Whether it’s the Rolling Stones, David Bowie or the Steve Miller Band saying so, it has been well established that time:
a) Waits for no one
b) Changes you
c) Keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping…into the future…
You get the idea: We can’t slow, stop or reverse time itself. But we do have some control over the toll it takes on our bodies and minds.
Granted, there aren’t as many famous song lyrics about defying the aging process, but there are plenty of small, manageable changes men can make in their lives to elicit pleasant surprise over the dates on their driver’s licenses.
Here are eight of the most effective steps:
1. Get active
There’s little doubt that heart- and lung-working aerobic exercise, along with weight and flexibility training, all contribute to a long, healthy life. But how much is enough? Health Canada guidelines (via the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology), state that men aged 18 to 64 “should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.”
“Moderate” activities include brisk walking and cycling, while jogging and cross-country skiing are considered intense. But if you can’t get on a bike or ski trail for 2.5 hours every week, don’t worry: Everyday activities like climbing stairs (instead of taking the elevator), getting off a bus a couple stops early and hoofing it, playing some tennis with a buddy, or even taking your significant other dancing all contribute to meeting the target. Indeed, having some fun with your exercise goals won’t make it feel like chore at all.
2. Quit smoking
This step is easier said than done for many smokers, but the fact remains that smoking has been shown to shorten male life spans by at least 12 years. It also yellows the teeth, wrinkles the skin, causes impotence…need we go on? Studies have shown that those who kick the habit before turning 40 reduce the risk of death associated with smoking by about 90 per cent, so, in short, what are you waiting for? Here are some tips to get your started.
3. Stimulate your brain
Like physical exercise, mental workouts stave off age-related afflictions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and keep you quick-witted. They can be as simple and enjoyable as reading a good book, watching a thought-provoking film or play, or attending a concert. Puzzles and games such as Scrabble, chess and Sudoku also help. Why not learn a new language or learn to play a musical instrument? Your mind stays sharp, you’re the star of open-stage night – what’s not to love?
4. Be social
Friendships and other social connections have been shown to boost life expectancy substantially – and after all, what’s the point of looking 10 years younger if you can’t show it off?
5. Protect yourself from the sun
Simply put, nothing ages the skin faster than excessive sun exposure. Ultraviolet radiation breaks down the structural protein known as collagen while boosting the production of cell-damaging free radicals. The takeaway: Apply sunscreen property, wear sun-shielding apparel, or stay in the shade.
6. Eat right
A healthy diet benefits just about every aspect of your mind and body, with certain foods being especially adept at slowing the aging process. The Big Three:
- Colourful fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants that prevent unstable molecules from damaging healthy cells. Five to nine servings a day is ideal, and replacing potato-based side dishes with salad is a great way to start.
- Whole grains such as oats, quinoa, barley, wheat, and brown rice curb the chances of type 2 diabetes and keep blood vessels healthy. Aim for three servings a day.
- Fish like salmon, lake trout or tuna is full of Omega-3 fatty acids that protect your heart, lower the chances of stroke, and may even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
7. Keep booze in check
There’s nothing wrong with the odd boozy beverage — indeed, studies have shown that alcohol, in moderation, can be beneficial to your health. But more than 10 drinks a week, or more than three a day, can accelerate the effects of aging by dehydrating your body, and especially your skin, which causes wrinkles and a pale complexion. Alcohol also robs the body of vitamin A, an essential antioxidant for cell renewal and turnover.
8. Sleep well
Most of us feel awful, and look the part, after a late night, very early morning or bout of insomnia, and making this a habit will accelerate the aging process both inside and out. Indeed, studies have shown that men who get less than six hours of sleep a night are at an increased risk of viral infections, heart disease, obesity and stroke. Here are some ways to ensure you get the shut-eye you need.
Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. He’s been covering men’s health for over 20 years. As well as researching and blogging for Don’t Change Much since 2015, Adam’s award-winning work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and National Post newspapers.