Coming of Age

Getting older isn't about fighting time, but enjoying it. Here are 40 of the most surprising and inspiring tips on how to live a longer, healthier life.
Coming of Age
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31. Prepare your body to sleep: Logging eight hours of shut-eye can make you look as much as three years younger, says Amy Wechsler, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist. But if you have trouble relaxing into a sound slumber, prepare for it with a series of bedtime rituals: Don’t drink caffeine four to six hours before bed; eat a full meal three hours before hitting the hay; and turn off electronics an hour before sleep.

32. Brush your skin: Using a soft, natural bristle brush, make short, quick sweeps on your body and face, starting at your feet and brushing toward your heart. “This exfoliates skin and increases circulation,” says Debra Luftman, M.D., a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based dermatologist, which helps you glow.

33. Switch positions: According to traditional Chinese medicine, specific areas of the genitals are linked to your internal organs. “This is one way Chinese medicine believes having regular sex affects overall health,” says Jill Blakeway, L.Ac., an herbalist and co-director of Yin Ova Center in New York City. “To achieve inner balance, you must stimulate all of the genital organs and not just one bit of them, which might overstimulate one particular organ at the expense of others.” Vary positions during sex to make sure all your parts get the attention they need.

34. Take more naps: “The brain gets slower as we age, in terms of reaction and processing time, but it rebounds when we sleep,” says Chapman. “In the long run, sleep staves off those losses.” Indeed, a 2009 University of California, Berkeley, study found that sleep helps the brain consolidate ideas. While naps don’t count as part of your requisite seven to eight hours, they can help restore brain function if you didn’t get your fill the night before.

35. Believe you’re getting better with age: Dilip Jeste, M.D., director of the University of California, San Diego’s Stein Institute for Research on Aging, says people who think they’re aging well aren’t necessarily the healthiest physically. “Yet they generally possess a positive, yet realistic, attitude about their lives and an ability to adapt to change,” he says. Tend to look at the glass as half empty? Try writing three positive things that happen each day in a journal to help redirect your thoughts.

36. Whittle your middle: A 2010 American Cancer Society study found that a large waist size doubled one’s risk of dying from any cause. “Abdominal fat cells secrete compounds that increase inflammation and reduce sensitivity to insulin, thus increasing the storage of fat,” says Andrew Weil, M.D., founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. So eat low-glycemic index foods (think whole, plant-based picks), and exercise regularly to fight fat.

37. Don’t be a buzz kill: A 2010 University of Texas study conducted over 28 years found that the way we explain the events in our lives can be a significant predictor of longevity. “Our thoughts and feelings and the way we respond to stress affect the way and rate at which we age,” says Brenda Stockdale, director of mind-body medicine at RC Cancer Centers and Advanced Medicine in Atlanta. Good reason to be optimistic and choose to see the good in a situation—or at least talk about what went right along with what went wrong when you’re sharing a story.

38. Develop your passion: For years, experts thought learning something new every year, like a language, would enhance brain health. However, the Center for BrainHealth recently discovered that we need to be a master of one or two skills, rather than be a jack of all trades, to strengthen our brains.

39. Be a social butterfly: A 2010 Brigham Young University study found that those with strong ties to family, friends or co-workers have a 50 percent lower risk of dying than those with fewer social connections. Getting the emotional and social support you need to manage stress and feel happy makes life meaningful, fun and stimulating. Research shows people with social support may also be more active, eat better and stress less.

40. Have a beer: Scientists at the University of California, Davis, found that beer is a substantial source of silicon, which stimulates the production of collagen to keep bones strong and joints healthy by maintaining flexibility in cartilage. The study found that most beer brands contain between 6 milligrams and 57 milligrams of silicon per liter, and those with high levels of malted barley and hops have the most. We say go organic and drink in moderation. If you’re not down with a brew, silicon can also be found in foods like bananas and brown rice.