According to recent research by the American Heart Association, there are eight key strategies to help us age more gracefully.
Your age isn’t just about the number of candles on your birthday cake; it’s also about how old your cells are.
Biological age, a concept distinct from chronological age, determines your body’s actual age, and there’s even a notion of phenotypic age, which considers factors like metabolism, inflammation, and organ function.
This phenotypic age can be younger or older than your chronological age, depending on your lifestyle and health choices. How well you prioritize your health plays a significant role in the rate at which you age.
Heart health, in particular, has a pivotal role in aging. Ideally, you’d want your heart to be as young as you are or even younger.
However, a substantial percentage of people in the United States have hearts that are aging faster than they are, with women at 20% and men at up to 50.
The importance of heart health cannot be overstated. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with someone succumbing to a heart-related condition every 33 seconds and someone experiencing a heart attack every 40 seconds.
Recent research, presented at the annual American Heart Association meeting, delves into the ways you can slow down biological aging through eight lifestyle behaviors recommended by the American Heart Association.
Eight Ways to Keep Your Body Younger
The study revealed that individuals with high cardiovascular health were biologically six years younger than their actual age, even after accounting for socioeconomic factors. Here are the eight health factors that can help you live a healthier, longer life:
It is estimated that 400,000 lives could be spared annually if healthy eating were prioritized. A balanced diet is a matter of life and death. By reducing diseases like obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure that directly impair heart health, a nutritious diet lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Regular exercise keeps your heart young and improves your physical and mental health. Because exercise increases blood oxygen levels, it improves your heart’s ability to pump blood throughout your body.
About one-third of all deaths in the United States related to heart disease are caused by smoking, making it one of the major preventable causes of mortality. It raises the risk of peripheral artery disease, aneurysm, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
Get Adequate Sleep
Quality sleep supports brain function, cellular repair, and overall health. The amount of sleep required varies with age, but adults generally need at least seven hours for optimal health.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
It is essential for heart health to reach and maintain a healthy weight. Many health problems, such as heart disease, sleep apnea, certain malignancies, being overweight is linked to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and an elevated risk of stroke.
Although the body requires cholesterol for healthy cells, elevated cholesterol levels raise the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes by causing fatty deposits to accumulate in blood vessels.
Manage Blood Sugar
High blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves, increasing the risk of heart disease. Diabetes is a significant risk factor for heart problems.
Manage Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” and affects nearly 50% of Americans. Monitoring both systolic and diastolic blood pressure is essential, as they play a vital role in overall heart health.
Dr. Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, chair of the writing group for Life’s Essential 8, emphasized that these findings demonstrate the link between chronological age and biological age. Following these healthy lifestyle habits can help you live longer and enjoy a higher quality of life for as many years as possible.