berman. “The longer we can sustain and maintain a sexually active life, the better.”
Youth Boosters: The average American couple has sex twice a week, according to Berman, but says it’s most important that both partners are reasonably satisfied with the frequency. Ashton notes that scheduling sex can help trigger your desire, as can fantasizing for 10 minutes a day on your own or trying something new like sexy lingerie or a new position to keep things interesting. To “wake up” your pelvic area and stave off a low libido, she prescribes three sets of 10 Kegel exercises every day for four weeks. “Be patient with your ups and downs,” she adds. “Sex won’t be consistent over your lifetime.” If stress is blocking your libido, emotionally or physically, Berman recommends a topical organic botanical oil called On4Her ($25; on4her.com) that triples sensation and enhances orgasm.
9. Aging Error: Exposing Yourself
Of course the most serious result of too much sun is skin cancer, but it also causes wrinkles, sun spots, broken capillaries and a dry, dull complexion—and it’s not just from baking on the beach. Ashton says that 80 percent of sun exposure comes from cumulative everyday outings whether walking or driving (UVA light travels through car windows). Additional sources, according Neal Schultz, M.D., a New York City-based cosmetic dermatologist, include reflected light from sand, water and snow; mirrored rooms with large windows; high altitudes; and the ultraviolet radiation responsible for the UV index on a cloudy day. Debra Jaliman, M.D., New York City-based dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist (St. Martin’s Press) says sun can also age our bodies on the inside, decreasing immunity.
Youth Boosters: Apply a daily moisturizer containing an SPF 30 or higher (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide ingredients are chemical-free) to all exposed areas, and use a dedicated sunscreen for outdoor activities—treating ears, neck and the backs of hands with a good UVA blocker like avobenzone, oxybenzone, ecamsule, titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, advises Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in the dermatology department of Mount Sinai hospital in new York City. Wear protective clothing, including a hat, too, Zeichner notes, and limit your exposure—even on cloudy days. Shield your eyes and surrounding skin with sunglasses that have UV protection of 400 or higher, Jaliman adds. Kristina Grish is a writer and published author in New York City.