While stopping ageing in its tracks is out of everyone’s control, it’s empowering to know that there are plenty of tools you can reach for to put your best days in front of you, decade by decade. More good news? They’re small tweaks you can implement right away in your life, so there’s no need to wait to get started. From how to hack your nutrition to savvy skincare pointers, here’s how the experts recommend you take care of yourself with each calendar year.
1. Get physical
Sure, a HIIT session is a guaranteed way to get your heart pumping, but now that – in theory – the weather is improving, why not hop on two wheels to keep your ticker happy? Allowing you to feel the wind in your hair, embrace nature in its true form and enjoy a great spot of aerobic exercise, it’s no wonder cycling was the most popular lockdown sport in 2021. “Cycling strengthens your cardiovascular system, which has endless benefits for your overall health,” says Luisa Valenti, co-founder of Your Body Programme (yourbodyprogramme.com). “It strengthens your heart, making it more efficient at pumping blood around your body and improves your lung capacity. This decreases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure.”
Not sure about getting on the saddle? Get your aerobic fix with a brisk walk, some dancing or jogging. Just be aware that some forms of exercise can impact your joints, so it may be worth taking a supplement to give them some extra TLC. Joint Complex from Revive Active can help support your joints as you get older and ensure you can still enjoy an active lifestyle whatever your age. £37.50 for a one-time purchase, reviveactive.com
2. Nail nutrition
The benefits of eating a balanced and diverse diet are farreaching: it helps you to maintain a healthy weight, achieve good overall health and allows you to feel your best. It can be tricky to get to grips with what constitutes a healthy diet though, so what do the experts say should make the cut? Firstly, we should aim for five pieces of fruit and veg per day, whether that’s fresh, frozen, juiced or tinned (although watch out for hidden sugars in tinned options). Starchy food should also make up just over a third of what we eat. Starchy carbohydrate foods are a good source of energy, as well as a range of other nutrients. Think: brown bread and pasta, as they release glucose into your bloodstream more slowly, so you can say ‘goodbye’ to that post-lunch slump. Protein is also another biggie. Where possible, you should try to choose lean cuts of meat and mince, and oily fish like salmon or mackerel also comes in handy, as they’re good sources of omega 3. Vegans needn’t not miss out either – you can obtain your protein from pulses, such as beans, peas and lentils.
3 Sort out your sleep
Tired of being tired? Join the club. According to a study by Aviva, 67 percent of UK adults suffer from disrupted sleep, and nearly a quarter manage no more than five hours a night – yikes – but there’s no need to panic. Like with any new addition to your routine, you just need small micro changes to make it a habit. Using essential oils, such as camomile and lavender, steering clear of blue light, doing some Pilates and even taking control of your breathing before bed, will have you nodding off in no time.
4. Stay connected
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that life is certainly better with friends in it. “For friends who live close to you, stay connected by inviting them round, whether it’s for dinner, a movie night or just for coffee and a chat,” says Sophie Golding, author of The Secret to Happiness (Published by Summersdale £10.99). Loved ones further afield? “Schedule a regular phone call to make sure you catch up, host an online quiz night, or set up a group chat on your social media so it’s easy to keep in touch,” she suggests. Even having a pet (cuddling them to be specific), has been linked to lower stress and blood pressure, so add that to your ever-growing ‘reasons to get a dog’ list.
5. Learn a new hobby
A wiseacre once said: “One way to end the monotony is to focus on a hobby that is both enjoyable and helps you pass the time in a meaningful way” – and we couldn’t agree more here at H&W. Plus, it helps when quotes like these are backed up by some good old science. Evidence actually shows that people who engage in hobbies, such as knitting, volunteering or a Sunday morning yoga class, for example, are happier, experience less depression and live longer as a result. It’s disappointing when you lose interest in something you’ve loved for ages, so as long as you’re doing something that affects the reward system in the brain – be it drawing, photography or walking – you’re onto a winner.
6. Mind your mental health
You’ve probably been told to ‘be more present’ either by your millennial teen or a guided meditation on YouTube, but what does that actually mean? The main purpose of mindfulness is to allow you to notice what’s going on around you in everyday life and thus improve your relationship with others. The key principle behind this is being completely aware of reality as it is, and not adding or subtracting anything from how you perceive it, but instead simply observing and living through it. This, in turn, has been said to help you age better by lowering stress and improving your memory. Mindfulness can look like yoga, Tai Chi or even colouring – and no, it doesn’t matter if you go outside the lines.
7. Consider collagen
Did you know that your skin is your body’s biggest organ? If you’re kind to it by, you know, staying hydrated and wearing SPF (which you are doing daily, right?), it’ll help to protect you against the elements. Another way to keep visible signs of ageing at bay is by taking a collagen supplement. High-quality, pure marine collagen supplements have been well researched, and evidence shows they can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and strengthen your skin, hair and nails. We love the Marine Collagen from Birch & Wilde, available from birchandwilde.co.uk, Superdrug, Revital and Medino, £22.50-£24.95 for a two-month supply.