Becoming older is a given from the day we’re born. Each passing year brings a natural and inevitable process of bodily changes we may not always like but are part of the territory of aging. Aging is bound to happen but what if you’re aging faster than you should? Premature aging before your time can significantly impact your quality of life and could lead to various health problems.
Read on to discover the telltale signs if your aging process is accelerated faster than it should be and things you can do to slow it down:
You struggle to lift more than 30 pounds
Beginning around age 40, a condition called sarcopenia or age-related loss of muscle mass begins to occur. Losing muscle mass means loss of strength and endurance with consequential ramifications related to everyday living.
To prevent or at least slow down this process, do two things: Eat 25-30 grams of protein at each meal and lift weights 3 times a week. Most Americans are not deficient in protein but we can do better in distributing the amount throughout the day making amino acids available to the body for muscle building. Weight lifting helps keep muscles toned and strong so you can remain physically active well into your elderly years.
You have more wrinkles than other people your age do
Your skin is a tattletale when it comes to aging. From sunspots to wrinkles, it’s a good indicator of your aging process. Part of skin aging is due to genetics but other factors negatively affecting your skin are excess sun exposure, smoking, poor dietary habits, and overconsumption of alcohol.
Begin today by changing lifestyle habits. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser morning and night. Wear sunscreen of an SPF of 30 or higher year-round. Quit smoking and drinking more alcoholic beverages than you should. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, along with ¼ cup of almonds or walnuts, have fatty fish (salmon, albacore tuna, halibut, sardines) twice a week, and divide your weight in half and that’s about how many ounces of water to drink each day. Cut out all sugary beverages, processed meats (bologna, hot dogs, sausage, cold cuts), and overly processed foods.
You are chronically tired
Feeling constantly fatigued can be due to several factors – lack of sleep, stress, or even depression. If insufficient sleep is the main reason, this reduces the necessary time your body needs to make bodily repairs, clear waste from the brain, and regulate blood sugar levels. You’ll wake up feeling unrefreshed and sluggish the rest of the day with little get up and go.
To correct this situation, aim to get between seven to nine hours of sleep each night by practicing good sleep hygiene. Having a set bedtime and wake-up time, stop using electronic devices at least one hour before going to bed, and setting the thermometer to less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, are some practices to adopt.
Opening up jars have become more difficult
The firmness of your handshake or ability to open a pickle jar with ease can be a measure of upper body strength that has been widely studied. The strength of your handgrip has been consistently shown to be a good predictor of future morbidity and mortality. A weak grip may also be an indicator that your brain is aging faster which is believed to be linked to a loss of white matter, the part of the brain responsible for efficient information processing.
Fortunately, improving grip strength can be done with various exercises that target both grip and forearm strength, two areas that are frequently ignored in many workout programs. Here is an excellent link on how to maintain good grip strength.
You walk slower than other people
Do you always end up walking behind friends who can walk faster? If so, this may be a telltale sign of aging faster than you should be. That’s because people who walk slower in middle age may age faster and have more brain dysfunction according to a 2019 study in JAMA Open Network. Results showed that slow walking speed at age 45 was associated with accelerated aging and brain decline.
If you are a slow walker, it’s not too late to reverse course. To improve brain health, practice stress management, avoid saturated fats and excess sugar and take more walks to improve your fitness level.
You’ve gained weight in your midsection
Abdominal weight gain is a common sign your body is aging quickly. Your metabolism is slowing down and your fat distribution is accumulating in your midsection. This type of fat accumulation will put you at a higher risk for developing heart problems such as stroke or heart attack, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
To reduce abdominal weight gain, begin eating a more healthy diet with moderate portion sizes, slash drinking soda and other sugary beverages, get sufficient sleep, and exercise regularly.